If all Men are born free, how is it that all Women are born Slaves?

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Before discussing the biology of gender, the first topic of Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class, Charles Murray discusses proto-feminist Mary Astell and her twist on Locke’s famous assertion — “If all Men are born free, how is it that all Women are born Slaves?” :

If Astell’s language seems extreme, consider: An English woman at the time Astell wrote and for more than a century thereafter rarely got any formal education and had no access to university education, was prohibited from entering the professions, and lost control of any property she owned when she married. She was obliged to take the “honor and obey” marriage vow literally, with harsh penalties for falling short and only the slightest legal protections if the husband took her punishment into his own hands. Men were legally prohibited from actually killing their wives, but just about anything less than that was likely to be overlooked. When the first wave of feminism in the United States got its start at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, women were rebelling not against mere inequality, but against near-total legal subservience to men.


  1. Graham says:

    Largely true but needs to be caveated a bit:

    In that same era, only a subset of men got formal education. More, and starting at somewhat lower points on the class hierarchy, than the tiny number of aristocratic women who would receive it, but still. Not all that many.

    Ditto the university. Yep, only men. But only a tiny subset of men at that.

    For the rest, yep, and I bet that sucked hard. But to compare it with the conditions of a chattel slave might be underselling the life conditions of chattel slavery.

  2. Kirk says:

    Yeah, BS to all that. This is the standard whinge of the feminists, which utterly ignores the reality of things back in the day.

    You had formal power, and you had informal power. Women wielded the informal like a whip, and quite often, came out on top. Sure, the rules may have said one thing on paper, but the reality of it all? LOL.

    Case in point, from my stepfather’s family in Eastern Europe, out of a putatively “patriarchal” culture. Sure, his father had all the power–On paper. In reality? His wife was in way more control than him, and she worked his ass like a slave. Poor bastard was a blacksmith, and she constantly went around behind him and undid his business dealings, demanding more money from customers and screwing him over by selling his tools. Granted, there was a bit of a two-way street there, but the fact is, there wasn’t any effective “dominance of women” going on, either. His wife had the entire town effectively under her thumb when it came to whatever her husband did. Indentured servants had more rights, and probably had better lives…

    This is the crap that all the propaganda misses–The nature of feminine power, even in theoretically “patriarchal” societies. You think the Sultans ran their harems? LOL… Look at the number of women who wound up running things behind the scenes, because of their influence and hold over the men in their lives.

    It’s actually a crock that we gave them a right to vote, when you look at it coldly–Now, they not only have the power over the men they used to have, they have their very own vote. They get to eat their cake, and still keep it.

    Frankly, the only way suffragism can work, and not distort the hell out of society, is if women eschew using their power over men to get what they want in lieu of the vote. As it is, they get two votes–The one they blackmail out of their partners, and their own. Which is why society is trending more and more towards effeminization. You wonder how crooks like Kennedy got elected? Blame women–He looked so good, never mind his corruption.

    There are reasons why women were kept out of the political world, and why their “rights” were constrained–They had their own world, and their own way of wielding power in it. By letting them keep that world and that power, and allowing them into the realm that was once entirely male, they’ve warped everything out of frame. The whole idea was sheerest folly–Before they took up traditional male rights and prerogatives, they should have been required to give up their own traditional female equivalents.

  3. Kirk says:


    Also, in response to your post… What you have to remember is that it wasn’t a case of “denying” anything to women. It was more a case of “Is this a cost-effective path to take?”.

    Consider the statistics for survival for women, when it came to childbirth. Before effective contraception, before Ignace Semmelweis, it was incredibly high. So, if you wanted a functional society, the very idea of spending all those resources on educating a young woman who would likely be dead before she hit her thirties was kind of a stupid one. Especially since those resources were far more tightly constrained than they are today.

    Hell, I’m not even sure it’s a net gain today, TBH. Look at the birth rate for educated women–It is through the floor, and declining. Is that a good thing? I’d submit that we’re going to find out, and it won’t be pretty.

    People bemoan the status of women in the old days, but they ignore the cemeteries. Go find one from the mid-19th Century sometime, and contemplate the number of wives a successful man might have over the course of his life. The mortality rate was stunning, in all too many cases. You had your outliers, but the average adult male who survived all the male-oriented risks usually had multiple wives, who he’d wind up outliving, becoming an older and older partner to women of about the same child-bearing age. You wonder why women’s place was what it was? Look at that, and put yourself into the position of that male; you’ve watched three-four women come into your life and die in childbirth. Think that you’re going to see the last few women in that chain be treated as anything other than indulged pets…?

    There’s a letter written from a Roman senator to his son, who’d written him from some posting overseas, wherein he’d complained to dear old dad about how much his wife was spending. Father wrote him back, chastising him for quibbling at spending money that would make his wife happy, because she would likely be dead soon, and it was his job to make her life as pleasant and worry-free as possible, because her duty to provide him with children would likely kill her, much as his would get him killed on the battlefield.

    Conditions were different, lives were different, and to judge them from our standards today, where a death in childbirth is seen as a very unusual thing, and the survival rate for children reaching adulthood is near-enough to certainty that we feel cheated if they don’t…? Yeah, go look at the demographics from the old days, and try to project what those numbers actually mean, in terms of human relations and the relative positions of men and women in society. There’s a lot of crap that people complain about being “unjust” that simply were not so, because of those things being required by circumstance, not ill-will.

  4. Jeff R. says:

    Maybe if they weren’t so bad at drawing bikes…

  5. Dave says:

    As Jim Donald says, we are descended from free men and unfree women. Male slaves are castrated and put to work in salt mines. Female slaves are sold naked on the auction block to wealthy men who proceed to rape babies out of them, while free women waste their lives on careers and cats.

    Human instincts reflect this. Men crave freedom, while women crave domination by a powerful man, whom she will nag without mercy until he beats her ass and tells her to shut up. Which she will gladly do, now that he’s passed the test.

    If women really think rape is the most horrific atrocity imaginable, why do they vote for mass immigration? It’s rather embarrassing when some Nordic country holds a rally against rape and only white men show up. Women crave enslavement and rape, and if their own men won’t rape them, they’ll invite a barbarian horde to come do the job. See all those cute, smiling German teens with a handmade “Refugees Welcome!” banner.

  6. RLVC says:


    Women didn’t cause any of those problems. Nor did democracy, as no people anywhere has ever voted to replace itself. And if you think that any of us are free, economically, culturally, or otherwise, then I have a bridge to sell you.

    Notably, feminism was sponsored by certain corporate interests because it was in their interest, and remains so. Similarly, the Palestinians were famously liberated by television pornography broadcast by their enemy.

    Women are just another distraction.

  7. RLVC says:

    Libertarianism is dead.

    Neoconservatism is dead.

    Neoreaction is dead.

    Probably, ideology itself is dead. The only question that anyone will ever ask is, “Yes, but it is good for the gentiles?”

  8. DJF says:

    Pretty sure the assertion she changed is Rousseau’s, not Locke’s.

  9. This is precisely why the idea that all men are born free, and especially the idea that all men are born equal was a terrible idea. When white men have a hierarchy, something like feudalism, everybody else can accept a hierarchy. But when equality is the general idea, women, blacks, gays, everybody gonna ask “why are we exceptions?”

    So the roots of SJWery were sown centuries ago. Only if white men accept that they were born unequal, born into a hierarchy, and that also makes them unfree because their position in their hiearchy gives them duties, can everybody else be made to accept the same.

  10. McChuck says:

    At least when women had fewer rights, they had more children.

  11. Graham says:

    “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

    Samuel Johnson, 18th century England.

  12. Dave says:

    No RLVC, women did not cause those problems. Setting women free caused those problems.

    You are a free man if you can get a passport and leave the country. If your passport is denied or cancelled because of back taxes or child support, you are a slave.

  13. Graham says:

    No one is going to ask whether anything is good for the gentiles, least of all the gentiles.

    And while things may be changing, for decades now people in Western Europe and North America have in fact been voting to replace themselves.It may not have been issue number one or ten on their minds, but they cast ballots for it just the same.

  14. RLVC says:


    You claim that women have been set free, but is freedom to be found in unrelenting corporate servitude and unshackled promiscuity?

    The same for both sexes.


    In 1965, “[d]uring debate on the Senate floor, Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking of the effects of the Act, said, ‘our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.’”

    There has never been any popular support for immigration — not in any place, nor at any time. Under the ordinary definition of democracy as “rule by the common populace”, immigration under a democratic system is the result of subversion carried out by covert entities acting against the public interest.

    It’s difficult to make a convincing argument that the bewildered sheeple deserve the government with which they are afflicted unless one dispenses with one’s sense of right and wrong. You’re welcome to do so, but I can tell you that I once took it to its logical conclusion, and its form was tiresome to look upon.

    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

  15. Dave says:

    There is freedom in any place that you can walk out of. People freely choose to work in cubicles, fuck around on Tinder, abuse drugs, etc.

    Men and women are not equally suited to freedom. White men have been free since the dawn of time — not all white men of course, but nearly all who passed on their genes. Men who used their freedom unwisely soon starved or fell into bondage and died without issue.

    Women have always been slaves until recently, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone (nor would it surprise anyone born before 1800) that when given freedom, women make life choices that result in very few offspring.

    Politicians think they can solve this problem by importing taxpayers instead of breeding them, but this is doomed to fail because the reluctance of productive citizens to reproduce is now a global phenomenon.

  16. Graham says:


    I actually think there is majority support in my own country Canada for mass immigration, for a while now. Probably not 30 years ago, but generations change.

    SO what was elite decision making then is conventional wisdom now.

    For the US, it seems as though at least some large minority is in favour of it enough now that even the most rudimentary control attempts can produce fairly widespread hysteria. Maybe not much commitment, but willingess to buy the narrative of a smaller group that such measures represent an evil.

    In the larger sense, I was more meaning that for generations no one has been willing to do anything about it. That’s consent of the governed in practice.

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