Rest assured, dear friend, chaste ladies who live honestly take absolutely no pleasure in being raped. Indeed, rape is the greatest possible sorrow for them.

This passage comes from Rectitude’s oration in Part Two, section 44.1. In her work, de Pizan attempts to tackle stereotypes concerning women and to demystify commonly held and erroneous assumptions. In de Pizan’s day, wives were viewed as property. This belief extended to a woman’s body, and many men believed they had the right to use their wives’ bodies in any way they saw fit. As in all eras, rape was a shocking and violent reality for many women, who lacked access to any system that could support rape victims or advocate on their behalf. De Pizan’s work takes a bold step in directly addressing this controversial topic. It was often assumed that sexual violence was something women just had to endure, and that men were born with aggressive, insatiable sexual appetites. Such attitudes were allowed to endure as long as men held the positions of power and silenced the voices of women. Some rapists justified their actions by avowing that women wanted to be raped, enjoyed it, or, in some way, “asked for it.” Christine was just one of many women who spoke out against the horrors of rape and identified it as a serious crime.