There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman

hermaphrodite

Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid

…it flows, it breathes, it sings, rather than deposits soil, or finishes work, and that which is especially feminine flushes in blossom the face of earth, and pervades like air and water all this seeming solid globe, daily renewing and purifying its life. Such may be the especially feminine element, spoken of as Femality. But it is no more the order of nature that it should be incarnated pure in any form, than that the masculine energy should exist unmingled with it in any form.

Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.

History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them. They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be. In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule. She sends women to battle, and sets Hercules spinning; she enables women to bear immense burdens, cold, and frost; she enables the man, who feels maternal love, to nourish his infant like a mother.

by Margaret Fuller (23 May 1810 – 19 July 19 1850)
from Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 1845
image – cesarastudillo

About Margaret Fuller

Margaret Fuller is sometimes called America’s first true feminist. An admired contemporary of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Susan B. Anthony, she was a philosopher, journalist, teacher and political activist. As a prominent member of the Transcendentalist movement, she was the first editor of The Dial, the Transcendentalist journal that she and Ralph Waldo Emerson founded.

Fuller’s book Woman in the Nineteenth Century grew out of “Conversations” – a series of conversational salons or seminars she held for women, each about a specific philosophical question. Instead of simply lecturing, she used the Socratic method, first encouraging the audience to offer up their own views, then eloquently sharing her own. Participants were transfixed. It would have been unusual for women of the first half of the 1800’s to expect to speak up outside of their existing station in life. Women were not legally entitled to direct their own affairs, and the suffrage movement was in its infancy. Fuller encouraged women to read, and to think for themselves.

I solicit of women that they will say it to heart to ascertain what is for them the liberty of law. It is for this, and not for any, the largest, extension of partial privileges that I seek. I ask them, if interested by these suggestions, to search their own experience and intuitions for better, and fill up with fit materials the trenches that hedge them in.


Preface, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 1845

Three years later, Elizabeth Cady Stanton developed “The Declaration of Sentiments” for presentation at the Seneca Falls Convention, the first major woman’s rights gathering.

Margaret Fuller was a true pioneer. In their “History of Woman Suffrage,” Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton later wrote that Fuller “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”

When reading about this time in American history it’s hard to miss that though much of the big stuff of women’s rights is law today, many of the ideas that were discussed and debated by Fuller and her contemporaries are still a work in progress.


This quote and image came to QuoteSnack courtesy of César Astudillo, a Spanish interaction designer and photography enthusiast. He jokes that he has an awful episodic memory, and tries to make it up by taking pictures.

I’m not entirely linear myself. I love the way this photograph could be two people, two aspects of one person, or some unfamiliar possibility sensed from beyond the edges of awareness, depending on how you “see” it at the time That’s art for you.

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2 Responses to “There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman”

  1. Abimbola Akanwo Says:

    Thank you…

    Good history lesson, thought provoking article and image…

  2. Christina Says:

    One thing I do know is that no matter how far we come it almost always seems like we are going to be fighting this fight. People still wonder who killed Jesus, yet so few care about who killed womans rights in all its forms before mans saviour even came along. Keep fighting girls, this is a fight that is thousands of years old and I just hope it wont be thousands of years before we are given the god damned equality we deserve.