Condemning all women in order to help some misguided men get over their foolish behaviour is tantamount to denouncing fire, which is a vital and beneficial element, just because some people are burnt by it, or to cursing water just because some people are drowned in it.
-Christine de Pizan
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APAChristine de Pizan Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=condemning-all-women-in-order-to-help-some-misguided-men-get-over-their-foolish-behaviour-is-tantamount-to-denouncing-fire-which-is-vital-beneficial-christine-de-pizan
ChicagoChristine de Pizan Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2019. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=condemning-all-women-in-order-to-help-some-misguided-men-get-over-their-foolish-behaviour-is-tantamount-to-denouncing-fire-which-is-vital-beneficial-christine-de-pizan, accessed .
MLA"Christine de Pizan Quotes." Jar of Quotes, 2019. . https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=condemning-all-women-in-order-to-help-some-misguided-men-get-over-their-foolish-behaviour-is-tantamount-to-denouncing-fire-which-is-vital-beneficial-christine-de-pizan
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[S]ince you are angry at me without reason, you attack me harshly with, "Oh outrageous presumption! Oh excessively foolish pride! Oh opinion uttered too quickly and thoughtlessly by the mouth of a woman! A woman who condemns a man of high understanding and dedicated study, a man who, by great labour and mature deliberation, has made the very noble book of the Rose, which surpasses all others that were ever written in French. When you have read this book a hundred times, provided you have understood the greater part of it, you will discover that you could never have put your time and intellect to better use!" My answer: Oh man deceived by willful opinion! I could assuredly answer but I prefer not to do it with insult, although, groundlessly, you yourself slander me with ugly accusations. Oh darkened understanding! Oh perverted knowledge... A simple little housewife sustained by the doctrine of Holy Church could criticise your error!
Christine de Pizan
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Yet if women are so flighty, fickle, changeable, susceptible, and inconstant (as some clerks would have us believe), why is it that their suitors have to resort to such trickery to have their way with them? And why don't women quickly succumb to them, without the need for all this skill and ingenuity in conquering them? For there is no need to go to war for a castle that is already captured. (...) Therefore, since it is necessary to call on such skill, ingenuity, and effort in order to seduce a woman, whether of high or humble birth, the logical conclusion to draw is that women are by no means as fickle as some men claim, or as easily influenced in their behaviour. And if anyone tells me that books are full of women like these, it is this very reply, frequently given, which causes me to complain. My response is that women did not write these books nor include the material which attacks them and their morals. Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart's content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence. But if women had written these books, I know full well the subject would have been handled differently. They know that they stand wrongfully accused, and that the cake has not been divided up equally, for the strongest take the lion's share, and the one who does the sharing out keeps the biggest portion for himself.
Christine de Pizan
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My Lady, you certainly tell me about wonderful constancy, strength and virtue and firmness of women, so can one say the same thing about men? (...) Response [by Lady Rectitude]: "Fair sweet friend, have you not yet heard the saying that the fool sees well enough a small cut in the face of his neighbour, but he disregards the great gaping one above his own eye? I will show you the great contradiction in what the men say about the changeability and inconstancy of women. It is true that they all generally insist that women are very frail [= fickle] by nature. And since they accuse women of frailty, one would suppose that they themselves take care to maintain a reputation for constancy, or at the very least, that the women are indeed less so than they are themselves. And yet, it is obvious that they demand of women greater constancy than they themselves have, for they who claim to be of this strong and noble condition cannot refrain from a whole number of very great defects and sins, and not out of ignorance, either, but out of pure malice, knowing well how badly they are misbehaving. But all this they excuse in themselves and say that it is in the nature of man to sin, yet if it so happens that any women stray into any misdeed (of which they themselves are the cause by their great power and longhandedness), then it's suddenly all frailty and inconstancy, they claim. But it seems to me that since they do call women frail, they should not support that frailty, and not ascribe to them as a great crime what in themselves they merely consider a little defect.
Christine de Pizan
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[J]ust 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 behaviour. Not only one or two... but, more generally, from the treatises of all philosophers and poets and from all the orators - it would take too long to mention their names - it seems that they all speak from one and the same mouth. Thinking deeply about these matters, I began to examine my character and conduct as a natural woman and, similarly, I considered other women whose company I frequently kept, princesses, great ladies, women of the middle and lower classes, who had graciously told me of their most private and intimate thoughts, hoping that I could judge impartially and in good conscience whether the testimony of so many notable men could be true. To the best of my knowledge, no matter how long I confronted or dissected the problem, I could not see or realise how their claims could be true when compared to the natural behaviour and character of women.
Christine de Pizan
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[Women] complain about many clerks who attribute all sorts of faults to them and who compose works about them in rhyme, prose, and verse, criticizing their conduct in a variety of different ways. They then give these works as elementary textbooks to their young pupils at the beginning of their schooling, to provide them with exempla and received wisdom, so that they will remember this teaching when they come of age... They accuse [women] of many... serious vice[s] and are very critical of them, finding no excuse for them whatsoever. This is the way clerks behave day and night, composing their verse now in French, now in Latin. And they base their opinions on goodness only knows which books, which are more mendacious than a drunk. Ovid, in a book he wrote called Cures for Love, says many evil things about women, and I think he was wrong to do this. He accuses them of gross immorality, of filthy, vile, and wicked behaviour. (I disagree with him that they have such vices and promise to champion them in the fight against anyone who would like to throw down the gauntlet...) Thus, clerks have studied this book since their early childhood as their grammar primer and then teach it to others so that no man will undertake to love a woman.
Christine de Pizan
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Causing any damage or harm to one party in order to help another party is not justice, and likewise, attacking all feminine conduct [in order to warn men away from individual women who are deceitful] is contrary to the truth, just as I will show you with a hypothetical case. Let us suppose they did this intending to draw fools away from foolishness. It would be as if I attacked fire - a very good and necessary element nevertheless - because some people burnt themselves, or water because someone drowned. The same can be said of all good things which can be used well or used badly. But one must not attack them if fools abuse them.
Christine de Pizan
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When we take your person into account, you who are a young maiden, to whom God gives the strength and power to be the champion who casts the rebels down and feeds France with the sweet, nourishing milk of peace, here indeed is something quite extraordinary! For if God performed such a great number of miracles through Joshua who conquered many a place and cast down many an enemy, he, Joshua, was a strong and powerful man. But, after all, a woman - a simple shepherdess - braver than any man ever was in Rome! As far as God is concerned, this was easily accomplished. But as for us, we never heard tell of such an extraordinary marvel, for the prowess of all the great men of the past cannot be compared to this woman's whose concern it is to cast out our enemies. This is God's doing: it is He who guides her and who has given her a heart greater than that of any man.
Christine de Pizan
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Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart's content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence.
Christine de Pizan
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[The wives of powerful noblemen] must be highly knowledgeable about government, and wise - in fact, far wiser than most other such women in power. The knowledge of a baroness must be so comprehensive that she can understand everything. Of her a philosopher might have said: "No one is wise who does not know some part of everything." Moreover, she must have the courage of a man. This means that she should not be brought up overmuch among women nor should she be indulged in extensive and feminine pampering. Why do I say that? If barons wish to be honoured as they deserve, they spend very little time in their manors and on their own lands. Going to war, attending their prince's court, and traveling are the three primary duties of such a lord. So the lady, his companion, must represent him at home during his absences. Although her husband is served by bailiffs, provosts, rent collectors, and land governors, she must govern them all. To do this according to her right she must conduct herself with such wisdom that she will be both feared and loved. As we have said before, the best possible fear comes from love. When wronged, her men must be able to turn to her for refuge. She must be so skilled and flexible that in each case she can respond suitably. Therefore, she must be knowledgeable in the mores of her locality and instructed in its usages, rights, and customs. She must be a good speaker, proud when pride is needed; circumspect with the scornful, surly, or rebellious; and charitably gentle and humble toward her good, obedient subjects. With the counsellors of her lord and with the advice of elder wise men, she ought to work directly with her people. No one should ever be able to say of her that she acts merely to have her own way. Again, she should have a man's heart. She must know the laws of arms and all things pertaining to warfare, ever prepared to command her men if there is need of it. She has to know both assault and defence tactics to insure that her fortresses are well defended, if she has any expectation of attack or believes she must initiate military action. Testing her men, she will discover their qualities of courage and determination before overly trusting them. She must know the number and strength of her men to gauge accurately her resources, so that she never will have to trust vain or feeble promises. Calculating what force she is capable of providing before her lord arrives with reinforcements, she also must know the financial resources she could call upon to sustain military action. She should avoid oppressing her men, since this is the surest way to incur their hatred. She can best cultivate their loyalty by speaking boldly and consistently to them, according to her council, not giving one reason today and another tomorrow. Speaking words of good courage to her men-at-arms as well as to her other retainers, she will urge them to loyalty and their best efforts.
Christine de Pizan
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