Month: December 2019

The Book of the City of Ladies Represented Through Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera

Ahh, the topic of oppressed women and the ability to obtain a true sense of equality and freedom through forms of expressive literature and music because, you know, women are constantly being stifled and labeled as “over-emotional.” Don’t you love upholding traditional values and ideologies? (Sarcasm heavily implied)

In The Book of the City of Ladies As Christine ponders over this despairing topic questioning how and why women are seen as such horrible beings. After a decent amount of self-torturing wondering why she was created as a woman and therefore predetermined to be as horrible as what the men say since everything they say is correct and the absolute truth with zero exaggeration (heavy eye-roll) she is then visited by these ladies who offer reassuring guidance as well as open Christine’s eyes to how strong women really are. How women can do great things. They tell stories about women accomplishing major feats. And this is where my comparison of Pizan’s book to pop culture songs comes in. I am going to use Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Christina Aguilera’s “Can’t Hold Us Down” because come on! These chicks are boss babes!

Looking at “Can’t Hold Us Down,” the song begins with the idea of women and their inability to stand up for themselves to a man by voicing their opinion and also the idea that women can’t express themselves freely without being considered temperamental or vile and be social (yes… that is what I will call it for the sanctity of what is appropriate) without being labeled as a deviant. Here are two sets of lyrics to evaluate:

[…] When a female fires back suddenly big talker don’t know how to act
So he does what every little boy would do
Makin’ up a few false rumors or two
That for sure is not a man for me, slanderin’ names for popularity
It’s sad you only get your fame through controversy
But now it’s time for me to come and give you more to say [….]


[…] Here’s something I just can’t understand
If the guy have three girls then he’s the man
He can even give her some head, or sex her off
But if a girl do the same, she’s a whore […]


These lyrics are pretty straight forward and parallel perfectly with passages from Pizan.

“Not only one or two and not even just this Mathélous […] but, more generally, judgng from the treatises of all philosophers and poets and from all the orators […] they all concur in one conclusion: that the behavior of women is inclined to and and full of every vice” (Pizan 4)

Christine De Pizan has had enough of the false words that philosophers and poets had to say about women. The countless books that they published and that circulated thematically aimed at how devilish women can be and how they are meant to be subordinate their husbands and such. This passage and the first lyric set of the song displays the idea of a double standard that is upheld in this male patriarch much like the one Christine is in.

Next, we have “Run the World (Girls).” Yes, we can get some mixed feelings about this song such as how the Queen B herself is bragging about her incredible persuasion abilities and how women naturally have it (Gee! Almost sounds like the Bawd, herself!) but she is also calling out to the women all around the world who are becoming influential to society and how their power is becoming evident and disrupting the male driven societies. These sets of lyrics demonstrate the “calling all women!” attitude that is aimed to spark a flame in women and show their strength:

[…] I’m repping for the girls
Who taking over the world
Have me raise a glass
For the college grads […]


[…] How we’re smart enough
To make these millions
Strong enough to bare the children […]


Beyoncé is praising women for working hard and achieving educational excellence, the ways that women have harnessed to be able to come out on top and be self-sufficient, and to have the ability to create human life! We can do it all! Pizan was also well educated and used her education to further the notion of demanding equality for women. Her book is her contribution to society that will be continuously studied in the ways of gender inequality.

The ladies tell their stories about the great queens, women warriors, wives, mothers, and so on to show Christine that there are so many worthy women in the world and not to be alluded to think otherwise because some men feel threatened.

Yep. Men who trash talk and like to talk about how nasty and horrendous women are in the ways of values, morality, social affiliation, and being opinionated, are really just threatened that they have power too and break from the oppression tradition and stereotypes that have stuck through the ages.

Women have accomplished so much. In contemporary views, you see a great deal of feminism pushing the boundaries and roles being broken. You rarely hear of the strong women that made a difference from way back when; the times when women could be put to death for a disobedient act.

Both songs embody the books main theme of women coming together to rise up and see how multiple voices together can continue to break down the walls of inequality and to destroy the double standard. And these music videos..!!! Powerful imagery. Beyoncé on that horse like a true conqueror. The outfit/costume choices in both videos conveying the stepping out of societal appropriation. The rebellion. By spreading these messages through forms of entertainment, they influence larger audiences and circulate and make and create a conversation.




Pizan, Christine. The Book of the City of Ladies. Persea Books , 1998

Pandarus’s Playbook

We all know a wingman. Some of us may be one and some of us may have one. Many of us know one of the most famous wingmen in television history as Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. He was the type of guy to find a new woman every night and even had his own book of plays to get women to sleep with him. He could make up any reason in the world and be convincing enough about it to take a woman home that night. He also helped his friend, Ted, by using his playbook, as well.Ted was a hopeless romantic that just wanted to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.

I’m telling you this because there are some similarities between Pandarus from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Barney Stinson from HIMYM.

Pandarus is Criseyde’s uncle and Troilus’s best friend. Obviously, Troilus is Ted in this scenario. Pandarus comes up with extremely convoluted plans to get Troilus and Criseyde to sleep together. He comes up with so many different crazy plans that somehow seem to work at times and other times are just so crazy that they’re impossible to pull off, such as: telling Troilus to kidnap Criseyde in order to keep her from going to the Greeks with her father.

Both Barney and Pandarus try their best to get their best friend laid, no matter what it takes. Barney’s most important scene of him being Ted’s wingman is called the “Have You Met Ted?” Now, I will explain it in all of its glory, although it is very simple. Ted will express interest in someone, most likely at the bar that the HIMYM crew hang out at. He will try to figure out a plan to go talk to that person but will ultimately not do it on his own. Barney will then approach said woman and say the exact phrase “Have you met Ted?” and that will start the conversation between
Ted and that woman enabling him to be able to talk her up. This is how Robin got introduced to the story of How I Met Your Mother.

How I Met Your Mother GIF


Pandarus did something similar to introduce Criseyde and Troilus. Once Troilus expressed interest in Criseyde, Pandarus went into full wingman mode. Pandarus went to visit his niece and decided it was time to talk up his bestie Troilus. Criseyde asks him about Hector and Pandarus says:

‘Ful wel, I thonk it God,’ quod Pandarus,

‘Save in his arm he hath a little wownde;

and ek his fresshe brother Troilus.

the wise, worthi Ector the secounde,

in whom that all vert list habounde,

as all troth and all gentilesse,

Wisdom, honor, fredom, and worthinesse.’

His oh-so-brave brother Troilus who is so kind and handsome and knightly and wise and did I mention handsome? Pandarus was out here really working hard for his best friend Troilus. Pandarus’s version of “Have you met Ted?” is the “Oh, have you met Troilus, Hector’s younger, handsomer, and still as great little brother?” Troilus also just shows up during this time while Pandarus is talking him up so Criseyde can see how great and amazing he is. It’s perfect for Troilus because that might have been the time where Criseyde would have wanted to talk to him. (It wasn’t, though.) It might have been a different story if Troilus had taken a page out of Barney’s playbook. But, Pandarus’s playbook in his mind was good enough to get Troilus a chance with Criseyde and that’s all that Barney would have wanted for him.

Coghlan, J., active early 19th cent., artist.

Honestly, it’s important to note that Troilus and Criseyde would not have gotten together without Pandarus in the same way that Ted and Robin may have never met without Barney. The wingmen are the comic relief of these shows but they are also the main reason that these stories were able to happen in the first place. Imagine Troilus trying to hit on Criseyde by himself. Would he even be able to form words while he’s fainting all the time? Probably not. Without Pandarus putting in work, this tragedy may not have happened. And, without Pandarus, this tragedy would not have been as fun and interesting to read without his ridiculous plans to get his niece to fall in love with his best friend. We would not have gotten to see this glorious story with that darn meddling Pandarus.