Belle van Zuylen 2: Liberty and Male Domination


This is my second blog about Belle van Zuylen (see the first one Belle van Zuylen (Isabelle de Charrière) : “I have no talent for subordination” 1) as I also want to pay some attention to her idea of liberty. She perceived liberty as freedom from domination. What is special about her is that she thought that this is not only important in the political sphere, but also in the personal sphere.


She criticised that fact that marriage for women meant giving up their liberty and that simultaneously marriage was the only legitimate place for women to express their sensuality. This put women for an impossible dilemma. In the meantime, we are fortunately so far that we know plenty of other relationships where women can express their sensuality. In theory and in a legal way, marriage also no longer indicates that women have to give up their liberty. In practice however this is still very often the case.

Relationships and male domination

What is more, this is also often the case in heterosexual cohabitation- and LAT-relationships. Women seem to ask permission from their partner for going out dancing, go travelling, accepting a job or starting a new time-intensive hobby. Men tell, women ask their partners. I am all for a clear communication in relationships, but something unjust is going on here. Freedom from male domination and freedom from your own subordination are crucial. Belle van Zuylen told us so already two centuries ago. So let’s us be inspired by her and by modern power girls to show some female power in our relationships!

Rianne Voet, 25-10-2018


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