April 18, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Men’s Thoughts on Women Throughout History

3 min read

womens rights adA new series was recently started on the site based on the book 1,001 Things Everyone Should Know About American History, by historian John Garraty. As I go through the book, some of the short, factual anecdotes are not enough for me. As I further research them, I share my findings with you. This particular post is composed of quotes sharing men’s thoughts on women.

Facts #366-372 – “Comments About Women By Men”

Women are important. I do not say this because I am a feminist, but because the life-cycle requires both men and women. Without women, you, nor I, would be here today. However, not all men appreciate women and believe that they should be equal. The following quotes convey historic men’s thoughts on women throughout American history.


The following was noted by John Smith, in 1607, when observing the Indians of Virginia.

“The men bestow their times in fishing, hunting, warres, and such man-like exercises, scorning to be seen in any woman-like exercise, which is the cause that the women be very painefull, and the men often idle. The women and children doe the rest of the worke.”


In recent years, the media has portrayed Thomas Jefferson as a hypocrite–”How can a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence have had slaves?” Moreover, here is an example of Jefferson’s thoughts on women in a letter he wrote to Secretary of Treasury Albert Gallatin, in 1807.

“The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.”


Noted Gynecologist and author, William Acton, best known for his published works on masturbation, stated that:

“The majority of women (happily for them) are not much troubled with sexual feelings of any kind.”


Frank Clark 209x300

Frank Clark

Congressman Frank Clark, a well-known racist, famous for attempting to pass a law, which read: ”To prohibit the intermarriage of persons of the white and Negro races within the District of Columbia; to declare such contracts of marriage null and void; to prescribe punishments for violations and attempts to violate its provisions,” stated the following in 1915:

“I do not wish to see the day come when the women of my race in my state shall trail their skirts in the mire of partisan politics. I prefer to look to the American woman as she always has been, occupying her proud estate as the queen of the American home, instead of regarding her as a ward politician.”


It’s bad when you get one man who has a negative opinion about women, but what about when you have an entire group of men’s thoughts on women? In 1867, the Philadelphia County Medical Society published that:

“The physiological peculiarities of a woman even in the single life, and the disorders consequent on them, cannot fail frequently to interfere with the regular discharge of her duties as physician…The delicate organization and predominance of the nervous system render her peculiarly susceptible for suffer, if not to sink, under the fatigue and mental shocks which she much encounter in her professional round. Man, with his robust frame and trained self-command. is often barely equal to the task.”


What can I say about William Lloyd Garrison? This American abolitionist, best known for his publication of The Liberator, stated in 1903 that:

“To purchase woman suffrage at the expense of the Negro’s right is to pay a shameful price.”


James McKeen Cattell

James McKeen Cattell

Last, but not least, are the words of psychologist James McKeen Cattell. A man who used Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to promote his eugenicist ideology. A man who offered his own children monetary gifts to marry the offspring of a university professor or academic professional, stated in 1909 that:

“When spinsters can support themselves with more physical comforts and larger leisure than they would [could?] as wives; when married women may prefer the money they can earn and the excitement they can find in the outside employment to the bearing and rearing of children; when they can conveniently leave their husbands should it so suit their fancy–the conditions are clearly unfavorable to marriage and the family.”

It is interesting to see how things how shaped up since the last of these comments, in 1915, almost one-hundred years ago.