“The Defense Has Become the Prosecution:” Ezrat HaNashim, a Thirteenth-century Response to Misogyny

The Defense Has Become the Prosecution: Ezrat HaNashim, a Thirteenth-century Response to Misogyny

By Jill Jacobs

Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Vol 3, No 2 (2003)


Rashi’s famous comment to Genesis 2:18 encapsulates the medieval view of women as simultaneously necessary and dangerous, and as both similar to and other than men.  In pre-modern times, the debate over the appropriate classification of women formed an important part of religious and literary discourse among Jews, as well as among Christians and Muslims.  Rabbinic literature devotes much energy to defining women’s nature, physical characteristics, and sexual desires.  From the time of the New Testament, Christian writers debate the compatibility of marriage with the Christian life.   In the medieval Arabic-speaking world, literature devoted to the condemnation and defense of women becomes a genre unto itself…


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