Feminists are all Manhaters!!! Really!!! THEY ALL HATE MEN! ESPECIALLY THESE OLD DUDES!

That’s right people!

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about the early feminists, because I felt that although I had written a lot about feminist issues, I haven’t paid tribute to the pioneers of feminism the way I should have. I wanted to go back–way back. And way back did I go. And guess what I found.

Well, the earliest feminist writings I have discovered were written in the early fifteenth century by a woman by the name of Christine de Pizan. Before her, throughout the Rennaissance and Middle Ages, almost everything about women that was written was dripping were misogyny. According to the depictions of early writers, all women were lustful, manipulative, irrational, cowardly, greedy, sadistic, and weak. Beautiful women were evil lustful temptresses, ugly women were incapable of bringing joy to anyone, and truly chaste women were "as rare as a black swan." Women lived to torment men, obsess over their looks, pursue sex, and do other evil deeds. Women were responsible for original sin, Eve decieved Adam into sinning. Adam was made first and Eve was made from him, not in God’s image like Adam was. Having a female child was a mistake, an accident, a perversion of genetics. It was a pregnancy gone wrong. Females were deformed, brain-damaged, devil-influenced versions of males. According to Aristotle, in reproduction, it was the man who produced the form of the child while the woman just gave matter. It was only he man who had any gentic influence on their child therefore their contribution was better, more important, and just greater than what the woman provided. Women who tried to pursue intellectual activities and didn’t want to be subordinate were freaks or even witches. Women were out to poison the world and ruin men. They were horrible, horrible mistakes and disappointments just for being female. The only way to keep them from doing their evil deeds was to force them to live under the authority of men, keep them as property, and keep them ignorant and powerless.

Christine de Pizan read all these descriptions of women and thought, if this were true, then women were truly hateful. I should hate my own sex and be ashamed of being female. But even though everyone and everything was pressuring her to think this way, she refused to accept it. As the first recorded female professional writer, Christine branded all the hateful things written about women as slander and injustice. She penned her most famous work, The Book of the City of Ladies , where she challenged the misogynistic works of Jeun de Mein, and argued for women’s virtues by citing the lives and the contributions of great women in society and history. It was an allegorical study where ";lady" did not mean a woman of noble birth but of noble spirit. She cited all sorts of women from Boccaccio’s On Famous Women . She talks about the female virtues of Reactitude and Justice to help build a city of great women, all of which picked to be an example for all women.

de Pizan’s work was absolutely revolutionary because it was truly question and reject the misogynistic ideas prevalent throughout the world. No one else had bothered to question or analyze the state of women. It had been accepted for so long that her book was a huge wake up call. The seed was planted by this brave intellectual, and it would lie on… Mostly thanks to men.

So I’m going to give you profiles of some great male feminists, all of which predate the twentieth century, when most people tend to think feminism started. You ready class? Because we’re about to learn about the earliest feminists— MEN.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (September 14, 1486 – February 18, 1535): Better known as Agrippa, he was a German Occult writer, philosopher, theologian, magician and alchemist. He wrote many occult works and was a highly controversial man. When he was older he gave a speech at college called "A Declamation on the Nobility and Pre-Eminence of the Female Sex", which ended up being one of the first works he had published. Aggrippa argued that the lower status of women and the idea that they should be subordinate to men had no proper scriptural, scientific, or rational basis, but rather it was built up by flawed, human, social ideals that held people back and  were Unchristian. He argued that women had just as much to offer as men and in some ways may be able to contribute more. He, like Christine de Pizan, thought misogyny was unfair and had no rational basis.

Thomas Thorild (April 18th, 1759- October 1st, 1808): A Swedish poet, aristocrat and philosopher, Thorild was a noted member of the Sedish gentry during the Gustavian era. He was quite popular among women for his looks and belief in gender equality. He question the world saw women as women instead of just as people when men were always seen first and foremost as human beings. His famous quote was: "Just as foolish as it is to regard a woman only in the capacity of a SHE, it would be to regard a man only in the capacity of a HE"

John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873): An English political theorist, economist, philosopher, politition, writer, thinker, and member of Parliament, Mill is most famous for penning his liberal essay "On Liberty" in which he proclaims that true liberty is found when people are allowed to live as they wish and t
hink how they would like. He prized liberty equality as the greatest achievments the human race could come to, and believed only truly liberated people could be happy. He later married feminist thinker and writer Harriet Taylor, having been enchanted by her intelligence as one of the few people he could reach on an intellectual and spiritual level. He not only tought her ideas of gender equality had merit, but he also felt they should be expanded and enforced at greater levels. He wanted to spread the word of feminism and penned the essay "On the Subjection of Women" where he argued how damaging the marginalization and oppression of women was, as women had not only never committed the same level of atrocities man had, but aso that it had no logical basis and that it was depriving the human race of great contributions women could make to the world. He wondered why people could think of women as lesser logically when women had never even been allowed to achieve much. He even argued that the fact that there were famous women who had achieved great things despite societies desperation from keeping them from doing anything proved that women had great powers and abilities and deserved all the same respect, priviledges, rights, opportunities  and education that was allowed to men.


Francois Poullain de la Barre (1647-1725): Poullain was a French writer, Cartesian, and feminist philosopher. He originally sarted out as a priest and theologian before converting to Protestantism. Poullain anonymously penned many philosophical works arguing for women’s rights. HeHe applied Cartesian principles to gender politics, and tried to understand why women were discriminated against. In 1673, he wrote ""equality of the two sexes, speech physical and moral where it is seen the importance to demolish itself prejudge", arguing that it had no rational basis. He also wrote about how women should have all forms and ranks of education open to them, as well as all careers. Years later, however, out of the blue he stated the exact opposite point arguing for "the excellence of men against the equality of the sexes". No one know exactly why Poullain back-tracked. Many feminist theorists argue it was because he was forced to (Poullain was an exile and in some ways a social outcast), while anti-feminists say he wasn’t pressured at all. As a result, Poullain’s place in feminist history is up for debate and the portrayal of him varies from writer to writer. Despite his later refutations, I still think it is important to appreciate the work this man did for women and for the feminist movement.



Guru Nanek Dev Ji (15 April 1469 -22 September 1539): Guru Nanek was the founder of Sikhism, an Eastern religion that preaches that God is of all religions, persuasions, and ideas and is the source of everything, production as well as destruction, and sees both things as important to life  in general. Unlike most religions, Guru Nanek saw no reason or use for ceremonies or rituals, or demonstrations such as pilgrimages and fasts. His teachings were that God, which was of all religions and everything, was the indestructable form and without God there is nothing else. He preached against egotism and hypocrisy and encouraged worship through meditation and reflection on God, not on oneself, always chanting the name and remembering God, earning an honest living, and sharing with others. Other revolutionary teachings were added to Guru Nanek’s ministry, one in particular against the marginalization of women in Sikhisms institutions, and for once, women had a religion where they were not excluded.’


Frederick Douglass (1818- February 20th, 1895): American abolitionist, orator, writer, editor, author, statesman, reformer, and women’s suffragist. Douglass was born a slave and as such, was not allowed to read. However, his owner’s wife, Sophia Auld, broke this rule when Douglass was about twelve, despite her husband Hugh’s disapproval. It was Auld’s disapproval that enlightened Douglass to the ideals of anti-slavery. He learned to read from newspapers and signs, and learned to write from white children in the town. Through his reading and exploration of the written word, Auld;’s fears came true and Douglass began to question and condemn the institution of slavery.Douglass changed owners a couple of times and taught other slaves to read, and later tried to escape before escaping finally in 1838.He later settled in Massachussetts joining many organizations and a black church, as well as an anti-slavery group. Later on, Douglass published his controversial autobiography which influenced many people to join the abolitionist movements. He went on to give many lectures, speeches, and show up at events protesting slavery and inequality. But like fellow abolitionist/former slave/orator Sojourner Truth, Douglass began to speak up for the rights of women as well, supporting the women’s suffragist movement almost as passionately as he did the abolitionist movement. After the civil war, Douglass continued to go around the country speaking and writing about civil rights and women’s right to vote. He is known as one of the great intellectuals in American history. He famously said "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."


Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet (17 September 1743 – 28 March 1794): A French mathmetician, scientist, philosopher, political commentator, who developed the concept of the Condorcet method. Unlike othe nobles of the time, Condorcet sympathized with the poor and advocated free and equal public education, liberal economy, constitutionalism, and freedom and equality for people of all genders and races. He was a key figure in the French Revolution and considered one of the fathers of French Enlightenment. In his work "Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind ", Condorcet formulated some of the greatest ideas of social progress at the time. His main statement was that human beings could someday create the perfect society, but only if they cast off the prejudices and gave equality and liberty to all people regardless of race, social and economic class, religion, culture, and, of course, gender. As an opponent of gender discrimination, the Marquis de Condorcet makes my list of great early male feminists.



I think these men would be very interested in finding out how much they hated themselves and how stupid they were because they didn’t believe in opressing women. It is very impressive that these men would formulate and promote these ideals in a world so dependent on misogyny and chauvinism. That a man back then to even want to help advance women is selfless and interesting. Of course, it went nowhere beyond words until more women finally broke free and rebelled and actually brought about progress, but the fact that these men did what they did is just a testamet to the importance of equality and liberty for all people. It also shows that though some might consider feminism just for women, there is truly a place for men in feminism. It doesn’t have to be awkward or weird or uncomfortable. A certain trend in these men’s works were that they believed in women’s rights either based on logical conclusions or because they believed in equality for races, religions, and cultures as well. This not only supports the idea that sexism cannot be supported by logic, but also that feminism is just an intregal part of all social progress to allow true liberty for all people. No one can be free without feminism











Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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