Originally published in 1529, the Declamation on the Preeminence and Nobility of the Female Sex argues that women are more than equal to men in all things that really matter, including the public spheres from which they had long been excluded.
Rather than directly refuting prevailing wisdom, Agrippa uses women's superiority as a rhetorical device and overturns the misogynistic interpretations of the female body in Greek medicine, in the Bible, in Roman and canon law, in theology and moral philosophy, and in politics. He raised the question of why women were excluded and provided answers based not on sex but on social conditioning, education, and the prejudices of their more powerful oppressors. His declamation, disseminated through the printing press, illustrated the power of that new medium, soon to be used to generate a larger reformation of religion.
June E. Hahner's pioneering work, Emancipating the Female Sex, offers the first comprehensive history of the struggle for women's rights in Brazil. Based on previously undiscovered primary sources and fifteen years of research, Hahner's study provides long-overdue recognition of the place of women in Latin American history. Hahner traces the history of Brazilian women's fight for emancipation from its earliest manifestations in the mid-nineteenth century to the successful conclusion of the suffrage campaign in the 1930s. Drawing on interviews with surviving Brazilian suffragists and contemporary feminists as well as manuscripts and printed documents, Hahner explores the strategies and ideological positions of Brazilian feminists. In focusing on urban upper- and middle-class women, from whose ranks the leadership for change arose, she examines the relationship between feminism and social change in Brazil's complex and highly stratified society.