1. The man or the woman in whom resides greater virtue is the higher; neither the loftiness nor the lowliness of a person lies in the body according to the sex but in the perfection of conduct and virtues.
Reason speaks these words in Part One, section 9.3. They help to capture the essence of Christine’s project. While one of her intentions of writing The Book of the City of Ladies is to defend and restore the honor and reputation of women, her ultimate goal is not to assert the superiority of women but to argue for equality and the fair and equal treatment of all people, regardless of gender. Christine asserts that a person’s sex is not a fair measure of his or her character. Rather, an individual’s moral development and personal conduct are worthy of esteem. In making this statement, Reason points out the reductive thinking employed by many people of the time, who make facile distinctions and focus on the inconsequential surface qualities that define an individual’s appearance. Later in her work, Christine argues that beauty is no reflection or indicator of a woman’s inner beauty. In challenging the prevailing notions of the day, she is asking readers to look beneath the surface and to think about the world in new and more responsible ways. She is also calling people to serve as moral beacons and models of upstanding conduct.