The Marquis de Sade's Attitude Towards Women
The Marquis de Sade was an author in France in the late
1700s. His works were infamous in their time, giving Sade a
reputation as an adulterer, a debaucher, and a sodomite.
One of the more common misrepresentations concerning Sade
was his attitude toward women. His attitude was shown in
his way of life and in two of his literary characters,
Justine and Julliette.
The Marquis de Sade was said to be the first and only
philosopher of vice because of his atheistic and sadistic
activities. He held the common woman in low regard. He
believed that women dressed provocatively because they
feared men would take no notice of them if they were naked.
He cared little for forced sex. Rape is not a crime, he
explained, and is in fact less than robbery, for you get
what is used back after the deed is done (Bloch 108).
Opinions about the Marquis de Sade's attitude towards
sexual freedom for women varies from author to author. A
prevalent one, the one held by Carter, suggests Sade's work
concerns sexual freedom and the nature of such, significant
because of his "refusal to see female sexuality in relation
to a reproductive function."
Sade justified his beliefs through graffiti, playing
psychologist on vandals:

In the stylization of graffiti, the prick is
always presented erect, as an alert attitude.
It points upward, asserts. The hole is open, as
an inert space, as a mouth, waiting to be filled.
This iconography could be derived from the
metaphysical sexual differences: man aspires,
woman serves no function but existence, waiting.

Between her thighs is zero, the symbol of nothingness, that
only attains somethingness when male principle fills it with
meaning (Carter 4).
The Marquis de Sade's way of thought is probably best
symbolized in the missionary position. The missionary
position represents the mythic relationship between
partners. The woman represents the passive receptiveness,
the fertility, and the richness of soil. This relationship
mythicizes and elevates intercourse to an unrealistic
proportion. In a more realistic view, Sade compares married
women with prostitutes, saying that prostitutes were better
paid and that they had fewer delusions (Carter 9).
Most of Sade's opinions of women were geared towards
the present, in what they were in his time. He held
different opinions, however, for how he envisioned women in
the future. Sade suggests that women don't "fuck in the
passive tense and hence automatically fucked up, done over,
undone." Sade declares that he is all for the "right of
women to fuck." It is stated as if the time in which women
copulate tyrannously, cruelly, and aggressively will be a
necessary step in the development of the general human
conscious concerning the nature of copulation. He urges
women to copulate as actively as they can, so that, "powered
by their hitherto untapped sexual energy they will be able
to fuck their way into history, and, in doing so, change it"
(Carter 27).
Women see themselves in the reflection form Sade's
looking glass of misanthropy. Critics say that Sade offers
male fantasies about women in great variety, along with a
number of startling insights. He is said to put pornography
in the service of women (Carter 36).
The Justine series, consisting of six editions, was one
of the most infamous and well known series written by Sade.
While the series had several editions, the storyline
remained basically the same throughout, though becoming more
verbose in each edition.
Two characters emerge from the Justine novels: Justine
and Juliette, who are sisters orphaned at an early age.
These two characters represent the opposite poles of
womanhood in Sade's mind. Justine is the innocent, naive
type who gets mistreated throughout her life. Juliette is
Sade's ideal woman, being uninhibited in her sexual conduct
and in her life, murdering and copulating at whim. She,
naturally, does well in life (Lynch 41-42).
The story of Justine is a long and tragic one, taking
the naive young girl abroad, where she is used and discarded
by man and woman alike. This is due to the fact that she is
a good woman in a predominately male world. "Justine is
good according to the rules concerning women laid down by
men." Her reward is rape, incessant beatings, and
humiliation