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Poullain published three books (anonymously) on this topic in the 1670s, all of which are included in English translation in this volume. In On the Equality of the Two Sexes he argued that the supposedly "natural" inferiority of women was culturally produced. To help women recognize and combat this prejudice, Poullain advocated a modern, enlightened feminine education in On the Education of Ladies. Finally, since his contemporaries largely ignored Poullain's writings, he offered a rebuttal to his own arguments in On the Excellence of Men—a rebuttal that he promptly countered, strengthening his original positions.
A truly modern feminist, Poullain laid the intellectual groundwork for the women's liberation movement centuries before it happened.
Excerpted from Three Cartesian Feminist Treatises by Vivien Elizabeth Bosley Copyright © 2002 by Vivien Elizabeth Bosley. Excerpted by permission.
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