Adieu Grisette!

There is no modern equivalent to the 19th century French grisette. Instead, there are at least three different aspects of the grisette that survive in our modern society. The grisette’s characteristics can be seen through the role of the modern-day nanny who fulfills the grisette’s role as a homemaker, the development of cohabitation on college campuses which replaced the grisette’s role as a living partner, and the change of norms on college campuses such as the development of hookup culture that replaced the grisette’s role as a conveniently sexual object. There is also a general continuity between the sexualization of the grisette and the nanny. The sexualization attributed to nannies is inarguable; browse any pornography site, and you will find nanny-themed pornography. Additionally, there are persistent sexual associations people make when men and women cohabit. Many parents today would be horrified to find their 18 year old children living in a tiny dorm room with a student of the opposite gender presumably for fear of a sexual relationship. Our parents grew up living in seperate dorms, playing on seperate teams and using seperate bathrooms. Today, especially at Oberlin, coed sports, dorms and bathrooms are all encouraged to help break the gendery binary (male and female.) For parents, the thought of their daughter staying home from school to cook and clean for a boy who was away at school seems outrageous. Women in higher education is now an important and encouraged part of society—that wasn't the case in the 1830s. Though the grisette no longer lives, this exhibit seeks to trace her path and disappearance into modern society.