"Et nulle autre me faict plus proprement homme que cette cy:" Michel de Montaigne's embodied masculinity
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. Writing in a period of considerable anxiety about gender roles, Montaigne (1533-92) developed a series of reflections on gender and masculinity in which he destabilized the gender and sexual hierarchies of early-modern France. First, drawing on an increasingly global archive of information about non-European societies, he argued that culture plays a major role in shaping the lives and experiences of women. Secondly, his understanding of nature enabled him to foster a notion of the equality of the sexes, even as he recognized that nature creates certain differences between men and women. Finally, on these foundations, Montaigne constructed a vision of masculinity that stresses it as an ethical value, one that he opposes above all to cruelty. Montaigne's sexual politics were, I suggest, at least in part a response to the Wars of Religion that had led to an excess of barbarity in early-modern France.
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