No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546), Table Talk
This quote is one of a number proving "Christianity produced a steady diet of misogyny for over 2000 years," put forth by a "former evangelical," now a "psychologist and writer." Her biography can be found here. She appears to still embrace some form of spirituality, but rallies against conservative Christianity. It's interesting that while her entry spans the entirety of church history, she chose a big picture of Martin Luther to head her blog post (pictured here also).
Let's take a closer look at the quote. It's easy to cherry-pick quotes from church history, especially with an agenda and self-imposed blinders. While Luther was not in any sense a modern-day feminist, he was not the simplicity of a few quotes strung together to make him "vile."Documentation
The quote has traveled far, found not only in a number of webpages, but published books as well. The webpage simply says, "Table Talk," which in essence, isn't a helpful reference, but the majority of uses I found either don't provide a reference or similarly mention the Table Talk.
The quote does come from the Table Talk. It's from the recollection of Luther's associate, John Schlaginhaufen, who recorded Luther's' remarks from 1531-32. The comment probably dates from May 1532. The comment can be found in WA TR 2:130 (#1555):
The comment made it into English via the German version of the Table Talk put together by John Aurifaber (FB. 1, 208 above). The text reads,
What ill becomes the Women.There is no gown nor garment that becomes a woman worse (said Luther), than when she will be wise.
"There is no gown or garment becomes a woman worse" (said Luther), "than when she will be wise." (1832)
There is no gown or garment that worse becomes a woman than when she will be wise. (1848)
As with many Table Talk comments, there is not a context provided. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death.
Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. The "former evangelical" using the quote would've given herself more credibility had she first documented the quote correctly, then, secondly, not used it at all, but rather utilized a quote with a context and a better pedigree (something actually written by Luther). From our current western pro-feminist zeitgeist, she would've certainly found some Luther quotes.
I have oftentimes noted, when women receive the doctrine of the gospel, they are far more fervent in faith, they hold to it more stiff and fast, than men do; as we see in the loving Magdalen, who was more hearty and bold than Peter.