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The Book of the City of Ladies

In The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), the early feminist Christine de Pizan attacks male misogyny and exalts the role of women in society.

This book was written in response to Giovanni Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris[?] (concerning famous women). Pizan thought that De mulieribus was patriarchal and condescending to women so she wrote a book to counter it.

In Ladies Pizan envisions a female utopia in which the word "lady" is defined as a woman of noble spirit, instead of noble birth. The City of Ladies, writes Pizan, is a commonwealth where every woman can can attain citizenship to by exploring her feminine potential. Pizan goes on to invite all ladies of the past, present and future to join her vision of a society in which women are judged by the degree that they fulfill their dreams and capabilities and not by the accomplishments of the men in their lives. This book consists of a didactic exchange between three allegorical goddesses (Reason, Rectitude, & Justice) and de Pizan. In the exchange, Pizan asks the goddesses if women should be taught as men are and why men think women should not be educated. Other questions that are explored are; the criminality of rape, the natural affinity in women to learn, and their talent for government.

Reference

  • Kenneth J. Atchity, The Renaissance Reader (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1996) pages: 25-29



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