this has been going on a long time
August 6, 2014
I imagine some right-wing politicians and pundits, the fringe patriarchy guys, sit around and long for the days when women were quiet, demur, and knew their place in the world rather than all this agitating and feminism and rabble rousing that so many of us are doing now.
Except you know what? That time never existed. Women have always spoken out against sexism and the injustice done to them for no other reason than their identity as women.
“Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”
—Persuasion, Jane Austen, 1816
“. . .I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. . . .If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
—Abigail Adams, 1776
“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king. . .”
—Elizabeth I, 1588
“But just the sight of this book, even though it was of no authority, made me wonder how it happened that so many different men — and learned men among them — have been and are so inclined to express both in speaking and in their treatises and writings so many wicked insults about women and their behavior. . . To the best of my knowledge, no matter how long I confronted or dissected the problem, I could not see or realize how their claims could be true when compared to the natural behavior and character of women.”
–Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405
Christine de Pizan wrote this book specifically to provide examples of noble, educated and famous women to counter the misogyny she found in books written by men. I love discovering passages like these — women pointing out inequalities and the injustices done because of them. They were paying attention.
But, if some of us sound so angry and frustrated when we talk about issues and problems involving the representation of women and equality and such, it’s because we know that this fight has been going on for a very long time.