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Women Without Virtue Need Not Apply! The Medieval Nine Worthy Women

Women Without Virtue Need Not Apply! The Medieval Nine Worthy Women

In the 14th century, the nine worthies were a list of nine men who were identified as paragons of chivalrous behavior, which included courage and honor in battle. The nine worthies consisted of a triad divided along faith lines: three Pagans, three Jews, and three Christians. Later, lists were created of nine worthy women. The nine worthy women were not as standardized as their male counterparts and were not always divided along the same Pagan-Jewish-Christian rubric either, but they generally represented what was considered virtuous for a woman in the Medieval worldview.

Nine Worthy Men

The Three Good Pagans: Hector, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, from the woodcut series by Hans Burgkmair, 1519.

The nine worthies first appeared in a heroic song written by Jacques De Longuyon called Les Voeux du paon in 1312. The song mentioned three Pagans, three Jews, and three Christians who were drawn from history, scripture, and legend that were believed to represent a paragon of the Medieval idea of chivalry. The Pagans were Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Hector of Troy. The Jews were David, Joshua, and Judas Maccabeus, and the Christians were King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon - who had been made the first king of Jerusalem after the city was captured by the crusaders.

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Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders.

Chivalry in the Middle Ages was a code of conduct which developed under the influence of the Church in response to the number and intensity of violent conflicts between knights and nobles. It was essentially an attempt to increase moral behavior within the Medieval aristocracy. Chivalry required bravery, honor, honesty, and courteous behavior, particularly toward women. Chivalry was a code of conduct to be followed at all times, not just during battle.

The nine worthies were chosen by the Medieval culture because they were believed to generally embody these chivalric values in their behavior. The Pagan and Christian worthies that were historical figures were embellished to some degree and, in some ways, bore more resemblance to their portrayal in Medieval chivalric romance tales than historical reality. The three Jewish worthies were not individualized and were seen in more archetypical terms, possibly because two of them were already Biblical characters and thus generally well-known. The identity of the nine worthies varied to some degree from region to region, but most lists included the same nine men.

Thirteenth century carving "Nine Good Heroes." ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

And Virtuous Women

Later, in the 14th century, nine worthy women or “lady worthies” began to be added alongside the typical nine male worthies. The female worthies were less standardized and did not always fit well into the Pagan-Jewish-Christian rubric of the male nine. They also tended to be less individualized and in art were often depicted as generic Amazon warriors.

One list, made by Eustache Deschamps, included Penthesilea, Tomyris, and Semiramis, the queen of the Amazons, a Scythian warrior queen, and a legendary Mesopotamian queen. Another list by Thomas III of Saluzzo contained a list of all Pagan women, mostly queens and Amazons. This may reflect the fact that women warriors were typically thought of in Amazonian terms - as women who had given up their femininity to emulate men. The reason that no Christian women were chosen on these lists may have been because it was not thought proper by the lists’ authors for Christian women to be portrayed as warriors.

Penthesilea as one of the Lady Worthies.

Splitting the List into Three

One example of the nine worthy women that does fit the same pattern as their male counterparts was a set of woodcuts made by the German craftsman Hans Burgkmair which included the traditional nine male worthies in addition to nine female worthies - three Pagan, three Jewish, and three Christian. The three Pagan women were Lucretia, Veturia, and Virginia. The three Jewish women were Esther, Judith, and Jael, and the three Christian women were Helena the mother of Constantine, Saint Bridget of Sweden, and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

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Although this list is one of the closest to that of the nine male worthies, there are some differences. Of the Pagan worthy women, Virginia and Lucretia were both considered worthy not because of great feats in battle but because of their devotion to chastity. Veturia was the only one considered worthy because of a feat related to war. She saved Rome from defeat at the hands of its enemies, though not by fighting a battle.

The Three Heathen Heroines.

The Three Jewish women on the other hand, are all known for heroic feats which saved their people, though not necessarily through directly fighting in battle either. Esther saved the Jews from extermination at the hands of Haman. Judith slew the Babylonian general Holofernes, and Jael slew the Canaanite general Sisera.

The Three Jewish Heroines. ( judith2you)

The Christian worthy women were saints who devoted their lives in some way to serving God, serving those in need, and renouncing the world - though Saint Helena is an exception in that she remained a queen.

The Three Christian Heroines. ( CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 )

Reflecting on the Past

The fact that most of the women worthies were not judged by accomplishments related to war seems to reflect the general view in the Middle Ages that women were generally not supposed to fight or be directly involved in combat. As a result, women were typically not considered virtuous because of bravery in battle, but for reasons that were more stereotypically feminine - such as chastity or compassion. When women were involved in battle it was through an indirect role such as convincing two sides to stop fighting or quietly assassinating a sleeping general to which they had access.

Chivalry nowadays is not considered as important and the world visible to Western civilization no longer fits into three categories based on religious beliefs, Christian, Jewish, and Pagan. Nonetheless, these lists do offer a window into the ancient Medieval view of what it meant to be virtuous and feminine.

Statues of nine female worthies. ( Heraldica)

The 10 Virtues of a Proverbs 31 Woman

Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is not about being “perfect.” It’s about living life with purpose, diligence, forgiveness, and repentance. Let’s take a look at the 10 qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman below.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and the pastor is speaking about the virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman and while you wish you could be her, you feel like there’s no way you could ever live up to the righteous standards laid out in the last chapter Proverbs.

  • Get instant access to my free printable study guide when you subscribe at the bottom of this post.

You sit there and think about your hectic morning, rushing about, trying to get the kids ready for church on time, and no one can find their shoes much less get into the car without complaining, whining, and bickering. How in the world could you ever become a Proverbs 31 Woman?

Oh, sweet friend, I’ve been there! Being a wife and mama is hard work and sometimes – maybe often times – you feel overwhelmed and frustrated and wish you could just get a break.

Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, Proverbs 31 is not a checklist or a to do list. Instead, it’s a beautiful representation of what it means to be a virtuous woman.

Let me show you how being a virtuous woman today is possible – and my guess is you are already well on your way to living out God’s purpose for your life. And that’s what Proverbs 31 is really about – living with purpose.

9 thoughts on &ldquo The Seven Knightly Virtues &rdquo

My boyfriend lives by the code of chivalry. Reading this page has given me a better understanding of the man I love. It also makes me feel very fortunate that he is the one man in my life who truly loves me.

While I agree with most of your declarations. I have to wonder where is love invoked?

Love is the basis of all of these things and that is what I’ve chosen to live by.

The items in the post appear to me derived from an American obsession with superheroes. An obsession in which people try to be more than others in superficial and clearly measurable ways, instead of just being a better person by his or her own standards. What about qualities like responsibility or patience? Although not easily measurable and definitely not things that can be used to be more others, I do believe those are parts of what makes a human being better instead of more.

(In reply to FingerPaint) As I mentioned in the intro to this piece, there are many qualities that fall under the umbrella of “chivalry” – our Seven Knightly Virtues simply reflect the themes that seem to be incorporated in many, if not all of the interpretations of the concept of chivalry through the ages.
Wouldn’t “responsibility” be a facet of the virtue of nobility? The more you have and the “higher” you rise in life, the more duty you have to lead, volunteer and answer for your own actions.
And “patience” could be considered one of the ways of demonstrating generosity. Isn’t being patient just being generous with your time and attention, rather than your wealth and material goods?
Those are just my thoughts – but whenever I hear someone say that a particular virtue has been left out of the code of chivalry, I usually don’t have to look very far to find it in one of the Knightly Virtues.

Your version of chivalry, while admirable is not correct. Chivalry was for entitled individuals. Lower ranking individuals had no worth nor accorded any such ideals or actions. You take modern day morals and apply them broadly and inappropriately. Those of noble blood took what they wanted. Those granted titles were still bound to honor the rules of the nobles – unless elevated beyond station (read as titled by king or lord) above others.

Justice was for those strong enough to mete it out themselves or by accordance with the lords of the land. Mercy was shown only to those of worth (see above – noble word was beyond reproach by a commoner.) Generosity was shown for favor in return upon a field of honor. Faith was nothing more than religious virtue granted by the king or lord. Nobility is just that, one should act noble by custom of the lord or king – nothing less was accepted. Hope is BS, and never mentioned in any code. Knights were nothing more than blessed hooligans with horse and armor. Some (none of record mind you) may have been above this, most were not.

If you wish to change chivalry, please do not refer to medieval times or knights. Take and make the word for yourself in to a meaning which you can (and WILL) portray today and tomorrow and forever.

Mick – Thanks for posting. While there are certainly some valid points in your comment, you demonstrate the inaccurate perspective we have of medieval culture and history, which is almost always the case when anyone starts making blanket statements like “all knights (or priests, or peasants) did such-and-such.”
Understand – chivalry was something of a personalized concept, and every knight (undoubtedly) had a slightly different take on it. But writing in the 14th century, Geoffroi de Charny recognized that “there are many of low station who are more worthy of praise and honor than those who call themselves knights, yet act like thieves and bandits.” He was one of the most respected knights of the age – and he realized that just being born into a noble family didn’t give you a noble spirit.
Similarly, a century earlier, Sir Ramon Llull, a Spanish knight, wrote that “Hope is the primary instrument of chivalry, like the hammer is the primary instrument of the carpenter.” Hope was not “B.S.” – the value of optimism (what they would have called “good cheer”) was clearly understood on some level.
Surely there were plenty of knights in medieval history who failed to live up to the values of chivalry – just as there are leaders and cultural icons today who fail to live up to our standards of ethics and morality. That doesn’t invalidate the principles – living by any code of honor is hard.
The “Seven Knightly Virtues” we list here are merely concepts that are distilled from the many principles written about by medieval knights who did value the notion of chivalry – the things that appear most often in their writings. And, whether or not they were observed in history, we need to recognize their cultural significance if we are to build our own code of honor which we can live by – today, tomorrow and forever.

Good day, Sir, and thank you for creating such a fantastic site. I have already replied on the ‘women and chivarly’ area with how I discovered chivalry, went through a stage of misunderstanding, then finally, realised how much it mean to me, but now I have another query. Is it possible for an atheiest, such as myself, to aspire to and embody chivarly, or are belivers the only ones who can do this? I would feel crushed to discover that chivarly is unachievable beacuase of religious beliefs, but if that is the way it has to be, then…

I don’t know if you will ever visit this page again but for all of the future readers, then the answer to that is no. Anyone can aspire to embody chivalry no matter race, beliefs, age or nobility. The part about faith it does not say that you need to believe in a high power it just says that you should keep your promises no matter how big or small. You can be an atheist you could even be… I don’t no, an alien and you could still embody chivalry. So too any one that is reading you can be chivalrous no matter what you are or your past, just start now.

Trenton – Thanks for really “getting” one of the ideals of chivalry, as we see it. Yes, “faith” can mean being true to your religious/spiritual beliefs. It can also mean being true to your vows, your commitments, your obligations. The word faith (at least within the original values of chivalry)) means “fidelity,” not “spirituality.”

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A Virtuous Woman in the Eyes of GodProverbs 31 Describes Her

There's almost an entire chapter on the virtuous woman in the Bible. What does "virtuous woman" mean? Who is this godly lady? How does God in His Word describe her? Does she pray faithfully each day? Is she used in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Does she consistently do daily Bible study and have regular devotional times? The answer? — None of these excellent traits is listed in God’s most extensive and descriptive definition of virtuous women in the bible.

Now please understand me, there is no doubt that the excellent practices listed above (prayer, Bible study, etc.) are valuable aspects of the lives of every Christian woman (and man). They should be part of the lives of all believers. However, God devotes almost a full chapter of the inspired Scriptures (Proverbs 31) to His description of the “virtuous woman.” And the favorable traits of a godly woman that He lists are, surprisingly to some readers, of a substantially different nature. Please go with me to the Bible’s grand description of the characteristics of a virtuous woman in the eyes of God — that is, Proverbs 31:10-31 , quoted from the NIV and, where so noted, from the King James Version (KJV).

Proverbs 31:10, KJV Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

•• Thanks to the Lord, I found my "Proverbs 31 woman" in 1968 in Anchorage, Alaska. She witnessed to me and led me to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Four years later we were married and have now celebrated our 35th anniversary. • Her worth has consistently proven to be “far above rubies”. I would describe my wife as “priceless!” I consider her to be a woman of God after God's own heart. I would readily suggest her as an illustration of the admirable traits that God lists in the following verses.

Vs. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

KJV : The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.

•• A virtuous wife inspires absolute confidence in her husband. He can safely trust in her” (KJV). She is not impetuous, scatterbrained, or unpredictable. Rather, she can be trusted. Her husband can be confident in her. She will never deliberately let him down.
•• The husband of a biblical, virtuous woman “lacks nothing of value”. That is illustrated by some of her remarkable traits in the succeeding verses.

Vs. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

•• The Proverbs 31 virtuous woman “brings him good” — that is, her husband. She is not a “liberated” woman as defined by modern feminists. She is God-fearing (vs. 31), a woman of God, and also very much husband- and family-oriented. And these are seen throughout this chapter as positive traits. • Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. •• She brings him good. There does seem to be biblical wisdom in the modern-day axiom that “behind every good man stands a good woman”. She is an asset to her husband. She will never intentionally bring harm his way.

Vs. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

•• This exemplary woman is skilled and capable in working with fabric. The modern counterpart would be skill in things like quilting and sewing.
•• And notice that “she works”. There is no hint of laziness in this woman who is praised by God.
•• And she “worketh willingly with her hands (KJV). She is “willing to get her hands dirty”, as the old saying goes. She is no diva, no prima donna! A woman of God is not “above” manual work.

Vs. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

•• She understands that the duties of a wife and mother include ensuring that her family is well fed. • A virtuous, biblical woman, may I suggest, will excel in this area. She will not only go about to learn the necessary cooking skills, but she will study sound nutrition and will ensure that her family is fed nutritiously, not with a high proportion of out-of-the-box junk food.

Vs. 15 She gets up while it is still dark she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

•• The virtuous woman in the Bible, this praiseworthy woman of God, is not given to “sleeping in” in the mornings. No! Rather, she is up before dawn to make sure that her household is well fed. • I cannot recall a single instance during our child-raising years when my wife left me and our four children to fend for ourselves at breakfast. She was always up early enough to send us off with a nutritious breakfast.

Vs. 16 She considers a field and buys it out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

•• Amazing! The Proverbs 31 woman is no wimp! She has the intelligence and business sense to evaluate a piece of property and to buy it. She has her own “earnings”, with which she buys the field and plants a vineyard. • In 1989 my wife was driving down a road near our rented home in Oregon. She spotted a vacant field for sale and came home and told me about it, recommending that we buy it. We went back together, looked it over, and did buy it. We then built on that field the house in which we raised our four children over the next 15 years.

Vs. 17 She sets about her work vigorously her arms are strong for her tasks.

•• Virtuous women are not afraid of physical work. I recall one day in Alaska when we had 30 cubic yards of good topsoil dumped in our backyard. Our task was to spread it by wheelbarrow before planting our lawn. After some time I took a break to lie down exhausted, and my wife and another Christian woman were still out there shoveling dirt!

Vs. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

•• Like the virtuous women of the Bible, many women today have their own home-based businesses. The woman in Proverbs 31 seems to have been a seamstress who sold garments and sashes (vss. 19, 24).
•• She apparently did her business well, working well into the evening, because “her trading [was] profitable”.

Vs. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

•• Virtuous women of God learn domestic skills. My beloved maternal grandmother was an excellent seamstress. Her husband had died and left her a widow with seven children at home. Her skills at making clothing were essential to keeping her children well clothed. • My wife is an exceptionally gifted quilter. Our home is decorated in just about every room with the products of her skills. She made me personally a warm flannel quilt in a manly pattern that I treasure.

Vs. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

•• Her home-based skills have earned her a profitable income. She is ever willing to share this blessing with the poor and needy. • I am reminded of stories told about America's Great Depression of the early 20th century, when millions were jobless, hungry, and sometimes homeless. Godly women by the thousands, known for their unflinching generosity, would say: "I will never turn a hungry person away from my door!"

Vs. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

•• The godly woman is fully aware of the priority of her family in her life over other things that might sidetrack her from her domestic responsibilities. She is an excellent illustration of the charge to younger women in Titus 2 (verse 5) to be “busy at home”.

Vs. 22 She makes coverings for her bed she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

•• Not only do the skills of this honorable woman of God earn her an income from the merchants, she also makes sure that her own home’s needs are well cared for. The bed coverings referred to here could be similar to the quilts that my wife and many other exemplary women so painstakingly create.
•• The Proverbs 31 woman does not neglect her own appearance. She uses her skills to provide attractive clothing for herself.

Vs. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

•• When I served as an officer in the United States Air Force, I noticed that the high-ranking officers’ wives were consistently women of noteworthy character. The admirable traits of a good wife can secure respect for her husband as well.
•• Notice the God-approved division of responsibilities. She was at home, caring for her home and family. Her husband was in a place of respect at the city gates among the elders of the land. The city gates are where much ancient commerce was conducted. So it is not unreasonable to conclude that the husband was conducting his business affairs there.

Vs. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

•• Already mentioned earlier, this woman of God seems to have had a home-based business. The surrounding verses make it clear, though, that she did not do this at the expense of the well-being of her household.

Vs. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come.

•• The virtuous woman has a sense of dignity. She is not frivolous or embarrassing in her conduct.
•• She looks to the future and makes sure that her household is well supplied, so that she can “laugh at the days to come”.

Vs. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

•• This godly woman speaks with wisdom. Virtually daily I listen to the wisdom that proceeds from my wife’s words. In fact, as I write this bible study, I fully intend to present a rough draft copy to her, so that I can mine the jewels of wisdom and experience that she can add to my understanding of this womanly topic.
•• The virtuous woman will offer faithful instruction. The context of the surrounding verses places the location of this instruction in her home. My wife faithfully instructed our four children in character issues, domestic responsibilities, social graces, and much, much more. I was an involved father, but I must sincerely attribute to my wife the credit for the majority of the training that our children received. She was their at-home “mom”, and she made the home a place of both love and learning.

Vs. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

•• The bible defines the husband as the head of the home ( 1 Timothy 3:4-5 1 Corinthians 11:3 ). However, his daytime responsibilities are outside the home, at “the city gates” (vs. 23). The wife-and-mother is at home, as this chapter clearly indicates. So it is her daily responsibility (not his) to watch over the affairs of her household (vs. 27). This is consistent with the apostle Paul’s counsel to the younger widows to “marry, to have children, to manage their homes. ” (1 Timothy 5:14).
•• The virtuous woman in the Bible “does not eat the bread of idleness”. To this day I marvel at my wife’s energy and drive to maintain a nice, orderly home. “Idleness” is a word that is alien to her!

Vs. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed her husband also, and he praises her.

•• Children raised by an involved, dedicated, loving, at-home mom rarely grow up feeling estranged from her. Rather, they bless her!
•• Likewise, the husband of such an honorable woman will overflow with praise for her from his heart. • I cannot adequately communicate in words how thankful I am for my virtuous wife. She has been an extraordinary mother to our children and a matchless wife to me.

Vs. 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

•• That is the sentiment that a biblical, Proverbs 31 woman as described in this chapter will evoke in her husband’s heart — “You are the best!

Vs. 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

•• God is reminding us that beauty and charm are fleeting, temporal things. But that which earns genuine praise for a woman is that she is a God-fearing woman. • I have mentioned a number of commendable traits of the virtuous woman I am married to. But the thing which surpasses them all is that she loves and serves the Lord with all her heart. She continues to inspire me with that dedication and faith. In my opinion, she is an outstanding example of a woman after God's own heart. And her spiritual fervor has been an ever-visible example for our four children. I have certainly labored to train my children and be a godly example to them. But due in great measure to my wife’s input in their lives, all four children as adults are actively serving the Lord on their own.

Vs. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

•• Virtuous women have a great reward coming from the Lord in eternity, along with the great fulfillment they will experience in this life for a “job well done”.
•• And the Proverbs 31 woman's virtues will not only be known and blessed by her husband and children (vs. 28), but also her reputation will precede her to the “city gates”. The godly woman, whose life is patterned after Proverbs 31:10-31, will be well known and highly respected in her community.

Some concluding thoughts — Is Proverbs 31 the only place in the bible that describes the desirable characteristics of a virtuous woman of God? Certainly not. There are other Scriptures that speak of women of prayer, women manifesting spiritual gifts, women sharing their testimonies, and much more. I could suggest names of virtuous women in the Bible — Ruth, Queen Esther, Mary the sister of Martha, Mary the mother of Jesus, and certainly many more.

However, no other Scripture portion answers the question — "What/who is a virtuous woman according to God?" — as clearly and extensively as Proverbs 31:10-31 does. Repeating some of the highlights, the woman that God’s Word describes as praiseworthy:

• is of noble character • is fully trustworthy • is an asset to her husband • is domestically skilled • is concerned that her household be well and nutritiously fed • is diligent, arising before dawn and busy until after dark • is endowed with a good business sense, even to the point of buying a field and planting a vineyard • may have her own profitable home-based business • is a hard worker • is generous to and aware of the poor and needy • is wise in preparing her household for the needs of the days to come • is wise in ensuring that she and her family are well and appropriately clothed • is in proper relationship to her husband, who is out conducting his business affairs at the city gates • is a woman of wisdom • shows dignity and strength • is a faithful instructor to her children • is diligent to watch over her household • is the recipient of blessing and praise from her children and her husband • is above all a God-fearing, godly woman!

Such a godly woman has been enshrined in the Scriptures for several thousand years as God’s role model for the virtuous woman of God. To the older women I say, teach these things to the younger women. To the younger women, I exhort you to resist the enticements of the antifamily feminist teachings of our day. Reach out, rather, to embrace God’s vision for you, His “virtuous women.” To such a woman God says (vs. 31), “Let her works praise her at the city gates.”

Postscript: This study is written with much deference and respect to those single women and widows who serve the Lord. They too may be deemed to be “virtuous women” in the light of the verses that apply to them in their unmarried state, both in Proverbs 31 and elsewhere in the Scriptures. In this bible study I have simply attempted to focus on the Proverbs 31 expression of God’s “virtuous woman” without trying to cover every possible marital situation. I extend my deepest respect to you virtuous ladies among the godly single women and widows!

Postscript: A Sad 'Good-bye' to a truly virtuous woman

If you wish to study further the bible's teachings about godly women, we suggest:

• Christian Women's Ministry — a Bible study revealing the multifaceted ministries of Christian women in the New Testament.
• Forbidden Fruit Is Still Tempting Eve — offering Scriptural responses to current arguments for the nonbiblical practice of ordaining women.

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3. Quaker feminism

As we have seen, Quaker preaching is not preaching in the traditional sense of exhortation on scripture: &ldquoFor it was not Christ nor the Apostles Practice to take others Records & Writings that had been spoken from others,&rdquo Fell says, &ldquobut they spoke as the spirit gave them utterance&rdquo (Fell 1660f, 4). In Fell&rsquos view, women can justifiably preach because true preaching does not require the traditional book-learning of men, it requires only the light of Christ within. In their arguments, Fell and other Quaker authors repeatedly invoke biblical quotations in support of the spiritual authority of women, such as the claims that &ldquothere is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus&rdquo (Galatians 3:28), and that &ldquoit shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy&rdquo (Acts 2:17, quoting Joel 2:28). For many Quakers, the rise of the female preacher, like the conversion of the Jews, would be a realization of millennial expectations about Christ&rsquos second coming. In arguing thus, they were challenging widespread opposition to women&rsquos preaching at the time.

3.1 Arguments against women&rsquos preaching

Critics of women&rsquos preaching typically appealed to the natural inferiority of the female sex, the biblical tale of Eve&rsquos transgression, and Pauline injunctions against women speaking in church. In the anonymous A Spirit moving in the Women Preachers (1646), the author asserts that women preachers transgress not only the rules of nature but also of modesty, divinity, discretion, and civility. On these grounds, the author concludes that women preachers cannot possibly be moved by the spirit of God but must partake in the spirit of darkness, ignorance, and gross error. To support his point, the author notes that the Serpent approached Eve first, because he knew that women were &ldquothe silly and weaker Sex&rdquo and &ldquonaturally apt unto all mischiefe&rdquo (Anonymous 1646, 2). In his Antichrist in Man (1655), Joshuah Miller explicitly takes issue with the Quaker practice of permitting women to speak in church by citing two New Testament passages that seemingly forbid women&rsquos spiritual leadership: 1 Corinthians 14:34, &ldquoLet your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak&rdquo, and 1 Timothy 2:11&ndash12, &ldquoLet the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence&rdquo. He asks:

What monstrous Doctrine is this? to suffer Women to be Preachers by way of authority, condemned as against nature Isaiah 3.12. I Cor. 14. 34, 35. 1 Tim. 2. 12. 14. This opinion was first held by the Pepuzians, that women might Preach, because they wickedly affirmed Christ assumed the form of a woman, and not of a man. In France, they allow not a woman to bee a ruler over the affairs of mens goods: But with us some women will be rulers over, and directers of mens consciences for so amongst the Quakers, women commonly teach as well as men. (Miller 1655, 27)

Miller&rsquos reference to the &ldquomonstrous Doctrine&rdquo of women preachers calls to mind the arguments of Protestant reformer John Knox (c. 1514&ndash1572) a generation before. In his 1558 work, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, Knox urges his readers to rebel against female authority. He points out that it is repugnant to nature that the weak shall lead the strong, or that the foolish and mad shall govern the &ldquosober of mind&rdquo (Knox 1558, 9). Nature informs us that women are physically frail, mentally feeble, and generally lacking in the necessary leadership virtues. Knox supports this view with reference to scriptural claims that it is a virtue for women to be submissive and subject to men. As part of the legacy of Eve&rsquos transgression, he points out, the Bible states that man shall be lord and governor over woman (Genesis 3:16). He also observes that the apostle Paul (again, in Timothy and Corinthians) deprives women of &ldquoall power and authoritie, to speake, to reason, to interprete, or to teache, but principallie to rule or to judge in the assemblie of men&rdquo (Knox 1558, 16).

3.2 Precursors to Womens Speaking Justified

There are several early Quaker texts that challenge these nature and scripture-based arguments against women&rsquos spiritual authority. In doing so, the authors continue a tradition that began in the fifteenth century with the querelle des femmes, an ongoing debate about the moral and intellectual status of women in continental Europe (cf. Kelly 1984, 68). In this debate, defenders of women protest against the contempt and defamation of women in the works of their male-biased peers. To support their cause, they repeatedly cite scriptural arguments for women&rsquos spiritual equality with men and put forward long lists of female worthies. The Quakers partake in this tradition by explicitly addressing the subject of women&rsquos natural or divinely-ordained subordination to men, as well as those problematic biblical passages about Eve&rsquos transgression and women &ldquolearning in silence&rdquo.

In one of the earliest defences, A Woman Forbidden to Speak (1654), Richard Farnworth sidesteps common criticisms of women&rsquos preaching by pointing out that natural women are not permitted to speak at prayer meetings, for &ldquonothing must speak in the Church in God but the Holy Ghost&rdquo (Farnworth 1654, 3). If the spirit of God is manifest in a woman, however, then that woman ought to be permitted to speak&mdashbecause she speaks with spiritual rather than carnal wisdom. As precedents, he cites the examples of Deborah in the book of Judges, the prophesying daughters of Philip, the woman named Phebe who was commended to be &ldquoa Servant or Minister to the Church&rdquo (7), and other women who labored with Christ in the Gospel. Far from being forbidden to speak, these women were received into the church and &ldquosaluted with an holy kiss in the Lord&rdquo (7).

In The Woman Learning in Silence (1656), George Fox likewise challenges those who would limit the spirit of God to &ldquolearned men, old books, and authors&rdquo (Fox 1656, 4). He goes further than Farnworth by arguing that those who prevent women from speaking in church stop Christ himself from speaking. To substantiate his point, he provides a list of exemplary females from the Bible, including the daughters of Philip, Hannah (or Anna) the Prophetess, Priscilla &ldquoan instructer&rdquo, Phebe, Mary Magdalene, and other &ldquowomen-labourers in the Gospel&rdquo. These historical women provide proof that the light of Christ is the same in the male and the female&mdashto suggest otherwise is to defy scripture and to place limits on the divine power. And &ldquoWho is it that dare limit the holy One of Israel?&rdquo and &ldquowho is it that dares stop Christs mouth? that now is come to reign in his sons & daughters&rdquo (5).

In To the Priests and People of England (1655), the Quaker women Priscilla Cotton and Mary Cole also argue in favor of the spiritual equality of men and women. In this work, written during a period of imprisonment in Exeter gaol, Cotton and Cole explicitly address the Pauline injunctions to &ldquoLet your women keep silence in the churches&rdquo and &ldquoLet the woman learn in silence with all subjection&rdquo. They reinterpret these texts to make them consistent with other passages that imply that it is permissible for women to speak or prophesy. Cotton and Cole say

thou tellest the people, Women must not speak in the Church, whereas it is not spoke onely of a Female, for we are all one both male and female in Christ Jesus, but it&rsquos weakness that is the woman by the Scriptures forbidden, for else thou puttest the Scriptures at a difference in themselves &hellip for the Scriptures do say, that all the Church may prophesie one by one, and that women were in the Church, as well as men, do thou judge and the Scripture saith, that a woman may not prophesie with her head uncovered, lest she dishonour her head (Cotton & Cole 1655,6&ndash7).

Their point is that the Bible endorses a woman&rsquos capacity for equal spiritual authority and her entitlement to speak in church and to prophesy. In light of these endorsements, they say, a different interpretation must be given to those injunctions that suggest women must not speak. Instead we must interpret &ldquowoman&rdquo to mean &ldquoweakness&rdquo, and accept that womanliness can be a property of both males and females. As an example, they highlight 1 Corinthians 11:4&ndash5, the warning that &ldquoEvery man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered, dishonoureth her head&rdquo. According to Cotton and Cole, this passage might be re-interpreted in a positive light. Both males and females may speak in church, but if they speak then they &ldquomust be covered with the covering of the Spirit&rdquo&mdashthey must be in the light, as it were. If they are not in the light, then they speak as &ldquowomen&rdquo regardless of their actual gender: they speak, that is, with a lack of authority or with carnal weakness rather than spiritual strength.

Similar arguments can be found in Sarah Blackborow&rsquos Just and Equall Ballance Discovered (1660), Fox&rsquos Concerning Sons and Daughters (1661), Dorothy White&rsquos A Call from God out of Egypt (1662), Katherine Evans&rsquo A Brief Discovery of God&rsquos Eternal Truth (1663), and Fell&rsquos own work, A Call to the Universal Seed.

3.3 Arguments of Womens Speaking Justified

In light of these earlier defences, Fell&rsquos Womens Speaking Justified appears to be rather unoriginal in terms of content. But Trevett claims that &ldquoit is special in the thoroughness of that appeal to Biblical precedent, in its sometimes cautious, but often spirited, case for women, in its criticism of Church and clergy, and in its optimism&rdquo (Trevett 1991, 54). In this work&mdashfirst published in 1666, and then with a new postscript in 1667&mdashFell brings together many of the different argumentative strategies used in the aforementioned Quaker texts. She reinterprets key scriptural passages, she provides numerous examples of biblical women speakers, she draws out the egalitarian implications of the doctrine of the light, and she appeals to anti-clerical and anti-authoritarian Quaker principles. In short, she presents one of the &ldquomost comprehensively argued&rdquo Quaker defences of female preaching in her time (Trevett 1991, 54). There is also evidence that Fell first formulated her arguments as early as 1652, prior to other Quaker defences of women (cf. Bruyneel 2010, 148 Donawerth and Lush 2018, 48).

3.3.1 Spiritual equality

Fell&rsquos primary concern is to establish &ldquohow God himself hath manifested his Will and Mind concerning women, and unto women&rdquo (Fell 1667c, 3). Toward this end, she examines significant passages about women in both the Old and New Testaments. In the beginning (in Genesis 1:27), she notes, God joined male and female together in his own image and made no distinction between the sexes: he &ldquoput no such difference between Male and Female as men would make&rdquo (Fell 1667c, 3). Following the fall, this spiritual equality between the sexes was compromised. The Serpent approached Eve, discerning that she was &ldquomore inclinable&rdquo to listen to him and then, together with Adam, she was &ldquotempted into the transgression and disobedience&rdquo (3, 4). But when Eve tells God the truth about the temptation and confesses her sin, God passes sentence on the Serpent: &ldquoI will put enmity between thee and the Woman,&rdquo he says, &ldquoand between thy Seed and her Seed&rdquo (4). In Fell&rsquos view, these words (from Genesis 3:15) foretell the special role that women would play in the restoration of humankind. The &ldquoSeed of the Woman&rdquo refers to Christ himself, who is the Son of God &ldquomade of a woman&rdquo, the Virgin Mary (4). Those who prevent the Seed (or the inner light) of the Woman from speaking, Fell says, prevent the message of Christ:

Those that speak against the Power of the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord speaking in a woman, simply, by reason of her Sex, or because she is a Woman, not regarding the Seed, and Spirit, and Power that speaks in her such speak against Christ, and his Church, and are of the Seed of the Serpent, wherein lodgeth enmity. (5)

In Fell&rsquos view, the coming of Christ returns the spiritual standing of men and women to that of &ldquothe first Creation&rdquo. Once again, the sexes are on an equal footing because they each have the spirit or the light of Christ manifest within them: his &ldquoSpirit is poured upon all flesh, both Sons and Daughters&rdquo (12). Following the redemption, the &ldquoLord hath manifested himself and his Power, without respect of Persons&rdquo (12), and &ldquoChrist in the Male and in the Female is one&rdquo (13).

Fell thus severely criticizes those men or &ldquoblind Priests&rdquo who &ldquopervert the Apostles Words, and corrupt his intent&rdquo by &ldquocontemning and despising&rdquo women in order to prevent them from speaking in church (10, 14). To prevent a woman from speaking is to limit the power of Christ &ldquowhose Power and Spirit is infinite, that is pouring it upon all flesh&rdquo (12). She sees the priests&rsquo tendency as part of a larger tendency of &ldquothe spirit of Darkness&rdquo (i.e. the state-sanctioned church) to prevent both Quaker men and women from spreading the message of God. Fell foretells of a new age dawning &ldquowhich brings freedom and liberty&rdquo (11), and in which all those who are in the spirit of the Lord (men as well as women) can speak freely, without prejudice and persecution. In this sense, her book is (implicitly, at least) a continuation of her fight for liberty of conscience and the rights of &ldquofree-born English men and women&rdquo in her other works (Fell 1664, 1 cf. also Skwire 2015).

3.3.2 Biblical exempla

To validate her claims, Fell appeals to biblical examples of good and wise women, such as the woman of Samaria, Martha and Mary (the sisters of Lazarus), and the woman who poured precious ointment on Christ&rsquos head, as well as Priscilla, Deborah, Huldah, Sarah, Anna the Prophetess, Miriam, Elizabeth, Mary, Ruth, Rachel, Leah, the Queen of Sheba, Esther (or Hester), Judith, the wise woman of Abel, and the daughters of Philip. These women provide historical proof that God gave his spirit to women as well as men. But Fell singles out Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary (mother of James)&mdashthe women who first delivered the news of Christ&rsquos resurrection to the apostles&mdashfor special mention. If these women had not exhibited the virtues of love and loyalty to Christ, Fell says, then &ldquowhat had become of the Redemption of the whole body of Mankind?&rdquo (Fell 1667c, 7). In essence, she offers a pragmatic argument for permitting women to speak in church. If the apostles had not listened to women, then the restitution of humanity would never have come about. Women clearly have a special providential role to play in spreading the word of the Lord. If ministers do not permit women to speak in church, then terrible consequences might follow.

3.3.3 Scriptural exegesis

In light of Fell&rsquos points about women&rsquos spiritual equality with men and their special role in redemptive history, she advises her readers to re-interpret or re-contextualize those common injunctions against women&rsquos speaking in the Bible. She begins with 1 Corinthians 14:34, &ldquoLet your women keep silence in the churches&rdquo. In a passage preceding this statement, Fell points out, &ldquothe Man is commanded to keep silence as well as the woman, when they are in confusion and out of order&rdquo (8). The apostle&rsquos words apply only to those women who are in &ldquostrife, confusion and malice in their speaking&rdquo (9)&mdashthose women who were &ldquounder the Law, and in that Transgression as Eve was&rdquo (8). But his words do not apply to those women who have the &ldquoEverlasting Gospel to preach, and upon whom the Promise of the Lord is fulfilled&rdquo (9)&mdashthey do not apply to those who have turned to the light.

In &ldquoA further Addition&rdquo to the main text, Fell extends her analysis to 1 Timothy 2:11, &ldquoLet Women learn in silence, with all subjection&rdquo. Her argument proceeds by way of simple modus tollens. If this injunction applied to all women, she says, then no woman would be permitted to speak. But the apostle does permit women to speak&mdashhe explicitly mentions the four virgin daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9), who were respected as prophets. &ldquoAnd was it not prophesied in Joel 2. that Hand maids should Propesie [sic]? And are not Hand-maids women?&rdquo (14). Therefore, some women must be permitted to speak. To explain the apostle&rsquos command to silence, Fell suggests that &ldquohere you ought to make a distinction what sort of Women are forbidden to speak&rdquo (13). The reader ought to distinguish between those women who are mere &ldquobusie-bodies, and tatlers&rdquo (13) and those women who have the spirit of the Lord. We might also consider the idea that a woman&rsquos &ldquohusband&rdquo in this passage is in fact Christ himself, and that if a woman learns from this Husband, then she ought to be permitted to speak (17).

In a &ldquoPostscript&rdquo to the 1667 edition, Fell once again addresses those &ldquodark Priests&rdquo who are &ldquoso mad against Womens Speaking&rdquo (18). She refers to the example of Deborah (Judges 5), a woman leader who sung and praised God in &ldquoglorious triumphing expressions&rdquo (18). Fell points out the hypocrisy of those priests who forbid women to preach and yet include the words of Deborah in their sermons. She scorns those who &ldquomake a Trade of Womens words to get money by, and take Texts, and Preach Sermons upon Womens words and still cry out, Women must not speak, Women must be Silent&rdquo (16). These priests are being blatantly contradictory: they allow that women can speak the word of God, and yet they deny that women can speak the word of God.

At this point, it might also be noted that Fell&rsquos works were often intended to be read aloud, and so we must be aware of a certain performative aspect to Womens Speaking. The author&rsquos argument achieves its greatest force when it is spoken or performed. This is because the very act of saying the words establishes the conclusion of Fell&rsquos argument&mdashthe idea that women are capable of speaking the word of the Lord. The onus then falls on her critics to point out where she speaks in ignorance. But given that she repeats the same scriptural passages that they themselves use (her arguments rely on premises they would accept), then there would appear to be little comeback.

Women in English-speaking countries

The movement for what has been called the emancipation of women, which has been so marked a feature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has made a deeper impression on the English-speaking countries than on any other. The outcry against the unjust oppression of women by manmade laws has grown ever stronger and stronger, though it must be confessed that every successive improvement in the position of women has also been brought about by manmade laws. The various disabilities imposed by law or custom on women have gradually been removed by legislation, until, at present, in English-speaking countries scarcely anything is needed to woman's perfect equality to man before the law, except the right of suffrage in its widest extent and the admission of women to all national and municipal magistracies, which later will be the inevitable outcome of the removal of all restriction on suffrage. That the gradual amelioration of the legal status of women during the course of ages has removed many crying injustices can not be doubted. Whether, however, all the changes made in their favour will prove unmixed benefits to themselves and to the race, and especially whether the removal of all restriction on suffrage and the admission of women to legislative, judicial, and executive positions of public trust, will be a desirable change in the body politic is doubted by many of all shades of religious belief or no belief, and probably by the majority of Catholics in official and unofficial positions.

In English the word "woman" is a contraction of "wife-man". This indicates that from the earliest times the Anglo-Saxons believed that woman's proper sphere was the domestic one. The earliest English laws treat consequently for the most part of the marriage relation. The so-called "bride-purchase" was not a transaction in barter, but was a contribution on the part of the husband for acquiring part of the family property while the "morning-gift" was a settlement made on the bride. This custom, though in use among the ancient Teutonic nations, is also found in old Roman laws embodied in Justinian's redaction. King Ethelbert enacted that if a man seduced a wife from her husband the seducer must pay the expenses of the husband's second marriage. As to property, King Ina's code recognizes the wife's claim to one-third of her husband's possessions. At a later date King Edmund I decreed that by prenuptial contract the wife could acquire a right to one-half of the family property, and, if after her husband's decease she remained unmarried, she was entitled to all his possessions, provided children had been born of the union. Monogamy was strictly enforced, and the laws of King Canute decreed as a penalty for adultery that the erring wife's nose and ears should be cut off. Various laws were enacted for the protection of female slaves. After the Norman conquest, even more than in Anglo-Saxon times, the tendency of legislation was rather to legislate around husband and wife than between them. The consequence was that the husband as predominant partner acquired greater rights over his wife's property and person. On his death, however, she always reclaimed her dower-rights and some portion of his possessions. At the same period the Scottish laws regulated, according to the woman's rank, a certain sum to be paid to the lord of a manor on the marriage of a tenant's daughter. We may remark here that the infamous droit du seigneur (the right of the lord to pass the first night with his tenant's bride) is a fable of modern date, of which not the slightest trace is found in the laws histories, or literature of any civilized country of Europe. The statute law of England dispenses women from all civil duties that are proper to men, such as rendering homage, holding military fiefs, making oath of allegiance, accepting sheriff's service, and the obligations flowing therefrom. They could, however, receive homage and be made constables ofa village or castle if such were not one of the national defences. At fourteen, if an heiress, a woman might have livery of land. If she made a will, it was revoked by her subsequent marriage. A woman could not be a witness in court as to a man's status, and she could not accuse a man of murder except in the case that the victim was her husband. Benefit of clergy was not allowed to women in pre-Reformation times, as the idea was repugnant to Catholic feeling. Women might work at trades, and King Edward III, when restricting workmen to the use of one handicraft, excepted women from this rule. There were many early regulations as to the dress of women, the general prescription being that they should be garbed according to the rank of their husbands.

The legislation of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has done much to relieve women from the disabilities imposed upon them by the old statute law. The principle of modern English law is the reverse of that obtaining in ancient times, for now the tendency of all enactments is to legislate between husband and wife rather than around them. The consequence is that difference of sex is practically disregarded in modern English law-making, except in a few instances concerning marriage and children. In other matters the only disabilities of women that remain in English law are that they can not succeed to an intestate when male heirs exist and that they are deprived of parliamentary suffrage. In some respects women are in advance of men: thus, women may validly marry at twelve and they may make a valid property settlement at seventeen with the approval of the Court, the respective ages for a male being fourteen and twenty. As to the custody of children, the law may now allow to the mother the full control of the offspring and the right of appointing the guardian or of acting as guardian herself, at least while the child is under sixteen years of age. In the case of illegitimate children, while the mother is liable for their support, yet she can obtain an affiliation order from the Court and bind the putative father. Adultery is no crime by English law, and a wife can not obtain a divorce from her husband on such sole ground, though he may from her. Neither adultery nor fornication is punished by English law. Judicial separation and maintenance in the case of desertion are remedies for the wife which have been greatly extended and favoured by late legislation. Action for breach of promise to marry may be brought by either the man or woman, and the promise need not be in writing. In the United States the acts of Congress deal very sparingly with women. The various departments of the Government employ female clerks and appoint hospital matrons and nurses for the army. Wives of citizens of the United States, who might be lawfully naturalized themselves, have the rights of citizens. The questions of property, franchise, and divorce have been dealt with by the several state legislatures and there is no uniformity, but the main provisions under these heads will be noticed later.

While in ancient times women were occupied in the industries to some extent, yet these industries were generally of a nature that could be exercised within the home. The advent of the changed industrial conditions of the nineteenth century forced women into other employments in order to obtain the necessaries of life. The advance was, however, very slow. In 1840 Harriet Martineau stated that there were only seven occupations for women in the United States: needlework, typesetting, bookbinding, cotton factories, household service, keeping boarders, and teaching. All of these occupations were miserably recompensed, but by degrees the better-paid employments in other fields were opened to women. Of the learned professions, medicine was the first to confer its degrees on female practitioners. The earliest diploma in medicine was conferred in 1849 in New York State, and its recipient was licensed in England in 1859, though the latter country did not bestow a medical diploma on a woman until 1865. At the end of the nineteenth century there were some sixty medical colleges in the United States and Canada that educated women. At present females are admitted freely to medical societies and allowed to join in consultation with male physicians. In 1908 the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in England admitted women to their diploma and fellowship. In the admission to the profession of law the path of women has been made more difficult. So late as 1903 the British House of Lords decided against the admission of women to the English Bar, though some are employed as solicitors. In the United States, the State of Iowa allowed women to act as legal practitioners in 1869, and many of the states, especially in the Western part of the country, now admit them to practice. In Canada the Ontario Law Society decided to admit women to act as barristers in 1896. As to the third of the learned professions, divinity, it is obvious that the sacred ministry is closed to Catholic women by Divine ordinance. The sects, however, began to admit women ministers as early as 1853 in the United States and, at present, the Unitarians, Congregationalists, United Brethren, Universalists, Methodist Protestants, Free Methodists, Christian (Campbellites), Baptists, and Free Baptists have ordained women to their ministry. In 1910 the Free Christian denomination in England appointed a female minister. Journalism and the arts are also open to women, and they have achieved considerable distinction in those fields.

As to the property, widows and spinsters have equal rights with men according to English law. A married woman may acquire, hold, and dispose of real and personal property as her own separate property. For her contracts her own separate property is held liable, as also for antenuptial debts and agreements, unless a contrary liability can be proved. The husband can not make any settlement regarding his wife's property unless she confirms it. If a married woman has separate property she is liable for the support of parents, grandparents, children, and even husband, if they have no other means of subsistence. Laws have also been made to protect a wife's property from her husband's influence. In most states of the American Union the proprietary emancipation of women has gone on steadily as in Great Britain. Connecticut, in 1809, was the first state to empower married women to make a will, and New York, in 1848, secured to married women the control of their separate property. These two states have been followed by nearly all the others in granting both privileges. Divorce laws differ in the various states, but the equality of women with men as to grounds for divorce is generally recognized, and alimony is usually accorded to the wife in generous measure. In the practical application of civil and criminal law in the United States the tendency of late years has been to favour women more than men.

In no field of public endeavour has there raged a fiercer conflict over women's rights than in that of suffrage. In ancient times, even, women had acted as queens regnant, and abbesses had discharged territorial duties, but the general idea of women mixing in public life was discountenanced. The latter half of the nineteenth century saw the movement for the political enfranchisement of women become a serious factor in the body politic. The idea was not entirely new for Margaret Brent, a Catholic, had claimed the right to sit in the Maryland Assembly in 1647, and in revolutionary times, Mercy Otis Warren, Abigail Adams, and others had demanded direct representation for women taxpayers. In England, Mary Astell in 1697 and Mary Wollstonecraft in 1790 were champions of women's rights. After the middle of the nineteenth century women's suffrage societies were formed in Great Britain and the United States, with the result that many men were converted to the idea of women exercising the right of ballot. At the present time women can vote for all officers in Great Britain, except for members of Parliament. They have full suffrage in New Zealand and Australia, and municipal suffrage in most provinces of British North America. In the United States women have equal suffrage with men in six States: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and California (1912). Several other states have adopted women suffrage amendments for submission to the people. Thirty states have conferred school suffrage on women, and five grant tax-paying women the right to vote on questions of taxation. There is a National American Women Suffrage Association with headquarters in New York City, but it must also be noted that in 1912 a national association of women opposed to female suffrage was also organized in that city.

The Catholic Church has made no doctrinal pronouncement on the question of women's rights in the present meaning of that term. It has from the beginning vindicated the dignity of womanhood and declared that in spiritual matters man and woman are equal, according to the words of St. Paul: "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). The Church has also jealously guarded the sanctity of home life, now so disastrously infringed by the divorce evil, and while upholding the husband's headship of the family has also vindicated the position of the mother and wife in the household. Where family rights and duties and womanly dignity are not violated in other fields of action, the Church opposes no barrier to woman's progress. As a rule, however, the opinions of the majority of Catholics seem to hold the political activity of women in disfavour. In England some distinguished prelates, among them Cardinal Vaughan, favoured women's suffrage. His Eminence declared: "I believe that the extension of the parliamentary franchise to women upon the same conditions as it is held by men would be a just and beneficial measure, tending to raise rather than to lower the course of national legislation." Cardinal Moran in Australia held similar views: "What does voting mean to a woman? As a mother, she has a special interest in the legislation of her country, for upon it depends the welfare of her children . . . . The woman who thinks she is making herself unwomanly by voting is a silly creature" (Quotations from "The Tablet", London, 16 May, 1912). The bishops of Ireland seem rather to favour women's abstention from politics, and this is also the attitude of most American bishops, at least as far as public pronouncements are concerned. Several American prelates have, however, expressed themselves in favour of woman suffrage at least in municipal affairs. In Great Britain a Catholic Women's Suffrage Society was organized in 1912.

Whatever may be the attitude of the prelates of the Church towards the political rights of women, there can be no doubt of their earnest co-operation in all movements for the higher education of women and their social amelioration. In addition to the academies and colleges of the teaching sisterhoods, houses for educating Catholic women in university branches have organized at the Catholic University at Washington and at Cambridge University in England. Women are multiplying in the learned professions in all English-speaking countries. In work along social lines the Church has always had its sisterhoods, whose self-sacrifice and devotion in the cause of the poor and suffering have been beyond all praise. Of late, Catholic women of every station in life have awakened to the great possibilities for good in social work of every kind, and associations such as the Catholic Women's League in England and The United Irishwomen in Ireland have been formed. In the United States a movement which has the active support of the Archbishop of Milwaukee and the approval of the former papal delegate, Cardinal Falconio, is on foot (1912) to form a national federation of Catholic women's associations.

1. Feminist Ethics: Historical Background

Feminist ethics as an academic area of study in the field of philosophy dates to the 1970s, when philosophical journals started more frequently publishing articles specifically concerned with feminism and sexism (Korsmeyer 1973 Rosenthal 1973 Jaggar 1974), and after curricular programs of Women&rsquos Studies began to be established in some universities (Young 1977 Tuana 2011). Readers interested in themes evident in the fifty years of feminist ethics in philosophy will find this discussion in section (2) below, &ldquoThemes in Feminist Ethics.&rdquo

Prior to 1970, &ldquothere was no recognized body of feminist philosophy&rdquo (Card 2008, 90). Of course, throughout history, philosophers have attempted to understand the roles that gender may play in moral life. Yet such philosophers presumably were addressing male readers, and their accounts of women&rsquos moral capacities did not usually aim to disrupt the subordination of women. Rarely in the history of philosophy will one find philosophical works that notice gender in order to criticize and correct men&rsquos historical privileges or to disrupt the social orders and practices that subordinate groups on gendered dimensions. An understanding that sex matters to one&rsquos ethical theorizing in some way is necessary to, but not sufficient for, feminist ethics.

Some philosophers and writers in almost every century, however, constitute forerunners to feminist ethics. Representative authors writing in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries discussed below explicitly address what they perceive to be moral wrongs resulting from either oppression on the basis of sex, or metaethical errors on the part of public intellectuals in believing ideal forms of moral reasoning to be within the capacities of men and not women. In the early-to-mid-twentieth century, at the same time that feminism became a more popularly used term in Europe and the Americas, more theorists argued influentially for ending unjust discrimination on the basis of sex. Some authors concertedly argued that philosophers and theorists erred in their understanding of what seemed to be gendered differences in ethical and moral reasoning.

1.1 Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Forerunners of Feminist Ethics

In the seventeenth century, some public intellectuals published treatises arguing that women were as rational as men and should be afforded the education that would allow them to develop their moral character. They argued that since females are rational, their unequal access to learning was immoral and unjustifiable. They explored meta-ethical questions about the preconditions for morality, including what sorts of agents can be moral and whether morality is equally possible for different sexes. For example, in 1694, Mary Astell&rsquos first edition of A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest was published, advocating for access to education. It was controversial enough that Astell issued a sequel three years later, A Serious Proposal, Part II, that challenged &ldquothose deep background philosophical and theological assumptions which deny women the capacity for improvement of the mind&rdquo (Springborg, &ldquoIntroduction,&rdquo in Astell 2002, 21). At the time, some apparently attributed the first Serious Proposal not to Astell, but to Damaris Cudworth Masham, a one-time companion of John Locke, since such criticisms of the injustice of women&rsquos lot and the background assumptions maintaining their subordinate situation were familiar to Masham (Springborg, &ldquoIntroduction,&rdquo in Astell 2002, 17). Although Masham sharply disagreed with aspects of Astell&rsquos work, she too would later come to be credited with &ldquoexplicitly feminist claims,&rdquo including objections to &ldquothe inferior education accorded women&rdquo (Frankel 1989, 84), especially when such obstacles were due to &ldquothe ignorance of men&rdquo (Masham 1705, 169, quoted in Frankel 1989, 85). Masham also deplored &ldquothe double standard of morality imposed on women and men, especially &hellip the claim that women's &lsquovirtue&rsquo consists primarily in chastity&rdquo (Frankel 1989, 85).

A century later, Mary Wollstonecraft, in her Vindication of the Rights of Women ([1792] 1988), renewed attention to girls&rsquo lack of access to education. Criticizing the philosophical assumptions underpinning practices that denied girls adequate education, Wollstonecraft articulated an Enlightenment ideal of the social and moral rights of women as the equal of men. Wollstonecraft also broadened her critique of social structures to encompass ethical theory, especially in resistance to the arguments of influential men that women&rsquos virtues are different from men&rsquos and appropriate to perceived feminine duties. Wollstonecraft asserted: &ldquoI here throw down my gauntlet, and deny the existence of sexual virtues,&rdquo adding that &ldquowomen, I allow, may have different duties to fulfil but they are human duties, and the principles that should regulate the discharge of them &hellip must be the same&rdquo (51). The revolutions of the Enlightenment age motivated some men as well as women to reconsider inequities in education at a time when notions of universal human rights were gaining prominence. As Joan Landes observes, Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet was an extraordinary advocate for the rights of women in France during the same period who argued in 1790 for &ldquothe admission of women to the rights of citizenship&rdquo and &ldquowoman's equal humanity on the grounds of reason and justice&rdquo (Landes 2016). Like many theorists of their time and places, including Catherine Macaulay (Tomaselli 2016), Olympe de Gouges, and Madame de Staël (Landes 2016), Wollstonecraft and Condorcet granted that there were material differences between the sexes, but advanced moral arguments against ethical double-standards on the basis of universal humanism. Yet the notion of universal humanism tended to prioritize virtues traditionally seen as masculine. Wollstonecraft, for example, argued against perceptions that women lacked men&rsquos capacities for morality, but praised rationality and &ldquomasculinity&rdquo as preconditions for morality (Tong 1993, 44).

1.2 Nineteenth-Century Influences and Issues

In Europe and North America, nineteenth-century moral arguments coalesced around material issues that would later be appreciated by feminist ethicists as importantly intersecting. A remarkably diverse array of activist women and public intellectuals advanced recognizably feminist arguments for women&rsquos moral leadership and greater freedoms as moral imperatives. The resistance of enslaved women and the political activism of their descendants, the anti-slavery organizations of women in Europe and North America, the attention to inequity in women&rsquos access to income, property, sexual freedom, full citizenship, and enfranchisement, and the rise of Marxist and Socialist theories contributed to women&rsquos participation in arguments for the reductions of militarism, unfettered capitalism, domestic violence and the related abuse of drugs and alcohol, among other concerns.

Offering the first occurrence of the term feminisme (Offen 1988), the nineteenth century is characterized by a plurality of approaches to protofeminist ethics, that is, ethical theorizing that anticipated and created the groundwork for modern feminist concepts. These include some theories consistent with the universal humanism of Wollstonecraft and Condorcet and others emphasizing the differences between the sexes in order to argue for the superiority of feminine morality. The most well-known of the former in philosophy are John Stuart Mill&rsquos The Subjection of Women ([1869] 1987), which he credits Harriet Taylor Mill with co-authoring, and Harriet Taylor Mill&rsquos essay, &ldquoThe Enfranchisement of Women&rdquo (H. T. Mill [1851] 1998). Like their Enlightenment forerunners, Mill and Taylor argue that women ought to have equal rights and equal access to political and social opportunities. As a utilitarian philosopher, Mill further emphasizes the benefits to society and to the human species of improving women&rsquos lives and social situations. Mill expresses skepticism about claims that women are morally superior to men, as well as claims that women have &ldquogreater liability to moral bias,&rdquo emotionality, and poor judgment in ethical decision-making ([1869] 1987, 518 and 519). Mill and Taylor tend to overemphasize the roles of women who are wives. They grant some differences between men and women that are controversial today Mill&rsquos works especially emphasize the benefits to family and domestic life as reasons to support the liberation of women from subjugation. Despite these views, both argue for the benefits of women&rsquos liberation to scholarly and political spheres. For example, they describe differences in achievement and behavior to be the result mainly of women&rsquos social situations and education, making their view consistent with the arguments of both the Enlightenment scholars noted above, and some, but not all, of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors discussed below.

Attitudes about the reasons for the moral goodness of such achievements differed. Some early utopian and Socialist movements in Europe that influenced women&rsquos rights activists in America and would later influence British thinkers, including John Stuart Mill, lauded feminine virtues and women&rsquos importance, but did so in ways that would reinforce views of women as &ldquosuperior&rdquo because of innate qualities of gentleness, love, spirituality, and sentimentality (Moses 1982). In contrast, other Socialist movements expressed radical views of the equality of men and women not by attributing distinctive or greater moral virtues to women, but by challenging systems of privilege due to sex, race, and class (Taylor 1993). Although Mill and Taylor would later argue that &ldquosexual inequality is an impediment to the cultivation of moral virtue,&rdquo some American activists such as Catherine Beecher forwarded a &ldquoseparate-but-equal&rdquo vision of men and women as psychologically and essentially different, a view &ldquoaccording to which female virtue is ultimately better than male virtue&rdquo (Tong 1993, 36 and 37). In the pivotal year of 1848, Frederick Douglass insisted that &ldquoall that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman&rdquo (quoted in Davis 2011, 51). In the same year, the Declaration of Sentiments was signed at a women&rsquos rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and socialist and anarchist revolutions took place in Europe. The revolutionaries included public thinkers who advocated communal property and sexual equality, and who criticized the involvement of state and church in marriage. Their arguments about practical and feminist ethics influenced Emma Goldman and other turn-of-the-century thinkers.

Philosophical thinkers of different backgrounds gained greater access to education and printing presses in the nineteenth century, resulting in a plurality of approaches to the project of understanding, criticizing, and correcting how gender operates within our moral beliefs and practices. For example, the attachment of some protofeminist thinkers to the domestic virtues shaped their ethical recommendations. Some white and middle-class activists argued for the end of slavery and, later, against the subordination of emancipated women of color precisely on the grounds that they wished to extend the privileges that white and middle-class women enjoyed in the domestic and private sphere, maintaining the social order while valorizing domestic feminine goodness. As Clare Midgley says, &ldquoWomen&rsquos role was discussed in terms of family life. Emancipation would mark the end of the sexual exploitation of women and of the disruption of family life, and the creation of a society in which the black woman was able to occupy her proper station as a Daughter, a Wife, and a Mother&rdquo (Midgley 1993, 351).

In contrast, some former slaves including Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and descendants of slaves including Mary Church Terrell, grounded their work for women&rsquos rights and arguments for women&rsquos moral and sociopolitical equality in rather different priorities, asserting more interest in equal protection of the laws, economic liberation, political representation, and in Wells-Barnett&rsquos case, self-defense and the exertion of the right to bear arms, as necessary to the very survival and liberation of Black Americans (Giddings 2007). Cooper, who rightly criticized white feminists for racist (and female-supremacist) statements when they were offered as reasons to work for white women&rsquos voting rights rather than Black men&rsquos, advanced a view of virtues and truth as having masculine and feminine sides. A century before care ethics would become a strain of academic feminist ethics, Cooper urged that both masculine reason and feminine sympathy &ldquoare needed to be worked into the training of children, in order that our boys may supplement their virility by tenderness and sensibility, and our girls may round out their gentleness by strength and self-reliance&rdquo (Cooper [1892] 2000, 60). Her timeless concern for the U.S. was that a nation or a people &ldquowill degenerate into mere emotionalism on the one hand, or bullyism on the other, if dominated by either exclusively&rdquo (61). Hers is a normative argument for appreciating the contributions that both traditionally feminine and masculine values could offer to a well-balanced ethics.

Explicitly arguing that standpoints matter to knowledge claims and moral theorizing, Cooper insisted that historical knowledge necessary to a nation&rsquos self-understanding depends on the representation of Black Americans&rsquo voices, and especially the &ldquoopen-eyed but hitherto voiceless Black Woman of America&rdquo (Cooper [1892] 2000, 2 Gines 2015). Manifesting Cooper&rsquos call for representations, Wells-Barnett determinedly included accounts of girls and women killed by lynching along with the narratives of murdered men and boys, and challenged the &ldquoracial-sexual apologies for lynching to trample the twin myths of white (female) sexual purity and black (male) sexual savagery&rdquo (James 1997, 80). Wells-Barnett&rsquos investigative journalism led her to the blunt suggestion that some of the sexual relationships giving rise to cover stories of rape as justifications for lynching were consensual relationships between white women and Black men, while rapes of Black women and girls, &ldquowhich began in slavery days, still continues without reproof from church, state or press&rdquo (quoted in Sterling 1979, 81).

1.3 Twentieth-Century Influences and Issues

Like Wells-Barnett, anarchist and socialist writers, some from working-class backgrounds, advanced frank arguments for differently understanding women&rsquos capacities and desires as sexual beings with their own moral agency. Leaders included Emma Goldman, whose anarchism was developed as a response to Marx and Marxism (Fiala 2018). Goldman argued for broader understandings of love, sexuality, and family, because she believed that traditional social codes of morality resulted in the corruption of women&rsquos sexual self-understanding (112). Like Wells-Barnett, Goldman coupled arguments against feminine sexual purity with attention to the sexual exploitation of, and trafficking in, women who did not enjoy the state&rsquos protection (Goldman 2012). Some suffragists&rsquo &ldquoemphasis on female morality repulsed Goldman. Yet, while she ridiculed the claim that women were morally superior to men &hellip she also emphasized that women should be allowed and encouraged to express freely their &lsquotrue&rsquo femininity&rdquo (Marso 2010, 76).

Although early twentieth-century protofeminists differed in their beliefs as to whether men and women were morally different in character, they generally shared a belief in Progressive ideals of moral and social improvement if only humankind brought fair and rational thinking to bear on ethical issues. Progressive-era pragmatists, including Wells-Barnett, Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, Jane Addams, and Alice Paul, &ldquosaw the social environment as malleable, capable of improvement through human action and philosophic thought&rdquo (Whipps and Lake 2016). The beginning of the century was characterized by remarkably optimistic thinking even on the part of more radical theorists who appreciated the deep harms of oppressive social organizations. Most of the Progressive activists and suffragists of this era never described themselves with the new term, &ldquofeminist,&rdquo but as the immediate forerunners of feminism, they are described as feminists today.

Although belief in the possibilities for change seems widely shared, Progressive-era feminists did not always share common ground regarding women&rsquos moral natures or how to achieve moral progress as a nation. For example, both Goldman and pro-suffrage Charlotte Perkins-Gilman argued for individual self-transformation and self-understanding as keys to women&rsquos better moral characters (Goldman 2012), while maintaining that a person&rsquos efforts were best supported by a less individualistic and more communitarian social and political framework (Gilman 1966). While Goldman included greater access to birth control and reproductive choice among the morally urgent routes to women&rsquos individual self-discovery, Gilman and many feminists argued for women&rsquos access to contraception in ways that reflected increasingly popular policies of eugenics in North and South America and Europe (Gilman 1932). Eugenics-friendly white women&rsquos contributions of feminist ethical arguments to disrupt oppressive pronatalism or to avert the measurable costs of parenthood in sexist societies often took the form of deepening other forms of marginalization, including those based on race, disability, and class (Lamp and Cleigh 2011).

In the U.S., the centrality of sex and gender issues in public ethics reached a high-water mark during the Progressive Era, moving one magazine to write in 1914 that &ldquoThe time has come to define feminism it is no longer possible to ignore it&rdquo (Cott 1987, 13). Unfortunately, this sentiment would decline with the start of World War I and the consequent demise of optimistic beliefs in the powers of human rationality to bring about moral progress. Yet throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, as economic difficulties, military conflicts, and wealth disparity fluctuated internationally, women&rsquos groups and feminist activists in many countries would advance, with some success, feminist and moral arguments for workplace, professional, electoral, and educational access, for the liberalization of contraception, marriage, and divorce laws, and against militarism. Some of their gains in greater access to voting, education, and prosperity may have contributed to the wide audience that was receptive to Simone de Beauvoir&rsquos publications in Europe and, after translations were available, in North America.

Beauvoir first self-identified as a feminist in 1972 (Schwarzer 1984, 32), and consistently refused the label of a philosopher despite having taught courses in philosophy (Card 2003, 9). Yet beginning in the 1950s, both her Ethics of Ambiguity ([1947] 1976) and The Second Sex ([1949] 2010) were widely read and quickly appreciated as important to feminist ethics (Card 2003, 1). As works of existentialist morality, they emphasized that we are not all simply subjects and individual choosers but also objects shaped by the forces of oppression (Andrew 2003, 37). Like the protofeminists described above, Beauvoir focused on the embodied experiences and social situations of women. In these pivotal works, she advanced the case that embodiment and social situatedness are not only relevant to human existence, but are the stuff of human existence, so crucial that philosophy ought not ignore them (Andrew 2003, 34). In The Second Sex, she argued that some men in philosophy managed the bad-faith project of both ignoring their own sex-situatedness and yet describing women as the Other and men as the Self. Because men in philosophy take themselves to be paradigmatically human and take it upon themselves to characterize the nature of womankind as different from men, Beauvoir said that men socially construct woman as the Other. Famously, Beauvoir said, &ldquoone is not born, but rather becomes, woman,&rdquo that is, one may be born a human female, but &ldquothe figure that the human female takes on in society,&rdquo that of a &ldquowoman,&rdquo results from &ldquothe mediation of another [that] can constitute an individual as an Other&rdquo (Beauvoir [1949] 2010, 329). The embodied human female may be a subject of her own experiences and perceptions, but &ldquobeing a woman would mean being an object, the Other&rdquo (83), that is, the objectified recipient of the speculations and perceptions of men. Beauvoir described a woman who would transcend this situation &ldquoas hesitating between the role of object, of Other that is proposed to her, and her claim for freedom&rdquo (84), that is, her freedom to assert her own subjectivity, to make her own choices as to who she is, especially when she is not defined in relation to men. A woman&rsquos position is therefore so deeply ambiguous&mdashone of navigating &ldquoa human condition as defined in its relation with the Other&rdquo (196)&mdashthat if one is to philosophize about women, &ldquoit is indispensable to understand the economic and social structure&rdquo in which women aim to be authentic or ethical, necessitating &ldquoan existential point of view, taking into account her total situation&rdquo (84). In other words, philosophers speculating about women ought to take into account the obstacles to women&rsquos opportunities for subjecthood and choice that are created by those who constructed an oppressive situation for women to navigate.

Beauvoir&rsquos positions&mdashthat woman has been defined by men and in men&rsquos terms, that ethical theory must attend to women&rsquos social situation and their capacity to be moral decision-makers, and that women&rsquos oppression impedes their knowing themselves and changing their situation&mdashreflect the concerns of many forerunners of feminist ethics. Beauvoir&rsquos work profoundly shaped the emergence of feminist ethics as a subfield of philosophy at a time when philosophers more generally had moved away from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tendencies to describe women as lacking morally worthy rational capacities. Instead, by the middle of the twentieth century, some influential philosophers in Europe and the Americas had moved toward approaches that often led to describing both gender and ethics as irrelevant to philosophical discourse (Garry 2017).

Woman Charged With Felony for Failing to Return Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Don't forget to rewind

Here we have what may be, at least potentially, the most serious case of failure to return a rented video in U.S. history. By “serious” I don’t mean the crime itself, which is trivial, or should be, but its potential consequences.

As you may recall, we have considered at least three prior criminal-failure-to-return-a-rented video cases here.

In 2010, Aaron Henson of Littleton, Colorado, was jailed for failing to return House of Flying Daggers to his local public library, the proceedings in that case being sufficiently farcical that the judge who jailed him got fired. See “Arrest Warrant Based on Overdue DVD Is Last Straw for Colorado Judge” (Apr. 9, 2010). But at least House of Flying Daggers is a worthy film, so the item they believed had been stolen had value.

That was not the case in 2014, when Kayla Finley was arrested in South Carolina for failure to return a rented video—and I mean literally: the charge was “larceny—failure to return a rented video”—after somebody noticed she had forgotten to return Monster-in-Law almost nine years before. See “Woman Arrested Nine Years After Failing to Return Rented Video” (Feb. 17, 2014) “Accused Videotape-Keeper Beats the Rap” (Feb. 20, 2014). Finley went to the sheriff’s office to report a “domestic situation,” and a helpful officer then arrested her on the nine-year-old warrant for this heinous crime. This was despite the fact that neither the video store that complained nor the statute that made this a crime still existed in 2014. It was also despite the fact that Monster-in-Law sucked hard enough that Finley would arguably have benefited society by throwing it into a bonfire or swamp rather than returning it so the store could inflict it on someone else. (Roger Ebert wanted to just enjoy watching Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, but “did not succeed” because “my reveries were interrupted by bulletins from my conscious mind, which hated the movie.” One star.)

Two years later, an even greater injustice was done when James Myers was arrested in North Carolina for failing to return Freddy Got Fingered in 2002. See “Man Arrested 14 Years After Failing to Return Terrible Video” (Mar. 24, 2016). An officer noticed this warrant when checking on Myers during a traffic stop, and to his credit did not arrest him for it, telling Myers to just go to the station later and work it out. He did—and was promptly arrested. This was despite the fact that Freddy Got Fingered sucked nearly twice as hard as Monster-in-Law, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of only 10%. There are movies with lower ratings, but the difference probably isn’t statistically significant, and to my knowledge Roger Ebert has never called any other movie a “vomitorium.” (No stars.) Again, losing or destroying a copy of this movie would be a public service.

At this point, I originally launched into a brief history of what is now Oklahoma, which has only been a state since 1907. But though brief, it was still way too long. (This is shorter, although mine was funnier.) What triggered the research was my struggle to identify the relevant statute in 1999, when Caron McBride allegedly failed to return the movie, which was stored as magnetic data in a cassette format known as “VHS.” It appears that the embezzlement statute in force then was still the version in the 1910 codification, which defined “embezzlement” as “the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted.” Okla. Rev. L. § 2670 (1910). To me the “larceny” charge makes more sense, but I guess you could say the video store “entrusted” the movie to her. (Oklahoma cases say larceny requires criminal intent at the time the property’s taken if the bad intent arises later, that’s embezzlement.) Either way, the crime would have been a misdemeanor.

In 2002—after McBride was charged—Oklahoma amended its embezzlement statute significantly. Now, “embezzlement” is “the fraudulent appropriation of property of any person or legal entity, legally obtained, to any use or purpose not intended or authorized by its owner, or the secretion of the property with the fraudulent intent to appropriate it to such use or purpose, under any of the following circumstances:” followed by nine specific circumstances, the last of which is “Where the property is possessed or controlled by virtue of a lease or rental agreement, and the property is willfully or intentionally not returned within ten (10) days after the expiration of the agreement.” (I didn’t say they improved it.) 21 Okla. Stat. § 1451. Whoever wrote this version should be forced to watch Freddy Got Fingered, but it does seem to apply to the intentional keeping of rented movies. But even under the current statute, embezzlement is a misdemeanor if the property is worth less than $1,000, or, as Oklahoma insists on writing it, “One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).” So why McBride was ever charged with felony embezzlement is a mystery to me.

But she was. Her crime came to the attention of law enforcement when she tried to change the name on her driver’s license after getting married. Told to contact the Cleveland County DA’s office to resolve an “issue,” she did, and was surprised at what she heard. “She told me [the felony charge] was over the VHS tape and I had to make her repeat it because I thought, this is insane. This girl is kidding me, right? She wasn’t kidding.”

McBride said she didn’t remember ever renting the movie, and speculated that the man she lived with at the time might have rented it for his two daughters. It seems unlikely that there’s any proof she did rent it, unless the cops kept a receipt in their storage locker, because the movie place (called “Movie Place”) has been closed for 14 years. And either for that reason or just common sense, the DA’s office said that it had decided to dismiss the case.

McBride suspects that some damage has already been done. She said that during the last two decades, she’s been let go from several jobs without being given a reason, and now thinks this might explain why. “[W]hen they ran my criminal background check,” she said, “all they’re seeing is those two words: felony embezzlement.” Since it probably didn’t say “of a VHS tape of Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” that’s not too implausible.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch was not reviewed by enough critics to have a Tomatometer score (it seems to have been a TV movie), but does have a 52% audience rating.

The Nine Noble Virtues: Viking Values for the Warrior Lifestyle

The Nine Noble Virtues are derived from the ancient Norse teachings and the Asatru religion, which was the religious views of the Vikings. The main book that these virtues are taken from is called the Havamal, which I have written about in a previous blog many months ago. You may also enjoy going back in my archive and reading some of the quotes from this short but enlightening book. The Havamal contains a lot of wisdom and also gives insight into the culture and values of the Vikings.

The Nine Noble Virtues fit perfectly into the warrior lifestyle, as one would expect since they originated from a warrior culture. These virtues coincide with the virtues of warrior cultures throughout the world, and once again proves that true character and honor is universal. Now, let’s delve into the virtues of the Vikings…

The Nine Noble Virtues start with courage. This is very appropriate because without courage, you cannot live up to your code of honor for very long. The word “courage” comes from the Latin word “heart.” It takes courage to stand for your beliefs and live according to your own code of ethics. The Vikings were known for their courage and bravery in battle, but courage applies to more than simply being brave in battle.

Courage actually applies to every part of your life. It take courage to do what you know is right, especially when those around you disagree with your point of view. In our politically correct society, courage is more important than ever. Your personal values may be challenged on a daily basis. Standing for what you believe can take a lot of courage.

You must have enough conviction in your beliefs to stand for what you believe and live your life by your own code. This does not mean that you act in rash and tactless ways. There is a difference in being courageous and in being stupid. Have the courage to live by your own code of honor, but do so with wisdom and discretion.

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.

The brave and generous have the best lives.
They’re seldom sorry.
The Havamal

You should have enough confidence in your beliefs and your actions to be truthful. Truth is simply being honest about what you believe or know to be true and right. Simply put – don’t lie. This sounds very straightforward, but lying has become so commonplace that it is almost expected in today’s world. It shouldn’t be this way for the true warrior.

Lying, in most cases, is an act of cowardice. Live according to what you believe in your heart to be right and you will have no reason to lie about your actions. If you do not think an action is right – don’t do it. If something is not true – don’t say it. Whenever I write or teach this concept, I inevitably have people argue that no one truly knows the truth, or that the truth depends on someone’s point of view.

While it is true that different people see things differently, and thus perceive the truth in different ways, that should not affect you. You live by your truth as best you can. Respect other people’s right to believe what they want, but you live according to the truth as you perceive it in your life. The main thing to consider where truth is concerned, is to always be truthful with yourself. Do not deceive yourself anymore than you would deceive someone else.

The true warrior must make truth a part of his or her life, but as with courage, it is important to remember that you must do so in the right way. There is a right way and wrong way to do everything. Sometimes lying is the right thing to do. The Vikings permitted lying if you were being lied to. The true warrior understands that honor is not black and white. Every action must be evaluated by whether or not it is right and it originates from pure intentions.

There is always a way to be honest without being brutal.
Author Dobrin

There should be truth in thought,
truth in speech, and truth in action.

Without honor, there can be no true warrior, or true human being as far as that goes. As I just said, honor is not a black and white character trait. It is hard to define. One could define honor as your internal integrity or dignity. Many people wrongfully think that their honor simply has to do with their reputation, but that is not true. It is the warrior who determines his or her honor your reputation is determined by other people’s thoughts, for the most part.

You determine your own honor, or lack of honor, by staying true to your own beliefs and living according to your own code of honor. Your personal honor is determined internally by your own commitment to live up to your predetermined ethics. It is your intentions and your actions which determine your honor, not what someone else thinks. The true warrior, who lives by a code of honor, will have very few regrets in life because he will know that he has done the best that he can to live a life of honor with truth and purity of intention.

Honor is a harder master than the law.
Mark Twain

Our own heart, and not other men’s opinion,form our true honor.
Samuel Coleridge

The word fidelity simply means being faithful. There are many things that you can be faithful to, not all of them of honorable. Fidelity as used in the Nine Noble Virtues refers to being faithful or loyal to God, to yourself and your beliefs, to your family, and to your friends. The warrior will defend his family and friends no matter what the cost, because of his dedication to this virtue.

Being loyal and faithful to those that the warrior loves is non-negotiable. The Vikings knew this. If someone murdered a Viking’s family, he or she would have an obligation to seek vengeance and puts things right. This is not the same thing as seeking revenge. There is a difference in revenge and in fulfilling an obligation to your loved ones.

Only those with honor can be true friends because it takes loyalty, faithfulness and honor to be a true friend. All others are mere acquaintances. The true warrior is also a true friend once that bond has been entered into. He will take his fidelity to his friends and family seriously, as he does his spiritual relationship with his God.

Be your friend’s true friend.
The Havamal

Be slow to give your friendship,
but when you have given it,
strive to make it lasting.


Discipline, as referred to in the Nine Noble Virtues, mostly means self-discipline. These virtues or qualities are not perfected overnight. It takes discipline to live according to your own personal code of ethics. The true warrior lives according to his own code, rather than according to what corrupt politicians or cultural standards dictate. This means that he must exercise a great deal of self-discipline.

If the warrior is going to live by his own standards, he must be willing to control his own actions. Many things that are legal go against the warrior’s own code of honor, and many things that governments declare illegal may be permitted by the warrior’s personal standards. In order for the warrior to stay true to his own principles and virtues, he must develop self-discipline.

He who lives without discipline dies without honor.
Icelandic Proverb

What lies in our power to do,
it lies in our power not to do.


Hospitality is definitely a warrior trait. The warrior is expected to treat others with respect and dignity. You must see other people as people who deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy. The Vikings believed that sometimes the gods would visit people in human form and that in being disrespectful to strangers they could also be disrespecting the gods. The Bible also states a similar belief, stating that many people have entertained angels unknowingly when they have entertained strangers.

Whether or not angels or gods visit people in the form of strangers is irrelevant. What matters is that you treat everyone with respect and courtesy. The warrior does this because it is a part of his own code of ethics. You should treat others with hospitality not because they deserve it, but because that is how you behave towards other people. It has to do with your own principles what others deserve has nothing to do with it.

It is the task of a good man to help those in misfortune.

We should behave to our friends as we
would wish our friends to behave to us.


Industriousness simply means the willingness to work hard at whatever you do. If something is worth doing, do it well. Do it with pride and do it to the best of your ability. The Vikings looked down on those who were lazy and felt that their gods looked down on those who were lazy also. The warrior has to work hard and smart to take care of his family.

This doesn’t just apply to your vocation, but to everything you do – your entire way of life. The true warrior is a person of excellence. He or she will do everything with care and detail. Mediocre acts are not acceptable. Warriors set high expectations for themselves in everything that they do, and they refuse to lower their standards in their work or their personal beliefs.

He preaches well that lives well.

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than
anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.
Henry Ward Beecher


Warriors are by nature independent beings. This doesn’t mean that the warrior doesn’t like other people or enjoy being around other people, but rather that he strives to ensure that he doesn’t have to depend on others for his survival. The warrior is responsible for taking care of himself and his family this is his first and foremost duty in life. He is never comfortable if his family’s welfare depends on something outside of his own control.

Being dependent on someone else for your own needs puts you in a dangerous position. Such a position can make it very hard on the warrior as he may be put into a position to choose between his standards and principles or his job. For this reason, it is best to strive to be as independent of outside influences as possible. This is hard to do in today’s world. Being frugal and financially stable is an important part of being self-reliant. Do your best not to have to depend on other people for your welfare.

It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.

The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom.


Without perseverance you will not be successful in applying the Nine Noble Virtues in your life. No one is perfect and you will make mistakes. In order to live the warrior lifestyle, you cannot simply give up and quit when you fall short of your mark. You must persevere. You must not give up.

The warrior’s code of honor is too important for him to give up or give in when the going gets tough. The warrior lifestyle is a lifelong way of living. Being a true warrior is not something you try it is something you are. It is a way of living, a way of being. You don’t try to be a warrior – you either are a warrior or you are not a warrior. You either have honor and integrity or you don’t. For the true warrior, falling short doesn’t not mean failing, it means learning and being determined to do better next time. Perseverance is essential to live the warrior lifestyle.

First say to yourself what you would be
and then do what you have to do.

There is nothing impossible to him who will try.
Alexander the Great

These were the ideals that the Vikings lived by and the principles that they taught their children. The Nine Noble Virtues are still wonderful ideals to teach children today. If you will integrate these virtues into your everyday life, you will find that you are living a much more noble life. Think about these traits and develop your own standards or code of honor. Live with honor!

The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world
is to be in reality what we would appear to be all human
virtues increase and strengthen themselves by
the practice and experience of them.

Warrior Wisdom

See all of the
on Bohdi’s website at:


Primary Sources

(1) Margaret Fuller, Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845)

We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to Woman as freely as to Man. Were this done, and a slight temporary fermentation allowed to subside, we should see crystallizations more pure and of more various beauty. We believe the divine energy would pervade nature to a degree unknown in the history of former ages, and that no discordant collision, but a ravishing harmony of the spheres, would ensue.

Yet, then and only then will mankind be ripe for this, when inward and outward freedom for Woman as much as for Man shall be acknowledged as a right, not yielded as a concession. As the friend of the Negro assumes that one man cannot by right hold another in bondage, so should the friend of Woman assume that Man cannot by right lay even well meant restrictions on Woman. If the Negro be a soul, if the woman be a soul, apparelled in flesh, to one Master only are they accountable. There is but one law for souls, and, if there is to be an interpreter of it, he must come not as man, or son of man, but as son of God.

Were thought and feeling once so far elevated that Man should esteem himself the brother and friend, but nowise the lord and tutor, of Woman, - were he really bound with her in equal worship, - arrangements as to function and employment would be of no consequence. What woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded, to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home. If fewer talents were given her, yet if allowed the free and full employment of these, so that she may render back to the giver his own with usury, she will not complain nay, I dare to say she will bless and rejoice in her earthly birthplace, her earthly lot.

(2) Samuel J. May, The Rights and Condition of Women (1846)

To prove, however, that woman was not intended to be the equal of man, the argument most frequently alleged is that she is the weaker vessel, inferior in stature, and has much less physical strength. This physiological fact, of course, cannot be denied although the disparity in these respects is very much increased by neglect or mismanagement. But allowing women generally to have less bodily power, why should this consign them to mental, moral, or social dependence? Physical force is of special value only in a savage or barbarous community. It is the avowed intention and tendency of Christianity to give the ascendancy to man's moral nature and the promises of God, with whom is all strength and wisdom, are to the upright, the pure, the good, not to the strong, the valiant, or the crafty.

The more men receive of the lessons of Christianity, the more they learn to trust in God, in the might of the right and true, the less reliance will they put upon brute force. And as brute force declines in public estimation, the more will the feminine qualities of the human race rise in general regard and confidence, until the meek shall be seen to be better than the mighty, and the humble only be considered worthy of exaltation. Civilization implies the subordination of the physical in man to the mental and moral and the progress of the melioration of the condition of our race has been everywhere marked by the elevation of the female sex.

But some would eagerly ask, should women be allowed to take part in the constructing and administering of our civil institutions? Allowed, do you say? The very form of the question is an assumption of the right to do them the wrong that has been done them. Allowed! Why, pray tell me, is it from us their rights have been received? Have we the authority to accord to them just such prerogatives as we see fit and withhold the rest? No! woman is not the creature, the dependent of man but of God. We may with no more propriety assume to govern women than they might assume to govern us. And never will the nations of the earth be well-governed until both sexes, as well as all parties, are fairly represented and have an influence, a voice, and, if they wish, a hand in the enactment and administration of the laws.

One would think the sad mismanagement of the affairs of our own country should, in all modesty, lead us men to doubt our own capacity for the task of governing a nation, or even a state, alone and to apprehend that we need other qualities in our public councils, qualities that may be found in the female portion of our race. If woman be the complement of man, we may surely venture the intimation that all our social transactions will be incomplete, or otherwise imperfect, unless they have been guided alike by the wisdom of each sex. The wise, virtuous, gentle mothers of a state or nation (should their joint influence be allowed) might contribute as much to the good order, the peace, the thrift of the body politic as they severally do to the well-being of their families, which for the most part, all know is more than the fathers do.

(3) John Humphrey Noyes, wrote about Fanny Wright in his book, History of American Socialism (1870)

Frances Wright, little known to the present generation, was really the spiritual helpmate and better half of the Owens, in the socialistic revival of 1826. Our impression is, not only that she was the leading woman in the communistic movement of that period, but that she had a very important agency in starting two other movements that had far greater success and are at this moment in popular favour: anti-slavery and woman's rights.

(4) Ernestine L. Rose, speech on Fanny Wright at the National Woman's Rights Convention (1858)

Frances Wright was the first woman in this country who spoke on the equality of the sexes. She had indeed a hard task before her. The elements were entirely unprepared. She had to break up the time-hardened soil of conservatism, and her reward was sure - the same reward that is always bestowed upon those who are in the vanguard of any great movement. She was subjected to public odium, slander, and persecution. But these were not the only things she received. Oh, she had her reward - that reward of which no enemies could deprive her, which no slanders could make less precious - the eternal reward of knowing that she had done her duty.

(5) Mary Church Terrell, The Washington Post (10th February, 1900)

The elective franchise is withheld from one half of its citizens, many of whom are intelligent, cultured, and virtuous, while it is unstintingly bestowed upon the other, some of whom are illiterate, debauched and vicious, because the word people, by an unparalleled exhibition of lexicographical acrobatics, has been turned and twisted to mean all who were shrewd and wise enough to have themselves born boys instead of girls, or who took the trouble to be born white instead of black.

(6) Jane Addams, Ladies Home Journal (January, 1910)

Women who live in the country sweep their own dooryards and may either feed the refuse of the table to a flock of chickens or allow it innocently to decay in the open air and sunshine. In a crowded city quarter, however, if the street is not cleaned by the city authorities no amount of private sweeping will keep the tenement free from grime if the garbage is not properly collected and destroyed a tenement house may see her children sicken and die of diseases from which she alone is powerless to shield them, although her tenderness and devotion are unbounded. In short, if women would keep on with her old business of caring for her house and rearing her children she will have to have some conscience in regard to public affairs lying quite outside of her immediate household. The individual conscience and devotion are no longer effective. The statement is sometimes made that the franchise for women would be valuable only so far as the educated women exercised it. This statement totally disregards the fact those those matters in which women's judgement is most needed are far too primitive and basic to be largely influenced by what we call education.

(7) Rheta Childe Dorr, What Eight Million Women Want (1910)

Not only in the United States, but in every constitutional country in the world the movement towards admitting women to full political equality with men is gathering strength. In half a dozen countries women are already completely enfranchised. In England the opposition is seeking terms of surrender. In the United States the stoutest enemy of the movement acknowledges that woman suffrage is ultimately inevitable. The voting strength of the world is about to be doubled, and the new element is absolutely an unknown quantity. Does anyone question that this is the most important political fact the modern world has ever faced?

I have asked you to consider three facts, but in reality they are but three manifestations of one fact, to my mind the most important human fact society has yet encountered. Women have ceased to exist as a subsidiary class in the community. They are no longer wholly dependent, economically, intellectually, and spiritually, on a ruling class of men. They look on life with the eyes of reasoning adults, where once they regarded it as trusting children. Women now form a new social group, separate, and to a degree homogeneous. Already they have evolved a group opinion and a group ideal.

And this brings me to my reason for believing that society will soon be compelled to make a serious survey of the opinions and ideals of women. As far as these have found collective expressions, it is evident that they differ very radically from accepted opinions and ideals of men. As a matter of fact, it is inevitable that this should be so. Back of the differences between the masculine and the feminine ideal lie centuries of different habits, different duties, different ambitions, different opportunities, different rewards.

Women, since society became an organized body, have been engaged in the rearing, as well as the bearing of children. They have made the home, they have cared for the sick, ministered to the aged, and given to the poor. The universal destiny of the mass of women trained them to feed and clothe, to invent, manufacture, build, repair, contrive, conserve, economize. They lived lives of constant service, within the narrow confines of a home. Their labor was given to those they loved, and the reward they looked for was purely a spiritual reward.

A thousand generations of service, unpaid, loving, intimate, must have left the strongest kind of a mental habit in its wake. Women, when they emerged from the seclusion of their homes and began to mingle in the world procession, when they were thrown on their own financial responsibility, found themselves willy-nilly in the ranks of the producers, the wage earners when the enlightenment of education was no longer denied them, when their responsibilities ceased to be entirely domestic and became somewhat social, when, in a word, women began to think, they naturally thought in human terms. They couldn't have thought otherwise if they had tried.

(8) William Du Bois, The Crisis (October, 1911)

Every argument for Negro suffrage is an argument for women's suffrage every argument for women's suffrage is an argument for Negro suffrage both are great moments in democracy. There should be on the part of Negroes absolutely no hesitation whenever and wherever responsible human beings are without voice in their government. The man of Negro blood who hesitates to do them justice is false to his race, his ideals and his country.

(9) Leaflet written and distributed by Alice Paul outside of the White House in 1917.

President Wilson and Envoy Root are deceiving Russia. They say "We are a democracy. Help us to win the war so that democracies may survive." We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement. Help us make this nation really free. Tell our government that it must liberate its people before it can claim free Russia as an ally.

(10) Alice Paul, letter to Doris Stevens (November, 1917)

At night, in the early morning, all through the day there were cries and shrieks and moans from the patients. It was terrifying. One particularly meloncholy moan used to keep up hour after hour with the regularity of a heart beat. I said to myself, "Now I have to endure this. I have got to live through this somehow. I pretend these moans are the noise of an elevated train, beginning faintly in the distance and getting louder as it comes nearer." Such childish devices were helpful to me.

(11) Woodrow Wilson, speech in Congress reported in the New York Times (1st October, 1918)

I regard the extension of suffrage to women as vitally essential to the successful prosecution of the great war of humanity in which we are engaged. It is my duty to win the war and to ask you to remove every obstacle that stands in the way of winning it. They (other nations) are looking to the great, powerful, famous democracy of the West to lead them to a new day for which they have long waited and they think in their logical simplicity that democracy means that women shall play their part in affairs alongside men and upon an equal footing with them. I tell you plainly as the Commander-in-Chief of our armies that this measure is vital to the winning of the war.

(12) Crystal Eastman, Now We Can Begin (December, 1920)

The problem of women's freedom is how to arrange the world so that women can be human beings, with a chance to exercise their infinitely varied gifts in infinitely ways, instead of being destined by the accident of their sex to one field of activity - housework and child-raising. And second, if and when they choose housework and child-raising to have that occupation recognized by the world as work, requiring a definite economic reward and not merely entitling the performer to be dependent on some man. I can agree that women will never be great until they achieve a certain emotional freedom, a strong healthy egotism, and some unpersonal source of joy - that is this inner sense we cannot make women free by changing her economic status.

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