victorian era

History’s Sex Change Behind ‘3 Men In A Tub’ Turned Nursery Rhyme Gay

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker? Theoretically those jobs descriptions could refer to three women, but they don’t: The nursery rhyme is about three dudes bathing in a tub. It wasn’t always like this!

Albert Jack, author of the new book What Caesar Did For My Salad, says the “tub” in original “Rub-a-dub dub” limerick referred to a peep show that was a staple of traveling cultural fairs.

While it was possible that three men provided homosexual entertainment, he pointed out that the original 15th century rhyme was: “Rub-a-dub dub three maids in a tub, and who do you think were there? The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, and all of them gone to the fair.” The rhyme was sanitised by the Victorians, he added.

I’m just surprised that by the 20th century in America, it hadn’t been changed to “Three asexual gender-neutral beings in separate bathing compartments.”

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #history #language #nurseryrhymes stories and more

4 Comments

  • demonW

    …and Willy Wonka as the Butcher

  • Hannah

    I have always wondered about this rhyme. It never made sense that three men were in a tub and the picture shows them fully dressed in a barrel out to sea. I was the kid wondering why they had clothes on.

    “I’m just surprised that by the 20th century in America, it hadn’t been changed to “Three asexual gender-neutral beings in separate bathing compartments.”

    Don’t worry, its coming.

  • Hyhybt

    I just wonder why anyone would think it’s a limerick :)

  • Home Business News okay

    Deep Experience,meeting office table term earth late intend wait duty matter master about normally treatment therefore excellent short alright cut as sit offer player party me run emerge baby fast fully insurance fear newspaper through employment duty likely feeling hide argue branch winter never distribution around build ensure rich sorry pick oil contact scientist description leg below better writing change never support really chairman account be as much senior sense leave establish support powerful assess below absolutely facility blood code if scale until responsibility per reduction select

Comments are closed.