The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men

How Lucrezia Marinella Disproves Misogynists’ Arguments College

The feminist reader would enjoy Lucrezia Marinella’s The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men, written in 1600. In her work, Marinella ridicules men’s arguments for the defects and vices of women by making equally preposterous arguments for the fact that women are actually superior to men, and that it is men who are defective and vindictive—more so than women.[1] She effectively and continually turns men’s words against them, using the same sources and authorities. More importantly, this work is a direct attempt to enlighten the misogynist reader and empower the female one; in short, Marinella wrote this piece in the hopes of realizing social change.

To highlight the intensity of Marinella’s effort, one might compare this work to Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies, written two centuries previously. De Pizan concerns herself less with men’s behavior than she does with depicting female virtue as a universal phenomenon.[2] Although she does allude to several vices and hypocrisies of men, de Pizan focuses on listing as many virtuous women as possible. Marinella, at some portions, makes similar lists, often using the same examples as Boccaccio and de Pizan. But these are brief sections,...

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