Monday, March 26, 2012

Apparent Sexism in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Donald Bloesch (Is the Bible Sexist?, pages 94-95) thinks that "later Judaism" manifested an increasingly hardened attitude toward women as indicated by daily prayers like "I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast not created me a woman." However, this disposition apparently was not limited to ancient Jews since Augustine of Hippo believed that man chiefly, not woman, is the image and glory of God, while Ambrosiaster considers women inferior to men and even Thomas Aquinas evidently thinks that women are (in one sense) defective males within whom reason does not predominate. Of course, I've read articles that try to ameliorate Thomas' position. But such arguments don't seem all that convincing in light of the ST 1.91.1, Reply 1:

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the
masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes (De Gener. Animal. iv, 2)."

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