Just over two centuries ago, a pre-teen Jane Austen began penning stories and poems, fantasies of female empowerment which parodied literary and societal conventions of her time. In doing so, she initiated a body of work that would become some of the most beloved and misconstrued commentary of her lifetime.

Early in 2017, former Breitbart journalist, flunky Cambridge English major, and notoriously irritating bigot Milo Yiannopoulos attempted to quote the “Victorian novelist” saying, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that an ugly woman is far more likely to be a feminist than a hot one.” Perhaps without ever having so much as held a novel by the Regency-era author, Yiannopoulos, for some reason, considered Austen worthy of reference. The irony of his statement is not that she isn’t a Victorian novelist (she was dead before Queen Victoria arrived on the scene), but that she is largely seen as a proto-feminist icon, critical of the dire position of women in her time. A quick search reveals that many alt-right writers cite Austen in their hate spew, bizarrely envisioning her as an emblem of a “simpler” time, when no one confronted racists, the sanctimony of marriage meant something, and women were more submissive (read: utterly dependent).

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