Lady Castelloza Speaks Out Against Sexual Feudalism & Gender Inequality

By Douglas Galbi

Good lady, you may burn or hang him
or do anything you happen to desire,
for there’s nothing that he can refuse you,
as such you have him without any limits.

{ Bona domna, ardre.l podetz o pendre,
o far tot so que.us vengua a talen,
que res non es qu’el vos puesca defendre,
aysi l’avetz ses tot retenemen. } [1]

trobairitz Na Castelloza

Men have long been sexually disadvantaged. While men’s structural disadvantages are scarcely acknowledged within gynocentric society, a small number of medieval women writers courageously advocated for men. In Occitania early in the thirteenth century, the extraordinary trobairitz Lady Castelloza spoke out boldly against gender inequality in love and men having the status of serfs in sexual feudalism.

And if she tells you a high mountain is a plain,
agree with her,
and be content with both the good and ill she sends;
that way you’ll be loved.

{ e s’ela.us ditz d’aut puoig que sia landa,
vos l’an crezatz,
e plassa vos lo bes e.l mals q’il manda,
c’aissi seretz amatz. } [2]

Just as is the case for many women today, many medieval women didn’t adequately support and defend men. When Giraut de Bornelh asked his lovely friend Alamanda about his love difficulties, she advised him to be totally subservient to his lady. Alamanda was a maiden to that lady. Lord Giraut apparently had lost his lady’s love by seeking sex with a woman who was not her equal, probably none other than her maiden Alamanda. But what had that lady done to him? She had lied to him at least five times before! When women speak, men should not just listen and believe. Unwillingness to question a woman led a Harvard Law professor to personal disaster. Men should not act as doormats for women or as women’s kitchen servants.

The trobairitz Maria de Ventadorn insisted to Gui d’Ussel that a woman should retain her superior position even in a love relationship with a man. Gui felt that men and women in love should be equals. But Maria wanted men to fulfill all the pleas and commands of their lady-lovers. That’s the pernicious doctrine of yes-dearism. Just say no to female supremacists!

Lady {Maria de Ventadorn}, among us they say
that when a lady wants to love,
she should honor her love on equal terms
because they are equally in love.

Gui d’Ussel, at the beginning lovers
say no such thing;
instead, each one, when he wants to court,
says, with hands joined and on his knees:
“Lady, permit me to serve you honestly
as your servant man” and that’s the way she takes him.
I rightly consider him a traitor if, having given
himself as a servant, he makes himself an equal.

{ Dompna, sai dizon de mest nos
Que, pois que dompna vol amar,
Engalmen deu son drut onrar,
Pois engalmen son amoros!

Gui d’Uissel, ges d’aitals razos
Non son li drut al comenssar,
Anz ditz chascus, qan vol prejar,
Mans jointas e de genolos:
Dompna, voillatz qe-us serva franchamen
Cum lo vostr’om! et ella enaissi-l pren!
Eu vo-l jutge per dreich a trahitor
Si-s rend pariers e-s det per servidor. } [3]

immixtio manuum: feudal homage

Because of their great love for women, men are reluctant to demand that women treat them with equal human respect and dignity. Men tend toward gyno-idolatry. The man on his knees before a woman, with his hands clasped, is making a gesture of faithful subordination. She then puts her hands around his hands to complete this feudal gesture known as the immixtio mannum {intermingling of hands}. A man today who goes down on his knee to ask a woman for her hand in marriage is preparing to be a vassal to his woman-lord midons. That’s folly. That’s fine preparation for a sexless marriage. From studying Ovid the great teacher of love to modern empirical work on sexual selection, men should know that self-abasement is a losing love strategy.

Oh Love, what shall I do?
Shall we two live in strife?
The griefs that must ensue
would surely end my life.
Unless my Lady might
receive me in that place
she lies in, to embrace
and press against me tight
her body, smooth and white.

Good Lady, thank you for
your love so true and fine;
I swear I love you more
than all past loves of mine.
I bow and join my hands
yielding myself to you;
the one thing you might do
is give me one sweet glance
if sometime you’ve the chance.

{ Amors, e que.m farai?
Si garrai ja ab te?
Ara cuit qu’e.n morrai
Del dezirer que.m ve,
Si.lh bela lai on jai
No m’aizis pres de se,
Qu’eu la manei e bai
Et estrenha vas me
So cors blanc, gras e le.

Bona domna, merce
Del vostre fin aman!
Qu’e.us pliu per bona fe
C’anc re non amei tan.
Mas jonchas, ab col cle,
Vos m’autrei e.m coman;
E si locs s’esdeve,
Vos me fatz bel semblan,
Que molt n’ai gran talan! } [4]

The medieval trobairitz Castelloza sympathized with men’s subordination in love. She loved a man who didn’t love her. A woman today in such a situation might open a dating app and enjoy a huge number of solicitations from men. Then, if necessary to boost her self-esteem, she might go for sexual flings with a few, or at least exploit traditional anti-men gender dating roles to get some free dinners. With a keen sense for social justice, Castelloza refused to live according to such female privilege:

I certainly know that it pleases me,
even though people say it’s not right
for a lady to plead her own cause with a knight,
and make long speeches all the time to him.
But whoever says this doesn’t know
that I want to implore before dying,
since in imploring I find sweet healing,
so I plead to him who gives me grave trouble.

{ Eu sai ben qu’a mi esta gen,
Si ben dison tuig que mout descove
Que dompna prec ja cavalier de se,
Ni que l tenga totz temps tam lonc pressic,
Mas cil c’o diz non sap gez ben chausir.
Qu’ieu vueil preiar ennanz que.m lais morir,
Qu’el preiar ai maing douz revenimen,
Can prec sellui don ai greu pessamen. } [5]

Castelloza recognized that, in pleading with a man for love, she was transgressing the norms of men-oppressing courtly love. When women treat men merely as dogs, women don’t experience the full gift of men’s tonic masculinity. The master dehumanizes herself in dehumanizing her man-slaves. Castelloza, in contrast, understood that a man’s love can ennoble a woman. She understood that a man can offer much to even the most privileged woman.

I’m setting a bad pattern
for other loving women,
since it’s usually men who send
messages of well-chosen words.
Yet I consider myself cured,
friend, when I implore you.
for keeping faith is how I woo.
A noble women would grow richer
if you graced her with the gift
of your embrace or your kiss.

{ Mout aurei mes mal usatge
A las autras amairitz,
C’hom sol trametre mesatge,
E motz triaz e chauzitz.
Es ieu tenc me per gerida,
Amics, a la mia fe,
Can vos prec — c’aissi.m conve;
Que plus pros n’es enriquida
S’a de vos calqu’aondansa
De baisar o de coindansa. } [6]

Men’s lack of imagination and unwillingness to protest helps to keep them in their gender prison of gynocentrism. Men rightly appreciate, admire, and love courageous, transgressive women like the trobairitz Castelloza. But men must take responsibility for winning their own liberation. A man showing loving concern about his close friend getting married isn’t enough. Men should be more daring and, like Matheolus, raise stirring voices of men’s sexed protest. Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOWs) struggled against misandry and castration culture even in the Middle Ages, and they continue to do so today. MGTOW is merely prudent personal action. To dismantle gynocentric oppression, men must recover, create, and disseminate protest poetry as potent as the medieval troubadours’ feudal songs of men’s love serfdom.

Peire, if spanning two or three years
the world were run as would please me,
I’ll tell you how with women it would be:
they would never be courted with tears,
rather, they would suffer such love-fears
that they would honor us,
and court us, rather than we, them.

{ Peire, si fos dos ans o tres
Lo segles faihz al meu plazer,
De domnas vos dic eu lo ver:
Non foran mais preyadas ges,
Ans sostengran tan greu pena
Qu’elas nos feiran tan d’onor
C’ans nos prejaran que nos lor. } [7]

*  *  *  *  *

Notes:

[1] Domna and Donzela, “Bona domna, tan vos ay fin coratge” ll. 17-20, Occitan text and English translation (modified insubstantially) from Bruckner, Shepard & White (1995) pp. 92-3. Here’s some meta-data about this trobairitz song. It’s a debate poem (tenso). The currently best critical edition of trobairitz / troubadour tensos is Harvey, Paterson & Radaelli (2010), but it’s expensive and not widely available. For analysis of the genre of tenso, McQueen (2015).

[2] Alamanda and Giraut de Bornelh, “S’ie.us qier conseill, bella amia Alamanda” ll. 13-16, Occitan text and English translation from Bruckner, Shepard & White (1995) pp. 42-3.

[3] Maria de Ventadorn and Gui d’Ussel, “Gui d’Ussel be.m pesa” ll. 25-8, 33-40, Occitan text and English translation (modified insubstantially) from Bruckner, Shepard & White (1995) pp. 38-41. This poem is also available in translation in Paden & Paden (2007). The immixtio manuum isn’t attested prior to 1100. West (2013) p. 211.

[4] Bernart de Ventadorn, “Pois preyatz me, senhor” ll. stanzas 4 & 6, Occitan text and English translation by W.D. Snodgrass from Kehew (2005) pp. 84-5. The Poemist offers online the full text and English translation.

Men’s abasement in sexual feudalism is pervasive in trobairitz song. Men engage in gyno-idolatry and imagine that they will die without a woman’s love:

I bow down to you, whom I love and adore,
and I am your liegeman and your household servant.
I yield myself up to you, who are the noblest
and the best being that was ever born of a mother.
And since I cannot help but love you,
for mercy’s sake, I beg you, don’t let me die.

{ Sopley vas vos, cuy yeu am et azor,
E suy vostres liges e domesgiers.
A vos m’autrey, qar etz la genser res
E la mielhers qu’anc de maire nasques.
E, quar no.m puesc de vos amar suffrir,
Per merce.us prec que no.m layssetz morir. }

Peire Bremont Ricas Novas, “Us covinens gentils cors plazentiers,” 3.3-8, Occitan text and English translation (modified) from Kay (1999) p. 217. Peire Bremont Ricas Novas was active in Province from about 1230 to 1241.

[5] Na {Lady} Castelloza, “Amics, s’ie.us trobes avinen” ll. 17-24 (stanza 3), Occitan text from Paden (1981), English trans. (modified) from Paden & Paden (2007). Bruckner, Shepard & White (1995) provides a slightly different Occitan text and English translation of all of Castelloza’s songs. Butterfly Crossings provides an online Occitan text and English translation of the full song, with commentary. Her commentary puts forward orthodox myth in service of gynocentrism:

by virtue of being a woman she is below him socially, thus rendering her statement simultaneously true and drawing attention to the place of women in society as opposed to the artificial pedestal they sit upon in traditional Troubadour poems. Regardless of her title, class, or wealth, in love, much like in life, the woman is beneath the man and must beg his favor like Castelloza here does.

Yup, so Anne of France was beneath day-laboring men gathering stones in fields.

Much influential recent scholarship on trobairitz has been based on dominant gender delusions. A relevant critique:

Gravdal’s argument here is based on her assumption that, for the men, powerlessness is a pose, a rhetorical strategy; the male speaker adopts an abased position only to use it as a springboard to higher status and sociopolitical clout. That Castelloza’s speaker does this as well is frequently overlooked, because it is assumed that for the women, powerlessness is a reality. This assumption is not supported by the evidence for noblewomen’s sociopolitical situation in Occitania during the time of the trobairitz.

Langdon (2001) p. 40.

[6] Castelloza, “Mout avetz faich lonc estatge” ll. 21-30 (stanza 3), Occitan text from Paden (1981), English trans. (modified) from Paden & Paden (2007). Butterfly Crossings again offers the full song, along with commentary. The commentary shows orthodox academic failure of self-consciousness:

Almost smirkingly Castelloza acknowledges that her behavior sets a terrible example for all other female lovers while synchronously encouraging them to do the same. She is not apologizing as much as drawing attention to the solidarity between women who will now partake in this perhaps liberating behavior and act upon their desires as opposed to remaining within the confined roles of passive love interests.

Women unite in liberating behavior: ask men out and buy men dinner!

In Castelloza’s songs, the man she loves has neither voice nor activity. Siskin & Storme (1989) pp. 119-20. Self-centeredness is a common characteristic of women’s writing, particularly in the last few decades of literary scholarship.

[7] Peire d’Alvrnha (possibly) and Bernart de Ventadorn, “Amics Bernartz de Ventadorn,” stanza 4, Occitan text from Trobar, my English translation benefiting from that of Rosenberg, Switten & Le Vot (1998). James H. Donalson provides an online Occitan text and English translation for the full song.

Bernart de Ventadorn was one of the greatest troubadour love poets. His desire for women to experience men’s subordinate position in love is coupled with appreciation for gender equality and reciprocity in love:

The love of two good lovers lies
in pleasing and in yearning’s thrill
from which no good thing will arise
unless they match each other’s will.
The man was born an imbecile
who scolds her for her preference
or bids her do what she resents.

{ En agradar et en voler
es l’amors de dos fiṉs amants;
nulha res no·i pòt proṉ tener
se·l volontatz non es egals.
E cell es beṉ fols naturals
qui de çò que vòl la reprend
e·ilh lauza çò qu no·ilh es gent }

“Chantars no pot gaire valer,” Occitan text and English trans. (modified insubstantially) from A.Z. Foreman. For an alternate English translation, Paden & Paden (2007) pp. 74-5. While Bernart here unequally criticizes men, in an earlier stanza her criticized women whoring in loving men.

[images] (1) Na Castelloza. Illuminated initial in manuscript Chansonnier provençal (Chansonnier K). Created in the second half of the thirteenth century. Folio 110v in Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) MS. 12473. (2) Immixtio manuum: Feudal tenant show faithful subordination to a procurator of King James II of Majorca in Tautaval. Illumination made in 1293. Preserved as Archives Départementales de Pyrénées-Orientales 1B31.

References:

Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn, Laurie Shepard, and Sarah White, eds. and trans. 1995. Songs of the Women Troubadours. New York: Garland.

Harvey, Ruth, Linda M. Paterson, and Anna Radaelli. 2010. The Troubadour Tensos and Partimens: a critical edition. Cambridge: Brewer.

Kay, Sarah. 1999. “Desire and Subjectivity.” Ch. 13 (pp. 212-227) in Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay, eds. The Troubadours: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kehew, Robert, ed. 2005. Lark in the Morning: the Verses of the Troubadours: a bilingual edition. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

Langdon, Alison. 2001. “‘Pois dompna s’ave/d’amar’: Na Castellosa’s Cansos and Medieval Feminist Scholarship.” Medieval Feminist Forum 32: 32-42.

McQueen, Kelli. 2015. That’s Debatable!: Genre Issues in Troubadour Tensos and Partimens. Thesis for Degree of Master of Music. Theses and Dissertations. Paper 819. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Paden, William D. 1981. “The Poems of the Trobairitz Na Castelloza.” Romance Philology. 35 (1): 158-182.

Paden, William D., and Frances Freeman Paden, trans. 2007. Troubadour Poems from the South of France. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Rosenberg, Samuel N., Margaret Louise Switten, and Gérard Le Vot. 1998. Songs of the Troubadours and Trouvères: an anthology of poems and melodies. New York: Garland Pub.

Siskin, H. Jay and Julie A. Storme. 1989. “Suffering Love: The Reversed Order in the Poetry of Na Castelloza.” Ch. 6 (pp. 113-127) in Paden, William D., ed. The Voice of the Trobairitz: perspectives on the women troubadours. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

West, Charles. 2013. Reframing the Feudal Revolution: political and social transformation between Marne and Moselle, c. 800 – c. 1100. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

*Article licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

What is a ‘Modwife’?

*The following is an entry from the Wiki4Men series.

A Modwife (noun), refers to women who have embraced multi-option lives over more traditional roles, and who accept or encourage multi-option lives for their male partners. While containing the syllable ‘wife,’ the term applies equally to non-married women who follow or advocate the principles outlined in this article.

The term was coined in response to the popular trend in Tradwives – ie. wives who enact or advocate a traditional gender role based on Western middle-class femininity of the mid twentieth century. Both the tradwife and modwife eschew feminist prescriptions for relationships, which are geared toward female domination and not to partnerships based on reciprocal labor, value and devotion (for more about the feminist relationships model, see Gynowife). A distaste for feminism, however, is where the similarities between tradwife and modwife end.

Philosophical outlook

The unlikelihood that modern women will embrace ‘Tradwife’ roles of yesteryear with genuine commitment underpins attraction to the modwife option. Thus for best-case scenario, today’s multi-option women can invite their men to do same – to embrace multi-option lives. The modwife’s modus operandi is based on personal liberty within relationships, extending a freedom of opportunity to her partner such as society has championed for her.

Yet few multi-option women today are willing to extend that multi-option liberty to men, preferring instead to pocket the advantages extended by women’s ‘liberation’ while expecting their boyfriends and husbands to remain in the mismatched role of protector and provider. There are women however, limited in number as they are, who lean toward the model of commensurate liberty for both men and women in relationships — some of them will be recognized among the supporters of the men’s rights movement.

That libetarian spirit is usually understood as belonging to the political sphere, but it is accepted by the modwife as a guiding principle in her relationship with men. It emphasizes individual choice, relative autonomy, voluntary association, individual judgement, free will, self-determination, and free labor-sharing arrangements and agreements. In a word; freedom.

Four relationship models

Below are the four relationship models alluded to in this introductory survey:

Relationship models.

The compliment of a Modwife is a Modhusband, hence a man and woman together – Modcouple.

Meet Peter Wright

*The following is a Q & A interview by Jewel Eldora – PW

Peter Wright is an Australian researcher and writer who has published research and analysis on the history of Gynocentrism since 2007.  Wright has written booksinterviews, and academic research articles on chivalry, gynocentrism, human attachment, and cultural mythologies. In addition to being the unofficial historian of the Men’s Rights and MGTOW movements, he’s also a contributor and editor of A Voice For Men.   

In 2017, Mr. Wright agreed to publish my first series of 5 articles entitled, “There’s a Flaw in All Men, We’re Doomed and Only Women Can Save the Day”, in their entirety and unedited. 

The criticism and feedback from that community has been invaluable to my writing ever since.

OUR INTERVIEW

JE: How many years have you been writing about Gynocentrism?

PW: Around 15 years. 

JE: How many books and articles have you written, edited, published?

PW: 150 or so articles and ten books. 

JE: What was it that gave you the motivation to start writing this work?

PW: Like most men I’ve experienced various forms of anti-male bias. However my interest in gynocentrism resulted more from observations of a cultural over-valuing of all things female, and the devaluing of all things male, which raised the question of which social tropes might be contributing to this mindset. 

While feminist derogation of men was an obvious provocateur, the roots of the problem seemed to go much deeper and prior to feminism. After a survey of European history it became apparent that a quixotic version of male chivalry was responsible for the evolving fetishization of women, and not the usually-cited bogeymen such as Marxism or feminism, which only compounded the trend. Having discovered cultural roots for this tendency I thought it might be helpful to document a history of sexual relations starting from the period of romantic chivalry, providing a kind of road-map for how we got here and, in theory, a road-map for how we might walk back some of the more malignant outcomes.

JE: In the nearly 5 years since my first article, you and I have had some lively, private debates.

I think we agree that men have been devalued to the point where it’s beginning to hurt women. I think that we also agree we’re witnessing an incredible mass hysteria. We have some different points of view on how we got here and what might be done about it.

I’d like to see if I can state my argument and steelman your argument.  Correct me where I’m wrong.

My General Argument (80% Nature | 20% Nurture):

I’ve posited that 50 years of propaganda, ideological class war and social movements, exploiting biases and human group and valuation has a tendency to increase stress. That stress is exploiting evolutionary biases and rendering the humanity of men invisible behind the enforcement of cross-cultural taboos. 

This has been made possible by effective Class War propaganda, State force, and benefits replacing men within the family, combined with increasing stress from social media/technology.

PW: I have found most of your arguments compelling, arguments that you previously published as a series to a large readership who were both bemused by their novelty and genuinely intrigued by their potential explanatory power. With a plethora of one-dimensional explanations on offer for the deteriorating relations between men and women, many people hunger for something more substantial – and your series provided precisely that; depth. 

You took findings from evolutionary psychology and biology and repackaged them for a mainstream consumption, and gave them your own twist. For example your work on female ingroup preference, parasite stress, and associated disgust mechanisms has helped to highlight how biological reflexes are exploited by nefarious actors who aim to stir up social panics – of which the final result is, too often, a form of male outgroup derogation. 

As you mentioned a moment ago, all of this ends up hurting women too as they find their own lives and intimate interactions with men become paranoid, stifled, and essentially poisoned.  

JE: Me Steelmanning Your General Argument (80% Nurture | 20% Nature);

As evidence you present different cultures that still value masculinity and appreciate men for their inherent strengths, complexity management and boundary maintenance attributes and skills. 

Obviously, you have an enormous body of research and work that doesn’t fit comfortably in a paragraph.

Where am I Wrong? And What Am I Missing? 

PW: That’s a fair synopsis of my position, with the only quibble being with your characterization of ‘80% Nurture | 20% Nature.’ I appreciate that your percentages here refer to a relative influence I’m ascribing to cultural signifiers (nurture), vs. the influence of unmodulated biological reflexes (nature) in the formation of our moral views about men and women today – a.k.a. the skewed gynocentric worldview of the Anglosphere.

In that scenario the 80/20 description reflects the fact that biological imperatives, as expressed by an individual, will always be subject to customs of the body politic along with being subject to punishments for transgressing social norms – even to the point where an individual can be put to death for taboo expressions of sexuality, hypergamy, unacceptable expressions of disgust and the like. In such cases we see a win for cultural conventions, and a loss for the selfish contrarian-gene impulse expressed by a given individual.

More broadly speaking, I prefer to characterize my position as 100% nature and 100% nurture – you’ll never see a human environment without biology, and you’ll never see biology without a facilitating environment, even if it’s hard to know where the center of gravity lies between the two forces. 

JE: What was the most unexpected discovery or set of discoveries you’ve made in your research?

PW: Being somewhat of a reductive biological-determinist in my former outlook, I was surprised to learn just how wildly human cultures and associated human behaviors changed from era to era, and from place to place. In one culture you can see sexual license, in another sexual repression; or in one culture you can witness a parasitic-disgust response toward men’s beards, and in another you witness the exact opposite disgust for the smooth-skinned faces of men who don’t sport beards – beards which are seen as pure and divine features gifted by God. Such flexibility of human behavior forced me to make big adjustments in my thinking.

JE: What is the most disturbing discovery or set of discoveries you’ve made in your research?

PW: I’m in awe of how human societies display a kind of organic flow, possessing inbuilt homeostatic mechanisms that steer us in the correct direction when societies go a little bit wacky.

The disturbing thing I’ve noticed is that owners of mass media such as newspapers, radio, television, and now internet tech, can censor the organic voices calling for homeostasis.

That action takes us into a mechanistic and anti-human direction that I think is soul destroying, both for the individual and for the culture. I think some of your work touches on examples of this in action, particularly in the State of Minnesota. 

JE: My target audience are lawyers, Intellectual Dark Web types, and Unwoke Minnesotans.  What message would you like to send to them?

PW: I would encourage Minnesotans to read your work and follow you to get up to speed on the tendency of Minnesota to be a generator of global panics. The choice you offer between being woke and awake is critical. 

JE: What message would you send to your fellow Australians?

PW: Count your blessings that you live on a massive island with no border crises to suffer. 

JE: What gives you hope?

PW: What gives me hope is to remember that culture always changes.

__________________________________________________________

*Interview first published on the Jewel Eldora blog here: