Montesquieu
 

XVI.9 Connection of domestic government with the political

In a repu­blic, the sta­tion of citi­zens is limi­ted, equal, mild, and mode­rate : eve­ry­thing is imbued with public free­dom. Ascendency over women could not be so well exer­ci­sed there ; and when the cli­mate has cal­led for such ascen­dency, govern­ment by one man alone has been the most appro­priate. That is one of the rea­sons which have always made popu­lar govern­ment dif­fi­cult to implant in the Orient.

Contrariwise, the ser­vi­tude of women is very much in kee­ping with the genius of des­po­tic govern­ment, which likes to abuse eve­ry­thing. And so in all times in Asia has been seen the paral­lel pro­gress of domes­tic ser­vi­tude and des­po­tic govern­ment.

In a govern­ment where peo­ple want tran­qui­lity above all, and where extreme subor­di­na­tion is cal­led peace, wives must be locked away : their intri­gues would be fatal to the hus­band. A govern­ment which has no time to exa­mine its sub­jects’ conduct holds it sus­pect for the sole rea­son that it is patent and per­cep­ti­ble.

Suppose for a moment that flip­pancy of mind and indis­cre­tions, the tas­tes and dis­tas­tes of our women, their pas­sions large and small, had been trans­po­sed into an Oriental govern­ment, with the acti­vity and free­dom they know here : who is the pater­fa­mi­lias who could be tran­quil for a moment ? Suspicious per­sons eve­ryw­here, ene­mies eve­ryw­here : the state would be sha­ken and rivers of blood would flow.