Even though I do not entirely agree with Christine de Pizan on a few things, the main one being strict divisions of labor between women and men which is linked to God giving people different roles which is linked to my uncertainty about some beliefs from Christianity, I am impressed considering that this was written in medieval times.Christine de Pizan is one of those people that I wouldn t mind becoming friends with, even if I didn t agree with everything she said She could be my slightly stuffy old fashioned aunt I would love talking to her Her arguments are balanced, neither going through solely Reason or Rectitude or Justice but through all three.Not only is she reasonable, but she also has moral wisdom Human superiority is not determined by sexual difference but by the degree to which one has perfected one s nature and morals There are many instances such as these in which she draws away from condemning either men or women Let God do the judging Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone, she reminds Rather than promote harmful stereotypes she says that there are men and women of every kind she promotes a universal do good attitude That way, she defends women as whole, without doing men the injustice of condemning them as a whole Like I said, someone peaceful you d feel safe talking to.Through Reason, she gives examples of women who are virtuous, intelligent, loving, faithful, and kind that refute misogynist views of the day She also judges from her own experience of other women, and uses the clever example, herself If I see many women who are smart, kind, virtuous, and intelligent, it can t be that all women are bad Similarly, if I am a good woman, it can t be that all women are bad I also find the book aesthetically pleasing through her use of the allegorical Ladies of Reason, Rectitude, and Justice helping her build the foundations and palaces and buildings of the City of Ladies through the mortar of her pen By the end of the book, I thought, man, I want to join this city of precious stones with these noble, beautiful ladies and have a Virgin Mary empress who is kind and virtuous and celestial. A useful look at the history of women s rights, but through the eyes of a ruling class woman noble who wants nothing different systemically, justrespect culturally This is like a proto first wave feminist, that bourgeoisie of rich women who simply wanted to be respected and feared like their rich, property owning husbands.Along with this, she is pretty excessively christian, obsessed with virginity, and zealously opposed to women s independence from men While one might say this is to be expected, it nonetheless disappoints when she repeatedly makes statements of a woman s worth depending on where they stand as servants for men, which are beside statements supporting a women s separatism The very essence of this book is in women s separatism, despite the caveat of still being hierarchal.I m not one to believe that a person from the past should be givenleeway for ignorance due to it being typical of the past I simply don t believe this linear historical supremacism Instead, I find that her position as a noble allows for the most obvious cognitive dissonance through the privilege of rule by hierarch and hoarding of wealth.There was one mention of an excessively wealthy woman from rome s history who housed 10,000 ill and homeless people, which is great until we find out it was for the sole purpose of returning to fight for rome, an empire which began expansion through sexual violence And yet she is described as virtuous for her charity It is moments like this division in criticism that I expect from the rich and powerful, not simply from historical people.But back to the good This book is important, and very inspiring at times, while empowering in some ways at other times I made many notes, skips, and edits for my own thoughts and to build some consistency in the passages Overall it was worth the read. This is an amazing humanist text written in 1405 Through her discourse to explain the misconception of woman, Pizan elevates her argument beyond the literature of 20th century feminists Where Friedan, Steinem, Hooks, etc would outline the maladjustment and oppression of women, Pizan would argue that equality is a potential from birth She doesn t just academically complain through proof or experience that woman is a second class citizen.The purpose of The Book of the City of Ladies is to build an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual refuge foundation for all women to draw from as they pursue their natural aptitude It is interesting to read a text and see how the cult of the Virgin Mary helped elevate women s place in society Equally fascinating is to see the intellectual breadth of the day and endearing to read the errors of their knowledge in history and linguistics Much like de Beauvoir s Second Sex, Pizan s masterpiece is still one of the best feminist critiques ever written It is still at the same time elevating to men This being said, we haveto do and to write. In this book, written in 1405, the author is given examples by Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude and Lady Justice to help erect a city of ladies In part it is a metaphor of the city being built up of the reputations of great women, but it is also meant to be peopled with great and virtuous women too In building up their support of this city , we are shown that things like morality, learning, chastity, prophesy, loyalty, mediation, stoicism, intelligence, and strategy are very much part of the territory of women as well as men We are shown that women are not naturally lesser beings when it comes to possession of these virtues.Many of the women cited are hugely strong characters.for instance we are shown how the Sabine women mediated between their families and their abductors, and how Judith killed Holofernes, a terrible enemy ruler of her people, or how Portia violently ended her life when her husband was murdered.Other women are cited for their intelligence and learning such as Nicostrata, legendry inventor of Latin alphabet, or Hortensia, educated by her father Quintus Hortensius, surpassing him in her command of oratory , and Novella, taught by her father to be a lecturer in law.Others are held up because of their great moral virtue Susanna, wife of Joachim, of Biblical myth, Lucretia, wife of Tarquinius Collatinus, who killed herself after being raped by Tarquin The Proud, and Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, who fought his death, and remained loyal to him ever afterwards.Throughout the book I was struck by Pizan s even handed approach towards the sexes This is no angry diatribe, but simply a defence of women and their abilities Given some of the extreme superstition that was levied against women in the Middle Ages I have just watched Robert Bartlett s series on television Inside the Medieval Mind , I felt that Pizan s position was generous.I was also interested that in the end of the book, the Virgin Mary was invited to head up the city, and the next two women mentioned for the city are the martyrs St Catherine and St Afra Maybe what issurprising is that all the book isn t Bible based, but rather it takes its examples from a variety of sources most of which came via the stories told in Giovanni Boccaccio s De mulieribus claris a treatise on ancient famous women , and Boccaccio s Decameron.Given my ignorance of things classical, mythical and Biblical throughout the book I was grateful to Wikipedia for giving me a bit of background on most of the women mentioned It also has an excellent introduction to the book itself.Finally, this book is outside my normal reading range, both in terms of its age and in terms of its content Considering this, a three star rating is good. honestly, way better than I remembered it being when I read it in undergrad a good reminder that we read differently as we get older an easy, unexpectedly funny read, partially due to the sharp translation the introduction for this edition is very weird overly apologetic it s 2017, yall, I think we should all be past the but she s not a 21st century feminist angle, this was written 600 years ago and couched in language that is bizarrely focused on authorial intention rather than the text itself maybe this is just the repressed formalist in me but the edition was put together in 1999, which is not too long ago, and while the translation is great, the intro feels like it clawed its way out of the 1970s. Quite simply this book changed my life and is a must for any elegant feminist Written over 610 years ago Christine De Pizan was the first female professional author The City of Ladies is her most famous book written as a literary riposte to male writers slandering women Her unique rhetorical strategy to belittle her style and writing against the grain of her meaning became her trademark literary weapon She exposed crude and vulgar language as another weapon used to slander women while simultaneously denigrating the sexual act itself.Pizan deserves was the first woman in history to reinterpret the word Lady, to mean not a woman of noble birth, but a woman of noble spirit, wit, courage and charm Her greatest literary work is the City of Ladies in which she describes a female utopia, an allegorical society built by ladies for ladies.The book begins with Christine responding to Matheolus s book, Lamentations a misogynist text in which Matheolus insists women make men s lives miserable She says quite simply that, This thought inspired such a great sense of disgust and sadness in me that I began to despise myself and the whole of my sex as an aberration in nature The three Virtues then appear to Christine Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude Lady Justice and one by one they dispel the myths and slanders against women by men and aid the allegorical Christine to create a utopian city built for and by valiant ladies.I read it first while a teenager at a time when women were burning their bras for equal rights and the word Lady had become a word of hate and it literally changed my life I felt I owed it to the ladies of history and my own matriarchal lineage to preserve and honour the word Lady My female ancestors, beleaguered Irish Catholic women who faced oppression not just by virtue of their gender but for their race and religion, managed to maintain their noble spirit despite oppression violence and starvation These ladies for they were ladies and proudly classified themselves as such despite their poverty educated, protected, fed and fought for their families armed solely with the dandizette weapons of dignity, razor sharp wit, humour, charm and impeccable manners I owe it to their bravery and sacrifices to reclaim the word lady as a description of all women of courage, wit, good manners and charm I am not exagerating when I say this book and Christine De Pizan inspired my Dandizette Revolution an elegant feminist call to charms This book has quite a lot of points which are very interesting and pretty progressive bearing her Medieval period in mind from a feminist point of view pro woman representation, criticism of patriarchal double standards, gender roles, and the behaviour of misogynistic entitled men against women Some parts, however, still include quite a lot of problematic content internalized misogyny, especially regarding modesty mindsets promotion of patriarchal gender roles albeit in order to protect women from a cruel patriarchal society and a lot of religious content Giving it 4.5 5 in spite of this problematic content because I think her pro woman anti misogyny feminist ideas sometimes remarkably close to modern feminism, especially her direct criticism of men s misogyny and double standards are remarkable and amazing for the society of the 14th 15th Century, and Christine also deserves recognition as the first professional female writer in Europe, and also as the first who tackled the defense of women and feminist themes in her writing in a direct way an important turning point in the history of feminism The first part is especially interesting in its female representation and its description of proactive, non traditional roles it tackles ruling queens, warriors, erudites and inventors and even if Christine didn t actually promote that the women of her time veer away from the established repressive gender roles society imposed upon them, it s still refreshing representation at the time It s peppered with some biological determinism and religious problematic sections, but overall it s quite good in its pro woman content The second part also includes pro woman representation and criticism of patriarchal double standards and men s behaviour against women that is on point and awesomely snarky at times , but it also includesproblematic issues such as the patriarchal concepts of modesty and chastity , and other internalized misogyny issues such as the fact that only respectable women who uphold the patriarchal notions of modesty and virtue will be welcome in the City We have to bear in mind, though, that one aspect of Christine s anti misogynist and pro woman strategies was to advise women to conform to these patriarchal mindsets in order not to be scorned and attacked by the repressive society they were living in To her view, Christine was actually trying to help women and countering the misogynist stereotypes that painted women as sinful by nature , impure because of their female body and lascivious adulterers.The third part was my least favourite and focuses mainly on religion it s particularly distasteful in its description of saints and martyrdom and had to skip the details when I was nearly half through It also includes some problematic issues having to do with the fact that, for all her remarkable criticism, Christine, like I mentioned above, doesn t really challenge the patriarchal societal system Thus, she also falls into internalized misogyny religious brainwashing by promoting female compliance and gender roles I especially suffered through the very last part where wives are advised to tolerate and be devoted to their husbands no matter how wayward or cruel they may be In the second part, however, Christine actually also criticizes wayward and abusive husbands and unequal marriages and, like I mentioned above, Christine s own reasons for this promotion of the traditional status quo discourse were to protect women from societal retaliation rather than because of a purely misogynistic anti women mindset Still problematic, but we also have to bear that in mind Christine s books seem at times almost contradictory in the way they alternate pro woman activism and a harsh criticism of men s entitlement, misogyny and their treatment of women issues which are tackled in a remarkable modern feminism way, like I mentioned with her own brainwashed religious upbringing and internalized misogyny, promoting biological determinism, gender roles, and the patriarchal status quo such as the modesty mindset and women being of use to the world basically if they benefit men in some way being good wives daughters etc Sometimes these two views are to be found side by side in the very same page, which also makes me think that, although she was already pretty enlightened for her day, Christine was maybe also less brainwashed by Patriarchy that she chooses to let on, potentially choosing to alternate herprogressive pro woman ideas with theregressive patriarchal ideas of her contemporary society and sphere, as a tactic in order to defend herself from criticism in a society which still punished people harshly for heresy and the like for example, when tackling the issue of whether women should be allowed to rule and be involved in lawmaking, she goes from using biological determinism and established gender roles to justify the status quo to then stating that women are able to do anything and giving a handful of examples of ruling queens who made laws and governed admirably She also uses the selective quotation tactic against the misogynistic authors she criticizes in a really good way, quoting their sources Greco Roman mythology and culture and the Bible in a way that only highlights pro woman content and refutes their own misogynistic propaganda A pretty intelligent move that made her pro woman arguments difficult to refute unless misogynistic men wanted their religious piety and respect to Classical authority figures to be put into question xD I also really liked the useful introduction by Rosalind Brown Grant, with whom I agree on nearly all points about Christine s feminist stance and interpretation of her writings also read her book Christine de Pizan and the Moral Defence of Women Reading Beyond Gender I also recommend Charity Cannon Willard s Biography for a fuller understanding of Christine s life More about her apparent promotion of gender roles and the unequal status quo after reading the sequel In the Treasure of the City of Ladies Book of the Three Virtues , which at first may seem to be just a courtesy book full of the promotion of the backward ideas of the time, it becomes clearer that Christine was advising women to comply to society s conventional roles, mindsets and expectations as a way to offer strategies to protect women from harm in a ruthless patriarchal society and help them survive the attacks of unforgiving misogynist slanderers She doesn t actually denounce those social inequalities and gender roles, focusing rather on the moral and spiritual equality of women and men in regards to the pursuit of virtue rather than social equality and rights, but her aim was pretty feminist and subversive at the time all the same, and I think that Christine is pretty praiseworthy for that, internalized misogyny classism heteronormativity problematic religious views aside Added note also related to this Societal internalized gender roles aside, I think the main difference between Christine s brand of feminism and themodern feminism is that she doesn t even think of the possibility of changing and trying to abolish an unequal system patriarchy , she tends to just acknowledge misogyny in some of its forms and denounce misogynist authors who spout patriarchal double standards no small deed and already incredibly revolutionary for the time , defending women by refuting misogynistic stereotypes, but not actually considering the possibility to fight for equality and liberation in society per se So the thing she ends up doing, especially in the sequel, is advising women how to cope with society as it is, with all its gender roles and misogyny, and how to tolerate the status quo, which usually means endorsing gender roles in order to try to protect women from harm For all her revolutionary thinking and intelligent tactics against misogynistic men, she is still also suffering from internalized sexist issues due to her socialization and patriarchal religious upbringing and sphere, of course especially regarding the modesty mindset issue That and religion in general are the two things that really fetter her, I think S something that should have been nearly impossible not to be in that context, really But in spite of all that, herprogressive and remarkably pro woman ideas shine through in a way that definitely do make Christine a feminist most definitely a pro woman activist who criticized and denounced quite a lot of aspects of her patriarchal society and paved the way for modern feminism Blog post here Esta novela, escrita en 1405, es una precursora indiscutible del feminismo M s le valdr a a la Iglesia el leerla, puesto que defiende la religi n cat lica desde un punto de vista feminista muy interesante, y le valdr a como respuesta a muchas preguntas que se le hacen hoy en d a a la Santa Sede Defiende que Dios ha hecho a la mujer y al hombre, am ndolos igual, y dot ndolos de iguales derechos, que el hombre ha cuidado de trastornar.El libro consta de tres partes, a cada cual m s interesante Lo asombroso es que se trata de una obra escrita por una mujer en una poca en la que la misoginia estaba a la orden del d a, y en estas tres partes se describe el odio hacia la mujer por autores y cl rigos, y se defiende los derechos de la misma, igual ndola siempre en estos derechos al hombre, y no intentando ni mucho menos pisotear los del g nero masculino.Durante muchos cap tulos se describe la vida de maravillosas mujeres, valientes, honrosas, paganas o religiosas, que merecen su lugar en la historia de la humanidad As , habla de las as, las sabinas, y multitud de princesas y mujeres pobres que intentaron hacer el bien a sus familias y pueblos Tambi n, en la ltima parte habla de la vida de numerosas santas cat licas, que no solo lucharon por la cristiandas, sino por pobres y mendigos que requer an de su ayuda, y que no dudaron en d rsela Hay tantos ejemplos que cuesta creer que ni uno solo de ellos se use en ning n libro de historia actual en colegios e institutos.Tambi n habla del tema de la violaci n, recriminando a los hombres esta conducta que obliga a las mujeres a mantener relaciones con ellos Pone ejemplos de su poca y de otras pasadas le dos en libros, y hace pensar que ya en aquella poca se consideraba una aberraci n, y que ahora contin a siendo una pr ctica demasiado habitual.Un libro escrito para honrar a las mujeres del pasado, presente y futuro, ideado por una mujer, y en esta edici n traducido por otra El pr logo de la misma tambi n est escrito por una mujer, y es digno de lectura, puesto que pone al lector sobre aviso de lo que a continuaci n va a leer y disfrutar de una manera que ya de por s lo hace m s interesante si cabe. About six years ago I read Giovanni Boccaccio s The Decameron While I found it a worthwhile experience, I remember thinking that the women were not portrayed in a very kind light all the time in his stories I also remember thinking that was not unusual considering the fact it was written in the 14th century, and those people were really unenlightened when it came to women s rights and stuff.But then I read this book Christine de Pizan wrote this book in the 15th century, and calls Boccaccio out a few times, which made me cheer a bit She questioned what he wrote, as well as other writers Ovid, for example , which made me realize that not everyone was completely unenlightened back in the Middle Ages after all.This allegory was written in the early 1400s but wasn t translated into English until 1521 Pizan herself is a character in her story which involves her talking to the three daughters of God Reason, Rectitude, and Justice They have come to help Pizan build a safe haven for women since they have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history Remember this was written in the 15th century I feel de Pizan s City has grown exponentially since it was first published She would hardly recognize it now if she showed up And she would be pissed I m sure her first words would be along the lines of Did no one read my book, and did you assholes learn nothing Nope No one reads your book, Christine And no one has learned anything It s a fucking disgrace out here in the future.The three daughters of God listen to Pizan s questions, all of which are about how women have been treated throughout history, the way they are portrayed in literature, the way they are subjected to rape and torture, and accused of being malicious and manipulative Pizan points out examples from Boccaccio and Ovid and the daughters of God bring out other examples that disprove what those guys had written, and then those historical figures they have illustrated to Pizan are then housed in the safety of this City they have created.It s actually a really brilliant idea They re not just sitting around waiting for the Plague to blow over, telling each other stories No, here s a story that uses some fucking imagination An imaginary city created to provide safety to women who have no other safe place to turn It sounds like an utopia, doesn t it This was a powerful read especially when considering when it was written and how unpopular these ideas must have been It s a feminist work at a time when women were not given a voice, especially not a feminist one They were objects and property, but here is one woman who said that was not good enough, and misogyny has no place in this world Of course we re still fighting that one, but here s another text to show that it s been a long battle and we re not alone. In Dialogues With Three Celestial Ladies, Reason, Rectitude, And Justice, Christine De PizanCaBuilds An Allegorical Fortified City For Women Using Examples Of The Important Contributions Women Have Made To Western Civilization And Arguments That Prove Their Intellectual And Moral Equality To Men Earl Jeffrey Richards Acclaimed Translation Is Used Nationwide In The Most Eminent Colleges And Universities In America, From Columbia To Stanford