The soul has no sex: Feminism and catholicism in early-modern Europe
Is Protestantism more conducive to feminism than Catholicism? No historian will deny that the Catholic Church has, for the most part, been a determined opponent of feminist ideas and practices. It cannot be doubted that over the long run of European history feminism has been more successful in Protestant countries than in Catholic ones.1 But is it also true that Catholic religious experiences, sensibilities and ideas are intrinsically resistant to feminism? That would be an extremely rash and dubious generalization, especially when applied to early-modern Europe, for it is well established in the historiography that early-modern feminism began its career in Italy and was especially strong in the French Renaissance and early Enlightenment.2 Prior to the eighteenth century, a large part, perhaps the greater part, of feminist aspirations in Europe were voiced by Catholic women living in a Catholic culture.