Internet Shakespeare Editions


Jane Anger

Jane Anger's Protection for Women is the only full-scale defense of women, attributed to a woman author, dating from the 16th century. Anger is confident and audacious, stating her case without apologizing for transgressing conventional gender roles. Nevertheless, scholars are not sure if an actual woman named Jane Anger wrote Protection, or if the name is simply a pseudonym. It has even been suggested that Anger was a man writing under a woman's name. In any case, a female voice speaks in Protection, advocating female sexual autonomy, if not feminism in the modern sense, and criticizes men for their deceptions:

At the end of men's fair promises there is a Labyrinth, and therefore ever hereafter stop your ears when they protest friendship, lest they come to an end before you are aware whereby you fall without redemption. The path which leads thereunto, is Mans wit, and the mile's ends are marked with these trees, Folly, Vice, Mischief, Lust, Deceit, and Pride. These to deceive you shall be clothed in the raiments of Fancy, Virtue, Modesty, Love, True meaning, and Handsomness. . .

Now being come to Lust: he will fall a railing on Lascivious looks, and will ban Lechery, and ... will say, "the devil take him" though he never means it. Deceit will give you fair words, and pick your pockets: nay he will pluck out your hearts, if you be not wary. But when you hear one cry out against lawnes [fine clothes], drawn-works [embroidery], Periwigs, against the attire of Courtesans, and generally of the pride of all women: then know him for a Wolf clothed in sheep's raiment, and be sure you are fast by [close to] the lake of destruction. Therefore take heed of it, which you shall do, if you shun men's flattery, the forerunner of our undoing. . .

A full transcription of Jane Anger: Her Protection for Women