CHRISTINE DE PISAN (1364-1430)
“It’s wrong to call women inconstant,
Or flighty, or fickle, or distant.
They’re much sharper than men,
More at ease with a pen,
And proudly sophistic resistant."
Note: In The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), Christine de Pisan defends the cognitive and ethical abilities of women against popular and slanderous misconceptions, using philosophical and theological arguments (e.g., God is good and would not have created women with the natural deficiencies commonly attributed to them) as well as a breadth of evidence gathered from past testimony of the intelligence and virtue of various women. She highlights, and then dismisses, various stereotypes of female dispositions and behavior (though “distance” isn’t one of them – I needed a word to rhyme with “inconstant” and “resistant” – if you can think of a better word, let me know, and in the 2nd edition of this blog, I will be happy to use it!). She explains some of the social and psychological causes of misogyny, and emphasizes the importance of educating both women and men as a means of inculcating virtue. She also holds that men are naturally more foolish and rash, and women naturally gentler and peace-loving. So she doesn’t attribute all stereotypes to social or psychological forces.