The other Beauty Myth

Woman_at_a_Mirror__1907
In 1991 Naomi Wolf wrote The Beauty Myth where she claimed women are oppressed by cultural pressure to be beautiful. What she failed to tell us is where this habit originated, and how it is essentially used to gain power over the male sex.

In human beings, various compulsions and desires come into conflict with one another, each jostling for momentary supremacy where one imperative will usurp the claims of another. That game has reached a problematical impasse during the last 800 years because, during that relatively short time span, human culture has thrown its patronage into developing, intensifying and enforcing sexual gamesmanship to the degree that our sexual compulsions appear pumped up on steroids and taken to extremes never before seen in human society (myths about widespread Roman orgies notwithstanding). The obsession with female beauty forms a significant part of the problem.

If we lived back in Ancient Greece, Rome or anywhere else we would view sexual intercourse as little more than a bodily function akin to eating, defecating and sleeping – a basic bodily function without the hype. After the Middle Ages, however, it developed into a commodity to pimp and trade, and the new cult of sexualized romance that arose from it resulted in a frustration of our more basic attachment needs – a frustration aided and abetted by social institutions placing sexual manipulation at the center of human interactions. This development entrenched a new belief that beauty was the native possession of women, and only women, and conversely that the desire to possess beauty was the lot of males alone, thus creating a division between the sexes that remains in place today.

Compare this division with the beliefs of older cultures – India, Rome, Greece etc – and we see a stark contrast, with classical cultures equally apportioning beauty to males and sexual desire to females. In ancient Greece for example males used to grow their hair long and comb it adoringly, rub olive oil on their skin and pay devoted attention to attire -the colors of the toga, the materials it was woven from, the way it was draped on the body- and there is perhaps no modern culture on earth where male beauty is more marvelously celebrated in the arts than it was in Greece.

Another example comes from the Biblical Song of Solomon, in which the appreciation of beauty and associated longing flows both ways between the man and women, whereas in romantic love beauty is ascribed only to the female, and desire only to the male – the roles are radically split. Moreover, in the Song of Songs there is no hint of the gynocentric arrangement; no appearance of man as a vassal towards women who are both Lord and deity. For the lovers in Song of Songs there already exists a God and so there is no worshipping of the woman as a quasi divinity who can redeem the man’s pathetic existence – as in “romantic” love.

According to Robert Solomon, romantic love required a dramatic change in the self-conception of women. He recounts;

They too were freed from an identity that depended wholly on their social roles, that is, their blood and legal ties with men, as daughters, wives and mothers. It is in this period in Christian history that looks become of primary importance, that being beautiful now counts for possibly everything, not just an attractive feature in a daughter or wife (which probably counted very little anyway) but as itself a mark of character, style, personality. Good grooming, as opposed to propriety, came to define the individual woman, and her worth, no longer dependent on the social roles and positions of her father, husband or children, now turned on her looks. The premium was placed on youth and beauty, and though some women even then may have condemned this emphasis as unjust, it at least formed the first breach with a society that, hitherto, had left little room for personal initiative or individual advancement. The prototype of the Playboy playmate, we might say, was already established eight hundred years ago, and did not require, as some people have argued recently, Hugh Hefner’s slick centerfolds to make youth, beauty and a certain practiced vacuity into a highly esteemed personal virtue. The problem is why we still find it difficult to move beyond this without, like some Platonists, distaining beauty altogether – the opposite error. [1]

Modesta Pozzo penned a book in the 1500’s entitled The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men. The work purportedly records a conversation among seven Venetian noblewomen that explores nearly every aspect of women’s experience. One of the topics explored is women’s use of cosmetics and clothing to enhance beauty, including mention of hair tinting for which there is twenty-six different recipes. The following is the voice of Cornelia who explains that men’s sexual desire of women (and women’s control of that process via beauty) is the only reason men can love:

“Thinking about it straight, what more worthy and what lovelier subject can one find than the beauty, grace and virtues of women?… I’d say that a perfectly composed outer corporeal form is something most worthy of our esteem, for it is this visible outer form that is the first to present itself to our eye and our understanding: we see it and instantly love and desire it, prompted by an instinct embedded in us by nature. “It’s not because men love us that they go in for all these displays of love and undying devotion, rather, it’s because they desire us. So that in this case love is the offspring, desire the parent, or, in other words, love is the effect and desire the cause. And since taking away the cause means taking away the effect, that means that men love us for just as long as they desire us and once desire, which is the cause of their vain love, has died in them (either because they have got what they wanted or because they have realized that they are not going to be able to get it), the love that is the effect of that cause dies at exactly the same time.” [written 1592]

Cavalier 1964What I find interesting is that since the Middle Ages, as evidenced in Cornelia’s words, we have collectively conflated male love with sexual desire as if they are inseparable, and to women’s ability to control that male “love” through a skillful cultivation of beauty. One might be forgiven for refusing to believe this is love at all, that it is instead the creation of an intense desire for sexual pleasure due to the call of beauty. Observation shows that sex-generated “love” does not necessarily lead to compatibility for partners across a broad range of interests, and may occur between people who are, aside from sexual attraction, totally incompatible, with little in common, which is why the relationship often goes so badly when there occur gaps in the sexual game.

This raises the alternative notion of love based on compatibility, on what we might term ‘friendship-love’ which is not based solely on sexual desire – in fact sexual desire is not even essential to it though often present. Friendship love is about interests the partners share in common, a meeting of compatible souls and a getting to know each other on a level playing field. However aiming for friendship-love means women are no longer required to pull the strings of sexual desire as is practiced with beauty-based allure, which ultimately frees men and women to meet as equals in power and, with luck, find much in common to sustain a durable relationship.

Nancy Friday

[1] Robert Solomon, Love: Emotion, Myth, Metaphor, 1990 (p.62)
[2] Modesta Pozzo, The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men, 2007
[3] Nancy Friday, The Power of Beauty, 1997

La Querelle des Femmes

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The 800 year old Querelle des Femmes translates as the “quarrel about women” and amounts to what we today refer to as the gender-war. In its narrow sense, this term refers to a genre of Latin and French writing in which the superiority of one or the other sex has been proposed with the primary aim of determining the status of women.

In the broader sense, the Querelle encompasses all writing in which the relative merits of the sexes are discussed with a gynocentric focus (ie. femmes), sometimes using arguments and material drawn from the more narrowly defined debate. The centuries-long quarrel often revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women. If we consider the longevity of this revolution we might be inclined to agree with Barbarosa’s claim that today’s feminism is the tail end of “a perpetual advocacy machine for women”.

The timeframe of the querelle begins in the twelfth century, and after 800 years of debate finds itself perpetuated in the feminist-driven reiterations of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the larger querelle came to an end in the 1700s).

For more about the history of La Querelle des Femmes, the following paper by historian Joan Kelly is instructive. The paper was written with a feminist focus thus leaving out all but the most superficial characterization of the male experience of gender relations. Nevertheless it provides much important history and for that I have no hesitation in recommending it:

Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des Femmes
By Joan Kelly
(1982)

We generally think of feminism, and certainly of feminist theory, as taking rise in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most histories of the Anglo-American women’s movement acknowledge feminist “forerunners” in individual figures such as Anne Hutchinson, and in women inspired by the English and French revolutions, but only with the women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls in 1848 do they recognize the beginnings of a continuously developing body of feminist thought. Histories of French feminism claim a longer past. They tend to identify Christine de Pisan (1364-1430?) as the first to hold modern feminist views and then to survey other early figures who followed her in expressing prowoman ideas up until the time of the French Revolution. New work is now appearing that will give us a fuller sense of the richness, coherence, and continuity of early feminist thought, and I hope this paper contributes to that end. What I hope to demonstrate is that there was a 400-year-old tradition of women thinking about women and sexual politics in European society before the French Revolution. Feminist theorizing arose in the fifteenth century, in intimate association with and in reaction to the new secular culture of the modern European state. It emerged as the voice of literate women who felt themselves and all women maligned and newly oppressed by that culture, but who were empowered by it at the same time to speak out in their defense. Christine de Pisan was the first such feminist thinker, and the four-century-long debate that she sparked, known as the querelle des femmes, became the vehicle through which most early feminist thinking evolved. The early feminists did not use the term “feminist,” of course. If they had applied any name to themselves, it would have been something like defenders or advocates of women, but it is fair to call this long line of prowomen writers that runs from Christine de Pisan to Mary Wollstonecraft by the name we use for their nineteenth- and twentieth-century descendants. Latter-day feminism, for all its additional richness, still incorporates the basic positions the feminists of the querelle were the first to take.

pdficon_largeTo read the rest of Joan Kelly’s essay online click here

See also related: Querelle du Mariage

Modesta Pozzo: gynocentrism in 1590

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Modesta Pozzo, a protofeminist living in the 1500s in Venice wrote a gynocentric work entitled The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men. The work purportedly records a conversation among seven Venetian Noblewomen that explores nearly every aspect of women’s experience in both theoretical and practical terms. The following excerpts begin with comments by one of the women, Corinna:
 
Line breakCorinna said: “Helena has not managed to prove anything except that men do have some merits when they are married — which is to say, when they are united with a wife. Now that I don’t deny, but without that help from their wives, men are just like unlit lamps: in themselves, they are no good for anything, but, when lit, they can be handy to have around the house. In other words, if a man has some virtues, it is because he has picked them up from the woman he lives with, whether mother, nurse, sister, or wife — for over time, inevitably, some of her good qualities will rub off on him. Indeed, quite apart from the good examples women provide for them, all men’s finest and most virtuous achievements derive from their love for women, because, feeling themselves unworthy of their lady’s grace, they try by any means they can to make themselves pleasing to her in some way. That men study at all, that they cultivate the virtues, that they groom themselves and become well-bred men of the world –in short, that they finish up equipped with countless pleasing qualities– is all due to women.”

Virginia said: “If it is true what you say, and men are as imperfect as you say they are, then why are they our superiors on every count?”

Corinna replied: “This pre-eminence is something they have unjustly arrogated to themselves. And when it’s said that women must be subject to men, the phrase should be understood in the same sense as we are subject to natural disasters, diseases, and all the other accidents of life: it’s not a case of being subject in the sense of obeying, but rather of suffering an imposition; not a case of serving them, but rather of tolerating them in a spirit of Christian charity, since they have been given to us by God as a spiritual trial. But they take the phrase in the contrary sense and set themselves up as tyrants over us, arrogantly usurping that domination over women that they claim is their right, but which is more properly ours. For don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”

Leonora said: “A woman, when she is segregated from male contact, has something divine about her and can achieve miracles, as long as she retains her natural virginity. That certainly isn’t the case with men, because it is only when a man has taken a wife that he is considered a real man and that he reaches the peak of happiness, honor, and greatness. The Romans in their day did not confer any important responsibilities on any man who did not have a wife; they did not allow him to take up a public office or to perform any serious duties relating to the Republic. Homer used to say that men without wives were scarcely alive. And if you want further proof of women’s superior dignity and authority, just think about the fact that if a man is married to a wise, modest, and virtuous woman, even if he is the most ignorant, shameless, and corrupt creature who has ever lived, he will never, for all his wickedness, be able to tarnish his wife’s reputation in the least. But if, through some mischance, a woman is lured by some persistent and unscrupulous admirer into losing her honor, then her husband is instantly and utterly shamed and dishonored by her act, however good, wise, and respectable he may be himself — as if he depended on her, rather than she on him. And indeed, just as a pain in the head causes the whole body to languish, so when women (who are superior by nature and thus legitimately the head and superior of their husbands) suffer some affront, so their husbands , as appendages and dependents, are also subject to the same misfortune and come to share in the ills of their wives as well as in their good fortune.”

Leonora said: “Do you not really believe that men do not recognize our worth? In fact they are quite aware of it, and, even though envy makes them reluctant to confess this in words, they cannot help revealing in their behavior a part of what they feel in their hearts. For anyone can see that when a man meets a woman in the street, or when he has some cause to talk to a woman, some hidden compulsion immediately urges him to pay homage to her and bow, humbling himself as her inferior. And similarly at church, or at banquets, women are always given the best places, and men behave with deference and respect toward women even of a much lower social status. And where love is concerned, what can I say? Which woman, however low-born, is below men’s notice? Which do they shrink from approaching? Is a man of the highest birth ashamed to consort with a peasant girl or a plebian — with his own servant, even? It is because he senses that these women’s natural superiority compensates for the low status fortune has conferred on them. It’s very different in the case of women: except in some completely exceptional freak cases, you never find a noblewoman falling in love with a man of low estate, and, moreover, it’s rare even to find a woman loving someone (apart from her husband) of the same social status. And that’s why everyone is so amazed when they hear of some transgression on the part of a woman: it’s felt to be a strange and exceptional piece of news (I’m obviously excepting courtesans here), while in the case of men, no one takes any notice, because sin for them is a matter of course and an everyday occurrence that it doesn’t seem remarkable any more. In fact, men’s corruption has reached such a point that when there is a man who is rather better than the others and does not share their bad habits, it is seen as a sign of unmanliness on his part and he is regarded as a fool. Indeed, many men would behave better if it were not for the pressure of custom, but, as things stand, they feel it would be shameful not to be as bad as or worse than their fellows.”

Corinna said: “We’ve already proven that on all counts –ability, dignity, goodness, and a thousand other things– we are their superiors and they our inferiors. So I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t love us, except for the fact that, as I said before, men are by nature so cold and ungrateful that they cannot even be swayed by the influences of the heavens. Though another factor, as we were saying earlier, is their great envy of our merits: they are fully aware of our worth and they know themselves to be full of flaws that are absent in women. For when men have flaws, women have virtues; and if you need proof, it’s quite obvious that in women you find prudence and gentleness where men have anger; temperance where men have greed; humility in place of pride; continence in place of self-indulgence; peace in place of discord; and love in place of hatred. In fact, to sum up , any given virtue of the soul and mind can be found to a greater degree in women than in men.”

Cornelia exclaimed: “What poor wretches men are not to respect us as they should. We look after their households for them, their goods, their children, their lives — they’re hopeless without us and incapable of getting anything right. Take away that small matter of their earning money and what use are they at all? What would they be like without women to look after them? (And with such devotion) I suppose they’d rely on servants to run their households — and steal their money and reduce them to misery, as so often happens.”

 
Source: The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men

Gynarchy by proxy

 

“Gynarchy refers to government by women, or women-centered government.”
Cassandra Langer

Obama-signs-order-creating-White-House-Council-on-Women-and-Girls-via-Wikimedia

In his groundbreaking work The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell explains how men have traditionally striven to institute women-centered government by acting as women’s proxy agents in the political sphere. This behaviour, explains Farrell, is based on the chivalrous tradition of male servicing of women’s needs. The following are passages from Farrell’s book explaining how gynarchy by proxy works:

“Doesn’t the fact that almost all legislators are men prove that men are in charge and can choose when to and when not to look out for women’s interests? Theoretically, yes. But practically speaking the American legal system cannot be separated from the voter. And in the 1992 Presidential election , 54 percent of the voters were female, 46 percent were male. (Women’s votes outnumber men’s by more than 7 million). Overall, a legislator is to a voter what a chauffeur is to the employer – both look like they’re in charge but both can be fired if they don’t go where they’re told. When legislators do not appear to be protecting women, it is almost always because women differ on what constitutes protection. (For example, women voted almost equally for Republicans and Democrats during the combination of the four presidential elections prior to Clinton).

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“The Government as Substitute Husband did for women what labor unions still have not accomplished for men. And men pay dues for labor unions; the taxpayer pays the dues for feminism. Feminism and government soon become taxpayer-supported women’s unions. The political parties have become like two parents in a custody battle, each vying for their daughter’s love by promising to do the most for her. How destructive to women is this? We have restricted humans from giving “free” food to bears and dolphins because we know that such feeding would make them dependent and lead to their extinction. But when it comes to our own species, we have difficulty seeing the connection between short-term kindness and long-term cruelty: we give women money to have more children, making them more dependent with each child and discouraging them from developing the tools to fend for themselves. The real discrimination against women, then, is “free feeding.”

Ironically, when political parties or parents compete for females’ love by competing to give it, the result is not gratitude but entitlement. And the result should not be gratitude, because the political party, like the needy parent, becomes unconsciously dependent on keeping the female dependent. Which turns the female into “the other” — the person given to, not the equal participant. In the process, it fails to do what is every parent’s and every political party’s job — to raise an adult, not maintain a child.
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But here’s the rub. When the entitled child has the majority of the votes, the issue is no longer whether we have a patriarchy or a matriarchy — we get a victimarchy. And the female-as-child genuinely feels like a victim because she never learns how to obtain for herself everything she learns to expect. Well, she learns how to obtain it for herself by saying “it’s a woman’s right” — but she doesn’t feel the mastery that comes with a lifetime of doing it for herself. And even when a quota includes her in the decision-making process, she still feels angry at the “male dominated government” because she feels both the condescension of being given “equality” and the contradiction of being given equality. She is still “the other.” So, with the majority of the votes, she is both controlling the system and angry at the system.”

Gynarchy in the home and family:

“When we say we lived in a patriarchy, we think of living under a male dominated government or power structure. We forget that the family had at least as much power as the government in people’s everyday life, and that the family was female dominated. We forget that it too was a power structure. As we have seen, though, almost every woman had a primary role in the female-dominated family structure; only a small percentage of men had a primary role in the male-dominated governmental and religious structures. Although a man’s home was more likely to be his mortgage than his castle, it has always been a characteristic of men that they give lip service to their dominance even as another part of them is aware of their subservience… Male dominated house
Source: The Myth of Male Power, by Warren Farrell

See also:
petticoat cover single

Petticoat government (1702)

1702_cover“Examine the nature of Petticoat Government and you’ll find small difference or, if any, the Woman excells the man. For the Woman is justly called ‘The Crown of the Creation,’ for if we look into Genesis we shall find that Woman was the last work in the creation and therefore the most perfect and absolute; as we see when artisans make an excellent piece they keep polishing till the last, as being the perfection and crown of it all. But reader, I have only here given some few glances and shadows of the glory and magesty that attends Pettycoats; to know it better you must view our Gracious Queen in Her person and conduct; Her heart is entirely English; she was made purposely for our crown and scepter; Her very looks and countenance would command our allegiance; the very cast of Her eye would sufficiently persuade us that Her authority is just and deserved, that it is a suitable power that is in the mind and meaning of providence and, in a word, is nothing more than God or Nature intended: that women should govern as well as the men… But virtue and greatness are of the perfection and essence of Pettycoat Government, and complete Her Magisties character.

“I am of the opinion that men can boast of no endowments of the mind which Women possess not in as great, if not greater eminency. There has been no age or nation that has not produced some females renown’d for their wisdom and virtue. Which makes me conclude that the conversation of Women is no less useful than pleasant; and that when they govern the men are extremely happy.

“Now it may be necessary that governors should be of good entertainment, affable, open of countenance, and such as seem to harbour no crooked or dark design; thus no men can be so fit for government as Women are. For besides their natural sweetness and innocency, their talk is commonly directed to such things, as it may be easily inferr’d, that their heads are not troubled about making of wars, enlarging of empires, or founding of tyrannies. How few men-prophets do histories afford us in comparison to prophetesses? And, even at this day, who are such absolute followers of priests as women are? If you wish them merciful, these are the tenderest things on earth; they have tears at command, and if tears be the effect of pity and compassion, ans pity and compassion be the mother of virtue, must we not think that mercy rules most in them, and is the soonest obtain’d from them? If you wish affection to the country, where can you better have it? For have not Women many times cut off their hairs to make ropes for engines, and strings for bows?

Thus, were this noble sex restored to that right which nature hath bestowed on it, we have all quiet and serenity in the commonwealths, and courts would not taken up with factions and underminings, but all flow into pleasure and liberty. Withal, we know how necessary it is in every statesman to be master of all the artifices and sleights that may be, to gain upon them he deals with. Now, if any can be fitter for this than Women, I am much deceiv’d: for what by their importunities, glances, trains, sleights, ambushes, and little infidelities, it is as impossible to escape them as it is to go into the fire and not get burnt. For my own part, were I to marry, a good wife should govern both my person and purse, my time and everything; and for this reason a rich Milanois was wont to say that the strings of his purse were never so hard tied that his Betty had no chance tio loose’ em.

We must therefore conclude that as women bring forth children into the world, as they multiply themselves into these visible and corpereal souls, and after they have brought them forth, and most tender and careful to bring them up; so it is most fitting, having such pre-eminencies and indulgences of Nature, that when they are brought up, they should also have a government of them: For a potter would think it hard measure if, after the pitcher were made, it should fly in his face. And (which is no small honour to Petticoat Government) the Woman excelleth the man in respect of the matter of which she was made, which was not dead and vile clay, as man’s was, but a purified substance enliven’d and endu’d with soul, participating in the Divine Mind.

“Thus have I fairly prov’d there is no creature so perfect, no wonder so to be admired as WOMAN: And Ladies, God hath heaped all these graces on your beautiful sex to the end that every creature might stand amazed at you, love and obey you; as we see by experience that incorporeal spirits doat upon Women with most ardent affections – which is such an approved truth that none, I think, would deny it. And if Women were such angels both in body and mind, and Petticoat Government such a particular and extraordinary blessing, (as all must own that we are govern’d by a Queen whose royal virtues exceeds all I have said in praise of her sex) I wonder at the unnatural fancy of such people as would wish we might procreate like trees, as if they were ashamed of the act, without which they had never been capable of such an extravagant thought. Certainly, he that created us, has riveted the Love of Women in the very center of our natures.

“So that ’tis clear from what I’ve said (of the excellency and pre-eminence of Ruling Women) that government is the rudder which steers the great vessel of the State; and that Petticoat Government is the most dextrous handling of that rudder; and for that reason ’tis only WOMEN that are now pray’d for in our churches and chapels viz. Her Perfect Majesty the Queen Dowager and the Princess Sophia.

But i shan’t only confine my essay to Petticoat Government as in respects of the public; for I design a more general essay upon Petticoat Government however dignify’d or distinguished:

1. Then, by Petticoat Government I mean when good women ascend the throne and rule according to law, as is the case of the perfect Queen.
2. Again by Petticoat Government, I mean the descreet and housewifely Ruling of house and family.
3. And lastly, by Petticoat Government, I mean when bad women usurp all authority over their husbands, as is the case with shrews, and such as command, and (perhaps) Beat their husbands, for which there is often a riding, as I shall shew in a variety of instances

“But now, Ladies (except in your own houses) where shall I find any Women so regular as to follow these rules of government? A She-governor thus accomplish’d is like a star with five rays; devotion, modesty, chastity, siscretion, and charity; such women whose whole composition is made up of these, seem to have moulded upon the celestian globes by the hands of cherubims; so excellent are their virtues and so sweet their deportments. They are in their houses as the sun in its proper sphere. Should I attempt to represent their worth, i might sooner find poverty in the center of all the rich ore and precious-stones of the earth, than want of merit in them; but more especially in that Gracious Princess who now governs: And as in former times the tyranny of the Danes was suppress’d by the wisdom and courage of our English Women, so ’tis not doubted but the matchless conduct of our Gracious Queen, will humble the pride of France.

“But to return again to our Private Governess, it must be confess’d that there are many who every day (instead of discreet and housewifely Ruling of their house and family) must be dres’d up like idols as if they intended to be worshipp’d, or at least to govern (as Maintenon does -the tyrant of France) with a look or nod. Their fill de chambre, have more to do in attending their beauties than some have in fitting and rigging out the Navy! Their glass with studied advantages takes up the whole morning, and the afternoon is spent in visits. It was therefore a true saying of one very applicable to this purpose; I know not what may be reserved for the eyes of the chaste husband, when almost thro’ all the matkets where they go, the secret parts of his wife’s body are expos’d, as if they were ready to be delivered to the best bidder.

Ladies, having treated of Petticoat Government as it relates to women in public capacity; and in a private capacity as it relates to the hosewifely ruling of the house and family: I should next treat of Petticoat Government as it relates to bad women who usurp an authority over their husbands (as is the case of shrews, such as command and (perhaps) Beat ’em) but this is intended for a second Pert of Petticoat Government. Thus (Ladies) have I set Petticoat Government in a true light, that the men might see what reason they have to LOVE and OBEY you. ‘Tis true, I have not us’d any gay or painted language, but plain and simple… I have therefore study’d to treat your sex, without the dressing of any artificial handsomeness or auxiliary beauty. If you like it, smile upon it; if not, draw the curtain of your charity over it, and let it lie till some abler pen-man shall take pencil in hand. Or if (Ladies) you’ll condescend too far, as to inrich my poor performance with your Noble Patronage ’tis the greatest preferment I dare expect; for, Court Ladies are incarnate angels, and move in a sphere above me: Yet when I consider that no present, of what value soever, can be suitable to one of your illustrious character, it gives me encouragement to hope this trifle may not be less acceptable to your matchless goodness. But twere profaneness in me any longer to divert with my rude pen, your divine thoughts and precious moments, that are still employed in imploring blessings for your Royal Mistress, and the whole nation. Then seeing the chief thing in greatness, is the power it gives to oblige, I shall presume so far as to subscribe my self:

 

Ladies,

Your Ever Obedient, and

Most Humble Servant,

Post-Angel

God Save the Queen.

Source: Petticoat-Government in a Letter to the Court Lords by the Author of the Post-Angel (1702)

Gynotopia: Love, Peace and Kill All The Men

Gynotopia

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Often all-female worlds are imagined as Utopias. The details of the Utopia vary, but the idea that a world without men would be a Utopia recurs again and again in literature throughout the centuries. Neither is the idea entirely fiction, as we see from modern examples where feminists literally call for the extermination of part or all of the male population; a fantasy that does not occur in the reverse.[1][2]

In the decades before World War II, gynotopias tended towards the Utopian. In the 50’s, the “Love-Starved Amazons In Outer Space” genre was created. The 60’s and 70’s spawned two new, closely related gynotopian genres. One was a feminist utopian school, different from the older utopian novels in its bitterness towards men. The other might be termed “backlash fiction”; written by men, these novels featured monstrous Amazons ruthlessly murdering men by the bushel. In many of these stories of both camps, a plague or war lowers the number of males and a handful of highly intelligent, strong-willed women decide to seize power for themselves, and they know they have to make sure there are few or no males if they want to hold on to it.

pizan

The Book of The City of Ladies
by Christine de Pizan.

Aside from classical myths describing tribes of Amazons, the first serious attempt at dreaming up a gynotopic society comes from protofeminist Christine de Pizan in the Middle Ages (c.1405). The storyline proposes that a city be constructed entirely by women – one that will be ruled entirely by women, every one of whom is virtuous, chaste and pure. Christine inserts herself into the story as its most suitable ruler, as she is the wisest, and most chaste and pure of all women. Christine’s city presents and shelters women as goddesses. Like Pygmalion, who was uninterested in real women, she sculpts the perfect female so that men can worship the illusion. In this sense Christine was very much a traditionalist attempting to uphold and entrench all the privileges enjoyed by her gender since chivalric love had been introduced. For a longer essay discussing this author and her book see Christine de Pizan: the first gender warrior.

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►Mizora: a World of Women
by Mary E. Bradley Lane

Mizora, published in 1880 is an all-female Utopian novel full of murderous ideologies hauntingly remniscent of Nazism. In this Utopia a disinterest in sex is maintained, but the women wear beautiful and elaborate clothes. Instead of agrarian subsistence, Mizora is technologically highly advanced; they synthesize most of their food from minerals, have cured most diseases, have flying machines, and their parthenogenesis takes place in a laboratory. Their planned economy, unlike every planned economy in real life, has created great prosperity for all. Everybody is blonde and blue-eyed. The Nazis did not invent their “master race” theory all by themselves; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not only did many people take the pseudoscience of eugenics seriously, but there was a widely held theory that blue-eyed blonds were the highest type of human. The theory is discussed in depth in Joanna Pitman’s fascinating book On Blondes.
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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Herland is a utopian novel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society composed entirely of women, who reproduce via parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). The result is an ideal social order: free of war, conflict, and domination, with most the male population originally killed by “natural” forces, and any remaining intruder males held captive in a fortress-like building

Bees in Paradise by Marriott Edgar

In this early (1944) and more lighthearted example of this genre Arthur Tucker and a few other men are shipwrecked on an island whose sole visible population is beautiful young women. (Like Wonder Woman’s home, it is called Paradise Island.) Men apparently exist, though we never see any of them; all the important work is done by women, who rule this society completely. However, their birth rate is dangerously low, and to their bafflement they are unable to induce men to marry them – which, since the movie was made in 1944, is the only way they can get pregnant. It does not occur to them that their policy of executing all husbands two months after the wedding might have something to do with it.
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The Day of the Women by Pamela Kettle

The back cover of this British pulp novel really says it better than I possibly could:

A female Prime Minister… human stud farms run by women… mass rallies at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the day of the dominating women… all this and more in a take-over bid of the Seventies that turns to high-heeled fascism, a dictatorship of unbridled power lust. A female elite has taken over England. Led by their ‘mother’, the sleek Diana Druce, they perform an economic miracle – and put the jackboot through the idea that women are the weaker sex. Author Pamela Kettle paints, in mercilessly naked detail, a picture of the near future that is not only possible, but probable…
sexwar
The Sex War by Sam Merwin, Jr.; also available via Kindle as The White Widows

Merlin’s 1953 science fiction novel in which a chemist researching hemophilia becomes a pawn for ‘The White Widows, ‘ a group of women who intend to take over the world — and eliminate all men!

This one is about a conspiracy of genetically superior women who want to take over the world and, once they have the technology to reproduce without them, do away with men entirely. Notice the blood on the lower abdomen of the man in the background. I don’t recall any castration in the novel, but the cover’s implication is pretty darn clear.

Elseworlds: Created Equal

World without menIn this graphic novel, all the men in the DC universe die of a plague… except for Superman and Lex Luthor. The author apparently couldn’t figure out whether to be male chauvinist or female chauvinist. This is a sterling example of how many interesting psychological complexes bubble up as soon as people start writing about gynotopias. Futuristic all-female world in which one male is made as an experiment. This falls into the category of satire against radical feminism. Without men, the world becomes a stagnant dictatorship, although in this novel, the dictatorship functions reasonably even if it is dull, unlike in real life, where dictatorships are full of unrest and don’t tend to last long.

“Well, who wants men, anyway?” she said with an attempt at nonchalance that didn’t quite come off. Crinila smiled in the darkness. “Why, nobody, Lycia darling. Not even the men themselves will want men. All they will ever want is women.”

The Holdfast Chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas

The gynotopian “female planet” has also been shown up as everything from well-meant nonsense to hateful rage, and Miss Charnas’s series is no exception. She claims not to hate men, but when you read her fictional history of how those nasty men destroyed the earth, killed off most of our species in massive wars, and then enslaved all women, even contemplating raising women for food, it’s kind of hard to believe her. (Incidentally, Miss Charnas vehemently opposes the current wars in the Middle East that have unseated dictatorships which treat women almost this badly, and of course similarly opposes Western civilization, in which women have been better treated than in any other society in history.)!B8lD!YwBGk~$(KGrHqF,!hsEzMS6Kl1GBM3bsrfbdw~~0_12

Facing dwindling reproduction, the men devised a procedure by which genetically altered women could be fertilized by horse sperm. Aside from the scientific improbability, I found this rather interesting, since according to Greek legend, horses were extremely important to Amazons – many Amazon names incorporate the Greek word for “horse” – and there were predictable jokes and speculation that their horses took the place of men in, ah, various ways. I don’t know if the parallel is deliberate. In any case, able to reproduce without men (because of technological advances made by men), these women escaped and became roving Amazons. This leads to the most worthwhile book in the series, The Furies, which Miss Charnas says upset many readers who were hoping for a more conventional feminist fantasy about how everything turns into fluffy bunnies without any of those big bad men around. Instead these Riding Women become just as brutal to men as men had been to them. This makes The Furies the most realistic novel out of the series; an hour of reading child abuse case histories will eradicate any notion that women are not capable of being violent or cruel.
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The final novel, The Conqueror’s Child, centers on the daughter of a hero of the Riding Women – a daughter who she abandoned as soon as she was born, following the model of real-life feminists. The story is about how the matriarchy finally wipes out the patriarchy for good, and how some women were magnanimous enough to allow some men to live. Miss Charnas claims to envision a society where the sexes are genuinely equal and both have all human options open to them, but her own story belies this: “The sponsorship of men and boys is a way of providing them with what amounts to a family of sharemothers, who show them how decent people behave and require that they themselves do so,” Miss Charnas burbles happily, describing this as “an alternative to enslaving the men or keeping them permanently on the stick”. We are asked to believe, in defiance of all of human history, that the men submit to this. I do not have the space here to dispute Miss Charnas’s definition of “decent behavior”, but I will point out that apparently killing or enslaving men is not excluded from it. But we can hardly expect the author to have a realistic view of human nature when we see in what denial she is about animals: “Any fool can see what makes a reasonable society by looking at who rules a band of horses or a flock of goats.” Please pause for a moment to digest that sentence. She is asking us to take four-legged grass-eating animals as a model for government. I think “fool” is the right word here. She continues, “Despite noisy male pantomime of mastery, the chief invariably turns out to be the queen doe or the lead mare, not the randy, hysterical buck or the stallion with the arched neck and rolling eyes.” Gracious, she does hate the menfolk, doesn’t she? Well, I have never studied horses, goats or deer, but I have invested considerable time into studying our close relatives the apes, and male dominance is universal among them.stormquest_567

Stormquest is a 1987 sword-and-sandals B movie. The nations of Kimbia, which has no men, and Ishtan, which keeps men as slaves, are at war. Add to the mix Ishtan men who are rebelling to demand equality with women and Kimbian women who were condemned for liking the men they bred with. The treatment of men by Ishtans is quite appalling, though to be fair the Ishtan queen is almost as cruel to her female subjects as her male slaves. In a female-ruled society where men are kept solely for breeding, two women come to believe that their society’s treatment of men is wrong, and lead them in a revolt against the system.

Whoever made this movie seems to have had some pretty big Issues. Not on DVD, but the entire movie can be viewed in segments on a certain free video site.

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In City of Women by David Ireland, men have been banished from Sydney, Australia, but still run amok outside the city.
Dustjacket synopsis:

“The city of women is love, Billie Shockley says.
“But in the city of women that is her world, love takes strange forms.
“The city is Sydney, from its familiar streets and gardens men have been banished. Their existence still threatens its precincts and Old Man Death moves rapaciously and relentlessly among its citizens.
“Billie observes them – their hedonism, rivalry, passions, cruelty, power, fragility. Reflecting her own anguish at the loss of love and youth, they suffer brutality and decay.
“But, she tells her gentle leopard, she will never admit it’s all over.

“City of Women is David Ireland’s most recent novel. It follows his highly acclaimed A Woman of the Future, which in 1979 won for him, for the third time, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, shared the Age Book of the Year Award for 1980, and has become a best-seller.

gendergenocide“Gender Genocide” also published as Who Needs Men? by Edmund Cooper

A masterpiece of sexism. Fascist Lesbian Amazons have wiped out almost all of the men on earth and are working on the few remaining. The Amazons reproduce by cloning. The heroine, Rura Alexandra, is a First-Class Exterminator of men… until she meets one, is raped by him, falls deeply in love with him, gets pregnant and follows her man to the ends of the earth.

“Rura spent her days learning to forget that she had ever been an exterminator, learning to become a woman. It was an exciting process. It was as if she were peeling away a superficial persona and discovering something quite different underneath…. She learned to sing the old songs that Diarmid loved, to do the things that would please him; she learned when to be passive and when to take the initiative, and how to respond to excite him. She began to feel proud of her swollen breasts and swollen belly. These were the outward and visible signs of the true nature of womanhood.”

You know, I’m all in favor of heterosexuality (when it’s practiced by heterosexuals, that is), but the above inspires me to date myself by reviving a phrase of my adolescence: “Gag me with a spoon.”ammonite

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

“In Ammonite… the attempts to colonize the planet Jeep have uncovered a selective virus that kills all men and all but a few women. The remaining women undergo changes that enable them to communicate with one another and the planet itself, and give to birth to healthy, genetically diverse children.”

Retreat: As It Was by Donna J. Young

This novel is set in the distant past when there were no men, just women who lived in peace and harmony. They all fly around in spaceships being sisterly (and occasionally more) and understanding of each other, mystically in tune with nature and growing spiritually and all that stuff. Then a radiation mutation causes: “You and all the women on the Eulalia suffered a slight change in one chromosome. One tiny leg of an X was chopped off. The effect on Jarre and all their offspring…” well, you get the idea. They mutated into men, and that was when all the trouble began. If you believe that the world would become a paradise if there were no Y chromosomes in it, this book is for you.

Wanderground by Sally Miller Gearheart

You know it’s going to be a bad book when you flip through it and find made-up words like “earthtouch”. These women live in “the Hills”, that is, out in the wilderness, where they talk to trees, live in perfect peace with each other and are far more in touch with their feelings than anybody ought to be. Not far away a normal (that is, with men and women) society lives in a place called “the City”. Naturally the City is a horrible place full of technology and competition where nobody talks to trees. In the very first chapter the author tells us that men are just too full of hate and violence to be fit to live and just need to die out, which these compassionate, in-touch-with-nature kindly and compassionately watch them do. Female man

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

The virulent hatred of men exhibited by feminists who boast endlessly about how compassionate and nurturing they are is the most tiresome thing about feminist-Utopian gynotopias. This badly written and ideologically asinine novel has for some mysterious reason garnered wide acclaim. Among the author’s embittered potshots at the male gender are a scene in which a man (a Marine, of course) consults a book called WHAT TO DO IN EVERY SITUATION when a woman rejects his advances and follows its instructions: insult her and “Girl backs down – cries – manhood vindicated.” Gee, real subtle there.

When It Changed by Joanna Russ

Science fiction story. Centuries ago, a plague killed all the male members of a space colony. Since then, women have carried on, living in Lesbian relationships and reproducing by egg fusion. They’re doing fine until an Earth ship full of males lands. Naturally the nasty males have caused Earth to have nuclear war and all those other bad things that Whileaway doesn’t have, and the patronizing men compulsively assure the women that “sexual equality has been re-established on Earth”. Written by a Lesbian-feminist, it’s male chauvinist in a kind of backhanded way; though the women of Whileaway hunt big game and fight duels and are generally quite capable of looking out for themselves, all the tall, strong, confident men have to do is swagger in and the women of Whileaway instantly feel themselves intimidated and outclassed.104344

The Gate To Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper

This is a space colony that has lost contact with Earth in which men and women live separately. The women have cooperation and harmony and nurturing while the men are mean old Warriors, though there’s not actually anyone else to fight with. Little boys are sent to live with the warriors at the age of five, where the men corrupt them into being horrible violent monsters, which would never happen if they stayed with their mothers. The main characters also spend some time with another society which practices a religion which is an obvious cypher for Christianity. It’s equally obvious that the author hates Christianity; the occupants of Holyland, who worship the All-Father, are ignorant and dirty and constantly beat their women and are terrified of the thought of anybody enjoying sex. Oddly enough, no matter how often the enemies of Christianity promote this image of them, real-life Christians stubbornly refuse to start acting the way they are assured they do.

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Consider Her Ways by John Wyndham, a famous science fiction story. Was made into a Night Gallery episode.

A young woman wakes up in a future three generations after the men have been wiped out by a plague. There are four classes of women: Mothers, who bear children, Servitors who do menial work, Workers for hard labor, and the ruling class, the Doctorate, so called because it is dominated by the doctors, without whom reproduction is impossible. Men have been forgotten except by a few scholars. A historian tells the protagonist, “It was quite a dreadful state of affairs because although there were a great many women, and they had outnumbered the men, in fact, they had only really been important as consumers and spenders of money. So when the crisis came it turned out that scarcely any of them knew how to do any of the important things because they had nearly all been owned by men, and had to lead their lives as pets and parasites.” She continues with standard feminist rhetoric, very prescient for a story written in 1956, despite the protagonist’s desperate attempts to explain the joys of the man-woman relationship. In essence, this story is the feminist fantasy: the intellectual career-oriented women are able to seize power, do away with men, and relegate more traditional women to a subordinate role without its doing men any good because there aren’t any.
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►A late addition to this genre is The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. The first vampire, Akasha, decides to end war and crime once and for all by eliminating the source: men. After she inspires women and other vampires to kill all the world’s males, except for a few for procreation, she is confident that the world will become Eden. Nor is the genre dead today. In 1982, Sally Miller Gearhart wrote an essay titled “The Future – If There Is One – Is Female” in which she demanded that in future, men be limited to ten percent of the population. In 1999, Mary Daly envisioned a utopian future of parthenogenetically reproducing women and no men in Quintessence. In 2004, Bryan Sykes wrote Adam’s Curse: A Future Without Men, he suggested that in the not too distant future, men may be biologically superfluous, and that this will be just as well given how awful men are. In 2008 A. N. Wilson speculated that we could not only do away with men, but change our species entirely in the next half century: What would the world be like without men?

This 1971 novel doesn’t quite belong in this category, but I included it because it’s such an excellent example of backlash against a disturbingly realistic gynotopian worldview.

Editors note: the above content is mirrored with a few minor changes (eg. title and intoductory paragraph, content removed/added) from the website ‘Gynotopias.’ – PW

Chivalry, traditionalism and MGTOW

The following video series by Barbarossaaa discuss what he calls “traditionalism,” a shorthand term for traditional gynocentric culture and its practices.

Schlafly podcast gives ridiculous divorce advice:

Traditionalism and feminism, the great gynocentrisms of our time:

Organic dissolution of traditionalism, and small government platitudes:

Traditionalism and chivalry = the other feminism:

Traditional Relationships…nothing but business and a bottom line:

Do men Justify their own exploitation?

To learn more about MGTOW see YouTube for some excellent channels and discussions: Men Going Their Own Way

Christine de Pizan: the first gender warrior

By Diana Davison

A long time ago (15th century) in a land not too far away (France) a protofeminist named Christine de Pizan initiated a public debate later named La Querelle de la Rose. Simone de Beauvoir honours Pizan as the first woman to “take up her pen in defence of her sex”[1] but Christine was not fighting for new rights, she was strictly defending the chivalry-based gynocentric culture that she saw crumbling away before her eyes.

Though some feminists deny Christine’s status as a member of the gang, she did seem to have set the standard for how women change the public narrative; lies, elitism, deception and manipulation of history bordering on fraud.

Like all feminists who followed in her footprints, she set a Machiavellian example. The end justifies the means and, while you re-write “herstory”, make sure to claim you are meek and helpless the whole time.

But let us go back to the start of this adventure. We shall travel to c1275 when a man of some talent took up an incomplete poem called La Roman de La Rose and added a whopping 18,824 additional lines to the original 4,000 to create what would become one of the most widely read works of medieval times. Not only did the second author, Jean de Meun, create a cult following, his work was mimicked by Chaucer and Dante. Overall, a charmingly good chap for literary culture.

For over a hundred years this poem proliferated, was translated, adored, and revered as a work of genius. It outlined the troubles and challenges a youth may face when trying to woo a young lady in the world of chivalry. As in most good stories, the goal was not attained easily.

Presented in a dreamlike setting, our hero is guided by personified attributes such as Reason and Genius who help him to bypass all the lady’s defences and capture her “castle.” The language is considered quite risque for the times.

Around 1401 a gentleman named Jean de Montreuil, who served as secretary in the king’s chancery of France, was convinced to read the poem and wrote a glowing review which circulated about the land. It crossed the path of a woman named Christine de Pizan.

Christine was in a unique position compared to other women of her time. She had been raised in the court where her father, despite her mother’s disapproval, urged her to learn how to read and write. These skills came in handy after both her father and husband died quite young leaving Christine with debt and children. She was not overly pleased with her reduction of social status but managed to secure some work as a copyist instead of having to work at spinning or other demeaning trades.

pizan1She had begun by writing romantic poetry and secured some patrons who paid her for the work she sent them. She was a clever mimic and was able to write in whatever style her patrons preferred. She would likely have continued to meet survival needs as things were but decided, upon seeing Montreuil’s treatise, to take a chance and use her pen in defence of her desire to improve her career.

Thus began an exchange of letters between Christine and defenders of the poem La Roman de La Rose.

These letters became public because Christine de Pizan decided to publish them. She was quite creative in her publishing by arranging them out of chronological order and removing the best arguments that her opponents had offered. Just like a feminist.

Some of the missing letters have since been recovered.

Christine’s main problem with the famous poem amounts to censorship. She takes exception to the naming of genitals and with advice being given as to how to trick women into having sex. Christine was a very conservative Christian. As such, you might think that she really did find the whole storyline repulsive if she hadn’t stated in a letter that the debate was “good-humored, an example of a difference of opinion between worthy persons”[2] and mentioned in another letter that a reply made her laugh.

The Romance of the Rose is rather bawdy and, at times, obscene: kind of like The Vagina Monologues.

Christine intitiated the debate by replying to a letter she acknowledged was not addressed to her. She bypassed that fact by publishing the letters out of order to make her “reply” look solicited.

Pizan-and-some-menShe begins by stating that her opponents are very learned and that she is very ignorant, which she hopes will not taint their reading of her correspondence. She claims to be weak and timid. Of course, only timid people publish private letters and send copies of it to the Queen.

Speaking of the Queen, who was one of Christine’s patrons, one of Pizan’s approaches was to link female virtue directly to Queen Isabeau of Bavaria “to the point at which the Queen becomes synonymous with virtue, Christine essentially lays the Queen under an obligation to accept her position; not to do so would be to reject her very self.”[3]

Nice trick.

Despite feminist claims that Christine tackled this monumental task alone, she was abetted by Jean Gerson, a long time family friend from her courtly days. Gerson was a strange bedfellow but he and Christine shared some religious ideals and were united both on the misogyny front and in speaking out about the “body politic” in other works. He’s not always mentioned in the discussions of the Querelle because feminists would like you to think Christine didn’t have a white knight helping her out.

The problem faced by both Pizan and Gerson was that de Meun’s poem was, and is, a work of art. When his characters speak they speak as that character would and do not represent the thinking of either the author or God. That is often the problem of censorship fanatics. The other big problem is that they have to admit they actually read the cursed thing.

When you read something distasteful, it is hard to blame anyone but yourself for the fact that you read it. If you didn’t read it or look at it, you can hardly have an opinion. Christine claims to have skim read over the worst of the worst but still approaches it as if she can fully assess the artistic merits of the work.

The accusations against her, which she deletes from her version of events, are that she is a novice who can’t comprehend advanced works and that she is speaking out of turn because she got a lot of recent praise and is suddenly full of her own ego:

“Yet what do we make of Pierre Col’s contention, suppressed by Christine, that her actions have resulted from her envy of ‘la tres elevee haultesse du liver’ [the very loftiness of the book], and that she had better be careful so as not to suffer the fate of the crow who, when ‘someone praised his song, began to sing louder than usual and let his mouthful fall.'”[4]

Christine responds with continued claims to humility and simplicity which, ironically and with calculation, guarantee her fame.

While feminists praise Pizan as a defender of women, only a third of what she wrote in the debate is devoted to perceptions of women. The majority of her complaint is pure Christian objection to obscenity.[5] The purpose of her diatribe can be discerned in the writings that followed, after winning the prestige to write full fledged books.

So what did she write next?

The iconic work in the list of some feminist “must read” resources is Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies. This is the first book that she published after the Querelle which took up the cause of women.

The City of Ladies copies the format of previous male writers, like de Muen, who present a story in allegorical dream sequence. As a character in her own book Pizan is ordered by her ficitonal ladies of Reason, Rectitude, and Justice, to construct an city with her pen in which women can take shelter. Not all women, only “virtuous” women of her discernment. Christine doesn’t actually believe that all women are good and pure and worthy of men’s love, she just wants to build really solid walls behind which some women can hide so that they can continue to be treated as godly creatures while the other women burn in fucking hell. It was a form of alchemy: Burn off the undesirables.

“Only ladies who are of good reputation and worthy of praise will be admitted into this city. To those lacking in virtue, its gates will remain forever closed” [6]

Those whores are giving women a bad name. Slut-shaming Central.

cityThe gates of Pizan’s City are locked tight to adulteresses, lustful women of any sort, and those who don’t uphold Christine’s religious ideals. She has built this city on the foundations of mythical women, appointed the Virgin Mary as queen (who she alludes to herself as representing), and predicts that her city of imaginary wonder will never fall. It can’t because it’s not real.

If we had any doubt about Christine’s intentional trickery, we need look no further than the pages of this debut novel which, unlike the letters of the Querelle, are unmolested. She takes examples of awesome women from the Bible and pagan mythologies and leaves out all the bad parts of the stories so that they all look virtuous.

For example, Abraham’s wife, Sarah, becomes a woman who was so lusted after that King Pharaoh forcibly stole her from her husband. For those who actually read the bible, you’ll find out that Sarah and Abraham tricked Pharaoh by telling him they were siblings so that he might fall in love and give her many riches. When God punished Pharaoh for seducing a married woman Pharaoh was flabbergasted and gave them whatever they wanted just to get the fuck out of town. They pulled this trick twice. And it turns out they actually were brother and sister. God didn’t seem to care about that.

Christine laments that one of her heroines, Semaramis, married her son to avoid having to share her kingdom with another woman but excuses her because it wasn’t a law at the time that she shouldn’t do that. That Semaramis managed to defend her kingdom after the death of her husband was more important than the laws of nature. The laws of nature are somewhat mutable in Christine’s world, when it suits her purpose.

“As for those men who are slanderous by nature, it’s not surprising if they criticize women, given that they attack everyone indiscriminately. You can take it from me that any man who wilfully slanders the female sex does so because he has an evil mind, since he’s going against both reason and nature.” [7]

So it’s in man’s nature to go against nature? It’s not hard to argue against logic like that.

In the final reading, we are left to wonder what it is Christine was really trying to accomplish. Did she think women were strong, capable people or objects to be fawned over and worshipped like children or gods? Christine answers that upon seeing the perfect dream ladies of her vision who arrive to show her the path of truth:

“I didn’t know which of my senses was the more struck by what she said: whether it was my ears as I took in her stirring words, or my eyes as I admired her great beauty and dress, her noble bearing and face.” [8]

Christine! You misogynist!!
How dare you objectify these women with your gaze?

Christine’s “city” presents and shelters women as goddesses. Like Pygmalion, who was uninterested in real women, she sculpts the perfect female so that men can worship the illusion. Christine was a traditionalist attempting to uphold and entrench all the privileges enjoyed by her gender since chivalric love had been introduced.

As a pioneer of feminism, she taught those who followed that every female flaw which can’t be excused can be erased from herstory.

Sources:

1. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p105
2. Heather Bamford, Remember the giver(s): the creation of the Querelle and notions of sender and recipient in University of California, Berkeley, MS 109, 2009
3. ibid
4. David F. Hult, Words and Deeds: Jean de Meun’s “Romance of the Rose” and the Hermeneutics of Censorship, New Literary History, Vo. 28, No. 2, Medieval Studies (Spring, 1997)
5. Ibid
6. Christine de Pizan, City of Ladies, p11
7. ibid, p19-20
8. ibid, p9

Editor’s note: feature image by Hans Splinter. –PW

Gynocentrism, humanism and The Patriarchy™

By Jason Gregory

I admit it. I have a guilty pleasure—feminist-philosophers. No, feminist-philosophers are not necessarily oxymoronic, though some of them are moronic. Take, for example, Iris M. Young.

Young studied philosophy and earned a doctorate in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. She became a professor of political science and was well known for her work in “theories of justice, democratic theory and feminist theory.” Sadly, Young lost a battle with cancer in 2006 and the world was deprived of “one of the most important feminist thinkers in the world…one of the most important political philosophers of the past quarter century.”

While researching this much respected philosopher, I discovered one of her papers, “Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics.” It is a brilliant and fascinating paper. It is a must read for anybody interested in The Patriarchy™, gender politics, and philosophy.

In this paper, Young presents two remarkably different versions of feminism—humanist-feminism and gynocentric-feminism. Young admits that these two types of feminisms are often contrary to and sometimes contradictory with each other. She also admits that both feminisms share the common narrative thread of male-as-antagonist. The overarching antagonist to both narratives is the male dominated culture that oppresses women—The Patriarchy™.

snidely_whiplashThis antagonist represents weak and lazy writing. It’s a tired, uninspiring, and one-dimensional villain. This antagonist no longer has a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. The Patriarchy™ is the Snidely Whiplash of feminist narratives—a cartoonish caricature of evil, the archenemy of all women, humanity, and civilization. It is not an artifact of “poetic faith.”

As such, The Patriarchy™ is not a real thing. It is only an imagined thing—a fetishized object of imagination that exists in the minds of feminists and other morons. It exists to perpetuate a shallow and one-dimensional narrative that presents women as objects-of-victimization. It is the sort of thing that feminists love to hate. It is loved because it can be blamed for everything. It is hated because it is the villain. Without The Patriarchy™, there would be no feminist narratives. Without Snidely Whiplash, there would be no Dudley Do-Right. The Patriarchy™ is one half of a shallow and one-dimensional dichotomy of good vs. evil that exists in feminist narratives. It’s not any real thing of lived-experience. It is only an imaginary thing of imagined-experience.

To better understand this shallow dichotomy and the silliness of feminist narratives, let’s look at two of the most significant and influential feminist narratives as presented by Iris M. Young. Both narratives present women as victims of The Patriarchy™. Both narratives present The Patriarchy™ as an antagonist, a villain like Snidely Whiplash who twiddles his moustache and has no human depth beyond a sadistic lust for the devaluing and disempowerment of women.

Humanist-feminism

Humanist-feminism, according to Young, is best described in the works of Simone de Beauvoir. At its core is a revolt against being imprisoned in femininity. For them The Patriarchy™ “has ascribed to women a distinct feminine nature by which it has justified the exclusion of women from most of the important and creative activity of society—science, politics, invention, industry, commerce, the arts.” By rejecting such femininity, humanist-feminism delivered a revolt against The Patriarchy™ itself.

What makes this Beauvoirian revolt so fascinating is the fact that it is founded theoretically on the philosophical distinction between immanence and transcendence. Immanence roughly designates being an object. Transcendence roughly designates being a free-subject that defines its own nature and “makes projects that bring new entities into the world.”

It is argued by humanist-feminists that The Patriarchy™ does not allow women to become such transcendent and free-subjects. Instead, women are relegated to being objects of domestic and sexual service to men and for the benefit of men. As such, the full humanity of women is restricted by The Patriarchy™. This is, according to humanist-feminists, a brutalization of the personhood of half the human race for benefit to the other half. The Patriarchy™ mutilates and deforms women into objects—the non-human Other. Young writes that this “distinction between transcendence and immanence ensnares Beauvoir in the very definition of woman as a non-human Other…”

By defining humanity as transcendence, as a free-subjectivity above mere life and the processes of nature that repeat in endless cycles, women can only exist as victims—“maimed, mutilated, dependent, confined to a life of immanence and forced to be an object.” In short, humanity transcends, but women are imprisoned to a life of immanence. Humanist-feminism was a revolt against this sort of immanence, reproductive biology, domestic concerns, and motherhood—the things Beauvoir found most oppressive to women.

As such, Beauvoirians devalue women…just like The Patriarchy™ devalues women. The humanist-feminist revolt against The Patriarchy™ is patriarchal. As such, humanist-feminism is The Patriarchy™. They smash The Patriarchy™ by being it.

Gynocentric-feminism

According to Young, “gynocentric feminism defines the oppression of women very differently from humanist feminism. Women’s oppression consists not of being prevented from participating in full humanity, but of the denial and devaluation of specifically feminine virtues and activities by an overly instrumentalized and authoritarian masculinist culture.” Gynocentric-feminism is not a revolt against femininity. It is a revolt against the devaluation of femininity. It is a revolt against The Patriarchy™ by embracing what The Patriarchy™ always “ascribed” to women. As such, gynocentric-feminism is The Patriarchy™.

For gynocentric-feminists, femininity is “not the problem, not the source of women’s oppression, but indeed within traditional femininity lie the values that we should promote for a better society. Women’s oppression consists of the devaluation and repression of women’s nature and female activity by the patriarchal culture.” Again, The Patriarchy™ is still to blame because it “threaten[s] the survival of the planet and the human race. [Patriarchal] values exalt death, violence, competition, selfishness, a repression of the body, sexuality, and affectivity.”

According to Young, The Patriarchy™ produces “phallogocentric categorization,” a moral rationality and language of sharp distinctions, of abstract rights and justice. However, the feminine is supposed to produce loose categories, a flowing of language that envelops and folds in on itself, reflects itself in a continuous and particularistic ethics of care—a continuous flowing of garbled gibberish. The feminine virtue is supposed to place the particular over the abstract and universal, all the while denying the “nature/culture dichotomy held by humanists… [asserting] the connection of women and nature,” rooting the feminine in the body-experience, rather than in some sort of abstract transcendence.

Gynocentric-feminism places a high value on the woman’s reproductive processes. It is supposed that these processes give women a “living continuity with their offspring that it does not give men. Women thus have a temporal consciousness that is continuous, whereas male temporal consciousness is discontinuous.” As such, males are said to be more alienated from their children, but more connected to their work and other endeavors of artifact creation. In this way, being woman is not being an object. Bringing forth life into this world is one of the most important endeavors-of-creation…and only women can do that.

Gynocentric-feminism inverts humanist-feminism—completely upending prior notions of women’s oppression. Yet, smashing The Patriarchy™ remains a goal of gynocentric-feminism. They smash The Patriarchy™ by embracing it.

Implications

Where humanist-feminism destroyed the value of the feminine, gynocentric-feminism restores it. There is dignity for women within their bodies and within their uniquely female body-experiences. Gynocentric-feminism shows that this connection with the body produces uniquely feminine virtues, language, and experiences of which men are not privy. In fact, men are not privileged at all in this way. Men are alienated from these experiences, from a “living continuity” with their children, and relegated to such experiences by proxy—through intellectual creations, hierarchal competition, and through functioning as an object-of-utility for a woman, for women, and for society-in-general.

This reality requires a reassessment of what male privilege means. Young writes, “If we claim that masculinity distorts men more than it contributes to their self-development and capacities, again, the claim that women are the victims of injustice loses considerable force.” She eventually questions, “what warrants the claim that women need liberating…of what does male privilege consist?” She has difficulty swallowing that bitter red pill. She has difficulty being straight and saying that we’ve been wrong about The Patriarchy™ and male privilege.

Although, she never disavows patriarchy theory, she does put forth a clever analogy as a way to try and change the subject, to escape responsibility, yet still fetishize and blame The Patriarchy™. In regards to gender, Young states that “we need a conception of difference that is less like the icing bordering the layers of cake and more like a Marblecakemarble cake, in which the flavors remain recognizably different but thoroughly insinuated in one another. [And this]… social change requires changing the subject, which in turn means developing new ways of speaking, writing, and imagining.”

Translation

Young wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants to change the subject and direct attention away from the wrongheaded notions about male privilege and female oppression. She wants to create a narrative in which female oppression and privilege simultaneously exist in one swirl of garbled gibberish — a marble cake. She does not come forward to clearly say, “Oops, we were wrong about male privilege and The Patriarchy™.” She does not apologize for the decades of bashing and shaming men about their so-called privilege. She makes no apologies for the centuries of oppression men have endured as objects-of-utility for women and for society-in-general. She does not make any apologies for wanting her cake and eating it too.

Young is playing a game, essentially saying “it’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that we were wrong…even though we weren’t really wrong. The Patriarchy™ forced feminists to make distinct icing and borders on their narrative-cake. It’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that feminists didn’t create a marble-cake-narrative in which women could be simultaneously oppressed and liberated, thoroughly insinuated in one another. It’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that The Patriarchy™ was allowed to be the primary antagonist of any feminist narrative.” This is Young’s elaborate game of victim-blaming.

Why did you men allow us to blame you? It’s your fault that we falsely accused you. Had you men simply valued us women, we would never have falsely accused you men of oppressing us. Never mind the countless bodies of men who sacrificed their lives for women and for society-in-general; that’s oppression of women too. Valuing us is not-valuing us. Oppressing us is not-oppressing us. No matter what men do, it’s the fault of men that women are simultaneously liberated and oppressed, valued and not-valued, empowered and not-empowered. Men and by extension, The Patriarchy™, are to blame for everything.

Conclusion

Young, like most feminists, clings to her fetish—her imagined-experience of The Patriarchy™. She refuses to develop a more comprehensive narrative. She refuses to create a narrative that gives depth to the lived-experiences of men. She refuses to relinquish her hatred of men. She prefers blaming men for everything. This is her love, her hatred, and her fetish. She clung to these until death.

Sadly, this is what makes Young’s paper so brilliant and fascinating. It illustrates the grasp of this fetish—The Patriarchy™. A philosopher as clever as Young fails to relinquish her fetish. Even after clearly making the case that prior notions of The Patriarchy™ and male privilege were wrong, she maintains that men are still to blame. Even when she knows that it’s not the fault of men, she still blames men—The Patriarchy™.

By painting men as The Patriarchy™, men can be made a cartoonish caricature of evil. Men become as shallow and one-dimensional as Snidely Whiplash—the archenemy of women, humanity, civilization, and all things good. Men become The Patriarchy™, the non-human Other.

This is the narrative of feminisms. This is the common thread that binds together feminist narratives. This is the dehumanization of men as the antagonist. It is the fetishizing of men as The Patriarchy™–an imagined thing, a fetishized object of imagination, a villain.

This villain no longer inspires the “willing suspension of disbelief.” This villain is not an artifact of “poetic faith.” This villain represents weak and lazy writing. The Patriarchy™ is bad literature…and so are feminist narratives.

The way forward may be some sort of “marble cake,” as Young describes, where gender differences are distinct, yet thoroughly insinuated within each other. However, before that can happen, a narrative granting multi-dimensionality and depth to men is needed. A narrative consisting of compassion and consideration for the lived-experiences of men and boys is needed. That will never happen as a feminist narrative. So long as men are written as the antagonist, as The Patriarchy™, men will always be the Other–the icing on the outside, apart from the cake, apart from humanity.