RICHMOND – A sampling of quotes and footnotes – by no means comprehensive – provide a historical perspective that suggests how Western society in general, and particular individuals, asserted what amounted to nothing less than a divine decree that institutionalized dominance of men over women and established biases that to this day persist in society.

But after centuries of doling out abuse, the sampling further shows the attitude of men has changed, though slowly, to accept the marked progress toward gender equality that continues to evolve today...

  • -935 B.C.E.: “From a woman, sin had its beginning, and because of her, we all die.”

– Ecclesiastes

  • -753 B.C.E: During the reign of Romulus in Rome, wife beating is accepted and condoned under The Laws of Chastisement.

– St. Martha’s Hall,

History of Battered Womens Movement

  • -400 B.C.E.: “A woman should be seen and not heard.”

– Socrates, from “Ajax”

  • -300 C.E.: Church fathers reestablish the patriarchal authority practiced under Roman and Jewish law. Emperor Constatine orders his wife, Empress Fausta, burned alive for treason.

– “Herstory of Domestic Violence”

  • -1200s: “Do not cause yourselves to bleed with holly or briars without the leave of your confessor, and do not at any one time flagellate yourselves too much.”

– “Ancrene Riwle,” advice for nuns

  • -1300s: “See what tricks and subtleties there are in women! For they are always busy as bees to deceive us poor men, and they always turn away from the truth.”

– Chaucer, “Canterbury Tales”

  • -Middle Ages: European noblemen and squires beat their wives as regularly as they beat their serfs; the peasants follow faithfully their lords’ example. The clergy advise wives to earn their husbands’ good favor through increased devotion and obedience.

– “Herstory”

  • -1427: Bernard of Siena suggests that his male parishioners “exercise a little restraint to treat their wives with as much mercy as they would their hens and pigs.”

– “Herstory”

  • -Circa 1591: “And, if she chance to nod, I’ll rail and brawl. And with the clamor keep her still awake. This is a way to kill a wife with kindness. And this I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.”

– Shakespeare, “Taming of the Shrew”

  • -Circa 1600: Battered women shelters, as we know them today, may not have existed until the 19th century, but abused women in Europe know where to hide to escape their batterers – convents may very well have been the first shelters for women trying to escape from the violence of their homes.

– History of Battered Womens Movement

  • -1736: “A husband cannot be guilty of rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given herself in this kind to her husband which she cannot retract.”

– Sir Matthew Hale, jurist

  • -1748: “Women, then, are only children of a larger growth; they have an entertaining tattle, and sometimes wit; but for solid reasoning, good sense, I never knew in my life one that had it, or who reasoned or acted consequentially for 24 hours together.”

– Lord Chesterfield, advice to his son

  • -1767: British Common Law allows for a man to chastise his wife with a stick no greater around than the length from the last joint to the end of the thumb, which becomes known as “the rule of thumb.”

– History of Battered Womens Movement

  • -1839: The state of Mississippi grants women the right to own property, if permitted by her husband.

– Married Women’s Property Act

  • -1855: Missouri rules a slave, being property, has no right to stop her owner, Robert Newsom of Callaway County, from raping her. Celia is hanged for murder.

– Missouri v. Celia

  • -1871: Alabama and Massachusetts become the first states to make wife beating illegal.

– History of Battered Womens Movementa

  • -1883: “Let men fear women when she loveth: for she sacrificeth all for love and nothing else hath value to her. ... Man is for woman a means: the end is always the child. ... Two things are wanted by the true man: danger and play. Therefore he seeketh woman as the most dangerous toy within his reach.... Thou goest to women? Don’t forget thy whip.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche,

“Also Sprach Zarathustra"

  • -1884: The modern individual family is founded on the open concealed slavery of the wife.

– Frederick Engels, “Origins of the Family, Private

Property, and the State”

  • -1907: Book, “The Psychological Intellectual Feebleness of Women”

– Paul Moeblus

  • -1920: American women receive the right to vote 144 years after the Declaration of Independence is signed.

– 19th Amendment

  • -1920-’30: Psychoanalysis develops the myth that women derive sexual pleasure from violence.

– Herstory

  • -1964: An article in the Archives of General Psychiatry – written by Snell, Rosenwald and Robey – suggests that battered wives, like the wives of alcoholics, have a masochistic need that their husbands' aggression fulfills.

– Herstory

  • -1971: The first rape crisis center opens in the United States by the Bay Area Women Against Rape.

– History of Battered Womens Movement

  • -1972: Kansas City police receive 46,137 domestic disturbance calls, 82 percent of the total calls for that year.

– Herstory

  • -1973: The first battered women’s shelter in the United States opens in St. Paul, Minnesota.

– History of Battered Womens Movement

  • -1973: “A woman is not property and men who think otherwise are living in a dream world.”

– a master of dream worlds,

sci-fi author Robert Heinlein

  • -1990: The Violence Against Women Act of 1990, led by Sen. Joseph Biden, passes by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

– Sutori

  • -1994: Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act as part of the federal Crime Bill. VAWA funds services for victims of domestic violence and rape, and provides training to increase police and court officials’ sensitivity to domestic violence.

– History of Battered Womens Movement

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