“The Book of the City of Ladies” was written by Christine de Pizan in 1405. In this book, the author constructs a symbolic city of women and reflects on the misogynistic attacks of men on women.
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Several exciting allegories help the main character, Christine de Pizan, free herself from misogynistic self-conceptions. These allegories are presented by three ladies, in particular by Lady Reason, who, with tenderness and nobility, explains to Christine the reasons for her delusions. In the first allegory in Section II, Lady Reason notes that philosophers who ridicule and blaspheme women often contradict and criticize each other (Pizan 38). She also invites Christine to consider such written statements using the tool of antiphrasis, which is applied when the author means that things are good by calling them bad and vice versa. Lady Reason argues that although men often criticize women’s behavior in marriage when women abuse men, in reality, there is hardly a man who allows his wife to do this; therefore, such accusations are false.
In Section VIII, Lady Reason develops her thoughts and lists four reasons why men attribute all kinds of vices to women. Lady Reason explains to Christine that sometimes men try to keep each other out of immoral and dissolute women. In other cases, their attacks are deceitful and are due to men’s depravity, physical disabilities, jealousy, and slander. When men endow women with negative characteristics because of their vices, they do so because they repent of their sins of youth, and at the same time, they do not want others to enjoy the pleasures once available to them.
Further, Lady Reason notes that some men have physical disabilities but sharp and malicious minds; they defame women so that no one can enjoy what is inaccessible to them. Those men who say bad things about women out of jealousy suffer from the idea that many women are superior to them. Finally, some men take pleasure in slander and attack everyone, as they are unable to be grateful.
Pizan, Christine. The Book of the City of Ladies. Penguin UK, 1999.