In Defense of Lady Godiva

Brief History: The legend says that Lady Godiva of Coventry rode upon her horse through the streets with only her hair to cover her naked form. The deal was that her husband would lower the taxes upon the people. The common folk respected her so that they agreed not to look, expect peeping Tom. The truth is that this story came about several hundred years after Lady Godiva died in 1066. No one knows if her husband was a harsh tax collector or if she ever rode naked through the streets. What is known is that both her and her husband gave a crap-ton to local monasteries and churches. 

Analysis:  Some see this as a legend of rebirth and fertility. Some see it as an act of purity and a form of religious right of passage. I prefer the socio-economic analysis. Godiva is creating a bridge between the rich and the poor. She represents the compassion the impoverished wanted and her husband represented the oppressive upper class. And Peeping Tom represented that creepy guy we all know who is watching you in the bar...

Blame it on the Victorians: After Tennyson wrote a version of the legend as a poem, the 1800s became full of paintings and statues depicting the lady with her hair covering key parts of her body. Her head is hanging with some kind of mix of shame and determination on her face. I could say these artists were attempting to show a version of the world where they believed some medieval landowners were kind, but honestly, I think they just wanted to paint and sculpt naked women.

Final Thoughts:  I like the versions where Peeping Tom is blinded for his disrespect.