COMMON ATTITUDES OF MEN TOWARDS WOMEN
literally hatred, or distrust of women. The concept is as old
as the Greeks who coined the term and, no doubt, a good deal older.
RELIGIO MEDICI a book published in 1642 that expounded Thomas Browne's attitudes.
"The whole world was made for
man; but the twelfth part of man for women: man is the whole world,
and the breath of God; women the rib and crooked piece of man."
*NOTE equality among the sexes
continued to appear an eccentric notion for a long time after
1405. Forest murmurs of female emancipation are scarcely to be
heard until the eighteenth century, explicit arguments in favor
of it only surface in the nineteenth century. The Enlightenment
did revive certain Renaissance ideas, not least that of female
access to wisdom and virtue. Of greater importance was the fact
that among the upper classes, influence and status depended more
on birth (and wealth) than on sex.
WOMEN PROMOTERS FOR EQUALITY AND
LOUIS SEBASTIAN MERCIER
published in 1770 a utopian novel about what Paris life would
be like in the year 2440:
The Bastille has been replaced by
a temple dedicated to Clemency; religion is rational, and the
Supreme Being is worshipped in a temple roofed with glass, through
which His creation can be appreciated better than through stone
arches; politics and economics are rational and just, with no
one idle and no one exploited; libraries, public and private,
have been expurgated, corrupted or worldly works burnt, history
banned altogether. Marriage customs, too, have altered, with love
the only basis for a union, dowries abolished and divorce legalized.
But the fate of the women has scarcely improved. Mercier is sentimental,
moralizing, and pretentious. His portrait of women in an ideal
age reflects his intellectual standards, which would be those
of several generations.
OLYMPE DE GOUGES
wrote a Declaration of the Rights of Women in 1791. It
came to nothing. Its author died under the guillotine two years
later, not for her feminism, but for having taken the defense
of the king, Louis XVI. Following are the first three articles
of the preamble of the Declaration of the Rights of Women:
ARTICLE I Woman is born free
and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can
be based only on the common utility.
ARTICLE II The purpose of any
political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible
rights of women and man; these rights are liberty, property, security,
and especially resistance to oppression.
ARTICLE III The principle of
all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing
but the union of women and man; no body and no individual can
exercise any authority which does not come expressly from it [the
PETITION DES FAMMES DU TIERS written in 1789 by the women of the French Revolution.
" We ask for Enlightenment and
jobs, not to usurp man's authority, but to rise in their esteem
and to have the means of living safe from misfortune."
EMMANEUL SIEYES spokesman for the third estate during the French Revolution wrote:
"Woman, at least as things now
stand, children, foreigners, in short those who contribute nothing
to the public establishment, should have no direct influence on
MARY WOLLENSTONECRAFT wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792.
"Women are told from their infancy,
and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge
of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper,
outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile
kind of propriety, will obtain for them the protection of man,
and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for,
at least, twenty years of their lives. Youth is the season for
love in both sexes, but in those days of thoughtless enjoyment
provision should be made for the more important years of life,
when reflection takes the place of sensation... The woman who
has been taught to please will soon find that her charms are oblique
sunbeams, and that they cannot have much effect on her husband's
heart when they are seen every day, when the summer is passed
and gone. Will she then have sufficient native energy to look
into herself for comfort, and cultivate her dormant faculties?"
A. WALKER wrote in 1840 Woman Physiologically Considered as to Mind, Morals, Marriage, Matrimonial Slavery, Infidelity, Divorce.
"It is evident that the man,
possessing reasoning faculties, muscular power, and courage to
employ it, is qualified of being a protector; the woman, being
little capable of reasoning, feeble, and timid, requires protection.
Under such circumstances, the man naturally governs; the woman
as naturally obeys... It would be as rational to contend for man's
rights to bear children, as it is to argue for woman's participation
in philosophy or legislation."
JOHN STUART MILL wrote The Subjection of Women in 1869.
"...We may safely assert that
the knowledge which men can acquire of women, even as they have
been and are, without reference to what they might be, is wretchedly
imperfect and superficial, and always will be so, until women
themselves have told all that they have to tell."
confirmed the conclusion that the on average the female incline
to passivity, the males to activity. In his view, males are stronger,
handsomer, or more emotional, because ancestral forms happened
to become so in a slight degree. In other words, the reward of
breeding success gradually perpetuated and perfected a casual
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR wrote The Second Sex in 1949. In it he traced the role of women in societies that kept them dependent, married, pregnant, tied to children, home and men.
"Men control society, condemn
women to secondary status, and prevent them from becoming autonomous
individuals capable of claiming equality with them."
LETTER ON WOMEN written by the Catholic Church in 1988. The Church remains one of the great institutions with a say on women's image and selfimage.
"Women not only continue to
carry the bulk of everyday work in the parish; they are also renewing
the church's traditions of feminine spirituality as a source of
inspiration and growth. Women of scripture and recognized saints
are important in their personal and spiritual renewal."