by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
I had with all these the common vanity of my sex, viz. that being really taken for very handsome, or, if you please, for a great beauty, I very well knew it, and had as good an opinion of myself as anybody else could have of me; and particularly I loved to hear anybody speak of it, which could not but happen to me sometimes, and was a great satisfaction to me. (58)
Hmm. Moll, you sure are sounding sexist here. She seems to be asserting here that all women share a "common vanity" and a willingness to believe in their own beauty. Now that's a doozy of a stereotype. Of course for our girl, it's totally true. It seems that no one could think her as beautiful as she herself does.
Thus I convinced her, that if the men made their advantage of our sex in the affair of marriage, upon the supposition of there being such choice to be had, and of the women being so easy, it was only owing to this, that the women wanted courage to maintain their ground and to play their part […]. (268)
According to Moll, men have it easier, especially when it comes to marriage. But the situation isn't without hope, because if women get a bit braver, they might be able to take that "advantage" back from men and gain a more equal footing. But how can women express this courage? What options do they really have in the world of Moll Flanders?
I found by experience, that to be friendless is the worst condition, next to being in want that a woman can be reduced to: I say a woman, because 'tis evident men can be their own advisers, and their own directors, and know how to work themselves out of difficulties and into business better than women; but if a woman has no friend to communicate her affairs to, and to advise and assist her, 'tis ten to one but she is undone […]. (480)
You know what's really ironic about this passage? Moll is complaining about how hard women have it, while men have all the control. But of all the characters in the book, Moll wields the most control, hands down, don't you think? So even while she's working within the confines of a male-dominated society, she's still finding ways to change her own destiny.