Christian De Pizan

According to Christine de Pizan, a chaste woman deserves protection against rape. The consequence of creating a class of chaste women is empowerment for females in two ways. First, it takes away the feeling

of being a second class citizen. By recognizing the value of their bodies, women develop self confidence and are able to take better care of themselves. Secondly, it makes the men realize that the women are of more value. So it changes the dynamic between males and females. Despite the category of “chaste women”, Tarquin the Proud’s power was reinforced by the fact that the chaste woman’s power lied in the public perception of her chastity. During the rape Lucretia felt great pain and suffering. After the rape the pain and suffering felt by Lucretia was so great that she decided to kill herself. Only the higher economic class women practiced chastity. Therefore, it became more noble and a sign of wealth and propriety. The division of women into chaste and unchaste categories has continuing social and legal vitality because after Lucretia’s death a law was put into effect banning rape in Rome. But, the law was only in effect for chaste women.

Christine de Pizan confuses love with lust. In the reading, Tarquin is stated to have love for Lucretia yet would not tell her due to her chastity. Since love has nothing to do with chastity, this illustrates the blurring of the line between love and lust. While most people would not label Tarquin’s actions as loving, de Pizan shows Tarquin’s “by any means necessary” approach as the highest form of love.

Lucretia’s behavior and status is what defines the rape in this story. Being that the social order in Rome called for wealthy women to be chaste, it magnifies the act that much more. If Lucretia was a peasant it would not have been considered rape due to the fact that sex was common for unchaste women.

Men use the stereotype of fragility and inconstancy through the philosophy that women must be protected but at the same time can be used at our sexual inclination. Therefore, it is a means of control for the men yet a matter taking advantage of their authority. In the reading, de Pizan reinforces the stereotype by Lucretia being used for sex by Tarquin and at the same time running to her father, brother and husband for help. She used all of the male figures in her life as a means of solving her personal problem. Lurcetia does not fix the problem herself. This shows that de Pizan equates men with strength both physically and emotionally.
De Pizan uses class status to prove the worthiness of men by showing only the wealthy women as being worthy of being chaste. Since she equates chastity with love it shows that only wealthy women are worthy of emotional companionship. The duplicity of men is illustrated by the actions of Tarquin and Lucretia’s father and husband. While Tarquin was after sexual relations with Lucretia, the father and husband were their as comforters and protectors.

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