Jane Austen on the White Man’s Privilege

From Persuasion by Jane Austen. Captain Harville and Anne Elliot are discussing whether men or women are more constant:

“…Well, Miss Elliot,” (lowering his voice,) “as I was saying we shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman, would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you–all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

2 thoughts on “Jane Austen on the White Man’s Privilege

  1. Beloved author Jane Austen certainly understands the terrible bookworm struggle of trying to spend time with people who don t like to read.

  2. I ll grant that Miss Lambe is a largely non-speaking role, but please note that she is the most eligible young lady and when you read the partial novel, there are no mentions of unfortunate skin tone. There are a number of West Indians in town and their presence is treated matter-of-factly, except for the delight at their fortunes. In fact, a significant number of Jane Austen s heroines have a brown complexion. Are they West Indian? No, or she would have said so, but it s worth noting that she did not consider a lily-white complexion a thing of beauty.

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