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rank and splendor of the families from which they are sprung, and are
even allowed the supreme authority. This a few years ago, was enjoyed by
an empress, whose head did honor to her nation and to her sex; although,
on some occasions, the virtues of her heart have been much suspected.
The sex, in general, are protected from insult, by many salutary laws;
and, except among the peasants, are exempted from every kind of toil and
slavery. Upon the whole, they seem to be approaching fast to the
enjoyment of that consequence, to which they have already arrived in
several parts of Europe.
THE IDEA OF FEMALE INFERIORITY.
It is an opinion pretty well established, that in strength of mind, as
well as of body, men are greatly superior to women.
Men are endowed with boldness and courage, women are not. The reason is
plain, these are beauties in our character; in theirs they would be
blemishes. Our genius often leads to the great and the arduous; theirs
to the soft and the pleasing; we bend our thoughts to make life
convenient; they turn theirs to make it easy and agreeable. If the
endowments allotted to us by nature could not be easily acquired by
women, it would be as difficult for us to acquire those peculiarly
allotted to them. Are we superior to them in what belongs to the male
character? They are no less so to us, in what belongs to the female
Would it not appear rather ludicrous to say, that a man was endowed only
with inferior abilities, because he was not expert in the nursing of
children, and practising the various effeminacies which we reckon lovely
in a woman? Would it be reasonable to condemn him on these accounts?
Just as reasonable, as it is to reckon women inferior to men, because
their talents are in general not adapted to tread the horrid path of
war, nor trace the mazes and intricacies of science.
The idea of the inferiority of female nature has drawn after it several
others the most absurd, unreasonable, and humiliating to the sex. Such
is the pride of man, that in some countries he has considered
immortality as a distinction too glorious for women. Thus degrading the
fair partners of his nature, he places them on a level with the beasts
As the Asiatics have, time immemorial, considered women as little better
than slaves, this opinion probably originated among them. The
Mahometans, both in Asia and Europe, are said, by a great variety of
writers, to entertain this opinion.
Lady Montague, in her letters, has opposed this general assertion of the
writers concerning the Mahometans; and says that they do not absolutely
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