“Fair sex” during the Enlightenment

So, what about the place and participation of the “fair sex” during the Enlightenment? What observations by Outram do you find interesting? What observations in my own writing on the Bluestockings interest you? What do you think of the obvious differences between Outram’s arguments and mine?

What is interesting about the Outram chapter is how the chapter shows that while the Enlightenment sought to create equality between different men, it also sought to create distinctions between men and women (distinctions that argued that women are something less than men). Men classified women according to their role in the home. They then used that classification to argue that women are inferior intellectually (without realizing that intellect often comes with education). Women did, however, play an important role in the Enlightenment (especially, rich widows) as salon organizers. As widows, they were older (past marriage eligibility) and endowed with all of the inherited money to do with as they wished. The salon was a place to explore and discuss ideas, and there women engaged in discussion along with the men. In Dr. Heller’s paper, we learned that the Blues was something of a negative word used by many writers of the time (i.e. Samuel Johnson). It is likely that this resistance to women as intellectuals resulted from jealousy. Women who ran salons were rich and relatively powerful, a position that many men (especially, male writers) were not used to.

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