He was also a great believer in the beguine movement which had started 300 years before – a fascinating alternative place for women who wanted a safe and respectable place to live a contemplative life, widowers, single women, not taking official church vows but in a protected community. These bequines, single sex cities evolved in the midst of increasing urbanism where severe economic crises and wars limited options for women without husbands. Yes there were wars back then, women left alone. They searched for a chaste life outside the church. I really think this idea should be revived. Imagine cities of women living their lives independently and with truth as the guiding principle. No need or panic for a relationship, friendship and respect at the heart of their relationships. Hard work and a nurturing a sense of community and cooperation.
There is an element of spirituality and mysticism to the beguine movement, in fact many of them were eventually considered heretics since the women were intensely spiritual but refused to be defined within the formal definition of the church. Bohemian beguines. A fascinating story and inspiration for women living outside traditional definitions of society.
Divorced women are in that category – accepted by society with the mind, but feared with the heart. Divorced women don’t compromise in relationships, they don’t let men dominate or lie to them. They live their lives boldly in authenticity and that is fundamentally frightening to those living the status quo. Playing the marriage game. So many women feel they have to be married to be happy or fulfilled. They look out the windows of their sheltered and comfortable lives at their single sisters wishing they had the courage to leave a sad and miserable life of deceit. Let’s face it most marriages have an element of falsity. Couples are living a lie within a lie. At the heart may be something called love, but for the most part it's comfortable compromise – society’s formula for how men and women are 'supposed' to live. The beguines of medieval Europe offered a home to the early female radicals. Feminists.
If you are interested in beguines, these Cities of Ladies, check out the book by Walter Simons, Associate Professor at Dartmouth College or visit http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~epf/1995/beguine.html