There will be great reason to suspect the Men of jealousy; and it cannot be rash to say, that their only reason for locking up from us all the avenues of knowledge, is the fear of our excelling them in it. (...) Had we the same advantages of study allowed us which the Men have, there is no room to doubt but we should at least keep pace with them in the sciences, and every useful knowledge. It can only then be a mean dastardly jealousy in them to exclude us from those advantages, in which we have so natural a right to emulate them.
I think it evidently appears, that there is no science, office, or dignity, which Women have not an equal right to share in with the Men: Since there can be no superiority, but that of brutal strength, shewn in the latter, to entitle them to engross all power and prerogative to themselves: nor any incapacity proved in the former, to disqualify them of their right, but what is owing to the unjust oppression of the Men, and might be easily removed.
I wou'd therefore exhort all my sex (...) to betake themselves to the improvement of their minds (...) and (...) shew our selves worthy something from them, as much above their bare esteem, as they conceit themselves above us. In a word, let us shew them, by what little we do without aid of education, the much we might do if they did us justice; that we may force a blush from them, if possible, and compel them to confess their own baseness to us, and that the worst of us deserve much better treatment than the best of us receive.
It is quite idle (...) to insist so much on bodily strength, as a necessary qualification to military employments. And it is full as idle to imagine that Women are not naturally as capable of courage and resolution as the Men. We are indeed charged, without any exception, with being timorous, and incapable of defence; frighted at our own shadows; alarm'd at the cry of an infant, the bark of a dog, the whistling of the wind, or a tale of hob-goblins. But is this universally true? Are there not Men as void of courage as the most heartless of our sex? And yet it is known that the most timorous Women (...) often behave more courageously than the Men under pains, sickness, want, and the terrors of death itself.
What has greatly help'd to confirm the Men in the prejudiced notion of Women's natural weakness, is the common manner of expression which this very vulgar error gave birth to. When they mean to stigmatise a Man with want of courage they call him effeminate, and when they would praise a Woman for her courage they call her manly. But as these, and such like expressions, are merely arbitrary and but a fulsome compliment which the Men pass on themselves, they establish no truth.
The manner Women are bred in, (...) they are admitted to no share of the exercises which wou'd qualify them to attack or defend. They see themselves helplessly exposed to the outrages of a sex enslaved to the most brutal transports; and find themselves victims of contempt to wretches, whose prevalent strength is often exerted against them, with more fury and cruelty than beasts practise towards one another. Can our fear then be imputed to want of courage? Is it a defect? Or ought it not rather to be alledged as a proof of our sense: Since it wou'd be rather fool-hardiness than courage to withstand brutes, who want the sense to be overcome by reason, and whom we want vigour to repel by force of arms?
(...) It is far from being true that all Women want courage, strength, or conduct to lead an army to triumph; any more than it is that all Men are endow'd with them. There are many of our sex as intrepid as the Men (...)Need I bring Amazons from Scythia to prove the courage of Women? Need I run to Italy for a Camilla to shew an instance of warlike courage? (...) other nations glory in their numberless stole of warlike Women. (...) But to pass over the many instances of warlike bravery in our sex, let it suffice to name a Boadicea, who made the most glorious stand against the Romans (...) and if her endeavours did not meet with the success of an Alexander, a Cæsar, or a Charles of Sweden, in his fortunate days, her courage and conduct were such, as render her worthy to be consider'd equal, if not superior, to them all, in bravery and wisdom (...)
why it shou'd create more surprise, to see [a lady] preside in a council of war, than in a council of state. Why may she not be as capable of heading an army as a parliament; or of commanding at sea as of reigning at land? What shou'd hinder her from holding the helm of a fleet with the same safety and steadiness as that of a nation? And why may she not exercise her soldiers, draw up her troops in battle array, and divide her forces into battalions at land, squadrons at sea, &c. with the same pleasure she wou'd have in seeing or ordering it to be done? The military art has no mystery in it beyond others, which Women cannot attain to. A Woman is as capable as a Man of making herself, by means of a map, acquainted with the good and bad ways, the dangerous and safe passes, or the proper situations for encampment. And what shou'd hinder her from making herself mistress of all the strategems of war, of charging, retreating, surprising, laying ambushes, counterfeiting marches, feigning flights, giving false attacks, supporting real ones, animating the soldiery, and adding example to eloquence by being the first to mount a breach. Persuasion, heat, and example are the soul of victory: And Women can shew as much eloquence, intrepidity, and warmth, where their honour is at stake, as is requisite to attack or defend a town.
And the differences thence arising [between the constitution of men and women] are no ways sufficient to argue more natural strength in the one than in the other, to qualify them more for military labours. Are not the Women of different degrees of strength, like the Men? Are there not strong and weak of both sexes? Men educated in sloth and softness are weaker than Women; and Women, become harden'd by necessity, are often more robust than Men. (...) Woman may be enured to all the hardships of a campaign, and to meet all the terrors of it, as well as the bravest of the opposite sex.
Were we [Women] to express our conceptions of God, it wou'd never enter into the head of any one of us to describe him as a venerable old man.
We must be at least as well qualified as [Men] to teach the sciences; and if we are not seen in university chairs, it cannot be attributed to our want of capacity to fill them, but to that violence with which the Men support their unjust intrusion into our places. (...) If then we set custom and prejudice aside, where wou'd the oddity be to see us dictating sciences from a university chair; since to name but one of a thousand, that foreign young lady, whose extraordinary merit and capacity but a few years ago forced a university in Italy to break through the rules of partiality, custom, and prejudice, in her favour, to confer on her a DOCTOR'S DEGREE, is a living proof that we are as capable, as any of the Men, of the highest eminences in the sphere of learning, if we had justice done us.
(...) How many ladies have there been, and still are, who deserve place among the learned; and who are more capable of teaching the sciences than those who now fill most of the university chairs? The age we live in has produced as many, as any heretofore (...) And as our sex, when it applies to learning, may be said at least to keep pace with the Men, so are they more to be esteem'd for their learning than the latter: Since they are under a necessity of surmounting the softness they were educated in (...) to which cruel custom seem'd to condemn them; to overcome the external impediments in their way to study; and to conquer the disadvantageous notions, which the vulgar of both sexes entertain of learning in Women. (...) it is self-evident, that many of our sex have far outstript the Men. Why then are we not as fit to learn and teach the sciences, at least to our own sex, as they fancy themselves to be?
Where is there a Woman, who having generously trusted her liberty with a husband, does not immediately find the spaniel metamorphosed into a tyger, or has not reason to envy the lesser misery of a bond-slave to a merciless tyrant?
Surely the Women were created (...) for some better end, than to labour in vain their whole life long.
There are some however more condescending, and gracious enough to confess, that many Women have wit and conduct; but yet they are of opinion, that even such of us as are most remarkable for either or both, still betray something which speaks the imbecility of our sex. Stale, thread-bare notions, which long since sunk'd with their own weight; and the extreme weakness of which seem'd to condemn to perpetual oblivion; till an ingenious writer, for want of something better to employ his pen about, was pleased lately to revive them in one of the weekly * papers, lest this age should be ignorant what fools there have been among his sex in former ones.To give us a sample then of the wisdom of his sex, he tells us, that it was always the opinion of the wisest among them, that Women are never to be indulged the sweets of liberty; but ought to pass their whole lives in a state of subordination to the Men, and in an absolute dependance upon them. And the reason assigned for so extravagant an assertion, is our not having a sufficient capacity to govern ourselves. It must be observed, that so bold a tenet ought to have better proofs to support it, than the bare word of the persons who advance it; as their being parties so immediately concern'd, must render all they say of this kind highly suspect.
So weak are their [Men's] intellectuals, and so untuned are their organs to the voice of reason, that custom makes more absolute slaves of their senses than they can make of us. They are so accustom'd to see things as they now are, that they cannot represent to themselves how they can be otherwise. It wou'd be extremely odd they think to see a Woman at the head of an army giving battle, or at the helm of a nation giving laws; pleading causes in quality of counsel; administring justice in a court of judicature; preceded in the street with sword, mace, and other ensigns of authority; as magistrates; or teaching rhetoric, medicine, philosophy, and divinity, in quality of university professors.
What a wretched circle this poor way of reasoning among the Men draws them insensibly into. Why is learning useless to us? Because we have no share in public offices. And why have we no share in public offices? Because we have no learning. They are sensible of the injustice they do us, and therefore are reduced to the mean shift of cloaking it at the expence of their own reason. But let truth speak for once: Why are they so industrious to debar us that learning we have an equal right to with themselves, but for fear of our sharing with, and outshining them in, those public offices they fill so miserably? The same sordid selfishness which urged them to engross all power and dignity to themselves, prompted them to shut up from us that knowledge which wou'd have made us their competitors.
But where have [the Men] proved that we are not as capable of guarding ourselves from dangers, as they are of guarding us; had we the same power and advantages allowed us, which they have? (...) Are we safer under their conduct than our own? (...) There is scarce an instance in a million among Women, of one Woman of a middling capacity, who does not, or would not, govern herself better than most Men in parallel circumstances, if the circumvention, treachery, and baseness of that sex did not interfere. (...) Most Women are ruin'd, instead of being improv'd in heart or mind under the conduct of the Men. And therefore, since we are at most in no greater safety under their government than our own, there can be no solid reason assign'd why we shou'd be subject to it.
Let us treat Women as our equals, (says [the 'blubblering dotard' xD Cato]) and they will immediately want to become our mistresses. 'Tis Cato says it, and therefore there needs no proof. Besides, to oblige men to prove all they advance by reason, wou'd be imposing silence upon them; a grievance to which they are perhaps full as unequal as they pretend we are. But granting Cato to be infallible in his assertions, what then? Have not Women as much right to be mistresses, as the Men have to be masters? No, says Cato. But why? Because they have not. Such convincing arguments must make us fond of hearing him farther. If we make the Women our equals, they will demand that to-morrow as a tribute, which they receive to-day as a grace. But where is the grace in granting us a share in what we have an equal right to? Have not the Women an equal claim to power and dignity with the Men?
Then Cato is forced at last to own that the subjection we are kept under by that arrogant sex, is the effect of violence and imposition? This he does to compliment his own sex, with attributing all our merit to them. A sorry compliment (...) Is not this calling all his own sex fools? For surely nothing can be a greater proof of folly in the Men than to use violence and imposition, and to take perpetual pains to support both, only to make us act with affectation (...) So that either all the Men are downright changelings, by Cato's own confession, or this mighty oracle himself is a driveler, and to be heeded by none but such.
I shou'd not myself have thought [Cato] worth so much notice as I have here taken of him; but that the Men are weak enough in general, to suffer their sense to be led away captive, by such half-thinking retailers of sentences. Among whom, This in particular, was he worth the pains, might be easily proved to have been often grossly in the wrong in other matters as well as in the present case; and therefore, when he happens to be in the right, the merit of it is more to be imputed to blind chance than to his wisdom: Since the greatest fools, when active, may blunder into the right sometimes: And great talkers among many absurdities, must here and there drop a good saying, when they least design it. Of this stamp, are the generality of evidence brought against us. Men avers'd to the labour of thinking; who found reason a drudgery (...); who have gain'd all their reputation by a pretty gimness of expressions, which wou'd no more bear examination than their heads, their hearts, or their faces; and who (to mimic this sage) wou'd rather see common-sense in confusion, than a word misplaced in one of their sentences. Yet these are sages among the Men, and their sentences are so many divine oracles; whereas perhaps, had we lived in their own times, to have heard the many more foolish things they said than sensible ones, we shou'd have found them as oafish as the dupes who revere them. And tho' perhaps we might have been more surprized to hear such dotards talk sometimes rationally, than we now are, to read their sayings; we shou'd have had reason still to think them more fit to extort our admiration than deserve it. Care has been taken to hand down to us the best of their sentences, many of which nevertheless are weak enough: But had the same care been taken to register all their absurdities, how great a share of their present applause wou'd they have lost!
If from immemorable time, the Men had been so little envious, and so very impartial, as to do justice to our talents, by admitting us to our right of sharing with them in public action; they wou'd have been as accustomed to see us filling public offices, as we are to see them disgrace them; (...) A Schurman, with a thesis in her hand, displaying nature in it's most innocent useful lights, wou'd have been as familiar a sight, as a Physician in his chariot (...): And an Amazon, with a helmet on her head, animating her embattled troops, wou'd have been no more a matter of surprize than a milliner behind a counter with a thimble on her finger (...). Not reason then, but error and ignorance cased in custom, makes these superficial creatures think it an unnatural sight.
The Men who cannot deny us to be rational creatures, wou'd have us justify their irrational opinion and treatment of us, by descending to a mean compliance with their irrational Expectations. But I hope, while Women have any spirit left, they will exert it all, in shewing how worthy they are of better usage, by not submitting tamely to such misplaced arrogance.
It must appear to every one (...) a matter of the greatest surprise, to observe the universal prevalence of prejudice and custom in the minds of the Men. (...) If this haughty sex would have us believe they have a natural superiority over us, why do not they prove their charter from Nature, by making use of reason to subdue themselves. (...) But it will be impossible for us, without forfeiting that reason, ever to acknowledge ourselves inferior to creatures, who make no other use of the sense they boast of (...) led away captive by prejudice, and sacrifying justice, truth and honour, to inconsiderate custom
The Men, who have taken care to engross the affairs of Religion, as well as others, to their own management, are no more guided in that than in any thing else by the dictates of reason. The religion they were bred up in, they blindly prefer to all others, without being able to give any stronger proof of it's being the best, than that it was the Faith of their fore-fathers. Upon the strength of this prejudice, they adhere to it as the only true one, and without ever examining into it, or comparing it with others; they condemn all beside it as erroneous. Is not this the case with most of the Men, our clergy not excepted? No country pleases a man so well as his own; nay, so far is he apt to carry prejudice, that he can seldom be induced to do justice to any other nation, even where truth is on it's side, if the honour and interest of his own is at stake: And this is a foible the very best Men are equally subject to. Nay, such is the imbecility of that sex, as well as ours, that even professions are a matter of prejudice.
the many absurd notions the Men are led into by custom: Tho' there is none more absurd, than that of the great difference they make between their own sex and ours. Yet it must be own'd that there is not any vulgar error more antient or universal. For the learned and illiterate alike are prepossest with the opinion that Men are really superior to Women, and that the dependence we now are in, is the very state which nature pointed out for us.
the Men, biased by custom, prejudice, and interest, have presumed boldly to pronounce sentence in their own favour, because possession empowered them to make violence take place of justice. And the Men of our times, without trial or examination, have taken the same liberty from the report of other Men. (...) If a Man could thus divest the partiality attach'd to this self, and put on for a minute a state of neutrality, he would be able to see, and forced to acknowledge, that prejudice and precipitance are the chief causes of setting less value upon Women than Men, and giving so much greater excellence and nobility to the latter than to the former. In a word, were the Men Philosophers in the strict sense of the term, they would be able to see that nature invincibly proves a perfect equality in our sex with their own.
it appears that there is no other difference between Men and Us than what their tyrany has created, it will then appear how unjust they are in excluding us from that power and dignity we have a right to share with them; how ungenerous in denying us the equality of esteem, which is our due; and how little reason they have to triumph in the base possession of an authority, which unnatural violence, and lawless usurpation, put into their Hands. Then let them justify, if they can, the little meannesses, not to mention the grosser barbarities, which they daily practise towards that part of the creation
IT is enough for the Men to find a thing establish'd to make them believe it well grounded. In all countries we are seen in subjection and absolute dependence on the Men, without being admitted to the advantages of sciences, or the opportunity of exerting our capacity in a public station. Hence the Men, according to their usual talent of arguing from seemings, conclude that we ought to be so. (...)But why do the Men persuade themselves that we are less fit for public employments than they are? Can they give any better reason than custom and prejudice form'd in them by external appearances (...)? (...) For if Women are but consider'd as rational creatures, abstracted from the disadvantages imposed upon them by the unjust usurpation and tyranny of the Men, they will be found, to the full, as capable as the Men, of filling these offices.