I found this great article online that describes Voltaire's various critiques on society, including his views on women.
The author states that although it may seem progresive that Voltaire portrays women as subject to violent male desire through stories of rape, enslavement, and submission, it is more likely that Voltaire believes women are weak and incompetent. Cunegonde and the Old Woman are repressed by men and are strangely represented in the novel; Voltaire depicts them as helpless victims which also show strength in the facing adversity. The author of this article write, "It seems however, that the 'strength' that these women show might not be a statement on the internal powers of women, but rather that they have no choice than to adapt to a gruesome and misogynistic situation." What do you all think? Was Voltaire portraying women as strong figures or as weak creatures who adapted to their environment?