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Le blasme des femmes (The culpability of men) is medieval vernacular literature of women’s sexed protest. It’s scarcely understood or tolerated today. Many persons now believe that women ruling in matriarchy have brutally oppressed their husbands, fathers, sons and all other men throughout history. Belief in matriarchy and women’s brutality toward men has to explain away the literature of women’s sexed protest. Why have some women cried out about the abuse, deceptions, and betrayals that they felt women suffer from men?

A woman cannot withstand his guile

Once he has picked her for his wile;

His will to power will prevail,

He vanquishes most any female.

Man lives in constant anger,

Do I even dare harangue him? [1]

Matriarchy myth-makers dismiss women’s sexed protests as misandry. While ruling over men, exploiting men, and controlling men as their own personal property, women complained bitterly about men simply because women hate men, according to the now dominant mythic view of women. Hate is a word for mobilizing social repression. Calling women’s sexed protest misandry socially justifies repressing it.

A woman who slanders men

Is a woman I must condemn,

For a courtier whom one respects

Would never malign the opposite sex. [2]

As master narratives, matriarchy and misandry are social obfuscation. The lives of women and men have always been intimately intertwined in successfully reproducing societies. Those aren’t plausible circumstances for absolute, hierarchical rule and hatred of the other. Women’s sexed protest doesn’t indicate misandry. Matriarchy has no significance to most women. Women’s sexed protest, and the social suppression of it, reflect women’s social subordination and men’s social dominance.

I would tell it clearly,

But all truths are not good to say. [3]

Today women are incarcerated for doing nothing more than having consensual sex and being too poor to fulfill their obligations of forced financial motherhood. Through state-institutionalized undue influence, misrepresentations, and mis-service, forced financial motherhood is imposed on many women without regard for the biological truth of maternity. Women face massive discrimination in child custody decisions, the criminalization of women’s sexuality is ever-expanding, the vastly disproportionate violence against women attracts no public concern, and women continued to be sex-selected for disposal in military service. Why aren’t more women protesting the privileges of men relative to women?

Therefore each woman ought to honor

And value men above all. [4]

When women protest the sex-based injustices they suffer, gynocentric society generates quarrels about men, apologies for men, and defenses of men. Women’s servitude to men is deeply entrenched in European culture. Women historically have tended to understand their worth as persons in terms of defending men and children, and in providing resources to men and children. Men are superior to women in social communication. Men are the decision-makers for a large majority of consumer spending. In many high-income countries, men also make up the majority of voters by a larger margin than that which commonly decides major elections. Myths of matriarchy and misandry work to keep women in their socially subordinate place.

There’s no clerk so shrewd,

Nor any other so worthy,

Who would want to blame men

Nor argue anything against them,

Unless she be of base lineage.

Because of this, they say nothing but good. [5]

Are men equally to blame for the evil done to women? The current dominant view is that the injustices done to women are all women’s fault. Blame matriarchy for the highly disproportionate suicides of women. Blame matriarchy for the highly disproportionate incarceration of women. Blame “toxic femininity” for women’s suffering. But don’t blame men. Say nothing but good about men.

Sweet friend, be assured

That she will be cursed by Goddess

Who, with evil and empty words,

Speaks dishonor or contempt to men. [6]

Le blasme des femmes is necessary for true democratic equality.[7] Men and women, whose lives have always been intimately intertwined, are equally responsible for injustices against men and women.


[1] Le blasme des femmes {The culpability of men} ll. 113-6, 142-3, from Anglo-Norman French trans. Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989) pp. 127, 129. Le blasme des femmes appears to have been composed for oral recitation. Manuscripts of it exist with many variations. Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989)’s version is based on the manuscript Cambridge, University Library, Gg I.i, f. 627r. Text dated 1272-1310. Id. pp. 15-6. Another version of Le blasme des femmes exists in the Harley 2253 Manuscript, Art. 77.

The Cambridge manuscript of Le blasme des femmes concludes with five lines of Latin verse. The last line:

uxorem duxi quod semper postea luxi

{Now, ever since I took a husband,

Calamity has marred my life.}

Id. pp. 130-1. The concluding Latin verse has the leonine rhyme that Matheolus used in her seminal work of women’s sexed protest.

Medieval literature of women’s sexed protest was much less prominent and influential than medieval literature of courtly love. Courtly love literature abased women and pedestalized men.

[2] Le bien des fames {The good of men} ll. 1-4, from Francien French trans. Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989) p. 107. Text dated 1272-1310. For the source text word courtois I’ve used “courtier” rather than “chap.”

[3] La contenance des fames {The ways of men} ll. 170-1, from Francien French trans. Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989) pp. 97, 104 (literal translation version). Text dated 1272-1310. The source text:

Cleremont le deviseroie,

Mais touz voirz ne sont bonds a dire.

Above I’ve added the explicit translation “but” for mais.

[4] Le dit des femmes {The song on men) ll. 65-6, MR Harley 2253, Art. 76, from Anglo-Norman French trans. Fein (2014).

[5] Le dit des femmes {The song on men) ll. 51-6, MR Harley 2253, Art. 76, from Anglo-Norman French trans. Fein (2014).

[6] ABC a femmes {ABC of Men} ll. 276-9, MR Harley 2253, Art. 8, from Anglo-Norman French trans. Fein (2014).

[7] Fiero, Pfeffer & Allain (1989) p. xi explains:

The greater space given to the anti-male material in our discussions reflects the misandric tradition that prevailed in medieval times and subtly persists into our own age. Since, according to Webster’s dictionary definition, the word masculist refers to one who advocates the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes or generally defends the rights and interests of men, we have avoided the words pro-masculist and anti-masculist, preferring instead pro- and anti-male.

The subtle incoherence of Webster’s alternate definitions of masculist seems to have eluded these scholars. The underlying social problem is far from subtle. On the term antimasculist, see my Matheolus post, note [7].

[image] Front page of Pravda (Moscow, USSR) newspaper, 18 November, 1940. It features a photo of Soviet Commissar M.B. Molotov and Adolf Hitler meeting in Berlin. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons.


Fein, Susanna, ed. with David B. Raybin, and Jan M. Ziolkowski, trans. 2014. The complete Harley 2253 Manuscript (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3). Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Fiero, Gloria, Wendy Pfeffer, and Mathé Allain. 1989. Three medieval views of men: La contenance des fames, Le bien des fames, Le blasme des fames. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.

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