The Normal Woman

The normal woman as studied and put forth by Cesare Lombroso in the 1890’s.   The notes below are based on Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman by Cesare Lombroso and Guglielmo Ferrero translated and with a new introduction and feminist commentary by Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson.

The Normal Woman is proven to be more primitive than man:

  • Measurements of the head
    • cranial capacity in weight – smaller in women
    • brachycephaly or broad-headedness in size – greater in women
    • dolichocephaly or long-headedness in size – greater in men
    • jaw size – greater in men
    • Measurements of thoracic cavity, cervical and lumbar parts, arms comparing body shape
    • Body hair length in relation to age
    • Weight and Height
    • Viscera, Fat and Blood
    • Measurements of white hair and baldness of middle class Europeans
  • Differences of sensitivity
    • measure size and location of eye – larger and deeper set in men – higher levels of sight
    • nose size – larger in men – more sensitive to smell
    • auditory channel – larger in men – more sensitive to sound
    • general sensitivity to touch and pain – men and boys more sensitive
    • genital need – men experience more “genital suffering”
    • sexual needs – men greater
  • Moral sensitivity – men more moral – not sure how measured.  Women and children inferior sense of morality.
  • Love – Maternal love is stronger in women. Because men are more sensitive a woman’s beauty is most important.  A woman does not need a beautiful man because she is less sensitive.
  • Lying – Women lie habitually.  One example: “When menstruation became an object of disgust for man, woman had to hide it.  Today, too, it is the first lie that one teaches girls; we train them to hide their real condition by simulating other illnesses.  This means that women must lie for two or three days each month; perhaps we should call it an exercise in periodic dissimulation.”
  • Vanity -Women’s clothing proves she is more vain than man whereas men want to be known for their virtue.
  • Intelligence – Women’s intelligence is deficient in creative power.  Those who do demonstrate genius capacity have masculine appearances and tendencies.  Intuition, an instinct or automatic intelligence, is strong in women adapted to discovering the thoughts and feelings of people.  Males are more intelligent because they are more active as they must fight to defend their species and to fight other males to win the female.  Men continually change types of activities and circumstances – they have to travel and be educated to prepare for a profession most often different than their father’s, however women devote most of their time to motherhood which is always the same.
  • Diligence – woman has more patience than man – an effect of her lesser sensibility and lower degree of cortical excitability, which lower her need for stimulation.

Women’s anatomy in comparison to each other across nationalities and to female primates (sexual organs only) to find degenerative and atavistic characteristics.

  • ears
  • facial hair
  • downiness
  • hymen
  • inner & outer labia and clitoris

Lombroso compares age of menstruation  in girls of various national regions making comparisons to levels of promiscuity and therefor degeneration or atavism.

Traits of compassion and cruelty – Women are compared to each other. The more civilized, the less cruel and more compassionate.  In primitive times women were more cruel.  Also the more civilized women are more feminine and therefore most often selected by men as mates.  Thus through natural selection more highly civilized societies become less wicked.

One thought on “The Normal Woman

  1. Katie Griffin

    Hi Laureen,
    One of the philosophical bases for Latin American Feminist theologies is breaking the aristotelian framework that was brought by the medieval Roman Catholic monks and priests to the Spanish and Portuguese Americas in the 16th century. Aristotle was an incredible systematizer of logic, but unfortunately, many of his premises were simply wrong: the idea that the man is better than the woman, the master better than the slave. The spanish and portuguese invaders were convinced of the idea that some peoples were designed by God to serve others – this of course has no founding in the sacred writings of judaism and christianity, but it does have founding in Aristotles way of systematizing logic. In some writings, the chroniclers of the Spanish invasion affirmed outright that the “Indians”, even the Incan and Aztec emperors, were at the same hierarchical level as women and monkeys! This is a huge and long-lived myth and prejudice to fight against!
    Comte was a faithful desciple of Aristotle.

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