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Hedwig Dohm, "What the Pastors Think of Women" (1872)

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And wherein lies the pleasure? Possibly in the sense of superiority? Damn this ridiculous vanity!

Or is the pleasure supposed to lie in the educating deed, in which case I would understand it completely? However, apart from the fact that this deed is practiced by men on their young wives only in the most exceptional cases, this “educating and teaching” would always apply merely to the developing female soul and not to the mature woman.

And herein, I am afraid, lies one of the main sources from which men derive their eccentric ideas about women. – When speaking of the charm of ignorance, their minds are instantly populated with lovely girls aged 16 to 18, whereas they are incapable of separating the conception of a scholarly, educated woman from the image of an old, ugly person. Woman ceases to exist for them as soon as she does not serve their pleasure anymore.

Indeed, the naiveté and ignorance associated with a young girl may not lack a certain spicy charm; associated with a 40-year-old woman, however, these traits become unbearable. Value can be ascribed only to those traits that prove their worth in the long run.

The good men talk us into believing that we are living under their rule as in paradise.

In vain, we are shouting ourselves hoarse, saying that we have tasted the tree of knowledge and are no longer worthy of Paradise.

Like the angel in the Garden of Eden, man grips the flaming sword, but this good fellow, this charitable soul, does so not to expel us but to forcibly confine us there against our will!

Source: Hedwig Dohm, Was die Pastoren von den Frauen denken. Zur Frauenfrage von Philipp von Nathusius und Herrn Professor der Theologie Jacobi in Königsberg [What the Pastors Think of Women. On the Women’s Question, by Phillip von Nathusius and Professor of Theology Jacobi in Königsberg]. Berlin, 1872.

Original German texts reprinted in Margrit Twellmann, Die Deutsche Frauenbewegung im Spiegel repräsentativer Frauenzeitschriften. Ihre Anfänge und erste Entwicklung [The German Women’s Movement as Reflected in Representative Women's Journals: Its Beginnings and Initial Development], 2 vols., vol. 2, Quellen 1843-1889 [Sources, 1843-1889]. Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain, 1972, pp. 177-83.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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