“Upon Some Verses of Virgil” by Michel de Montaigne
Montaigne is getting older and all he’s got left is to look back at life. He wants to live a comfortable life but wants to be temperate and moderate. This is difficult because comfort requires avoiding pain and that means going toward pleasure, the opposite of pain.
It’s strange that we are free to think whatever we want but we aren’t free to say whatever we want. He finds it sad that women can only really have his books around as a part of the furniture rather than something to be read. He enjoys female company and wants them to appreciate his work.
Why is it that we blush at the talk of sex but we are just fine with talking about robbery, betrayal and murder? When we strip ourselves of being able to talk about some topics, we stop ourselves from being able to talk about parts of life.
The idea of marriage is distant to our biological need for sex in pleasure and procreation. Marriage usually falls apart when sex is the sole focus instead of friendship, which is a much stronger foundation for a marriage. A good marriage should be based on friendship, much more so than sex and love. Love makes us weaker and less rational. Marriage is about duty and friendship rather than passion, which is something that causes us to resent one another in the end. It’s clear why few men make their mistresses their wives because they want the passion to remain and not have a shitty marriage. Marriage is still good but love is purely based on pleasure and that tends to be irrational and intemperate.
Women aren’t really to be blamed. Men and women are subject to the same desires and emotions but somehow society punishes them for acting on them. They are trained from a very young age to be simple in the ways of love, dress, language and knowledge when it comes to sex. We should relax our standards a bit because they have bad consequences.
Men are supposed to flaunt their virile physical traits while women are supposed to hide their femininity. A lot of images of woman are representations of temptation but not so for men. This is an idea that women are weaker than men morally. But even the greatest warriors, like Alexander and Caesar wouldn’t compare to a woman who successfully restrains herself from all that “tempts” her. It’s stupid to bridle in a woman what is completely natural.
Societies differ in roles of love, sex and marriage for men and women. Looking at those differences may make our culture seem a bit silly. But life is half serious and half silly. And ignoring the silliness of sex and love and solely focusing on the serious side of life in to ignore half of life. There are things to be serious about but not 100% of the time.
Laziness is bad but so is working constantly. You need to work but you also need to put your feet up. That is a part of moderation. We shouldn’t completely forget about physical pleasure but we shouldn’t completely submit to it either.
We should hold women to the same standard as men. Not higher, not lower. Men and women are cast in the same mold and the only real difference is education and the roles we play in society.