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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Lucretia Marinelli

b. 1571, Venice; d. 1653, Venice

In 1599, Giuseppe Passi published I donneschi difetti (Women’s Defects), citing ancient writers and religious authorities to demonstrate women’s miserable nature. Passi’s misogynist diatribe provoked an immediate response from the young Venetian writer Lucrezia Marinellli (Marinella), already known for her epic poetry on mythological and religious subjects. Marinelli turned the tables on Passi & Company with a blistering denunciation of male imperfections and a compelling argument for female superiority. La nobilità e l’eccellenza delle donne co’diffetti et mancamenti de gli huomini (The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects of Men, 1600) is not a plea for gender equality but, rather, a polemical valorization of women’s virtues. Marinelli envisions a feminized world in which those virtues—compassion, cooperation, egalitarianism—would reign, a world infinitely preferable to the hierarchically organized male order that prevailed.