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Reflections on Gender (from the 1800s)

Gender inequality is not a new discussion, but based on the way internet memes and the like look, every basis of inequality is being newly discovered, well-read progressive party should be praised for finding it! Sensationalism, shock, and accusing arguments come into play with many of these seemingly “new” points of view and rationales, and many of them, but as far as I can tell, the only new thing about any of the approaches to the argument are the click-bait tactics that serve to anger, alienate, and polarize people.

I had been musing absently about this concept, and then I luckily ran across this passage near the close of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It was really refreshing to find so sensible a sentiment communicated in the early 1800s by a female protagonist in a novel by a woman.

He: “[W]e shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you — all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.” She: “Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” He: “But how shall we prove anything?” She: “We never shall. We never can expect to prove anything upon such a point. It is a difference of opinion which does not admit of proof. We each begin, probably, with a little bias towards our own sex; and upon that bias build every circumstance in favour of it which has occurred within our own circle; many of which circumstances (perhaps those very cases which strike us the most) may be precisely such as cannot be brought forward without betraying a confidence, or, in some respect, saying what should not be said.”
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