extremely good stuff

August 7, 2006

F. Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter 7, “Our Virtues”, Number 237 SEVEN APOPHTHEGMS FOR WOMEN has something to say about the stuff of women…..

 SEVEN APOPHTHEGMS FOR WOMEN

How the longest ennui flees, When a man comes to our knees! Age, alas! and science staid, Furnish even weak virtue aid. Sombre garb and silence meet: Dress for every dame–discreet. Whom I thank when in my bliss? God!–and my good tailoress! Young, a flower-decked cavern home; Old, a dragon thence doth roam. Noble title, leg that’s fine, Man as well: Oh, were HE mine! Speech in brief and sense in mass–Slippery for the jenny-ass!

237A. Woman has hitherto been treated by men like birds, which, losing their way, have come down among them from an elevation: as something delicate, fragile, wild, strange, sweet, and animating- -but as something also which must be cooped up to prevent it flying away.

238. To be mistaken in the fundamental problem of “man and woman,” to deny here the profoundest antagonism and the necessity for an eternally hostile tension, to dream here perhaps of equal rights, equal training, equal claims and obligations: that is a TYPICAL sign of shallow-mindedness; and a thinker who has proved himself shallow at this dangerous spot–shallow in instinct!—may generally be regarded as suspicious, nay more, as betrayed, as discovered; he will probably prove too “short” for all fundamental questions of life, future as well as present, and will be unable to descend into ANY of the depths. On the other hand, a man who has depth of spirit as well as of desires, and has also the depth of benevolence which is capable of severity and harshness, and easily confounded with them, can only think of woman as ORIENTALS do: he must conceive of her as a possession, as confinable property, as a being predestined for service and accomplishing her mission therein–he must take his stand in this matter upon the immense rationality of Asia, upon the superiority of the instinct of Asia, as the Greeks did formerly; those best heirs and scholars of Asia  who, as is well known, with their INCREASING culture and amplitude of power, from Homer to the time of Pericles, became gradually STRICTER towards woman, in short, more Oriental. HOW necessary, HOW logical, even HOW humanely desirable this was, let us consider for ourselves!

239. The weaker sex has in no previous age been treated with so much respect by men as at present–this belongs to the tendency and fundamental taste of democracy, in the same way as disrespectfulness to old age–what wonder is it that abuse should be immediately made of this respect? They want more, they learn to make claims, the tribute of respect is at last felt to be well-nigh galling; rivalry for rights, indeed actual strife itself, would be preferred: in a word, woman is losing modesty. And let us immediately add that she is also losing taste. She is unlearning to FEAR man: but the woman who “unlearns to fear” sacrifices her most womanly instincts. That woman should venture forward when the fear-inspiring quality in man–or more definitely, the MAN in man–is no longer either desired or fully developed, is reasonable enough and also intelligible enough; what is more difficult to understand is that precisely thereby–woman deteriorates. This is what is happening nowadays: let us not deceive ourselves about it! Wherever the industrial spirit has triumphed over the military and aristocratic spirit, woman strives for the economic and legal independence of a clerk: “woman as clerkess” is inscribed on the portal of the modern society which is in course of formation. While she thus appropriates new rights, aspires to be “master,” and inscribes “progress” of woman on her flags and banners, the very opposite realises itself with terrible obviousness: WOMAN RETROGRADES.  Since the French Revolution the influence of woman in Europe has DECLINED in proportion as she has increased her rights and claims; and the “emancipation of woman,” insofar as it is desired and demanded by women themselves (and not only by masculine shallow-pates), thus proves to be a remarkable symptom of the increased weakening and deadening of the most womanly instincts. There is STUPIDITY in this movement, an almost masculine stupidity, of which a well-reared woman–who is always a sensible woman–might be heartily ashamed. To lose the intuition as to the ground upon which she can most surely achieve victory; to neglect exercise in the use of her proper weapons; to let-herself-go before man, perhaps even “to the book,” where formerly she kept herself in control and in refined, artful humility; to neutralize with her virtuous audacity man’s faith in a VEILED, fundamentally different ideal in woman, something eternally, necessarily feminine; to emphatically and loquaciously dissuade man from the idea that woman must be preserved, cared for, protected, and indulged, like some delicate, strangely wild, and often pleasant domestic animal; the clumsy and indignant collection of everything of the nature of servitude and bondage which the position of woman in the hitherto existing order of society has entailed and still entails (as though slavery were a counter-argument, and not rather a condition of every higher culture, of every elevation of culture):–what does all this betoken, if not a disintegration of womanly instincts, a defeminising?Certainly, there are enough of idiotic friends and corrupters of woman among the learned asses of the masculine sex, who advise woman to defeminize herself in this manner, and to imitate all the stupidities from which “man” in Europe, European “manliness,” suffers,–who would like to lower woman to “general culture,” indeed even to newspaper reading and meddling with politics. Here and there they wish even to make women into free spirits and literary workers: as though a woman without piety would not be something perfectly obnoxious or ludicrous to a profound and godless man;–almost everywhere her nerves are being ruined by the most morbid and dangerous kind of music (our latest German music), and she is daily being made more hysterical and more incapable of fulfilling her first and last function, that of bearing robust children. They wish to “cultivate” her in general still more, and intend, as they say, to make the “weaker sex” STRONG by culture: as if history did not teach in the most emphatic manner that the “cultivating” of mankind and his weakening–that is to say, the weakening, dissipating, and languishing of his FORCE OF WILL–have always kept pace with one another, and that the most powerful and influential women in the world (and lastly, the mother of Napoleon) had just to thank their force of will–and not their schoolmasters–for their power and ascendancy over men. That which inspires respect in woman, and often enough fear also, is her NATURE, which is more “natural” than that of man, her genuine, carnivora-like, cunning flexibility, her tiger-claws beneath the glove, her NAIVETE in egoism, her untrainableness and innate wildness, the incomprehensibleness, extent, and deviation of her desires and virtues. That which, in spite of fear, excites one’s sympathy for the dangerous and beautiful cat, “woman,” is that she seems more afflicted, more vulnerable, more necessitous of love, and more condemned to disillusionment than any other creature. Fear and sympathy it is with these feelings that man has hitherto stood in the presence of woman, always with one foot already in tragedy, which rends while it delights–What? And all that is now to be at an end? And the DISENCHANTMENT of woman is in progress? The tediousness of woman is slowly evolving? Oh Europe! Europe! We know the horned animal which was always most attractive to thee, from which danger is ever again threatening thee! Thy old fable might once more become “history”–an immense stupidity might once again overmaster thee and carry thee away! And no God concealed beneath it–no! only an “idea,” a “modern idea”!

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