Title Background

Gender and Exchange in <i>Piers Plowman</i>.

Gender and Exchange in Piers Plowman.

Why Meed is female in PPl though not exclusively so in the genre of venality satire is subordinated to the meaning of the allegory, even by those who take her sex into account. She is ambiguous rather than ambivalent; as object she functions as wealth and as woman, her meaning inescapably associated with how men exchange her. WL uses her to displace the issue of the social circulation of money onto that of the patrilineal family and patriarchal marriage; unlike Holy Church her lineage must be legally proven. As object of exchange and of desire she has no subjectivity or agency, and is merely wealth and reward that circulates without reference to its production. Men’s business thus comes to be seen as indifferent to its own relations of productivity, and women’s business is rendered unavailable for analysis.