Woman, Church, and State

Woman, Church, and State

by Matilda Joslyn Gage

Beginning in the pre-Christian era, where she finds more evidence of freedom for women than in subsequent eras, pioneering women's rights advocate Matilda Joslyn Gage traces the patterns of male domination in both church and state that kept women in virtual bondage.

Among the topics of her research is the medieval exaltation of celibacy as an expression of the male belief that women were unclean and the cause of original sin, the gross discrimination against women in canon law, abuse of women in the feudal system, the persecution of women as witches, the virtual slave status of wives and their almost total legal subjugation to their husbands, toleration of polygamy, the debilitating drudgery of woman's daily work, and the widespread opposition to women's education by both church and state.Perhaps the most farseeing and radical of the early feminists, Gage had the vision to realize that society's fundamental institutions had to be drastically reformed before women would begin to enjoy equal rights.

her client, the practice of non-conviction or of pardoning in rape trials, unequal pay, wife battering, the sexual abuse of female children, and many other abuses that only today are being seriously addressed.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Feminism
  • Rating: 4.25
  • Pages: 554
  • Publish Date: June 1st 2002 by Humanity Books
  • Isbn10: 1591020077
  • Isbn13: 9781591020073

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Carved on her gravestone are the words she lived by: "There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven; that word is Liberty." Originally published in 1893, this book is a major feminist work of the Nineteenth Century that identifies the sources of women's oppression as the church and its offspring, the state. The following seven chapters outline the oppression of women in the west and its sources in first the church, and later in the state that developed its ruling principles from canon law. The documented examples of women's oppression at the hands of ministers of the church and the law in this section are an impressive collection that makes this book a valuable source for feminist herstory.

At times I think she may be trying to tell off the male chauvinist pics of the passed centuries. Not like the patriarchy of that time didn't need it.

I recently read "White Women's Rights: The racial origins of feminism in the United States" by Louise Newman and wanted to review suffragist writing through Newman's lens. I'm about half way through and I must admit that while I was intrigued by her first chapter, the second one, Celibacy, was more disturbing in the way that Gage subtly attempts to link, directly, the institution of US slavery and enslaved Africans with that of white, European women and their oppression through the patriarchy, most visibly represented by the church and the state. July 30, 2016 Nearing the end of the chapter Marquette where she starts with the creation of church law/dogma that gives lords and religious officials the right to rape newly wedded women. The more I read, the more the argument is slowly being made that women's degradation and indignity is the same as slavery in the US. Yes, her research and history of women's oppression under the church and the state is very compelling. From Newman: "With the use of two tropes, that of sisterhood and uplift, white women claimed to share the victimization of slaves rather than to identify with the power and privilege of the white male oppressor. The context she wrote this book in was the push for (white) women's suffrage in the US. In Newman's book, she spoke about how white women would cast themselves as saviors of the savages and enslaved Africans because they had the intellect, the schooling, the connections, and the moral indignation. And it gnaws at me as I continue reading because I see her trying desperately to make this 1 to 1 analogy between the institutions of slavery and (white) women's oppression. I did notice that she cooled it a bit on the direct comparisons between enslaved Africans and white women. I read the same argument three times in this 40+ page chapter. I just finished the chapter on polygamy where she really REALLY lays into the Mormon church and Christianity in general. Her comment at the end of the chapter (see below) is not surprising coming from a woman in an era where white men made all decisions and white women were supposed to be led by those white men and be obedient to those white men. The trap for activists and radicals today, is to read something like this and then make the conclusion that if we only had all women lead, then things would change. Again, an amazing display of knowledge and persuasive argument regarding the oppression of (white) women. When I began this review I was worried that her argument was going to end with her making a one to one comparison between formerly enslaved Africans and the oppression of white, European women. Reading Newman's book DID give me a useful lens from which to see and name aspects of her work that were oppressive in other ways and I really appreciated that. It is also a fascinating study of the oppression of white, European women.

the editor of the NATIONAL CITIZEN will use all her influence of voice and pen against "Sabbath Laws", the uses of the "Bible in School", and pre-eminently against an amendment which shall introduce "God in the Constitution." (Reference: "God in the Constitution", page 2) Gage was an avid opponent of the various Christian churches, and she strongly supported the separation of church and state, believing "that the greatest injury to the world has arisen from theological laws from a union of Church and State".

A daughter of the early abolitionist Hezekiah Joslyn, Gage was the wife of Henry Hill Gage, with whom she had five children: Charles Henry (who died in infancy), Helen Leslie, Thomas Clarkson, Julia Louise, and Maud. Gage's son Thomas Clarkson Gage and his wife Sophia had a daughter named Dorothy Louise Gage, who was born in Bloomington, Illinois on June 11, 1898, but died five months later, on November 11, 1898. Thomas Clarkson Gage's child was the namesake of her uncle Frank Baum's famed fictional character, Dorothy Gale.