The Nobility and Excellence of Women is remarkable in several respects, aside from its philosophical and rhetorical skill. First, although several of Marinella’s predecessors on the pro-woman side of the debate had argued both that men and women were equal in so far as they shared a rational soul, and also that women were superior, they had failed to address adequately the tension between the claims of equality and of superiority; Marinella addresses it directly and persuasively. Her argument takes the bodies of women as a starting point, from which she adduces evidence to demonstrate that women’s moral characters are better than those of men, and that the moral superiority of women leads to an intellectual superiority. Second, Marinella advances the case being made by women and their supporters beyond a demand for sympathy and respect from men to a demand for freedom, power, and equality. Although she did not propose concrete reforms, she did analyze the situation of women in explicitly political terms. Third, although many had decried the viciousness of those who argued for the inferiority of women, Marinella was one of the first to supply an explanation of the motives of men who published misogynist works, and to connect those motives to the exclusion of women from public life.
How far back?
2020 | Present