Misogyny in the Writings of the Abrahamic Tradition


The following Hadiths (which include sayings of Muhammad) were removed by the Republic of Turkey in 2006:

‘Women are imperfect in intellect and religion.’

‘The best of women are those who are like sheep.’

‘If a woman doesn’t satisfy her husband’s desires, she should choose herself a place in hell.’

‘If a husband’s body is covered with pus and his wife licks it clean, she still wouldn’t have paid her dues.’

‘Your prayer will be invalid if a donkey, black dog or a woman passes in front of you.’


“Our Rabbis taught: All are qualified to be among the seven [who read], even a minor and a woman, only the Sages said that a woman should not read in the Torah out of respect for the congregation” (b. Meg. 23a), Spencer, 1985:49

“talk not much with womankind. They said this of a man’s own wife: how much more of his fellow’s wife! Hence the Sages have said: He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna.” Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem, m. ‘Abot. 1.5. in Spencer 1985:55

“If a woman spoke with a man on the street she was presumed to have had intercourse unless proven otherwise” (m. Ketub 1.8), Spencer, 1985:54


“These are they which are put away with their Kethubah (marriage settlement): a wife that transgresses the Law of Moses and Jewish custom…If she goes out with her hair unbound, or spins in the street, or speaks with any man.” (mKet 7.6)

“Sin began with a woman, and thanks to her we all must die. Do not let water find a leak, do not allow a spiteful woman free rein for her tongue. If she will not do as you tell her, get rid of her.” (Ecclesiasticus, 25:23-26)

“9 A daughter is a secret anxiety to her father, and worry over her robs him of sleep; when she is young, for fear she may not marry, or if married, for fear she may be disliked; 10 while a virgin, for fear she may be seduced and become pregnant in her father’s house; or having a husband, for fear she may go astray, or, though married, for fear she may be barren. 11 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter, or she may make you a laughingstock to your enemies, a byword in the city and the assembly of the people, and put you to shame in public gatherings. See that there is no lattice in her room, no spot that overlooks the approaches to the house. 12 Do not let her parade her beauty before any man, or spend her time among married women; 13 for from garments comes the moth, and from a woman comes woman’s wickedness. 14 Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good; it is woman who brings shame and disgrace.” Ecclesiasticus 42:9-14 (180BC)

First Century

“The women are best suited to the indoor life which never strays from the house, within which the middle door is taken by the maidens as their boundary, and the outer door by those who have reached full womanhood. Organized communities are of two sorts, the greater which we call cities and the smaller which we call households. Both of these have their governors; the government of the greater is assigned to men under the name of statesmanship, that of the lesser, known as household management, to women.” (Philo, On the Special Laws, III, ch 3) Cited in Spencer 1985:50

“The judgments of women as a rule are weaker and do not apprehend any mental conception apart from what their senses perceive” (Philo, Embassy of Gaius, XL), Spencer 1985:51

“The attitude of man is informed by reason (nous), that of woman by sensuality (aisthesis).” (Philo, De Opificio Mundi, 165)

“The woman is inferior to the man in every way.” (Josephus Contra Apionem, ii. 201.)

“There is no wisdom in woman except with the distaff” (b. Yoma 66b), Rabbi Eliezer, in Spencer 1985:51

Second Century

“It is better that the words of the Law should be burned than that they should be given to a woman.” (Jerusalem Talmud, Jsot 3.4)


“And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert— that is, death— even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins? Come, now; if from the beginning of the world the Milesians sheared sheep, and the Serians spun trees, and the Tyrians dyed, and the Phrygians embroidered with the needle, and the Babylonians with the loom, and pearls gleamed, and onyx-stones flashed; if gold itself also had already issued, with the cupidity (which accompanies it), from the ground; if the mirror, too, already had licence to lie so largely, Eve, expelled from paradise, (Eve) already dead, would also have coveted these things, I imagine! No more, then, ought she now to crave, or be acquainted with (if she desires to live again), what, when she was living, she had neither had nor known. Accordingly these things are all the baggage of woman in her condemned and dead state, instituted as if to swell the pomp of her funeral.” – Tertullian (On the Apparel of Woman)

“The rule remains with the husband, and the wife is compelled to obey him by God’s command. He rules the home and the state, wages war, defends his possessions, tills the soil, builds, plants, etc. The woman, on the other hand, is like a nail driven into the wall. She sits at home…the wife should stay at home and look after the affairs of the household as one who has been deprived of the ability of administering those affairs that are outside and concern the state….In this way Eve is punished.” – Luther, Lectures on Genesis (Works, 1:115)

“Among all savage beasts, none is found so harmful as woman.”[1] —John of Chrysostom

“It is the natural order among people that women serve their husbands and children their parents, because the justice of this lies in (the principle that) the lesser serves the greater.”[2] —Augustine

“[The serpent went to Eve first] no doubt starting with the inferior of the human pair so as to arrive at the whole by stages, supposing that the man would not be so easily gullible.”[3] —Augustine

“In fact, even though the man was created outside Paradise (i.e., in an inferior place), he is found to be superior, while woman, though created in a better place (i.e., inside Paradise) is found inferior.”[4] —Ambrose

“The woman is subject to the man, on account of the weakness of her nature, both of mind and of body…Man is the beginning of woman and her end, just as God is the beginning and end of every creature…Woman is in subjection according to the law of nature, but a slave is not…Children ought to love their father more than their mother.”[5] —Thomas Aquinas

“Woman is an embarrassment to man, a beast in his quarters, a continual worry, a never-ending trouble, a daily annoyance, the destruction of the household, a hindrance to solitude, the undoing of a virtuous man, an oppressive burden, an insatiable bee, a man’s property and possession.”[6] —Bonaventura

“As the sun is much more glorious than the moon (though also the moon is glorious), so the woman was inferior to the man both in honor and dignity, though she, too, was a very excellent work of God.”[7] —Luther

“To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant to nature; contumely to God, a thing most contrary to his revealed will and approved ordinance; and finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.”—John Knox in The First Trumpet Blast Against the Monstrous Regime of Women

“woman . . . by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey.” – John Calvin, Commentaries on Pastorals, 1856:68

“Natural propriety has been maintained, women have in all ages been excluded from the public management of affairs.” – Calvin, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:34

“[T]he feminine nature, which glittering in her inner emotional richness, will tolerate no supremacy of the intellect.”[8] (Abraham Kuyper)

“The private and public life form two separate spheres, each with their own way of existing, with their own task … And it is on the basis of this state of affairs, which has not been invented by us, but which God himself has imposed on us, that in public life the woman does not stand equally with the man. Nor more that it can be said of the man that he has been called to achieve in the family that which is achieved by the woman….for which the man is the appointed worker [the public domain], she will never be able to fulfill anything but a subordinate role, in which her inferiority would soon come to light anyway.”[9] (Abraham Kuyper)

“Tell her what you want for lunch. Turn requests into commands. ‘Can you make me a sandwich.’ It’s not the words; it’s the tone.” —Michael Foster

““Voting is an act of rulership. . . Since rulership is not given to women, women should not vote.” Bnonn Tennant (co-author, It’s Good to Be A Man, on Facebook)

[1] John Chrysostom, cited in Ruth Tucker, Women in the Maze (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992), 149.

[2] Questions on the Heptateuch, 1.53.

[3] City of God, 14.11.

[4] Ambrose, “On Paradise,” quoted in Elizabeth A. Clark, Women in the Early Church, ed. Thomas Halton, Message of the Fathers of the Church 13 (Collegeville: Liturgical Place, 1983), 30.

[5] Aquinas, cited in Tucker, Women in the Maze, 156.

[6] Bonaventura in Ibid.

[7] Martin Luther, Luther’s Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958), 1:68.

[8] Kuyper, “The Woman’s Position of Honor,” 7.

[9] Kuyper, “The Woman’s Position of Honor,” 19-20, 28. Contrast with Bavinck, Het Christelijk Huisgezin, 48-52; De Vrouw, 25f.