Remember the televangelist Pat Robertson‘s much more modern, but no less astonishing, tirade that “feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”? Ah, the joys of being a woman: basically, throughout 98 percent of human history, it’s involved being told insulting and ridiculous things by members of the opposite sex.
But there are some examples so spectacular, so influential and/or so maddeningly daft that they deserve a special place in our hearts. They need to be gold-plated and put above everybody’s bedstead, under the title “This Is Why We Need Feminism”. And this is only the stuff we know; ancient Mesopotamians or lost civilizations now long dead may have had even more hilarious opinions about women’s weaknesses, inability to have their own emotions, or think in straight lines.
So here, enjoy what is perhaps the 10 most ridiculously sexist things ever said, and I’ll understand if you need a minute afterward.
1. When Aristotle Said Women Are Defective Men
“The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities; we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness.”
2. When St. Thomas Aquinas Said Women Are Sperm Accidents
“… A female is deficient and unintentionally caused. For the active power of the semen always seeks to produce a thing completely like itself, something male. So if a female is produced, this must be because the semen is weak or because the material [provided by the female parent] is unsuitable, or because of the action of some external factor such as the winds from the south which make the atmosphere humid.”
3. When Napoleon Said Women Are Just Slaves
“Nature intended women to be our slaves… they are our property; we are not theirs. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to a gardener…. Women are nothing more than machines for producing children.”
4. When Cato The Elder Argued That All Women Are Wild Animals
“Woman is a violent and uncontrolled animal, and it is useless to let go the reins and then expect her not to kick over the traces. You must keep her on a tight rein…. Women want total freedom or rather – to call things by their names – total license. If you allow them to achieve complete equality with men, do you think they will be easier to live with? Not at all. Once they have achieved equality, they will be your masters.”
5. When Pliny The Elder Warned That Menstrual Blood Is Poisonous
“On the approach of a woman in this state, must become sour, seeds which are touched by her become sterile, grafts wither away, garden plants are parched up, and the fruit will fall from the tree beneath which she sits. Her very look, even, will dim the brightness of mirrors, blunt the edge of steel, and take away the polish from ivory. A swarm of bees, if looked upon by her, will die immediately.”
6. When Plutarch Did Not Approve Of Independent Lady-Emotions
“A wife should have no feelings of her own, but share her husband’s seriousness and sport, his anxiety and his laughter.”
7. When Friedrich Nietzsche Was Basically Just Friedrich Nietzsche
“Finally – a woman! One-half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, inconstant – a woman needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, being humbled as divine.”
8. When Jean-Jacques Rousseau Said Ladies Only Need To Be Taught About Men
“The whole education of women ought to be relative to men. To please them, to be useful to them, to make themselves loved and honored by them, to educate them when young, to care for them when grown, to counsel them, to console them, and to make life agreeable and sweet to them – these are the duties of women at all times, and should be taught them from their infancy.”
9. When Sigmund Freud Despaired Of Grown Ladies’ Sexuality
“The sexual life of adult women is a ‘dark continent’ for psychology.”
10. When James Joyce Was A Bit Of An Idiot
“Men are governed by lines of intellect – women: by curves of emotion.”