Journal article

Woman's brain, man's brain: feminism and anthropology in late nineteenth-century France

C Sowerwine

WOMENS HISTORY REVIEW | TRIANGLE JOURNALS LTD | Published : 2003

Abstract

This article deals with the tangled web of late nineteenth-century French arguments for the biological inferiority of women and of non-whites. These arguments were largely based on an anthropological paradigm: the brain was materialist in its function and brain size was therefore linked to intelligence. The article demonstrates that these arguments were linked to progressive, anticlerical, masculinist Republican views by analysing the anthropological work of a woman anthropologist, feminist and socialist, Dr Madeleine Pelletier, work in which she struggled to subvert the paradigm in its application to women.