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Title: A Woman's Philosophy of Woman - or, Woman affranchised. An answer to Michelet, Proudhon, - Girardin, Legouvé, Comte, and other modern innovators
Author: d'Héricourt, Jenny P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Woman's Philosophy of Woman - or, Woman affranchised. An answer to Michelet, Proudhon, - Girardin, Legouvé, Comte, and other modern innovators" ***

Obvious printer errors have been repaired, but spelling has not been






    Translated from the last Paris Edition





    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by


    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
      of New York.

    Printer, Stereotyper, and Electrotyper,
    Carton Building,
    _81, 83, and 85 Centre Street_.


    INTRODUCTION                                                        7

    PREFACE                                                             9


      I. MICHELET                                                      17

     II. PROUDHON                                                      33

    III. COMTE                                                        119

     IV. LEGOUVE                                                      134

      V. DE GIRARDIN                                                  155

     VI. MODERN COMMUNISTS                                            167

    VII. SUMMARY                                                      201


    OBJECTIONS TO THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMAN                           211

    NATURE AND FUNCTIONS OF WOMAN                                     224

    LOVE; ITS FUNCTIONS IN HUMANITY                                   248

    MARRIAGE                                                          270

    SUMMARY OF PROPOSED REFORMS                                       294

    APPEAL TO WOMEN                                                   314



The general interest evinced in the theories of Michelet and other
philosophers concerning the functions and province of woman, and the
lively opposition to these theories manifested in many quarters, have
called forth an American translation of the present work. This remarkable
book of Madame d'Héricourt on woman is conceded to be the best reply to
these philosophers extant. The work, intended by the author as "a
refutation of the coarse indecency of Proudhon, and of the perfumed
pruriency of Michelet, and the other false friends and would-be champions
of woman," has had a remarkable history. Published first at Brussels, it
was interdicted in France, and notice was given that all copies found
would be seized. Madame d'Héricourt appealed to the censorship to know
the reason of this interdiction, and was informed in reply that the
reason for such proceedings never was given. Not content with this, she
wrote to Napoleon III, enclosing a copy of the work, and called his
attention to the fact that a book by a French author could be suppressed
in France without any reason being given for it, and without any chance
being offered to the author to clear herself of the implied charge of
immorality. Immediately upon the reception of the letter, the Emperor
withdrew the interdiction.

Madame d'Héricourt is well known in France as an able contributor to
various philosophic journals, and also as a member of the medical
profession, in which she holds a high and respected position. Her
opinions are entitled to great weight, and will be welcomed as throwing
much light on the practical question of the sphere of woman, which is
becoming one of increasing interest. The better to adapt the book to the
American public, it has been slightly abbreviated in portions of local
interest, referring chiefly to French legislation. It has been well
received in England, as is testified by the following extract from the
_London Critic_, one of the ablest of the English critical journals:

   "The work is calculated to do an immense service to French
   society at the present time--just when the literature of the
   country is on the verge of decay from the rottenness which is
   eating to its very core. 'La Femme Affranchie' points out the
   remedy to the social cancer which has gnawed away the vital
   principle of domestic life in France, and caused that antagonism
   between the sexes which foreigners behold with the most profound
   amazement. Madame d'Héricourt's bold and nervous arguments
   completely destroy the brutal commonplaces of Proudhon as regards
   the moral and intellectual capacity of women. She takes him on
   his own ground, and to his medical propositions returns medical
   objections of far greater weight and power, being more competent
   to judge the question, as she has passed examinations as
   'Maitresse sage femme' of 'La Clinique,' and received her diploma
   as medical practitioner many years ago."



Readers, male and female, I am about to tell you the end of this book,
and the motives which caused me to undertake it, that you may not waste
your time in reading it, if its contents are not suited to your
intellectual and moral temperament.

My end is to prove that woman has the same rights as man.

To claim, in consequence, her emancipation;

Lastly, to point out to the women who share my views, the principal
measures that they must take to obtain justice.

The word emancipation giving room for equivocation, let us in the first
place establish its meaning.

To emancipate woman is not to acknowledge her right to use and abuse
love; such an emancipation is only the slavery of the passions; the use
of the beauty and youth of woman by man; the use of man by woman for his
fortune or credit.

To emancipate woman is to acknowledge and declare her free, the equal of
man in the social and the moral law, and in labor.

At present, over the whole surface of the globe, woman, in certain
respects, is not subjected to the same moral law as man; her chastity is
given over almost without restriction to the brutal passions of the other
sex, and she often endures alone the consequences of a fault committed by

In marriage, woman is a serf.

In public instruction, she is sacrificed.

In labor, she is made inferior.

Civilly, she is _a_ minor.

Politically, she has no existence.

_She is the equal of man only when punishment and the payment of taxes
are in question._

I claim the rights of woman, because it is time to make the nineteenth
century ashamed of its culpable denial of justice to half the human

Because the state of inferiority in which we are held corrupts morals,
dissolves society, deteriorates and enfeebles the race;

Because the progress of enlightenment, in which woman participates, has
transformed her in social power, and because this new power produces evil
in default of the good which it is not permitted to do;

Because the time for according reforms has come, since women are
protesting against the order which oppresses them; some by disdain of
laws and prejudices; others by taking possession of contested positions,
and by organizing themselves into societies to claim their share of human
rights, as is done in America;

Lastly, because it seems to me useful to reply, _no longer with
sentimentality_, but with vigor, to those men who, terrified by the
emancipating movement, call to their aid false science to prove that
woman is outside the pale of right; and carry indecorum and the opposite
of courage, even to insult, even to the most revolting outrages.

Readers, male and female, several of the adversaries of the cause which I
defend, have carried the discussion into the domain of science, and have
not shrunk before the nudity of biological laws and anatomical details. I
praise them for it; the body being respectable, there is no indecency in
speaking of the laws which govern it; but as it would be an inconsistency
on my part to believe that blamable in myself which I approve in them,
you will not be surprised that I follow them on the ground which they
have chosen, persuaded that Science, the chaste daughter of Thought, can
no more lose her chastity under the pen of a pure woman than under that
of a pure man.

Readers, male and female, I have but one request to make; namely, that
you will pardon my simplicity of style. It would have cost me too much
pains to write in the approved fashion; it is probable, besides, that I
should not have succeeded. My work is one of conscience. If I enlighten
some, if I make others reflect; if I awaken in the heart of men the
sentiment of justice, in that of women the sentiment of their dignity; if
I am clear to all, fully comprehended by all, useful to all, even to my
adversaries, it will satisfy me and will console me for displeasing those
who love ideas only as they love women: in full dress.


Many among you, gentlemen, adversaries of the great and holy cause which
I defend, have cited me, evidently without having read me, without even
knowing how to write my name. To such as these I have nothing to say,
unless that their opinion matters little to me. Others, who have taken
the trouble to read my preceding works in the _Revue Philosophique_ and
the _Ragione_, accuse me of _not writing like a woman_, of being harsh,
unsparing to my adversaries, nothing but a _reasoning machine, lacking

Gentlemen, I cannot write otherwise than as a woman, since I have the
honor to be a woman.

If am I harsh and unsparing to my adversaries, it is because they appear
to me to be those of reason and of justice; it is because they, the
strong and well armed, attack harshly and unsparingly a sex which they
have taken care to render timid and to disarm; it is, in short, because I
believe it perfectly lawful to defend weakness against tyranny which has
the audacity and insolence to erect itself into right.

If I appear to you in the unattractive aspect of a _reasoning_
_machine_, is, in the first place, because Nature has made me so, and I
see no good reason for modifying her work; secondly, because it is not
amiss for a woman that has attained majority to prove to you that her
sex, when not fearing your judgment, reasons as well, and, often, better
than you.

I have no heart, you say. I am lacking in it, perhaps, towards tyrants,
but the conflict that I undertake proves that I am not lacking in it
towards their victims; I have therefore a sufficient quantity of it, the
more, inasmuch as I neither desire to please you, nor care to be loved by
any among you.

Be advised by me, gentlemen; break yourselves of the habit of confounding
heart with nerves; cease to create an imaginary type of woman to make it
the standard of your judgment of real women; it is thus that you pervert
your reason and become, without wishing it, the thing of all others the
most hateful and least estimable--tyrants.


Now to you, my friends, known and unknown, a few lines of thanks.

You all comprehend that woman, as a human being, has the right to develop
herself, and to manifest, like man, her spontaneity;

That she has the right, like man, to employ her activity; that she has
the right, like man, to be respected in her dignity and in the use which
she sees fit to make of her free will.

That as half in the social order, a producer, a tax-payer, amenable to
the laws, she has the right to count as half in society.

You all comprehend that it is in the enjoyment of these various rights
that her emancipation consists; not in the faculty of making use of love
outside a moral law based on justice and self respect.

Thanks first to you, Ausonio Franchi, the representative of Critical
Philosophy in Italy, a man as eminent for the profundity of your ideas as
for the impartiality and elevation of your character; and who so
generously and so long lent the columns of your _Ragione_ to my first

Thanks to you, my beloved co-laborers of the _Revue Philosophique_ of
Paris, Charles Lemonnier, Massol, Guepin, Brothier, etc., who have not
hesitated to bring to light the question of the emancipation of my sex;
who have welcomed the works of a woman to your columns with so much
impartiality, and have on all occasions expressed for me interest and

Thanks to you, in particular, my oldest friend, Charles Fauvety, the
indefatigable searcher after truth, whose elegant, refined and limpid
style is solely and constantly at the service of progressive ideas and
generous aspirations, as your rich library and your counsels are at the
service of those who are seeking to enlighten humanity. Why, alas! do you
join to so many talents and noble qualities the fault of always remaining
in the background to give place to others!

Thanks to you, Charles Renouvier, the most learned representative of
Critical Philosophy in France, who join to such profound doctrine, such
acute perception and such sureness of judgment; I would add, such modesty
and unpretending virtue, did I not know that it displeases you to bring
you before the public.

It is from your encouragement and approbation, my friends and former
co-laborers, that I have drawn the strength necessary to the work I am
undertaking; it is just, therefore, that I should thank you in the
presence of all.

It is equally just that I should publicly express my gratitude to the
Italian, English, Dutch, American and German journals that have
translated many of my articles; and to the men and women of these
different countries as well as of France, who have kindly expressed
sympathy for me, and encouraged me in the struggle which I have
undertaken against the adversaries of the rights of my sex.

To you all, my friends, both Frenchmen and foreigners, I dedicate this
work. May it be useful _everywhere_ in the triumph of the liberty of
woman, and of the equality of all before the law; this is the sole wish
that a Frenchwoman can make who believes in the unity of the human
family, as well as in the legitimacy of national autonomies, and who
loves all nations, since all are the organs of a single great



Several women have sharply criticised Michelet's "Love."

Why are intelligent women thus dissatisfied with so upright a man as

Because to him woman is a perpetual invalid, who should be shut up in a
gynæceum in company with a dairy maid, as fit company only for chickens
and turkeys.

Now we, women of the west, have the audacity to contend that we are not
invalids, and that we have a holy horror of the harem and the gynæceum.

Woman, _according to Michelet_, is a being of a nature opposite to that
of man; a creature weak, _always wounded, exceedingly barometrical_, and,
consequently, unfit for labor.

She is incapable of abstracting, of generalizing, of comprehending
conscientious labors. She does not like to occupy herself with business,
and she is destitute, in part, of judicial sense. But, in return, she is
revealed all gentleness, all love, all grace, all devotion.

_Created for man_, she is the altar of his heart, his refreshment, his
consolation. In her presence he gains new vigor, becomes inspirited,
draws the strength necessary to the accomplishment of his high mission
as worker, creator, organizer.

He should love her, watch over her, maintain her; be at once her father,
her lover, her instructor, her priest, her physician, her nurse, and her

When, at eighteen, a virgin in reason, heart and body, she is given to
this husband, who should be twenty-eight, neither more nor less, he
confines her in the country in a charming cottage, at a distance from her
parents and friends, with the rustic maid that we just mentioned.

Why this sequestration in the midst of the nineteenth century, do you

Because the husband can have no power over his wife in society, and can
have full power over her in solitude. Now, it is necessary that he should
have this full power over her, since it belongs to him to form her heart,
to give her ideas, to sketch within her the incarnation of himself. For
know, readers, that woman is destined to reflect her husband, more and
more, until the last shade of difference, namely, that which is
maintained by the separation of the sexes, shall be at last effaced by
death, and unity in love be thus effected.

At the end of half a score years of housekeeping, the wife is permitted
to cross the threshold of the gynæceum, and to enter the world, or _the
great Battle of Life_. Here she will meet more than one danger; but she
will escape them all if she keeps the oath she has taken _to make her
husband her confessor_.... It is evident that Michelet respects the
rights of the soul. The husband, who at this epoch has become absorbed in
his profession, has necessarily degenerated, hence there is danger that
the wife may love another; may become enamored, for instance, of her
young nephew. In the book, she does not succumb, because she confesses
everything to her husband; still it may happen that she succumbs, then
repents, and solicits correction from her lord and master. The latter
should at first refuse, but, if she insists, rather than drive her to
despair, Michelet--who would on no account drive a woman to
despair--counsels the husband to administer to his wife _the chastisement
that mothers infliction inflict on their darlings_.

There must be no separation between the husband and wife; when the latter
has given herself away, she is no longer her own property. She becomes
more and more the incarnation of the man who has espoused her;
fecundation transforms her into him, so that the children of the lover or
of the second husband resemble the first impregnator. The husband, being
ten years older than the wife, dies first; the woman must preserve her
widowhood; her rôle henceforth until death is to fructify within her and
about her the ideas which her husband has bequeathed, to remain the
center of his friendships, to raise up to him posthumous disciples, and
thus remain his property until she rejoins him in death.

In case the husband survives, which may happen, the author does not tell
us whether he should re-marry. Probably not, since love exists only
between two; unless Michelet, who reproves polygamy in this world, admits
it as morality in the life to come.

You see, my readers, that in Michelet's book, woman is created for man;
without him she would be nothing; he it is who pronounces the _fiat lux_
in her intellect; he it is who makes her in his image, as God made man in
his own.

Accepting the Biblical Genesis, we women can appeal from Adam to God; for
it was not Adam, but God, who created Eve. Admitting the Genesis of
Michelet, there is no pretext, no excuse for disobedience; woman must be
subordinate to man and must yield to him, for she belongs to him as the
work to the workman, as the vessel to the potter.

The book of Michelet and the two studies of Proudhon on woman, are but
two forms of the same thought. The sole difference that exists between
these gentlemen is, that the first is as sweet as honey, and the second
as bitter as wormwood.

Nevertheless, I prefer the rude assailant to the poet; for insults and
blows rouse us to rebel and to clamor for liberty, while compliments lull
us to sleep and make us weakly endure our chains.

It would be somewhat cruel to be harsh to Michelet, who piques himself on
love and poetry, and, consequently, is thin skinned; we will therefore
castigate him only over the shoulders of M. Proudhon, who may be
cannonaded with red-hot shot; and we will content ourselves with
criticising in his book what is not found in that of Proudhon.

The two chief pillars of the book on Love are,

First, that woman is a wounded, weak, barometrical, constantly diseased

Second, that the woman belongs to the man who has fructified and
incarnated himself in her; a proposition proved by the resemblance of the
children of the wife to the husband, whoever may be the father.

Michelet and his admirers and disciples do not dispute that the only good
method of proving the truth of a principle, or the legitimateness of a
generalization, is _verification by facts_; neither do they dispute that
to make general rules of exceptions, to create imaginary laws, and to
take these pretended laws for the basis of argument, belongs only to the
aberrations of the Middle Age, profoundly disdained by men of earnest
thought and severe reason. Let us apply these data unsparingly to the two
principal affirmations of M. Michelet.

It is a principle in biology that _no physiological condition is a morbid
condition_; consequently, the monthly crisis peculiar to woman is not a
disease, but a normal phenomenon, the derangement of which causes
disturbance in the general health. Woman, therefore, is not an invalid
because her sex is subject to a peculiar law. Can it be said that woman
is wounded because she is subjected to a periodical fracture, the
cicatrice of which is almost imperceptible? By no means. It would be
absurd to call a man perpetually wounded who should take a fancy to
scratch the end of his finger every month.

Michelet is too well informed to render it necessary for me to tell him
that the normal hemorrhage does not proceed from this wound of the ovary,
about which he makes so much ado, but from a congestion of the gestative

Are women ill on the recurrence of the law peculiar to their sex?

_Very exceptionally, yes_; but in the indolent classes, in which
transgressions in diet, the lack of an intelligent physical education,
and a thousand causes which I need not point out here, render women

_Generally, no._ All our vigorous peasant women, our robust laundresses,
who stand the whole time with their feet in water, our workwomen, our
tradeswomen, our teachers, our servant-maids, who attend with alacrity to
their business and pleasures, experience no uncomfortableness, or at
most, very little.

Michelet, therefore, has not only erred in erecting a physiological law
into a morbid condition, but he has also sinned against rational method
by making general rules of a few exceptions, and by proceeding from this
generalization, contradicted by the great majority of facts, to construct
a system of subjection.

If it is of the faculty of abstracting and generalizing that Michelet, as
he employs it, robs woman, we can only congratulate her on the

Not only is woman diseased, says Michelet, in consequence of a biological
law, but she is always diseased; she has uterine affections, hereditary
tendencies, which may assume a terrible form in her sex, etc.

We would ask Michelet whether he considers his own sex as always diseased
because it is corroded by cancer, disfigured by eruptions, tortured as
much as ours by hereditary tendencies; for hereditary tendencies torture
it as much as ours, and it is decimated and enfeebled far more fearfully
by shameful diseases, the fruits of its excesses.

Of what, then, is Michelet thinking, in laying such stress on the
diseases of women in the face of the quite as numerous diseases of men?

The wife should never be divorced or re-marry, because she has become the
property of the husband. This is proved by the fact that the children of
the lover or of the second husband resemble the first husband.

If this is true, there are no children that resemble their mother.

There are no children that resemble the progenitors or collateral
relatives of their parents.

_Every child_ resembles the first that knew his mother.

Can you explain, then, why it is that so often he does _not_ resemble

Why he resembles a grandfather, an uncle, an aunt, a brother, a sister of
one of the parents?

Why, in certain cities in the south of France, the inhabitants have
preserved the Greek type, ascribed to the women, instead of that of their
barbaric fathers?

Why negresses who conceive from a white, bring into the world a mulatto,
oftenest with thick lips, a flat nose, and woolly hair?

Why many children resemble portraits which had attracted the attention of
the mother?

Why, in fine, physiologists, impressed by numerous facts, have thought
themselves justified in declaring woman _the preserver of the type_?

In the face of these undeniable facts, I ask you, yourself, what becomes
of your theory?

It returns to the domain of chimeras.

Some think that woman possesses a plastic force, which makes her mould
her fruit after the model which love, hate, or fear has impressed within
her brain; so that the child thus becomes merely a sort of photograph of
a cerebral image of the mother.

By the aid of this theory, we might explain the resemblance of the child
to the father, to the first husband, to beloved relatives or to friends,
either living or dead; but it would be impossible, thereby, to explain
how a woman can reproduce in her child the features of a progenitor of
her husband or of herself, whose portrait, even, she has never seen; or
how, in spite of her wishes, the child resembles no one that she loves,
etc. Let us keep a discreet silence; the laws of generation and of
resemblance are unknown. If we succeed in discovering them, it will be
only by long and patient observation, with the aid of judicious
criticism, and an honorable determination to be impartial. Laws are not
created, but discovered; ignorance is more healthful for the mind than
error; to make general rules of _a few_ facts, without taking into
account facts more numerous by thousands which contradict them, is not to
form a science, but a system of poetical metaphysics; and these
metaphysics, however gracefully draped they may be, are opposed to
reason, to science, and to truth.

Michelet will pardon me this short lesson in method. I should not presume
to give it to him, were not men repeating, like well-trained parrots,
after him and Proudhon, that woman is destitute of high intellectual
faculties, that she is unsuited to science, that she has no comprehension
of method, and other absurdities of like weight.

Allegations such as these place women in a wholly exceptional position,
with respect to courtesy and reserve: they owe no consideration to those
who deny them these; their most important business at the present time is
to prove to men that they deceive themselves, and that they are deceived;
that a woman is fully capable of teaching the chief among them how a law
is discovered, how its reality is verified, how, and on what conditions
we have a right to believe, and to style ourselves, rational, and

Before concluding, let us dwell on a few passages of the book on Love. I
am curious to know what woman Michelet addresses when he says:

"Spare me your elaborate discussions on the equality of the sexes. Woman
is not only our equal, but in many points our superior. Sooner or later
she will know everything. The question to decide here is, whether she
should know all in her first season of love.

Oh, how much she would lose by it! Youth, freshness, poetry--does she
wish, at the first blow, to abandon all these? Is she in such haste to
grow old?"

Pardon me, sir; you have already decreed that _there are no longer any
old women_; nothing, therefore, can make woman grow old.

"There is knowledge of all kinds," you say; "likewise, at all ages, the
knowledge of woman should be different from that of man. It is less
science that she needs, than the essence of science, and its living

What is this _essence_, and this _living elixir_ of science? Poetry
aside, can you, in exact and definite terms, explain to me what they

Can you prove to me, a woman, that I desire to possess knowledge
differently from you?

Take care! disciple of liberty, you have not the right to think and to
wish in my place. I have, like you, an intellect and a free will, to
which you are bound, by your principles, to pay sovereign respect. Now I
forbid you to speak for any woman; I forbid you in the name of what you
call _the rights of the soul_.

"You by no means deny," you say, "that, strictly speaking, a young woman
can read everything, and inform herself of everything; can pass through
all the ordeals to which the mind of man is subjected, and still remain
pure. You only maintain," you add, "that her soul, withered by reading,
palled by novels, living habitually on the stimulus of play-houses, on
the aqua-fortis of criminal courts, will become, not corrupted, perhaps,
but vulgar, common, trivial, like the curb-stone in the street. This
curb-stone is a good stone; you have only to break it to see that it is
white within. This does not hinder it from being sadly soiled outside, in
every respect as dirty as the street gutter from which it has been

"Is this, madam, the ideal to which you lay claim for her who should
remain the temple of man, the altar of his heart, whence he daily
rekindles the flame of pure love?"

A truce to imagery and oratorical outbursts; none of us demand for woman
any degradation whatever. There would be no need for us to demand what
you censure, since it is thoroughly authorized and practised. I by no
means wish to accuse you of bad faith, of want of reflection, and of too
much moral tolerance; yet let us strip off your poetic mantle, and
translate your thought into prose; the drapery will no longer make us
forget the idea.

When instruction has been demanded for the people, has any one ever taken
it into his head to fancy that the point in question was to make them
read novels, to swell the attendance on criminal courts, and to multiply

No, you will say.

What authorizes you, then, to believe that those who demand a solid
education for woman, are seeking that of of which you, on your part, do
not dream for the people?

On the other hand, do you cultivate the intellect of man by novels,
theatres, and spectacles of criminal courts? Is it in these things that
his knowledge consists? No, you will say. What is there, then, in common
between that which you censure, and the knowledge that we desire for
woman; and why attribute to us absurd ideas, that you may have the
pleasure of wrangling with phantoms?

All your fine ladies are nurtured on novels, plays, and judicial
excitements; yet they are neither vulgar, nor trivial, nor comparable to
curb-stones sullied by the mud of the streets; what you tell them,
therefore, is no more true than kind.

But if you pay them doubtful compliments, which they do not deserve, you
absolve them too easily, in turn. Listen to our principles, that you may
not run the risk of appearing unjust with respect to us.

Corruption in our eyes, is not merely the want of chastity, or the
shameful suit of gallantry, but all habitual improper sentiment, all
weakening of the moral sense, and we absolutely condemn everything which
has power to lessen the sensibility of the soul, and to turn it aside
from the practice of justice, of virtue, and of self-respect.

In consequence, we profess that the spectacles of criminal courts
habituate the heart to insensibility, and should be avoided as much as

We profess that the modern drama is generally evil, because it excites
interest for adulterers, robbers, seducers and prostitutes; that the
intellect is subjected in theatres to an unhealthy and enervating

We profess, lastly, that novels should be read with great moderation,
because, in general, when they do not corrupt the morals, they pervert
the judgment and waste precious time.

Though we love and esteem Art, we are indignant at the bad use which is
made of it, and we have little esteem for those who avail themselves of
it to lead the heart astray, and to pervert the moral sense.

We say to woman: Educate yourselves, be worthy and chaste; life is
earnest, employ it earnestly.

You see that _woman in the image of the stained curb-stone_, is by no
means the ideal of which we dream.

Can you, a man of heart, can you treat women as wretched and corrupt
because they are willing no longer to be slaves?

And besides, do you think that liberty, which in man engenders
individuality and virtue, would produce in woman moral degradation?

Ah! leave these calumnies to those who have no heart; they ill befit you,
who may deceive yourself through the lofty poetry of your soul, but who
can wish for evil only because you believe it to be good.

The women who ask to be free, great, mistaken poet, are those who are
conscious of their dignity, of the true rôle of their sex in humanity;
those who desire that the women who follow them in the career of labor
should no longer be obliged _to live by man_, because to live by him is
at least to prostitute their dignity, and almost always, their whole
person. They wish that woman should be the equal of man, in order to love
him holily, to devote herself without calculation, to cease to deceive
him or to rule him by artifice, and to become to him a useful auxiliary,
instead of a servant or a toy. They know our influence over you; slaves,
we can only debase you; at present, we render you cowardly, selfish, and
dishonest; we send you out every morning, like vultures, upon society, to
provide for our foolish expenses or to endow our children; we, women of
emancipation, are unwilling that our sex should longer play this odious
rôle, and be, through its slavery, an instrument of demoralization and of
social degradation,--and this you impute to us as a crime!

Ah! I do not believe it; you yourself will say that I ought not to
believe it.

Looking from a deplorably narrow stand point, you fancied that you saw
all woman-kind in a few valetudinarians, your kind heart was moved for
them, and you sought to protect them. Had you looked far and high, you
would have seen the workers of thought and muscle; you would have
comprehended that inequality is to them a source of corruption and

Then, in your lofty and glowing style, you would have written, not this
book of Love which repels all intelligent and reflective women, but a
great and beautiful work to demand the right of half the human race.

The misfortune, the irreparable misfortune, is that instead of climbing
to the mountain top to look at every moving thing under the vast horizon,
you have shut yourself up in a narrow valley, where, seeing nothing but
pale violets, you have concluded that every flower must be also a pale
violet; whilst Nature has created a thousand other species, on the
contrary, strong and vigorous, with a right, like you, to earth, air,
water and sunshine.

Whatever may be your love, your kindness and your good intentions towards
woman, your book would be immensely dangerous to the cause of her
liberty, if men were in a mood to relish your ethics: but they will
remain as they are; and the dignity of woman, kept waking by their
brutality, their despotism, their desertion, their foul morals, will not
be lulled to sleep under the fresh, verdant, alluring and treacherously
perfumed foliage of this manchineel tree, called the book of _Love_.

In Michelet's later work, "Woman," by the side of many beautiful pages
full of heart and poetry are found things that we regret to point out,
for the sake of the author.

M. Michelet has evidently amended, as we shall press on him; but as a
spice of vengeance, he pretends that their language has been dictated by
directors, _philosophers and others_. We know some of these ladies
personally, and can assure him that they have had no director of any
kind--quite the contrary.

Is it also in consequence of rancor that the author pretends that woman
loves man, not for his real worth, but because he pleases her, and that
she makes God in her own image, "a God of partiality and caprice, who
saves those who please him?" "In feminine theology," adds Michelet, "God
would say: I love thee because thou art a sinner, because thou hast no
merit; I have no reason to love thee, but it is sweet to me to forgive."

Very well, your sex loves woman _for her real worth_; we never hear a
man, enamored of some unworthy creature, say: "What matters it, I love
her!" Your love is always wise, and given reasonably; none but deserving
women can please you. I ask why so many honest women are abandoned and
unhappy, while so many that are impure and vicious, yet sought and
adored, are in possession of the art of charming, of ruining and of
perverting men?

Michelet deplores the state of divorce which is established between the
sexes; we deplore it likewise; but our complaints do not remedy it. Men
shun marriage from motives that do them no credit: they have at their
pleasure the poor girls whom want places at their mercy; they shun
marriage because they do not wish a real, that is, an autonomous wife at
their side; for themselves, they wish liberty, for their wife, slavery.

On their side, women tend to enfranchisement, which is well for them as
it is for men: they should not suffer themselves to be turned aside from
their pursuit; on the other hand, as men are attracted by a costly
toilette, and neglect plainly dressed women, if the latter, in the wish
to please and retain them, imitate public women, whose is the fault? Is
it ours, who desire to please you and to be loved by you, or yours, who
can only be attracted by dress? If you loved us _for our real worth_, and
not because our dresses and jewels please your eye, we would not ruin

Let us point out in a few lines the contradictions and differences that
are found between Michelet's first and second works.

In both, woman is the flame of love and of the fireside religion,
harmony, poetry, the guardian of the domestic hearth, a housewife whose
cares are ennobled by love: civilization is due to her grace, she should
be the representative of grace if not of beauty.

In both books, the household must be isolated; the wife must have no
intimate friendship; mother, brothers and sisters prevent her from
becoming absorbed as she ought to be in her husband. What we think of
this absorption is already known; we will only say here that if the
friends and relatives of the wife should be expelled, those of the
husband should be none the less so; the mother and friends of the husband
have more power to injure the wife than those of the wife to injure the
husband; numerous sad facts prove this.

In "Love," woman is a receptive power, incapable of comprehending
conscientious works; she must receive everything from her husband in the
intellectual and moral point of view.

In "Woman," she is half of the couple, in the same ratio as man is
capable of the most lofty speculations, and thoroughly understands
administration. She gives the child the education that before all else
will influence the rest of his life. "So long as woman is not the partner
of labor and of _action_," says the author, "we are serfs, we can do
nothing--she may even be the equal of man in medical science; she is a
school, she is sole educatress, etc."

Very well, thus far; and doubtless Michelet would have been consistent,
had he not got into his head a masculine and a feminine ideal which
spoils everything; he reasoned to himself: "Man is a creator, woman a
harmony whose end and destination is love;" and, consequently, he marks
out for the latter a plan of education different from that by which man
should be developed; the natural sciences are suited to woman, history
should only be taught her to form in her a firm moral and religious
faith. As love is her vocation, to each season of the life of woman
should correspond an object of love; flowers, the doll, poor children,
next the lover, then the husband and children, then the care of young
orphans, prisoners, etc.

In "Love," the wife alone seems bound to confess to the husband. In
"Woman," the obligation is mutual.

The widow, in "Love," should not marry again, in "Woman," she may espouse
a friend of the husband, or still better, the one whom he may choose on
his deathbed; if she is too old, she may watch over a young man; but she
will do better to protect young girls, to make peace in families, to
facilitate marriages, to superintend prisons, etc.

We will carry the analysis no further; our objections to the author's
doctrine will be found in the article on Proudhon, and in the sequel of
the work.



The tenth and eleventh studies of the last work of M. Proudhon, "Justice
in the Revolution and in the Church," comprise the author's whole
doctrine concerning Woman, Love, and Marriage.

Before analyzing it and criticising its chief points, I must acquaint my
readers with the polemical commencement which _appears_ to have given
rise to the publication of the strange doctrines of our great critic. In
the _Revue Philosophique_ of December, 1856, the following article by me
was published under the title, _Proudhon and the Woman Question_:--

"Women have a weakness for soldiers, it is said. It is true, but they
should not be reproached for it; they love even the show of courage,
which is a glorious and holy thing. I am a woman, Proudhon is a great
soldier of thought. I cannot therefore prevent myself from regarding him
with esteem and sympathy; sentiments to which he will owe the moderation
of my attack on his opinions concerning the rôle of woman in humanity. In
his first "Memoir on Property," note on page 265, edition of 1841, we
read the following paradox in the style of the Koran:

"Between man and woman may exist love, passion, the bond of habit,
whatever you like; there is not _true society_. _Man and woman are not
companions._ The difference of sex gives rise between them to a
separation _of the same nature as that which the difference of races
places between animals_. Thus, far from applauding what is now called the
emancipation of woman, I should be much more inclined, were it necessary
to go to this extremity, _to put woman in seclusion_."

In the third "Memoir on Property," we read:

"This signifies that woman, _by nature and by destination_, is neither
_associate, nor citizen, nor public functionary_."

I open the "Creation of Order in Humanity," and read there:

"It is in treating of education that we must determine the part of woman
in society. Woman, until she becomes a wife, is _apprentice_, at most
_under-superintendent_, in the work-shop, as in the family, she _remains
a minor, and does not form a part of the commonwealth_. Woman is not, as
is commonly affirmed, _the half nor the equal of man_, but the living and
sympathetic _complement_ that is lacking to make him an individual."

In the "Economical Contradictions," we read:

"For my part, the more I reflect on the destiny of woman outside of the
family and the household, the less I can account for it: _courtesan or
housewife_, (housewife, I say, not servant,) I see no medium."

I had always laughed at these paradoxes; they had no more doctrinal value
in my eyes than the thousand other freaks so common to this celebrated
critic. A short time since, an obscure journal pretended that Proudhon,
in private conversations, had drawn up a formula of an entire system
based on masculine omnipotence, and published this system in its columns.
One of two things is certain, said I to myself; either the journalist
speaks falsely, or he tells the truth; if he speaks falsely, his evident
aim is to destroy Proudhon in the confidence of the friends of progress,
and to make him lose his lawful share of influence, in which case, he
must be warned of it; if he tells the truth, Proudhon must still be
warned of the fact, since it is impossible that, being the father of
_several daughters_, paternal feeling should not have set him on the road
to reason. At all events, I must know about it. I wrote to Proudhon, who,
the next day, returned me an answer which I transcribe _verbatim_:


   "I know nothing of the article published by M. Charles Robin in
   the _Telegraphe_ of yesterday. In order to inform myself with
   regard to this paraphrase, as you entitle the article of M.
   Robin, I examined my first "Memoir on Property," page 265,
   Garnier edition, (I have no other,) and found no note there. I
   examined the same page in my other pamphlet, and discovered no
   note anywhere. It is therefore impossible for me to reply to your
   first question.

   "I do not exactly know what you call _my opinions_ on woman,
   marriage and the family; for I believe I have given no one a
   right to speak of my opinions on these subjects, any more than on
   that of property.

   "I have written economical and social criticisms; in making these
   criticisms (I take the word in its highest signification), I may
   have indeed expressed judgments to a greater or less degree
   relative, concerning a truth. I have no where that I know of,
   framed a dogma, a theory, a collection of principles; in a word,
   a system. All that I can tell you is, in the first place, as far
   as concerns myself, that my opinions have been formed
   progressively and in an unvarying direction; that, at the time at
   which I write, I have not deviated from this direction; and that,
   with this reserve, my existing opinions accord perfectly with
   what they were seventeen years ago when I published my first

   "In the second place, with regard to you, Madam, who, in
   interrogating me do not leave me in ignorance of your sentiments,
   I will tell you with all the frankness which your letter exacts,
   and which you expect from a compatriot, that I do not regard the
   question of marriage, of woman, and of the family in the same
   light as yourself, or any of the innovating authors whose ideas
   have come to my knowledge; that I do not admit, for instance,
   that woman has the right at the present time to separate her
   cause from that of man, and to demand for herself special
   legislation, as though her chief tyrant and enemy were man; that
   further, I do not admit that, whatever reparation may be due to
   woman, of joint thirds with her husband (or father) and her
   children, the most rigorous justice can ever make her the EQUAL
   of man; that neither do I admit that this inferiority of the
   female sex constitutes for it either servitude, or humiliation,
   or a diminution of dignity, liberty, or happiness. I maintain
   that the contrary is true.

   "I consider, therefore, the sort of crusade that is being carried
   on at this time by a few estimable ladies in both hemispheres in
   behalf of the prerogatives of their sex, as a symptom of the
   general renovation that is being wrought; but nevertheless, as
   an exaggerated symptom, _an infatuation that proceeds precisely
   from the infirmity of the sex and its incapacity to understand
   and to govern itself_.

   "I have read, Madam, a few of your articles. I find that your
   wit, capacity and knowledge place you certainly above an infinity
   of males who have nothing of their sex but the proletary faculty.
   In this respect, were it necessary to decide on your thesis by
   comparisons of this kind, you would doubtless gain the cause.

   "But you have too much good sense not to comprehend that the
   question here is by no means to compare individual with
   individual, but the whole feminine sex in its aggregate with the
   whole masculine sex, in order to know whether these two halves,
   the complements of each other, are or are not equals in the human

   "In accordance with this principle, I do not believe that your
   system, which is, I think, that of equality or equivalence, can
   be sustained, and I regard it as a weakness of our epoch.

   "You have interrogated me, Madam, with Franche-Comtois
   abruptness. I wish you to take my words in good part, and, since
   I doubtless do not agree at all with you, not to see in me an
   enemy of woman, a detractor of your sex, worthy of the
   animadversions of maidens, wives and mothers. The rules of fair
   discussion oblige you to admit at least that you may be deceived,
   that I may be right, that in such case it is I who am truly the
   defender and friend of woman; I ask nothing more.

   "You and your companions have raised a very great question, which
   I think that you have hitherto treated quite superficially. But
   the indifferent manner in which this subject has been treated
   should not be considered as conclusive reason for not receiving
   it; on the contrary, I regard it as another reason for the
   advocates of the equality of the two sexes to make greater
   efforts. In this respect, Madam, I doubt not that you will
   signalize yourself anew, and await with impatience the volume
   that you announce, which I promise to read with all the attention
   of which I am capable."

On reading this letter, I transcribed the note which M. Proudhon had not
succeeded in finding, and sent it to him, with the article of M. Charles
Robin. As he did not reply, his silence authorizes me to believe the

Ah! you persist in maintaining that woman is inferior, minor! you believe
that women will bow devoutly before the high decree of your autocracy!
No, no; it will not, it cannot be so. To battle, M. Proudhon! But let us
first dispose of the question of my personality.

You consider me as an exception, by telling me that, if it were necessary
to decide on my thesis by comparison between a host of men and myself,
the decision would be, doubtless, in favor of my opinions. Mark my reply:

"_Every true law is absolute._ The ignorance or folly of grammarians,
moralists, jurisconsults, and other philosophers, alone invented the
proverb: There is no rule without an exception. _The mania of imposing
laws on Nature, instead of studying Nature's own laws, afterwards
confirmed this aphorism of ignorance._" Who said this? You, in the
"Creation of Order in Humanity." Why is your letter in contradiction with
this doctrine?

Have you changed your opinion? Then I entreat you to tell me whether men
of worth are not quite as exceptional in their sex, as women of merit in
theirs. You have said: "Whatever may be the differences existing between
men, they are equal, because they are human beings." Under penalty of
inconsistency, you must add: Whatever may be the differences existing
between the sexes, they are equal, because they form a part of the human
species--unless you prove that women are not a part of humanity.
Individual worth, not being the basis of right between men, cannot become
so between the sexes. Your compliment is, therefore, a contradiction.

I add, lastly, that I feel myself linked with my sex by too close a
solidarity ever to be content to see myself abstracted from it by an
illogical process. I am a woman--I glory in it; I rejoice if any value is
set upon me, not for myself, indeed, but because this contributes to
modify the opinion of men with respect to my sex. A woman who is happy in
hearing it said: "_You are a man_," is, in my eyes, a simpleton, an
unworthy creature, avowing the superiority of the masculine sex; and the
men who think that they compliment her in this manner, are vainglorious
and impertinent boasters. If I acquire any desert, I thus pay honor to
women, I reveal their aptitudes, I do not pass into the other sex any
more than Proudhon abandons his own, because he is elevated by his
intellect above the level of foolish and ignorant men; and if the
ignorance of the mass of men prejudges nothing against their right, no
more does the ignorance of the mass of women prejudge anything against

You affirm that man and woman do not form _true society_.

Tell us, then, what is marriage, what is society.

You affirm that the difference of sex places between man and woman a
separation of the same nature _as that which the difference of races
places between animals_. Then prove:

That the race is not essentially formed of two sexes;

That man and woman can be reproduced separately;

That their common product is a mixed breed, or a mule;

That their characteristics are dissimilar, apart from sexuality.

And if you come off with honor from this great feat of strength, you will
still have to prove:

That to difference of race corresponds difference _of right_;

That the black, the yellow, the copper-colored persons belonging to races
inferior to the Caucasian cannot truly associate with the latter; that
they are minors.

Come, sir, study anthropology, physiology, and phrenology, and employ
your serial dialectics to prove all this to us.

You are inclined to seclude woman, instead of emancipating her?

Prove to men that they have the right to do so; to women, that it is
their duty to suffer themselves to be placed under lock and key. I
declare, for my part, that I would not submit to it. Does Proudhon
remember how he threatens the priest who shall lay his hand on his
children? Well, the majority of women would not confine themselves to
threats against those who might have the Mussulmanic inclination of

You affirm that by _nature_, and by _destination_, woman is neither
_associate_, nor _citizen_, nor _functionary_. Tell us, in the first
place, _what nature_ it is necessary to have to be all these.

Reveal to us the _nature_ of woman, since you claim to know it better
than she does herself.

Reveal to us her _destination_, which apparently is not that which we
see, nor which she believes to be such.

You affirm that woman, until her marriage, is nothing more than
_apprentice_, at most, under-superintendent in the social workshop; that
she is _minor_ in the family, and _does not form a part of the

Prove, then, that she does not execute in the social workshop and in the
family works _equivalent_, or equal, to those of man.

Prove that she is less useful than man.

Prove that the qualities that give to man the right of citizenship, do
not exist in woman.

I shall be severe with you on this head. To subordinate woman in a social
order in which she must _work in order to live_ is to _desire
prostitution_; for disdain of the producer extends to the value of the
product; and when such a doctrine is contrary to science, good sense, and
progress, to sustain it is _cruelty_, is _moral monstrosity_. The woman
who cannot live by working, can only do so by prostituting herself; the
equal of man or a courtesan, such is the alternative. He is blind who
does not see it.

You see no other fate for woman than to be courtesan or housewife. Open
your eyes wider, and dream less, and tell me whether all those useful and
courageous women are only housewives or courtesans, who support
themselves honorably by arts, literature, instruction;

Who found numerous and prosperous manufactures;

Who superintend commercial establishments;

Who are such good managers, that many among them conceal or repair the
faults resulting from the carelessness or dissipation of their husbands.

Prove to us, therefore, that all this is wrong;

Prove to us that it is not the result of human progress;

Prove to us that labor, the stamp of the human species--that labor, which
you consider as the great emancipator--that labor, which makes men equal
and free, has not virtue to make women equal and free. If you prove this
to us, we shall have to register one contradiction more.

You do not admit that woman should have the right of claiming for herself
special legislation, as though man were her chief enemy and tyrant.

You, sir, are the one that legislates specially for woman; she herself
desires nothing but the common law.

Yes; until now, man, in subordinating woman, has been her tyrant and
enemy. I am of your opinion when, in your first "Memoir on Property," you
say that, so long as the strong and the weak are not _equals_, they are
_strangers_, they cannot form an alliance, _they are enemies_. Yes,
thrice yes, so long as man and woman are not equals, woman is in the
right in considering man as her _tyrant_ and _enemy_.

"The most rigorous justice cannot make woman the EQUAL of man." And it is
to a woman whom you set in your opinion above a host of men, that you
affirm such a thing! What a contradiction!

"It is _an infatuation_ for women to demand their right!" _An
infatuation_ like that of slaves, pretending that they were created
freemen; of the citizens of '89, proving that men are equal before the
law. Do you know who were, who are the infatuated? The masters, the
nobles, the whites, the men who have denied, who do deny, and who will
deny, that slaves, citizens, blacks, and women, are born for liberty and

"The sex to which I belong is incapable of understanding and governing
itself," say you!

Prove that it is destitute of intellect;

Prove that great empresses and great queens have not governed as well as
great emperors and great kings;

Prove against all the facts patent that women are not in general good
observers and good managers;

Then prove that all men understand themselves perfectly and govern
themselves admirably, and that progress moves as if on wheels.

"Woman is neither the _half_ nor the _equal_ of man; she is _the
complement that finally makes him an individual_; the two sexes form _the
human androgynus_." Come; seriously, what means this jingle of empty
words? They are metaphors, unworthy to figure in scientific language,
when our own and the other higher zoölogical species are in question. The
lioness, the she-wolf and the tigress are no more the halves or the
complement of their species than woman is the complement of man. Or
Nature has established two _exteriorities_, two wills, she affirms two
unities, two entireties not one, or _two halves_; the arithmetic of
Nature cannot be destroyed by the freaks of the imagination.

Is equality before the law based upon _individual_ qualities? Proudhon
replies in the "Creation of Order in Humanity":

"Neither birth, nor figure, _nor faculties_, nor fortune, nor rank, nor
profession, nor talent, nor anything that distinguishes individuals
establishes between them a difference of species; all being men, and _the
law regulating only human relations, it is the same for all_; so that to
establish exceptions, it would be necessary to prove that the individuals
excepted are _above_ or _beneath_ the human species."

Prove to us that women are _above_ or _beneath_ the human species, that
they do not form a part of it, or, _under penalty of contradiction_,
submit to the consequences of your doctrine.

You say in the "Social Revolution;"

"Neither conscience, nor reason, nor liberty, nor labor, pure forces,
_primary and creative faculties_, can be made mechanical without being
destroyed. Their reason of existence is in themselves; in their works
they should find their reason of action. In this consists the human
person, a sacred person, etc."

Prove that women have neither conscience, nor reason, nor moral liberty,
and that they do not labor. If it is demonstrated that they possess the
_primary and creative faculties_, respect their human person, for it is

In the "Creation of Order in Humanity," you say:

"Specifically, labor satisfies the desire of our personality, which tends
invincibly to make a difference between itself and others, _to render
itself independent_, _to conquer its liberty_ and its character."

Prove then that women have no special work, and, if facts contradict you,
acknowledge that, it inevitably tends to _independence_, to _liberty_.

Do you deny that they are your equals because they are less intelligent
as a whole than men? In the first place, I contest it; but I need not do
so, you yourself resolve this difficulty in the "Creation of Order in

"The inequality of capacities, when not caused by constitutional vices,
mutilation or want, results from general ignorance, insufficient method,
lack or falsity of education, and divergence of intuition through lack of
sequence, whence arises dispersion and confusion of ideas. Now, all these
facts productive of inequality are essentially abnormal, therefore the
inequality of capacities is abnormal."

Unless you prove that women are mutilated by Nature, I do not exactly see
how you can escape the consequences of your syllogism: not only has
feminine inferiority the same sources as masculine ignorance, but public
education is refused to women, the great professional schools are closed
to them, those who through their intellect equal the most intelligent
among you have had twenty times as many difficulties and prejudices to

You wish to subordinate women because in general they have less muscular
force than you; but at this rate the weak men ought not to be the equals
of the strong, and you combat this consequence yourself in your first
"Memoir on Property," where you say:

"Social equilibrium is the equalization of the strong and the weak."

If I have treated you with consideration, it is because you are an
intelligent and progressive man, and because it is impossible that you
should remain under the influence of the doctors of the Middle Age on one
question, while you are in advance of the majority of your cotemporaries
on so many others. You will cease to sustain an illogical series that is
without foundation, remembering, as you have said so well in the
"Creation of Order in Humanity:"

"That the greater part of philosophical aberrations and chimeras have
arisen from attributing to logical series a reality that they do not
possess, and endeavoring to explain the nature of man by abstractions."

You will acknowledge that all the higher animal species are composed of
two sexes;

That in none is the female the inferior of the male, except sometimes
through force, which cannot be the basis of human right;

You will renounce the androgynus, which is only a dream.

Woman, a distinct individual, endowed with consciousness, intellect, will
and activity like man, will be no longer separated from him before the

You will say of all, both men and women, as in your first "Memoir on

"Liberty is an absolute right, because it is to man what impenetrability
is to matter, a condition _sine qua non_ of existence. Equality is an
_absolute right_, because without equality, there is no society."

And you will thus show the second degree of sociability, which you
yourself define, "the recognition in another of a personality _equal_ to
our own."

I appeal therefore from Proudhon drunk with theology to Proudhon sobered
by facts and science, moved by the sorrows and disorders resulting from
his own systems.

I hope I shall not encounter his Herculean club raised against the holy
banner of truth and right; against woman,--that being physically so weak,
morally so strong, who, bleeding, and steeped in gall beneath her crown
of roses, is just on the point of reaching the top of the rough mountain
where progress will shortly give her her lawful place by the side of man.
But if my hopes are deceitful, mark me well, M. Proudhon, you will find
me standing firmly in the breach, and, whatever may be your strength, I
vow that you shall not overthrow me. I will courageously defend the right
and dignity of your daughters against the despotism and logical error of
their father, and the victory will remain mine, for, definitively, it
always belongs to truth."

Proudhon replied by the following letter in the _Revue Philosophique_:


    "Well, Madam, what did I tell you in my last letter?

   "I consider the sort of crusade that is being carried on at this
   time by some estimable ladies in both hemispheres in behalf of
   their sex, as a symptom of the general revolution that is being
   wrought; but nevertheless as an exaggerated symptom, an
   infatuation that proceeds precisely from the inferiority of the
   sex and its incapacity to understand and to govern itself.

   "I begin by withdrawing the word _infatuation_, which may have
   wounded you, but which was not, as you know, intended for

   "This point adjusted, I will tell you, Madam, with all the
   respect that I owe you as a woman, that I did not expect to see
   you confirm my judgment so speedily by your petulant appeal.

   "I was at first at a loss to know whence came the discontent that
   impelled the bravest, the most distinguished among you, to an
   assault on paternal and marital supremacy. I said to myself, not
   without disquietude, What is the matter? What is it that troubles
   them? With what do they reproach us? To which of our faculties,
   our virtues, our prerogatives; or else of our failings, our
   perfidies, our calamities, do they aspire? Is this the cry of
   their outraged nature, or an aberration of their understanding?

   "Your attack, joined to the studies which I immediately commenced
   on the subject, came at last to solve the question.

   "No, Madam, you know nothing of your sex; you do not know the
   first word of the question that you and your honorable
   confederates are agitating with so much noise and so little
   success. And, if you do not comprehend this question; if, in your
   eight pages of reply to my letter, there are forty paralogisms,
   it results precisely, as I have told you, from your _sexual
   infirmity_. I mean by this word, the exactness of which is not,
   perhaps, irreproachable, the quality of your understanding, which
   permits you to seize the relation of things only as far as we,
   men, place your finger upon them. You have in the brain, as in
   the body, a certain organ incapable by itself of overcoming its
   native inertia, and which the masculine spirit alone is capable
   of setting in motion; and even this does not always succeed.
   Such, Madam, is the result of my direct and positive
   observations; I make them over to your obstetrical sagacity, and
   leave you to calculate therefrom the incalculable consequences to
   your thesis.

   "I will willingly enter into an elaborate discussion with you,
   Madam, on this obscure subject, in the _Revue Philosophique_.
   But--as you will comprehend as well as I--the broader the
   question, the more it affects our most sacred, social, and
   domestic interests, the more important is it that we should
   approach it with seriousness and prudence.

   "The following course, therefore, appears to me indispensable:
   In the first place, you have promised us a book, and I await it.
   I need this work to complete my documents and to finish my
   demonstration. Since I had the honor of receiving and replying to
   your letter, I have made earnest and interesting studies on
   woman, which I ask only to rectify if they are erroneous; as I
   also desire to set a seal on them if, as I have every reason to
   presume, your publication brings me but one confirmation more.

   "I have verified by facts and documents the truth of all the
   assertions which you call on me to retract, namely:

   "That the difference of sex raises up between man and woman a
   separation ANALOGOUS--I did not say equal--to that which the
   difference of races and species establishes between animals;

   "That by reason of this separation or difference, man and woman
   are not _associates_; I did not say that they could not be
   anything else;

   "That, consequently, woman can only be a _citizen_ in so far as
   she is the wife of a citizen; as we say _Madame la Presidente_ to
   the wife of a President: which does not imply that no other rôle
   exists for her.

   "In two words, I am in a position to establish, by observation
   and reasoning, the facts, that woman, being weaker than man with
   respect to _muscular force_, as you yourself acknowledge, is not
   less inferior to him with respect to INDUSTRIAL, ARTISTIC,
   PHILOSOPHICAL and MORAL POWER; so that if the condition of woman
   in society be regulated, as you demand for her, by the same
   justice as the condition of man, it is all over with her, she is
   a slave.

   "To which I add, immediately, that this system is precisely what
   I reject: the principle of pure, rigorous right, of that terrible
   right which the Roman compared to an unsheathed sword, _jus
   strictum_, and which rules individuals of the same sex among
   themselves, being different from that which governs the relations
   between individuals of different sexes.

   "What is this principle, differing from justice, and which,
   notwithstanding, would not exist without justice; which all men
   feel in the depth of their souls, and of which you women alone
   have no idea? Is it love? nothing more? I leave it to you to
   divine. And if your penetration succeeds in clearing up this
   mystery, I consent, Madam, to sign you a certificate of genius;
   _Et eris mihi magnus Apollo_. But then you will have given me the

   "Such, Madam, in a few words, are the conclusions to which I have
   arrived, and which the reading of your book surely will not
   modify. Notwithstanding, as it is absolutely possible that your
   personal observations may have led you to diametrically opposite
   results, good faith in the discussion and respect for our readers
   and ourselves exact that, before entering upon the controversy, a
   reciprocal interchange of all the documents that we have
   collected should be made between us. You may take cognizance of

   "One other condition, which I entreat you, Madam, to take in good
   part, and from which I shall not depart under any pretext, is
   that you shall choose yourself a male sponsor.

   "You, who have declared yourself so energetically on this point,
   would not wish your adversary to make the least sacrifice to
   gallantry in so serious a discussion; and you are right. But I,
   Madam, who am so far from admitting your pretensions, cannot
   thus release myself from the obligations which manly and
   honorable civility prescribes towards ladies; and as I propose,
   besides, to make you serve as a subject of experiment; as, after
   having made the autopsy of five or six women of the greatest
   merit for the instruction of my readers, I count also on making
   yours, you will conceive that it is quite impossible for me to
   argue from you, of you, and with you, without exposing myself at
   every word to a violation of all the rules of conventionality.

   "I know, Madam, that such a condition will annoy you; it is one
   of the disadvantages of your position to which you must submit
   courageously. You are a plaintiff, and, as a woman, you affirm
   that you are oppressed. Appear, then, before the judgment seat of
   incorruptible public opinion with this tyrannous chain which
   rouses your ire, and which, according to me, exists only in your
   disordered imagination. You will be but the more interesting for
   it. Besides, you would deride me if, while sustaining the
   superiority of man, I should begin by according to you the
   equality of woman by disputing with you on an equal footing of
   companionship. You have not counted, I imagine, upon my falling
   into this inconsistency.

   "You will not lack for champions, besides. I expect of your
   courtesy, Madam, that he whom you shall select as my antagonist,
   who will sign and affirm all your articles, and assume the
   responsibility of your affirmations and replies, shall be worthy
   of both you and me; so that, in fine, I shall not have a right to
   complain that you have pitted me against a man of straw.

   "What has most surprised me, since this hypothesis of the
   equality of the sexes, renewed by the Greeks as well as by many
   others, has become known among us, has been to see that it
   numbered among its partisans almost as many men as women. I
   sought a long time for the reason of this strange fact, which I
   at first attributed to chivalric zeal; I think now that I have
   found it. It is not to the advantage of the knights. I shall be
   glad, Madam, for their sake and yours, if this serious
   examination should prove that the new emancipators of woman are
   the most lofty, the broadest, and the most progressive, if not
   the most masculine minds of the age.

   "You say, Madam, that women have a weakness for soldiers. It is
   doubtless on this account that you have lashed me soundly. _He
   who loveth, chasteneth._ When I was three years and a half old,
   my mother, to get rid of me, sent me to a school-mistress of the
   neighborhood, an excellent woman, called Madelon. One day she
   threatened to whip me for some piece of mischief. It made me
   furious. I snatched her switch from her hand, and flung it in her
   face. I was always a disobedient subject. I shall be glad,
   therefore, to find that you do not assume towards me castigating
   airs, which it does not belong to a man to return; but I leave
   this to your discretion. Strike, redouble the blows, do not spare
   me; and if I should chance to grow restive under the rod, believe
   me none the less, Madam, your affectionate servant and


Taking up the discussion in turn, I replied as follows, in the ensuing
February number:--

   I am forbidden, sir, to answer your letter in the indecorous
   style which you have deemed proper to assume towards me:

   By respect for the gravity of my subject;

   By respect for our readers;

   By respect for myself.

   You find yourself ill at ease in the Popilian circle that has
   been traced around you by the hand of a woman; all understand
   this, I among the rest. Ill-armed for defence, worse armed,
   perhaps, for attack, you would like to escape; but your skill as
   a tactician will avail you nothing; you shall not quit the fatal
   circle till vanquished, either by me, or by yourself, if you
   confess your weakness on the point in litigation, by continuing
   to refuse a discussion under flimsy pretexts, or, lastly, by
   public opinion, which will award to you the quality of
   inconsistency, the least desirable of all to a dialectician.

   This being understood, I must tell you that, personally, I am
   satisfied that you should attack, in _the rights of woman_, the
   cause of justice and progress. It is an augury of success to this
   cause; you have always been fatal to all that you have sought to

   It is true that your attitude in this question makes you _the
   ally of the dogmatism of the Middle Age_; it is true that the
   _official representatives_ of this dogmatism avail themselves, at
   the present time, of your arguments and your name to maintain
   their influence over women, and through them over men and
   children; and this in order to revive the past, to stifle the
   future. Is this your intention? I do not believe it. You are, in
   my eyes, a subverter, a destroyer, in whom instinct sometimes
   gets the better of intellect, and from whom it shuts out a clear
   view of the consequences of his writings. Formed for strife, you
   must have adversaries; and, in default of enemies, you cruelly
   fall on those who are fighting in the same ranks with yourself.
   In all your writings, one feels that the second part of
   education--that which inspires respect and love of woman--is
   completely wanting in you.

   Let us come to your letter.

   You reproach me with having made _forty paralogisms_; it was your
   duty at least to have cited one of these. However, let us see.

   You say: between man and woman there is a separation of _the same
   nature as that which the difference of race establishes between

   Woman, by nature and destination, is _neither associate, nor
   citizen, nor functionary_.

   She is, until marriage, only _apprentice_, at most,
   _under-superintendent_ in the social workshop; she is a _minor_
   in the family, and _does not form a part of the commonwealth_.

   You conceive of no destiny for her outside of the household: she
   can be only _housewife_ or _courtesan_.

   She is incapable _of understanding and of governing herself_.

   To make a paralogism is to draw a conclusion from false premises;
   now did I conclude from such in saying:

   In order that all these paradoxes may become truths, you have to

   That man and woman are not of the same race;

   That they can be reproduced separately;

   That their common product is a mixed breed or a mule;

   That difference of races corresponds to difference of rights.

   You have to define for us an association, and also the nature of
   a citizen or a functionary.

   You have to prove that woman is less useful than man in society;

   That, at the present time, she is necessarily a housewife, when
   she is not a courtesan;

   That she is destitute of intellect, that she knows nothing of

   You pretend that woman has not a right _to demand for herself
   special legislation_.

   Was I guilty of a paralogism in pointing out to you that it is
   not she, _but you_, who demand this, since you lay down as a
   principle the inequality of the sexes before human law?

   All that you say relatively to the _pretended_ inferiority of
   woman and the conclusions which you draw from it applying to
   human races inferior to our own, it would be easy for me to
   demonstrate that the consequence of your principles is the
   _re-establishment of slavery_. The nearest perfect has the right
   to take advantage of the weakest, instead of becoming his
   educator. An admirable doctrine, full of the spirit of progress,
   full of generosity! I compliment you most sincerely on it.

   You say that labor specialized is the great emancipator of man;
   that labor, conscience, liberty, and reason, find only in
   themselves their right to exist and to act; that these pure
   forces constitute the human person, _which is sacred_.

   You lay down the principle that the law is the same for all; so
   that, to establish exceptions, it would be necessary to prove
   that the individuals excepted are _above_ or _beneath_ the human

   You say that social equilibrium is the equalization of the strong
   and the weak; that all have the same rights, not through that
   which distinguishes them from each other, but through _that
   which is common to them_,--_the quality of human beings_.

   Was I guilty of paralogisms in saying to you:

   Then you cannot, by reason of her weakness or even of a supposed
   inferiority, exclude woman from equality of right: your
   principles interdict it, unless you prove:

   _That she is superior or inferior to the human species, and that
   she does not form a part of it;_

   _That she is destitute of conscience, of justice, and of reason;
   that she does not labor, that she does not execute specialties of

   It is evident, that your doctrine concerning general right is in
   contradiction to your doctrine concerning the right of women; it
   is evident that you are very inconsequent, and that, however
   skillful you may be, you cannot extricate yourself from this

   In what you call an answer, there are a few passages that are
   worth the trouble of pausing to consider.

   You ask _what impels the bravest, the most distinguished among us
   to an assault on paternal and marital supremacy_.

   You do not comprehend the movement, or you would have said
   _masculine supremacy_.

   In my turn, I ask you:

   What would have impelled Proudhon, a Roman slave, to play the
   part of Spartacus?

   What would have impelled Proudhon, a feudal serf, to organize a

   What would have impelled Proudhon, a black slave, to become a
   Toussaint L'Ouverture?

   What would have impelled Proudhon, a Russian serf, to take the
   character of Poutgachef?

   What would have impelled Proudhon, a citizen of '89, to
   overthrow the privileges of the nobility and the clergy?

   What would impel Proudhon ... but I will not touch on reality.

   What would Proudhon have replied to all the holders of
   _prerogatives_ and _supremacy_, who would not have failed on
   their part to have put to him the naïve question: "Ah! what does
   this vile slave, this unworthy serf, this audacious and stupid
   citizen want of us, then? _To which of our faculties, our
   virtues, our prerogatives does he aspire? Is this the cry of his
   outraged nature, or an aberration of his understanding?_"

   The answer that Proudhon would make, is that which will be made
   to him by all women who have attained majority.

   There is in the brain of woman, say you, an organ which the
   masculine mind alone is capable of setting in motion. Render the
   service then to science of pointing it out and demonstrating its
   manner of working. As to the other organ of which you speak, it
   is its inertia, doubtless, that has caused it to be defined by
   some, _parvum animal furibondum, octo ligamentis alligatum_.
   Before choosing anatomical and physiological facts as proofs of
   your assertions, consult some learned physician; such is the
   counsel given you, not only by my _obstetrical, but also by my
   medical sagacity_.

   You offer to acquaint me with your _direct_ and _positive_
   observations. What, Sir! has it been possible for you in a few
   weeks to delve into the depths of the healthy and the diseased
   organization! to go through the whole labyrinth of functions
   implicated in the questions. It is more than miraculous; despite
   my good will, I cannot believe it, unless you prove that you are
   a _prophet_ in communication with some deity. Shall I tell you
   what I really think? It is that you have studied these matters
   neither _directly_ nor _indirectly_, and that it belongs to me to
   tell you _that you do not understand woman; that you do not know
   the first word of the question_. Your five or six _purely_ moral
   and intellectual autopsies prove only one thing; namely, your
   inexperience in physiology. You have naïvely mistaken the scalpel
   of your imagination for that of science.

   With regard to autopsies, you tell me that you are awaiting my
   promised work, in order to make mine. It would be doubtless a
   great honor to be stretched on your dissecting table in such good
   company as you promise me, but the instruction of my future
   readers does not permit me to enjoy this satisfaction. I shall
   not send my book to press until your own shall have appeared, for
   I, too, intend to make your autopsy; dissect me therefore now; I
   promise you on my side that I will perform my duty
   conscientiously, properly and delicately.

   "Woman," you say, "being weaker than man with respect to
   _muscular force_, is not less inferior to him with respect to
   the condition of woman in society be regulated, as you demand for
   her, _by the same justice as the condition of man_, it is all
   over with her; she is a slave."

   Terrible man, you will be then always inconsistent, you will
   always contradict yourself and facts!

   What do you hold as the basis of right? _The simple quality of
   being human_; everything that distinguishes individuals
   disappears before right. Well! even though it were true that
   women were inferior to men, would it follow that their rights
   were not the same? According to you, by no means, if they form a
   part of the human species. There are not two kinds of justice,
   there is but one; there are not two kinds of right, there is but
   one in the absolute sense. The recognition and respect of
   individual autonomy in the lowest of human beings as well as in
   the man and woman of genius is the law which should preside over
   social relations; must a woman tell you this!

   Let us now examine the value of your series of _man and woman_.

   With respect to the reproduction of the species, they form a
   series; this is beyond dispute.

   As to the rest, do they form a series? No.

   _If it were a law_ that woman is _muscularly_ weaker than man,
   the strongest woman would be weaker than the weakest man; facts
   demonstrate the contrary daily.

   _If it were a law_ that women are inferior to men in _industrial
   power_, the most skillful woman would be inferior in industrial
   pursuits to the least skillful man; now facts demonstrate daily
   that there are women who are excellent manufacturers and
   excellent managers; men who are unskilled in and unsuited to this
   kind of pursuits.

   _If it were a law_ that women are inferior to men in _artistic
   power_, the best female artist would be inferior to the most
   indifferent male artist; now facts daily demonstrate the
   contrary; there are more great female than male tragedians; many
   men are mediocre in music and painting, and many women, on the
   other hand, remarkable in both respects, etc., etc.

   What follows from all this? That your series is false, since
   facts destroy it. How did you form it? The process is a curious
   study. You chose a few remarkable men, in whom, by a convenient
   process of abstraction, you beheld _all_ men, even to cretins;
   you here took a few women, without taking into account in the
   slightest degree any differences of culture, instruction, and
   surroundings, and compared them with these eminent men, taking
   care to forget those that might have embarrassed you; then,
   deducing generals from particulars, creating two entities, you
   drew your conclusions. A strange manner of reasoning, truly! You
   have fallen into the mania of _imposing rules on Nature, instead
   of studying Nature's rules_, and deserve that I should apply your
   own words to you: "The greatest part of the philosophical
   aberrations and chimeras have arisen from attributing to logical
   series _a reality that they do not possess, and endeavoring to
   explain the nature of man by abstractions_."

   Still, if this were to strengthen your doctrines concerning the
   _basis_ of right, it might be comprehended; but it is to
   overthrow them!

   You transform yourself into a Sphinx, to propose to me a riddle.
   "What is that right," you say, "_which is not justice, and which,
   notwithstanding, would not exist without it_, which presides over
   the relations of both sexes, the _jus strictum_ governing only
   individuals of the same sex. If you divine it, you will have
   given me the cause."

   It is not necessary to be _the great Apollo_, to divine that it
   is the _right of grace, of mercy_, towards an inferior that is
   not armed with strict right.

   If I have divined rightly, you have simply begged the question by
   supposing _that resolved which I dispute_. I maintain that there
   is only one _right_, that _one single_ _right presides over the
   rights of individuals and of sexes_, and that the right of mercy
   belongs to the domain of sentiment.

   You wish it proved that the new emancipators of woman are the
   most elevated, the broadest, and the most progressive minds of
   the age. Rejoice, your wish is accomplished: a simple comparison
   between them and their adversaries will prove it to you.

   The emancipators, taking woman in the cradle of humanity, see her
   marching slowly towards civil emancipation. The intelligent
   disciples of progress, they wish, by extending a fraternal hand
   to her, to aid her in fulfilling her destiny.

   The non-emancipators, denying the historical law, regardless of
   the progressive and parallel movement of the populace, woman, and
   the industrial arts towards affranchisement, wish to thrust her
   back far beyond the Middle Age, to the days of Romulus and the
   Hebrew patriarchs.

   The emancipators, believing in individual autonomy, respecting
   it, and recognizing it in woman, wish to aid her to conquer it.
   Judging of the need that a free being has of liberty by the need
   that they have of it themselves, they are consistent.

   The non-emancipators, blinded by pride, perverted by a love of
   dominion as unbridled as unintelligent, desire liberty only _for
   themselves_. These egotists, so suspicious of those that menace
   their own freedom, wish half the human species to be in their

   The emancipators have enough heart and ideality to desire a
   companion with whom they can exchange sentiment and thought, and
   who can improve them in some respects and be improved by them in
   others; they love and respect woman.

   The non-emancipators, without ideality, without love, chained to
   their senses and their pride, despise woman; and wish to have in
   her only a _female, a servant, a machine to produce young ones_.
   They are _males, they are not yet men_.

   The emancipators desire perfection of the species, in a
   three-fold point of view: physical, moral, and intellectual. They
   know that races cannot be improved without selecting and
   perfecting the mothers.

   The non-emancipators are bent upon something quite different from
   the improvement of the species: let their children be lacking in
   intelligence, malicious, ugly, or deformed; they think much less
   of this than of being _masters_. Do they know enough of
   physiology to have reflected that the faculties _depend on
   organization_, that organization is capable of modification, that
   modifications are transmitted, that woman has a great share in
   this transmission, a greater share, perhaps, than that of man? It
   is therefore _essential_ to place her in a condition to perform
   this great function in the manner most useful to humanity.

   The emancipators desire humanity to go forward, to vibrate no
   longer between the past and the future; they know the influence
   that women possess, first over children, then over men; they know
   that woman cannot serve progress _unless she finds it to her
   interest to do so_; that she will find it so only through
   liberty; that she will love it only if her intellect is elevated
   by study, and her heart purified from the petty selfishness of
   home by the predominating love of the great human family. As they
   desire the end sincerely, they sincerely desire the means; so
   long as half the human race shall labor as it is doing to destroy
   the edifice constructed by _a few_ _members_ of the other half;
   so long as half the human race, _the one that secretly governs
   the other_, shall have its face turned towards the past, the
   landmarks that point to the future will be threatened with being
   torn up. Do you consider it a crime in the emancipators to
   comprehend this, to seek to conjure down the peril; and do you
   consider a virtue in the non-emancipators the foolish pride that
   places a cataract over their eyes?

   A few words more, and I shall have done. You would rather, you
   say, that I should not assume castigating airs with you. But have
   you really the right to complain of it, you who have constituted
   yourself the chief whipper-in of the economists and the
   socialists? I shall never go so far towards you as you have gone
   towards them. You must resign yourself to my abrupt, sometimes
   harsh style. I am implacable towards whatever appears to me false
   and unjust; and were you my brother, I should not war against you
   less sharply; before all ties of affection and family, should
   come the love of justice and humanity.

   I owe now to my readers and to you, sir, the exposition of the
   thesis that I undertake to sustain; for the phrase, _the
   emancipation of women_ has been, and is, quite variously

   With respect to _right_, man and woman are equal, whether the
   equality of faculties be admitted or rejected.

   But for a truth to be useful, it must be adapted to the
   surroundings into which we seek to introduce it.

   Absolute right being recognized, the practice of it remains. In
   practice, I see two kinds of rights: woman is ripe for the
   exercise of one of them; but I acknowledge that the practice of
   the second would be at present dangerous, by reason of the
   education that the majority of them have received. You
   comprehend me, without making it necessary for me to explain
   myself more clearly in a Review in which social and political
   subjects are interdicted.

   The directors of the _Revue_ having informed me that my adversary
   refused to continue the discussion, I made the following
   recapitulation of his creed, concerning the rights and nature of

   To the editors of the _Revue Philosophique et Religieuse_:

   You inform me that M. Proudhon will not reply to the questions
   that I have put to him; I have neither the means nor the wish to
   constrain him to do so. I shall not inquire into the motives of
   his determination; my business now is only to make an exposition
   of his creed, which may be summed up in this wise:

   "I believe that between man and woman, there is a separation of
   the same nature as that which the difference of race places
   between animals;

   "I believe that, by nature and by destination, woman is neither
   associate, nor functionary, nor citizen;

   "I believe that, in the social workshop, she is, until her
   marriage, only apprentice, at most under-superintendent;

   "I believe that she is a minor in the family, art, science,
   manufactures, and philosophy, and that she is _nothing_ in the

   "I believe that she can only be housewife or courtesan;

   "I believe that she is incapable of understanding and of
   governing herself;

   "I believe firmly that the basis of the equality of rights is in
   the simple quality of being human; now, woman being unable to
   have rights equal to those of man, I affirm that she does not
   belong to the human species."

Is Proudhon conscious how far his creed is in opposition to science, to
facts, to the law of progress, to the tendencies of our own age, and does
he dare to attempt to justify it by proofs?

Does he feel that this creed classes him among the abettors of the
dogmatism of the Middle Age, and does he recoil before such a

If this were the case, I should praise him for his prudent silence, and
it would be my warmest desire that he should keep it forever on the
question that divides us. To treat a subject, it is necessary to love and
understand it; I dare not say that Proudhon does not love woman, but I do
affirm that he does not understand her; he sees in her nothing more than
the female of man; his peculiar organization seems to render him unfit
for the investigation of such a subject. He promises, in the work that he
is preparing, to treat of the sphere and the rights of women; if his
doctrine has for its basis the paradoxical affirmations of his creed, I
hope that he will this time take pains to rest them at least upon the
semblances of proofs, which I shall examine with all the attention of
which I am capable.

By shrinking from discussion, he cannot escape my criticism.

The two studies of Proudhon are simply the development of this creed.

I promised to dissect the author; therefore, I shall do so.

Let me not be reproached with being pitiless; Proudhon has deserved it.

Let me not be reproached with being a reasoning machine; with such an
adversary, one should be nothing else.

Let me not be reproached with being harsh; Proudhon has shown a harshness
and injustice with respect to women, even the most illustrious, that
exceed all bounds. If I am harsh, I will endeavor on my part not to be


Well, M. Proudhon, you have sought war with women! War you shall have.

You have said, not without reason, that the Comtois are an obstinate
race; now, I am your countrywoman; and as woman generally carries virtues
and failings farther than man, I intend to outdo you in obstinacy.

I have raised the banner under which your daughters will one day take
shelter if they are worthy of the name they bear; I will hold it with a
firm hand and will never suffer it to be struck down; against such as
you, I have the heart and claws of a lioness.

You begin by saying that you by no means desired to treat of the
inequality of the sexes, but that half a dozen insurgent women with
ink-stained fingers having defied you to discuss the question, you will
establish by facts and documents the _physical, intellectual and moral
inferiority of woman_; that you will prove that her emancipation is the
same thing as her prostitution, and will take her defence in hand against
the rambling talk of a few impure women whom sin has rendered
mad.--(_Vol._ III., p. 337.)

I alone, by shutting you up in a circle of contradictions, have dared
defy you to discuss the question; I sum up, therefore, in my own person,
the few impure women whom sin has rendered mad.

Insults of this sort cannot touch me; the esteem, the regard, the
precious friendship of eminently respectable men and women suffice to
reduce unworthy insinuations to naught. I should not notice them, with
such contempt do they inspire me, were it not necessary to tell you that
the time has gone by when one might hope to stifle the voice of a woman
by attacking her purity.

If you do not ask the man who demands his rights and seeks to prove their
legitimacy, whether he is upright, chaste, etc., no more have you the
right to ask the question of the woman who makes the same claim.

Were I therefore so unfortunate as to be the vilest of mortals as regards
chastity, this would not at all lessen the value of my claim.

I greatly dislike any justification, but I owe it to the sacred cause
that I defend, I owe it to my friends, to tell you that the moral
education which my sainted, lamented mother gave me, together with
scientific studies, serious philosophy, and continual occupation, have
kept me in what is commonly called the right path, and have strengthened
the horror that I feel for all tyranny, whether it be styled man or

You accuse your biographer of having committed an indignity in directing
an accusation against a woman, because this woman was your wife; do you
not commit an indignity yourself in insulting many others?

And if you blame those who calumniate the morals of Proudhon because he
is not of their opinion, in what light do you think that men will regard
your calumnious insinuations against women, because they do not think
like you?

You claim that we have no morality, because we lack respect towards the
dignity of others; who has set us this detestable example more than you?
You, who style yourself the champion of the principles of '89--who are
the men and women whom you attack?

They who are in different degrees, and from different stand points, in
favor of these principles.

Your anger has no bounds against George Sand, our great prose writer, the
author of the bulletins of the republic of '48. You depreciate Madame de
Stäel, whom you have not read, and who was in advance of most of the
masculine writers of her epoch.

Two scaffolds are erected, two women mount thereon: Madame Roland and
Marie Antoinette. I, a woman, will not cast insult on the decapitated
queen, dying with dignity and courage; no, I bow before the block,
whatever head may lay on it, and wipe away my tears. But, Marie
Antoinette died the victim of the faults that her princely education had
caused her to commit against the modern principles; while Madame Roland,
the chaste and noble wife, died for the revolution, and died blessing it.

Whence comes it that you greet the queen with your sympathies, while you
have nought but words of blame and contempt for the revolutionist? And
the men that belong to the great party of the future, how do you style

The Girondins, _effeminate_;

Robespierre and his adherents, _eunuchs_;

The gentle Bernardin de St. Pierre, _effeminate_;

M. Legouvé and those who think like him concerning the emancipation of
women, _effeminate_;

M. de Girardin, _absurd_;

_Béranger, a pitiable author, and effeminate_; Jean Jacques, not only the
prince of _effeminates_, but _the greatest enemy of the people and the
revolution_--he who was evidently the chief author of our "French

Are we not justified in asking you, whether you are for or against the

M. Proudhon, you have forfeited your right to all consideration, since
you have none for those who have neither offended you or offered you
provocation, those who have never pretended to reduce you to servitude;
men have lacked courage; they ought to have stopped you when you began to
descend to insulting personalities; what they have not done, I, a woman,
will do, fearing nothing, or no one, except my own conscience.

Proudhon, the greatest enemy of the people, is the writer who, treading
under foot reason and conscience, science and facts, calls to his aid all
the ignorance, all the despotism of the past, to mislead the spirit of
the people with respect to the rights of half the human species.

Proudhon, the greatest enemy of the revolution, is he who shows it to
women as a toy; who detaches them from its holy cause by confounding it
with the negation of their rights; who attacks and vilifies the advocates
of progress; who dares, in fine, in the name of the principles of general
emancipation, to proclaim the social annihilation and the conjugal
servitude of one entire half of humanity.

Behold the enemy of the people and of the revolution!


I had proceeded thus far in my reply when, pausing to take breath and to
reflect, I grew calm.

What! said I to myself, have I then no more sense than to take in earnest
that shapeless thing honored by the name of theory by the good people who
are so bewildered by the noise of Proudhon's drum and tam-tam that they
see stars at noon-day and the sun at midnight? Let me be calm, let me not
give to the affair more importance than it possesses; and since I must
set forth this thing to my readers, let me do it in a fitting tone. We
will leave Proudhon to explain himself in his own words.

No sooner had I taken this good resolution, than I evoked M. Proudhon,
and said to him in all humility: Master, I come to you that you may
define for me the nature of woman, and also something of the nature of

PROUDHON. You do well, for I alone am capable of instructing you; listen
then to me.

"The complete human being, _adequate to his destiny_, I speak of the
physical, is the male, who, through his virility, attains the highest
degree of muscular and nervous tension comporting with his nature and
end, and thence, the maximum of action in labor and in battle.

"Woman is a DIMINUTIVE of man, lacking one organ to become a pubescent

"She is a _receptacle for the germs that man alone produces_, a place of
_incubation_, like the earth for the seed of the wheat; an _organ inert_
in itself, and purposeless with respect to the woman. Such an
organization--_presupposes the subordination of the subject_.

"In herself, I speak still of the physical, woman has no reason to exist;
_she is an instrument of reproduction_ which it has pleased nature to
choose in preference to any other.

"Woman, in this first count, is inferior to man: _a sort of mean term
between him and the rest of the animal kingdom_."--_Justice_, Vol. III.,

And remark that I am not alone in my opinion:

"Woman is not only different from man," says Paracelsus, "she is
different because she is lesser, because her sex constitutes for her one
faculty less. Wherever virility is wanting, the subject is imperfect;
wherever it is taken away, the subject deteriorates. Woman lacks nothing
in the physical point of view except _to produce germs_.

"Likewise, in the intellectual point of view, woman possesses
perceptions, memory and imagination, she is capable of attention,
reflection, and judgment; what does she lack?

"The power of producing germs, that is, ideas.--_Id._

Now, follow my reasoning closely: It being admitted that _strength has
some weight in the establishment of right_; it being admitted, on the
other hand, that woman is one third weaker than man, she will then be to
man, in physical respects, as two is to three. Consequently, in the
social workshop, the value of the products of woman will be one third
less than that of the products of man; therefore, in the division of
social advantages, the proportion will be the same: _thus says justice_.

"Man will always be stronger and will always produce more," _which
signifies that man will be the master, and that woman will obey, dura
lex, sed lex_."--_Id._

Besides, reflect that woman falls to the charge of man during gestation;
her physical weakness, her infirmities, her maternity, exclude her
_inevitably_ and _judicially_ from all political, doctrinal and
industrial direction.--_Id._

We will now proceed to the second point. But first, mark well that woman,
like all else, is autonomic; woman, considered apart from the influence
of man, is the thesis; woman, considered under the influence of man, is
the antithesis; it is the thesis that we are now examining. Let us
therefore approach the _thetic_ woman in the intellectual relation.

We will first admit the principle that _thought is proportional to
force_; whence we have a right to conclude that man possesses a stronger
intellect than woman. Thus we see man alone possessing genius. As to
woman, she is nothing in science; we owe to her no invention, _not even
her distaff and spindle_. She never _generalizes_, never _synthetizes_;
her mind is anti-metaphysical; _she cannot produce any regular work, not
even a romance_; _she composes nothing but medleys, monsters_; "she makes
epigrams, satire; does not know how to express a judgment in set terms,
nor assign its causes; it was not she who created abstract words, such as
cause, time, space, quantity, relation. _Woman is a true table rapping

I have already told you that woman does not produce intellectual germs
any more than physical germs; her intellectual inferiority tells upon the
quality of the product as much as upon the intensity and duration of the
action and, as in this feeble nature, the defect of the idea results from
the lack of energy of the thought, it may be truly said that woman
possesses a mind _essentially_ false, of irremediable _falsity_.

"Disconnected ideas, contradictory reasonings, chimeras taken for
realities, unreal analogies erected into principles, a tendency of mind
inclining inevitably towards annihilation: such is the intellect of

Yes, woman "_is a passive, enervating being, whose conversation exhausts
like her embraces. He who wishes to preserve entire the strength of his
mind and body will flee her._"--_Id._

"_Without man, who is to her prophet and word, she would not emerge from
the bestial condition._"

AUTHOR. Calm yourself, Master, and tell me whether it is true that you
have dealt harshly with literary women.

PROUDHON. Literary women! As if there were any! "The woman author does
not exist; she is a contradiction. The part of woman in literature is the
same as in manufactures; she is useful where genius is no longer of
service, like a needle or a bobbin.

"By cutting out of a woman's book all that is borrowed, imitated,
gleaned, and common-place, we reduce it to a few pretty sayings;
philosophy on nothing. To the community of ideas, woman brings nothing of
her own, any more than to generation."

AUTHOR. Ah! I understand: you mean that, in the character of author, the
woman of genius does not exist. But in this respect, among the number of
men that write how many are there who have genius, and who never borrow
from any one?

PROUDHON. I grant that there are many effeminate men; which does not
alter the fact that woman would do better _to go and iron her collars_
than to meddle with writing; for, "it may be affirmed without fear of
calumny, that the woman who dabbles with philosophy and writing destroys
her progeny by the labor of her brain and her kisses which savor of man;
the safest and most honorable way for her is to renounce home life and
maternity; destiny has branded her on the forehead; made only for love,
the title of concubine if not of courtesan suffices her."--_Id._

Let us now consider the _thetic_ woman in the moral point of view. We
will admit in the first place the principle _that virtue exists in the
ratio of strength and intellect_, whence we have a right to conclude that
man is more virtuous than woman. Do not laugh; it disturbs my ideas. I go
further; man alone is virtuous; man alone has the sense of justice; man
alone has the comprehension of right. Tell me, I pray you, "what produces
in man this energy of will, this confidence in himself, this frankness,
this daring, all these powerful qualities that we have agreed to
designate by the single word, morality. What inspires him with the
sentiment of his dignity, the scorn of falsehood, the hatred of
injustice, the abhorence of all tyranny? Nothing else than the
consciousness of his strength and reason."

AUTHOR. But then, Master, if man is all this, why do you reproach the men
of our times with lack of courage, of dignity, of justice, of reason, of
good faith? When I take up in minute detail the terrible charges which
you have fulminated against the masculine race, I can make nothing of the
meaning of the tirade you have just uttered.

PROUDHON. Consider what you irreverently name a tirade, as the necessary
check to feminine immorality.

It is only to set forth the truth that of all the differences that
separate her mind from ours, the conscience of woman is the most
trifling, her morality is of a different nature; what she regards as
right and wrong is not identically the same as what man himself regards
as right and wrong, so that, relatively to us, _woman may be styled an
immoral being_.

"_By her nature she is in a state of constant demoralization_, always on
this side or that of justice.... Justice is insupportable to her.... Her
conscience is anti-judicial."

She is aristocratic, loves privileges and distinctions; "in all
revolutions that have liberty and equality for their object, women make
the most resistance. They did more harm in the revolution of February
than all the powers of the masculine reaction combined.

"Women have so little judicial sense that the legislator who fixed the
age of moral responsibility at sixteen for both sexes, might have delayed
it till forty-five, for women. Woman's conscience is _decidedly of no
value till this age_."

In herself, woman is _immodest_.

It is from man therefore that she receives modesty, "which is the product
of manly dignity, the corollary of justice.

"Woman has no other inclination, no other aptitude than love.

"In affairs of love, the initiative belongs truly to woman."--_Justice_,
_Vol._ III., pp. 364, 366.

AUTHOR. How many persons you will astonish, Master, by revealing to them
that _modesty comes from man_; that consequently all the young girls who
have been seduced, all the little girls whose corruptors and violators
are punished by the courts, are but jades, who, through their initiative,
have caused men to forget their character as inspirers of chastity!

You enlighten me, illustrious Master; and I shall at once draw up a
memorial to demand that all seduced and violated women and girls shall be
punished as they deserve; and that, to console the seducers, suborners,
corruptors and violators, poor innocent victims of feminine ferocity, for
having sinned against the _corollary of justice and the product of manly
dignity_, rose-trees shall be forced to blossom, in order that the
_maires_ of the forty thousand communes of France and Algeria may crown
them winners of the roses.

PROUDHON. Jest as you please; woman is nevertheless so perverse in her
nature, that, through inclination, she seeks men who are ugly, old, and

AUTHOR. Is not this somewhat exaggerated, Master?

PROUDHON. (Forgetting what he has just said,)

"Woman always prefers a pretty, finical puppet to an honest man; a beau,
a knave can obtain from her all that he desires; she has nothing but
disdain for the man who is capable of sacrificing his love to his

You see what woman is: "_unproductive by nature, inert, without industry
or understanding, without justice, and without modesty_, she needs that a
father, a brother, a lover, a husband, a master, a man, in fine, should
give her that magnetic influence, if I may thus term it, which will
render her capable of manly virtues, of social and intellectual

And as "all her philosophy, her religion, her politics, her economy, her
industry are resolved in one word: Love;

"Now shall we make of this being belonging wholly to love, an overseer,
an engineer, a captain, a merchant, a financier, an economist, an
administrator, a scholar, an artist, a professor, a philosopher, a
legislator, a judge, an orator, the general of an army, the head of a

"The question carries its answer within itself."--_Id._

I have laid down and proved my thesis, I am about to draw my conclusions.

"Since in economical, political and social action, the strength of the
body and that of the mind concur and are multiplied, the one by the
other, the physical and intellectual value of the man will be to the
physical and intellectual value of woman as 3 × 3 is to 2 × 2, or as 9 to

"In the moral, as in the physical and intellectual point of view, her
value (that of woman,) is also as 2 to 3.

"Their share of influence, compared together, will be as 3 × 3 × 3 is to
2 × 2 × 2 or as 27 to 8.

"According to these conditions, woman cannot pretend to counterbalance
the virile power; her subordination is inevitable. Both by nature, and
before justice, she does not weigh the third of man."--_Id._

Do you understand clearly?

AUTHOR. Very clearly. Your theory, if theory there be, is only a tissue
of paradoxes; your pretended principles _are contradicted by facts_, your
conclusions _are equally contradicted by facts_; you _affirm_ like a
revelator, but you _never prove_, as a philosopher should do. There is so
much ignorance and senseless metaphysics in all that you say, that I
should rather give you credit for bad faith than be compelled to despise

I have listened to you patiently while you have said to me, in saying it
of all women:

You are inert, passive, you possess the germ of nothing;

You are a mean term between man and beast, you have no right to exist;

You are immoral, immodest, imbecile, aristocratic, the enemy of liberty,
equality and justice.

In your turn, endeavor to listen to me calmly, while I refute your
allegations by facts, by science and by reason.


There is, by your own confession, but one good method of demonstration;
that of basing every affirmation _upon well established facts, not
contradicted by others, legitimately deduced_.

Let us see how you have followed this method.

In order to prove that the _thetic_ woman, or woman considered apart from
the influence of man, is such as you depict her, it is necessary that you
should bring us face to face with an assemblage of such women, and
afterwards, with another assemblage composed of men who have never been
subjected to the influence of women, that we may verify for ourselves the
native activity of the latter and the native inertness of the former.
Have you had at your disposal, can you place at ours these proofs _de

No; and if you neither have them nor can procure them, what is your
thesis, if not the illusion of a brain sick with pride and with hatred of

1. You say: man alone produces physical germs. Anatomy answers: _It is
woman that produces the germ_; the organ that performs this function in
her, as in all other females, is the ovary.

2. You say: woman is a diminutive of the man; she is an imperfect male;
anatomy says: _man and woman are two distinct beings, each one
complete_, each one furnished with a special organism, the one as
necessary as the other.

3. You say with Paracelsus, of whom this is not the only absurdity:
_where virility is wanting, the subject is imperfect; where it is taken
away, the subject deteriorates_. Mere good sense replies: the being can
only be incomplete or deteriorate _when it differs from its type_; now
the type of woman is feminity not _masculinity_.... If, like you, I were
a lover of paradox, I would say: _man is an imperfect woman_, since it is
the woman that produces the germ; his part in reproduction is very
doubtful, and science may even learn some day to dispense with it. This
is Auguste Comte's paradox; it is worth as much as yours.

To prove that woman is only an imperfect male, it is necessary to
establish by facts that man on being deprived of virility, finds the
organs developed in him peculiar to woman, becomes qualified for
conception, gestation, delivery, and giving suck. Now I have never
learned that any keeper of a seraglio had been transformed into an
odahlic; have you?

4. You say: the organs peculiar to woman are inert, and purposeless with
respect to herself; physiology answers: the labor that these organs
accomplish is immense; pregnancy and the crisis that terminates it are
incontestable proofs of this. The influence of these organs makes itself
felt, not only on the general health, but in the intellectual and moral
order. Pathology, no less eloquent, depicts to us the grave disorders
produced among women by forced continence, incontinence, the excessive or
perverted vitality of these organs which you pretend are inert.

5. You say: woman is the soil, the place of incubation for the germ.
Anatomy has told you in reply that the woman alone produces the germ.
Read my reply to your friend Michelet on the subject of the resemblance
of children and you will know what facts add to the answer of science.
Your affirmation is no less absurd in the presence of these facts than
that of a simpleton who should pretend that the soil in which the seed of
the carnation or the oak is deposited, has the property of causing
rosebushes or palm trees to spring up.

From this _false_ supposition that woman has not physical germs, you
conclude that she is destitute of intellectual and moral germs.... And do
you really dare accuse woman of thus _taking false analogies for

Grant that when a man indulges in them thus wantonly, and mistakes them
for principles, we ought to be more inclined to laugh than to be vexed.

6. You say that intellectually and morally, woman is in herself, nothing.

Now, if I am not mistaken, you admit that our functions have our organs
for their basis, and you place the functions of intellect and morality in
the brain, according to Gall, or similarly.

Well, Anatomy tells you: in both sexes, the cerebral mass is similar in
composition and, adds Phrenology, in the number of organs. Biology adds:
the law of development of our organs is _exercise_, which supposes action
and reaction, the result of which is the augmentation of the volume,
consistency and vitality of the organ exercised.

The point in question then, to convince your readers of the truth of
your affirmations, is to prove that _the two sexes are subjected to the
same exercise of the brain and to the same stimulus_, and that despite
this identity of education, woman constantly remains inferior. Have you
proved this? Have you ever thought of doing so? No. For if you had, your
theory would have fallen to to the ground, since you would have been
forced to acknowledge that man and woman cannot be alike, for we say to
man from his infancy: resist, struggle;

To woman: yield, always submit.

To man: be yourself, speak your thoughts boldly, ambition is a virtue;
you can aspire to everything.

To woman: dissemble, calculate your slightest word, respect prejudices;
modesty, abnegation, such is your lot; you can attain to naught.

To man: knowledge, talent, courage will open every career of life to you,
will make you honored by all.

To woman: knowledge is useless to you; if you have it, you will pass for
a pedant, and if you have courage, you will be disdainfully called

To man: for you are instituted lyceums, universities, special schools,
high prizes; all the institutions through which your intellect can be
developed; all the libraries in which is accumulated the knowledge of the

To woman: for you is history in madrigals, the reading of prayer-books
and novels. You have nothing to do with lyceums, special schools, high
prizes, anything that would elevate your mind and enlarge your views; a
learned woman is ridiculous!

Man must display the knowledge that he often possesses but superficially,
woman must hide what she really possesses.

Man must appear courageous when he is often but a coward; woman must
feign timidity when in reality she is not afraid.

For where man is reputed great and sublime, woman is found ridiculous,
sometimes odious.

If you had verified as you should have done, these diametrically opposite
systems of training, the one tending to develop and ennoble the being,
the other to degrade it and render it imbecile, instead of writing such
absurdities, you would have said to yourself: woman must really have the
initiative to resist the iniquitous system of repression that weighs upon
her; she must have great elasticity to show herself so often superior to
the majority of men in intellect, and _always in morality_.

I am curious to know what you males would be if subjected to the same
system as we. Look at those who have not studied like you, and tell me
whether they are not in general beneath uncultivated women. Look then at
the men who have received a feminine education; have they not all the
affectation, all the narrowness of mind of silly women?

Look, on the contrary, at those women who, through the wish of their
teachers or their own energy, have been subjected to masculine
discipline, and tell me, on your conscience, whether they do not equal
the most intelligent, the firmest among you?

7. You say: intellectual force is in proportion to physical force.
_Facts_ reply: great thoughts, useful works, date from the period when
the physical forces began to decline. _Facts_ say also: the athletic
temperament, which is the most vigorous, is _the least intellectual_:
statuaries fully comprehend this, and sculpture Hercules with a large
body and a small head.

8. You say that morality is in a direct ratio to physical and
intellectual force combined. This pleasantry we will not refute; every
one knows too well that these things have no relation, and that facts
contradict your assertion.

9. You say: woman being one third weaker, should have in social labor one
third the privileges of man.

Upon what elements do you base this proportion? In order to establish it,
did you carry a dynamometer about through our districts and measure the
strength of each man and of each woman?

But were your affirmation true, is naught but _strength_ employed in
labor? Then, great economist, what do we do with _skill_? What Samsonian
muscles are needed to keep books, dispense justice, measure cloth, cut
and sew garments, etc.!

And what is the end of civilization if not to shift the employ of our
strength from ourselves to machinery that we may be at liberty to use
only our intellect and skill?

10. You say: the infirmities, the weaknesses, the maternity of woman, and
her aptitude for love, exclude her from all functions; she is _judicially
and absolutely_ excluded from all political, industrial and doctrinal

She cannot be a political leader.... Yet history shows us numerous
empresses, queens, regents and sovereign princesses who have governed
with wisdom and glory, and have shown themselves far superior to many
male sovereigns, unless Maria Theresa, Catherine II, Isabella and Blanche
of Castile, and many others, are but myths.

Woman cannot be a legislator.... All the women whom I have just cited
have been so, and many more beside.

Women can be neither philosophers nor professors.

Hypatia, massacred by the Christians, taught Philosophy with luster; in
the Middle Age and later, Italian women filled chairs of Philosophy, Law
and Mathematics, and excited admiration and enthusiasm; in France, at the
present time, the Polytechnists are making great account of _the
geometrician_, Sophie Germain, who has taken it into her head to study

Woman cannot be a merchant or an administratrix... Yet a great portion of
the feminine population devote themselves to trade, or fill commercial
positions. It is even admitted that the prosperity of commercial
establishments is almost always due to the administrative genius of

Woman cannot be an overseer, a foreman of a workshop... Yet a host of
women superintend workshops, invent, improve, carry on manufactures
alone, and contribute, by their taste and activity, to the increase of
the national wealth and the industrial reputation of France.

Woman cannot be artist... Yet every one knows that the greatest literary
artist of our age is a woman, George Sand; yet every one bows before
Duchesnois, Mars, Georges, Maxime, Ristori, Rachel, Dorval; yet every one
pauses before the beautiful paintings of Rosa Bonheur; yet since the
revival of the fine arts, every century has registered many celebrated

We meet women everywhere, working everywhere, competing with man.... Yet
Proudhon pretends that she can be nowhere, that she is excluded from
every place absolutely and _judicially_; that if she governs and
legislates like Maria Theresa, it is a contradiction;

That if she philosophises like Hypatia, it is a contradiction;

That if she commands an army and wins victories like the wife of the
conqueror of Calais; if she fights like Jeanne d'Arc, Jeanne Hachette,
Madame Garibaldi and thousands of others, it is a contradiction;

That if she is merchant, administratrix, superintendent of a workshop,
like thousands of women, it is a contradiction;

That if she is learned like Dr. Boivin, Sophie Germain, and many others,
if she is a professor as are many among us, it is a contradiction.

The thesis sustained by Proudhon is, as we have just seen, contradicted
by _science_ and by _facts_. We ask ourselves whether it is possible that
he is ignorant of the simplest notions of Anatomy and Biology; we ask
ourselves whether it is possible that he is so far blind as not to see
that woman _is in reality_ all that he pretends that she _absolutely and
judicially_ cannot be in his absurd and insulting theory; and we conclude
that the author is struck with ignorance and voluntary blindness.

Your reproaches are pleasant; from the origin of society, man has been
the master; now, the ancient world sunk beneath the weight of slavery,
usury, and the most shameless vices; the modern world seems doomed to
perish through inequality and its sad consequences, you yourself
acknowledge that injustice _caused by your sex_ exists every where in the
world, and you say that man has judicial sense!

And, in the face of the inequality and oppression created by men, of
their love of puerile distinctions, of the base deeds which they commit
for a bit of ribbon, you accuse women of loving inequality and

They may love them, _like you_, but they are better than you, if not more
just; they pray for the vanquished, you kill him!

I do not deny that women did much harm to the Revolution of February, for
they are as intelligent as men, and have great influence over them. But
what did this Revolution do for them, I pray?

Mark me well, you and all those who are blind enough, proud enough,
despotic enough to resemble you, and remember what I say.

Woman is like the people: she desires no more of your revolutions, which
decimate us for the benefit of a few ambitious babblers.

She will have liberty and equality for all men and women, or she will
take care that no one shall have them.

We, Women of Progress, openly declare ourselves adversaries of whoever
shall deny the right of woman to liberty.

Our sisters of the people, indignant at their exclusion from the popular
assemblies, say to you: you have lured us long enough, it is time that
this should end. We will no longer suffer ourselves to be ensnared by
your high-sounding words of Justice, Liberty, and Equality, which are
only false coin so long as they are applied to but half the human
species. Do you wish to save the perishing world? Call woman to your
side. If you will not do this, let us alone, insipid phraseologists; you
are naught but ambitious hypocrites; we do not wish our husbands to
follow you, and they will not.


PROUDHON. Let us consider woman in the antithesis. I have said that
woman, considered apart from masculine influence, is _nothing_.

AUTHOR. Yes, Master, because this is a pure creation of your thought.

PROUDHON. But woman, considered under the influence of man, is half of
the human being, and _I sing litanies in her praise_.

AUTHOR. Then you make woman re-enter humanity through the door of
Androgyny, in order to restore to her her share of rights.... This is
absurd; no matter.

PROUDHON. Not so! not so! Women have rights! Never, so long as I am
Proudhon! She is indeed the complement of man, who, without her, would be
only a brute.

AUTHOR. Ah! my learned Master, how do these things harmonize in your
brain? You have said hitherto that _woman owes everything to man_, you
tell me now that, without woman, man would be only a brute. Is he not
then, _adequate to his destiny_, as you have affirmed? And if woman is
nothing without him, and he nothing without woman, I can see no longer
upon what you rest in making him the guide of this poor unfortunate.

PROUDHON. I need not explain myself, such is my idea. I am simply
comparing the respective qualities of the sexes, and, as I find, they are

AUTHOR. Ah! I catch a glimpse of your meaning; then you do not weigh them
in the balance since they are not alike, and, being unable to prejudice
the rights of woman, you leave her free.

PROUDHON. What! what! Woman free! Horrible! Are you resolved to throw me
into convulsions? Woman, however eminent may be her talents, should serve
man in silence and in all humility.

AUTHOR. Frankly, Master, all this appears to me nonsense, which, satanic
as you are, you cannot yourself understand in the least.

PROUDHON. Listen without interrupting me further, if you wish to
comprehend me.

"Without feminine grace, _man would not have emerged from the brutality
of the early ages; he would violate his female, smother his little ones,
and give chase to his fellows in order to devour them_.

"_Woman is the conscience of man personified_, the incarnation of his
youth, _his reason and his justice, of all within him that is purest,
most sacred, most sublime_.--_Justice_, _Vol._ III., etc.

"The ideality of his being, she becomes to him a _principle of
animation_, a gift of strength, of prudence, of justice, of patience, of
courage, of sanctity, of hope, of consolation, without which he would be
incapable of sustaining the burden of life, of preserving his dignity, of
enduring himself, _of fulfilling his destiny_.

"It is through her, through the grace of her divine word, that man gives
life and reality to his ideas, by bringing them back unceasingly from the
abstract to the concrete.

"_The auxiliary on the side of justice_, she is the angel of patience, of
resignation, of tolerance, the guardian of his faith, the mirror of his
conscience, the source of his devotion. Vanquished, guilty, it is still
in the bosom of woman that he finds consolation and pardon."

Man has strength, woman beauty. Through her beauty, she should be the
expression of Justice, "and the attraction that draws us to it.... _She
will be better than man_.... She will be the motor of all justice, all
knowledge, all industry, all virtue."--_Id._

Also, "beauty is the true destination of the sex; it is its natural
condition, its state."--_Id._

Woman is the soul of everything; "without her, all beauty fades; nature
is sad, precious stones lose their luster, all our arts, children of
love, become insipid, half of our labor is without value.

"If, with respect to vigor, man is to woman as 3 to 2, woman, with
respect to beauty, is to man as 3 to 2.

"If, from the body, we pass to the mind and conscience, woman, through
her beauty, will be revealed with new advantages."--_Id._

The mind of woman is _more intuitive, more concrete, finer than that of
man_; "it seems to man, and is in fact, more circumspect, more _prudent_,
more reserved, _wiser_, more equable; it was _Minerva_, the protectress
of Achilles and Ulysses, who appeased the fury of the one, _and shamed
the other of his paradoxes and profligacies_; it is the Virgin whom the
Christian litany calls _the seat of wisdom_.

"The quality of the feminine mind has the effect of serving the genius of
man as a radiator, by reflecting his thoughts at an angle which makes
them appear more beautiful if they are correct, more absurd if they are
false; consequently, of simplifying our knowledge and condensing it into
simple propositions, easy to seize upon as simple facts, and the
intuitive, aphoristic, imaged comprehension of which, _while giving woman
a share in the philosophy and the speculations of man_, makes their
memory clearer to him, their digestion more easy... _There is not a man
among the most learned, the most inventive, the most profound, who does
not feel a sort of refreshment from conversation with women_....

"Popularizers are generally minds of the feminine type; but man does not
like to be subservient to the glory of man, and provident Nature has
assigned this part to woman.

"Let her speak, then, _let her write, even, I authorize and invite her to
do so_; but let her do it according to the measure of her feminine
intelligence, since it is on this condition that she can serve us, and
_please_ us, _otherwise I withdraw the permission_.

"Man has strength; but that constancy of which he boasts overmuch, he
derives especially from woman.... Through her he endures, and learns true
heroism. _Upon occasion, she can set him the example of it_; she will be,
then, _more sublime than he_.

"Woman will render the law kind, and will convert this two-edged sword
into an olive branch.... There is no justice without tolerance; now, it
is in the exercise of tolerance that woman excels; by the sensibility of
her heart and the delicacy of her impressions, by the tenderness of her
soul, by her love, in fine, she will blunt the sharp angles of justice,
destroy its asperities, of a divinity of terror make a divinity of peace.
Justice, the mother of Peace, would be only a cause of disunion to
humanity, were it not for this tempering which she receives especially
from woman."--_Id._

And what chastity does woman possess! With what constancy she awaits her
betrothed! What continence she observes during the absence or sickness of
her husband! Ah! "woman alone knows how to be modest.... Through this
modesty, which is her most precious prerogative, she triumphs over the
transports of man, and ravishes his heart."--_Id._

And what wisdom in her choice of the companion of her life!

"She desires man to be strong, valiant, ingenious; she turns from him if
he is mincing and delicate."--_Id._

Now, my unloved, indocile, and very irreverent disciple, let us

Woman, with respect to physical, intellectual and moral beauty, is to man
as 3 to 2; "thus it may be said, indeed, that between man and woman there
exists a certain equivalence, arising from their respective comparison,
in the two-fold point of view of strength and beauty; if, by labor,
genius, and justice, man is to woman as 27 to 8, in her turn, by graces
of form and mind, by amenity of character and tenderness of heart, she is
to man as 27 to 8.... But these respective qualities are incommutable,
cannot be the subject of any contract....

"Now, as every question of preponderance in the government of human life
is within the jurisdiction either of the economical order, or of the
philosophical or judicial order, it is evident that superiority of
beauty, even of that which is intellectual and moral, cannot create a
compensation for woman, whose condition is thus made fatally

Do you understand me now?

AUTHOR. I understand that this is pure sophistry, a thing easily
demonstrated; that if your _thesis_ is absurd, your _antithesis_, however
complimentary it may be, is quite as much so; that you have piled
contradictions upon contradictions, and that it is a sad spectacle to me
to see so strong and fine an intellect as yours abandon itself to such

You shall judge for yourself whether my reproaches and regrets are well

In the _Thesis_ you say: man alone is in himself intelligent and just, he
alone is adequate to his destiny. Woman has no reason for existing;
without man, she _would not emerge from the bestial condition_.

In the _Antithesis_: without woman, who is the principle of animation of
man, the motive power of all science, of all art, of all industry, of all
virtue--without woman, who renders justice possible, thought
comprehensible and applicable, man, far from being in himself just,
intelligent, a worker, would be but a brute, _who would violate his
female, strangle his little ones, and pursue his fellow men in order to
devour them_.

What follows from these divergent affirmations? That if woman alone is
inadequate to her destiny, man alone is inadequate to his, and that the
adequateness of both is caused by the synthesis of their respective

It also follows, by your own admission, that man receives as much from
woman as she receives from him, since, if he rescues her from the bestial
state, she rescues him from the state of brute ferocity.

It follows, lastly, by your own admission, that there is equivalence
between the respective qualities of the two sexes. Only you pretend that
these qualities cannot be measured by each other, and cannot therefore be
subject for contract, and that the qualities of man being more important
to the social state than those of woman, the latter should be
subordinated to the former.

Tell me, is there commutability between the qualities that distinguish
men from each other?

Between the man of genius and the humble rag-picker?

Between the philosopher who elevates the human mind and the porter who
does not even know how to read?

Between the brain that discovers a great natural law and the one that
reflects on nothing?

To answer affirmatively is impossible: for we only compare things of the
same nature.

Now, if there can be no commutability between individuals so different,
is there not, according to your system, subject for social contract
between them?

Why then do you claim that these men should be _equal socially_?

Why then do you admit that they may associate things in a private
contract which cannot be subjected to a common measure?

There is no need to be learned in philosophy or economy to know _that any
contract whatsoever is an admission of personal insufficiency_; that we
would not enter into partnership with others if we could dispense with
them; and that in general the design of the contracting parties is _to
establish commutability where it has not been established by the nature
of things_.

To a common work, one brings his idea, another his hands, a third, his
money, a fourth, custom: if each of the parties had had all these
combined, no one would have thought of forming a partnership: a happy
insufficiency brought them together, and caused them to establish
equivalence between the shares of capital which could not be subjected to
a common measure.

Were it true, therefore, that the qualities of the sexes differ as you
pretend, then, as through this same difference, they are _equally_
necessary to the collective work, they are _essentially_ subject to
contract, and _equivalent_.

But do they differ as you say? You know the answer of _science_ and
_facts_. We will not return to it. All your distinctions of beauty and
strength are only imaginary classifications. We all know that of eighteen
millions of Frenchmen, at the present time, we have a few men of genius,
absorbed in specialties, a few more men of talent, perhaps not four
philosophers, mediocrities in abundance, and an immense host of cyphers.
It is mockery, therefore, to establish the right of prepotency of a sex
from qualities which, on the one hand, do not exist in each of its
members, and, on the other, are often found in the highest degree in the
sex which it is claimed to reduce to subjection.

Besides, did your sex possess the qualities which you ascribe to it, to
the exclusion of mine; since, by your admission, there would be neither
civilization, nor science, nor art, nor justice, without the qualities
you term peculiar to woman; and since, without these qualities, man would
be only a brute and an anthropophagus, it thence follows that woman is
_at least_ the equivalent of man, if not his superior.

Let us now notice a few of your contradictions.

1st _Thesis_. Woman is a sort of mean term between man and the rest of
the animal kingdom.

_Antithesis._ No; woman is the idealisation of man, in that which is
purest and most sublime in him.

2d _Thesis_. Woman is an inert creature, devoid of understanding, that
has no reason for existing.

_Antithesis._ No; woman is the animating principle of man; without her,
he could not fulfil his destiny; she is the motive power of all justice,
all science, all industry, all civilization, all virtue.

3d _Thesis_. Woman does not know how to express an opinion in set terms,
or to assign reasons for it; she has only disconnected ideas, erroneous
reasonings; she mistakes chimeras for realities, composes nothing but
medleys, monsters.

_Antithesis._ No; the intellect of woman is finer than that of man; she
has a wiser, more prudent, more reserved mind; she is the foil of
masculine ideas. She is Minerva shaming Ulysses for his paradoxes and
profligacies; she is the seat of wisdom.

4th _Thesis_. Without the magnetic influence of man, woman would not
emerge from the bestial state.

_Antithesis._ Without the magnetic influence of woman, man would be but a
ferocious beast.

5th _Thesis_. The woman who philosophises and writes, destroys her
progeny; she had better go iron her collars; she is good for nothing but
to be concubine or courtesan.

_Antithesis._ Woman should participate in the philosophy and speculations
of man, and popularize them by her writings.

6th _Thesis_. The conversation of woman exhausts, enervates; he who
wishes to preserve intact the force of his mind and body, will flee her.

_Antithesis._ The conversation of woman refreshes the most eminent men.

7th _Thesis_. Woman has an infirm conscience; she is immoral,
anti-judicial; she is worth nothing as to moral responsibility until
forty-five years of age.

_Antithesis._ Woman is the mirror of the conscience of man, the
incarnation of this conscience; through her alone justice becomes
possible; she is the guardian of morals; she is superior to man in moral

8th _Thesis_. Woman is without virtue.

_Antithesis._ Woman excels in tolerance; through her, man learns
constancy and true heroism.

9th _Thesis_. Woman is immodest: she takes the initiative in affairs of

_Antithesis._ Woman alone knows how to be modest; in principle, there are
no impure women; woman calms the sensual passions of man.

10th _Thesis_. Woman prefers an ugly, old, and wicked man.

No; woman prefers a pretty, mincing puppet, a beau.

_Antithesis._ No; woman wishes man strong, valiant, ingenious; she turns
from him when he is but a pretty, mincing puppet, a beau.

I might go on thus to a hundred, and then make a cross to begin another
hundred. Can it be possible that you trifle in this manner with your

PROUDHON. The contradiction is not in my thought, but only in the terms.
The woman of my thesis is she who has not been subjected to masculine
magnetism, to which the woman of my antithesis, on the contrary, has been

AUTHOR. You would have reason to laugh at us, should we take such an
answer in earnest. What! have you seen women outside of society, who
would have taken men for monkeys?

Have you proved that in this menagerie, they think falsely, they write
badly, they are worth nothing as to conscience until forty-five years of

That there, in the absence of men, the women take the initiative in
affairs of love?

That the conversation of these women exhausts, enervates the men who are
not there?

That these women prefer the old, ugly and wicked men, or the pretty,
mincing puppets, who are not at their disposal?

If the woman of your thesis is the one who has not been subjected to
masculine influence, why do you take the women whom you attack from among
those who have been subjected to it?

Your contradictions, Master, are genuine and fair contradictions. For you
as for us, there is but one woman: she who lives in the society of man,
who has, like him, faults and vices, and who influences him as much as
she is influenced by him: the other has never existed except in the brain
of mystics and of victims of hallucination.

But we will leave this.

I have been told that you have spoken of love: it would seem to me
impossible, did I not know your audacity.

PROUDHON. I have spoken of it, as well as of Marriage.

AUTHOR. Well! let us make a little excursion into these two territories.
We will first speak of Love.


PROUDHON. Love!... It wearies and annoys me greatly. I have never yet
been able to make my ideas agree on this subject.

I at first defined love: "the attraction of the two sexes towards each
other with a view to reproduction," adding that this attraction becomes
purified by the adjunction of the Ideal. I even made a most beautiful
discovery with respect to this, namely: that there is a sexual division
because it is impossible to idealize anything but the objective.--_Vol._

AUTHOR. How you run on! Then all of the animal and vegetable species in
which the sexes are separated have an ideal in love? An ideal in the
brain of a horse or a mare may pass, since there is a brain; but where
will you lodge that of the male and female flower?

PROUDHON. On my honor, I never thought of asking myself that question. We
will return, if you please, to the definition of human love. I say, then,
that love is an attraction given with a view to reproduction;
notwithstanding, I think, also, that to love, properly called, progeny is

AUTHOR. But this is a contradiction...

PROUDHON. Am I to blame for that! You know, that in my eyes, man and
woman form _the organ of justice, the humanitary Androgynus_. Now I
affirm that love is the moving power of justice, because it is this that
attracts towards each other the two halves of the couple. It is through
love, therefore, that the conscience of man and woman is opened to the
knowledge of justice, which does not hinder it from being "the most
powerful fatality by which nature could have found the secret of
obscuring reason within us, of afflicting the conscience, and of chaining
the free will."--_Id._

AUTHOR. The moving power of justice, the sentiment which opens the
conscience of the sexes to justice, and which forms the judicial organ,
disturbs the reason and afflicts the conscience! But this is a

PROUDHON. Once more, am I to blame for it? Love, sought for itself,
renders man unworthy, and woman vile; and stop! "love, even when
sanctioned by justice, I do not like."--_Id._

AUTHOR. Have you not said that without the love inspired in man by the
beauty of woman, there would be neither art, nor science, nor industry,
nor justice; that man would be only a brute?

PROUDHON. Ah! I have said much more!... This love, the motor of justice,
the father of civilization, is, notwithstanding, _the abolition of
justice_, which exacts that it should be cast aside as soon as its office
of motor is performed. The impulse, the movement given, it must be
dispensed with. In marriage, it should play the smallest part possible;
"all amorous conversation, even between betrothed lovers, even between
husband and wife, is indecorous, destructive of domestic respect, of the
love of labor and the practice of social duty." A marriage of pure
inclination is nearly allied to shame, and "the father that gives his
consent to it is deserving of censure."--_Id._

AUTHOR. A father deserving of censure because he unites those who yield
to the motive power of justice!

PROUDHON. Let young people marry without repugnance, that is right....
But "when a son, a daughter, to satisfy inclination, tramples under foot
the wishes of the father, disinheritance is his first right and most
sacred duty."--_Id._

AUTHOR. Thus love, the motor of justice, the cause of civilization, the
necessity for reproduction, is at the same time a thing of shame which
should be feared and banished from marriage, and that, in certain cases,
deserves disinheritance!... May the gods bless your contradictions, and
posterity pass lightly over them!

PROUDHON. I can say nothing more satisfactory on the subject; but, let us
talk of marriage; I am strong indeed on that point.

Every function supposes an organ; man is the organ of liberty; but
justice exacts an organ composed of two terms: the couple. It is
necessary that the two persons that compose it should be dissimilar and
unequal, "because, if they were alike, they would not be completed by
each other; they would be two beings wholly independent, without
reciprocal action, incapable, through this cause, to produce justice....
In principle, there is no difference between man and woman, except a
simple diminution of energy in their faculties.

"Man is stronger, woman is weaker, that is all.... Man is the power of
that of which woman is the ideal, and reciprocally, woman is the ideal of
that of which man is the power."--_Id._

Androgyny laid down, I define marriage to be: "the sacrament of justice,
the living mystery of universal harmony; the form given by nature itself
to the religion of the human race. In a lower sphere, marriage is the act
by which man and woman, elevating themselves above love and the senses,
declare their wish to be united according to the law, and, as far as in
them lies, to pursue the social destiny, by laboring for the Progress of

"In this family religion, it may be said that the father is the priest,
the wife the god, the children the people.... _All are in the hands of
the father_, fed by his labor, protected by his sword, subjected to his
government, _within the jurisdiction of his court_, heirs and continuers
of his thought.... _Woman remains subordinate to man_, because she is an
object of worship, and because there is no common measure between the
force and the ideal.... Man will die for her, as he dies for his faith
and his gods, but he will keep for himself the command and the

In result, the spouses are equal, since there is community of fortune,
of honor, of absolute devotion; "_in principle and practice_ ... this
equality does not exist, _cannot exist_.... The equality of rights
supposing an equilibrium between the advantages with which Nature has
endowed woman and the more powerful faculties of man, the result would be
that woman, instead of being elevated by this equilibrium, would be
denaturalized, debased. By the ideality of her being, woman is, so to
speak, beyond price.... That she may preserve this inestimable charm,
which is not a positive faculty in her, but a quality, a manner, a state,
she must accept the law of marital power: _equality would render her
odious_, would be the dissolution of marriage, the death of love, _the
destruction of the human race_.

"And the glory of man consists in reigning over this admirable creature,
in being able to say: she is myself idealized, she is more than I, and,
notwithstanding, would be nothing without me.... In spite of this or on
account of this, I am and ought to remain the head of the community; if I
yield the command to her, she becomes debased and we perish."--_Id._

Marriage should be monogamous, "because conscience is common between the
spouses, and because it cannot, without being dissolved, admit a third

It should be indissoluble, because conscience is immutable, and the
spouses could not procure an exchange _without being guilty of
sacrilege_. If they are obliged to separate, "the deserving one needs
only to heal the wounds made in his heart and conscience, the other has
no longer the right to aspire to marriage, but must be content with

What do you think of this theory?

AUTHOR. Hitherto I have refused to believe in the god Proteus; but on
contemplating you, Master, I abjure my incredulity.

You appear to us first under the garb and form of Manou, and we discuss
his physiology;

You appear to us next, successively, in the shape and vestments of Moses,
St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventure; you are incarnated for a moment
in Paracelsus;

Lastly, you put on the Roman toga, over which you wrap the ungraceful
robe of Auguste Comte.

All this is too old, too unsightly for our age.... Have you really
nothing better to give us than the resurrection of the Roman law at the
glorious time when Cincinnatus ate his dish of lentils stark naked?

PROUDHON. What! do you dispute that marriage by _confarreation is not the
masterpiece of the human conscience_?

AUTHOR. Do I dispute it? Yes, indeed, and many other things beside. But
tell me, what meaning do you give to the words _sacrament_ and _mystery_,
that sound so hollow and false from your lips?

PROUDHON. Despite all my explanations concerning marriage, there
nevertheless remains a mystery with respect to it. This is all I can tell
you in elucidation. You must comprehend that "marriage is an institution
_sui generis_, formed at the same time at the tribunal of human justice
by contract, and at the spiritual tribunal by sacrament, and which
perishes as soon as the one or the other of these two elements

You must also comprehend that "marriage is a function of humanity,
outside of which love becomes a scourge, the distinction of the sexes has
no longer any meaning, the perpetuation of the species becomes a real
injury to the living, _justice is contrary to nature and the plan of the
creation is absurd_."--_Id._

AUTHOR. The plan of the creation absurd, and justice contrary to nature
without marriage! What does this mean in plain language?

PROUDHON. What! Is your intellect so feeble that it does not comprehend
that, without marriage, there is not, there cannot be justice?

AUTHOR. Then marriage is necessary to all?

PROUDHON. No; but "all participate in it and receive its influence
through filiation, consanguinity, adoption which, universal in its
essence, in order to act, has no need of cohabitation.... In the animic
or spiritual point of view, marriage is to each of us a condition of
felicity.... Every adult, healthy in mind and body, whom solitude or
abstraction has not sequestered from the rest of mankind, loves, and by
virtue of this love, contracts marriage in his heart.... Justice, which
is the end of love, and which can be obtained either by domestic
initiation, by civic communion, or, lastly, by mystical love," suffices
"for happiness in every condition of age and fortune."--_Id._

And do not confound marriage with any other union, with concubinage, for
example, "which is the mark of a feeble conscience." I do not however
condemn the concubinary, for "society is not the work of a day, virtue is
difficult to practise, without speaking of those to whom marriage is

In my opinion, it is for the interest of woman, of children, and of
morals, that concubinage should be regulated by legislation. Every child
should bear the name of the concubinary father, who should provide for
his subsistence and for the expenses of his education; "the forsaken
concubine should also have a right to an indemnity, unless she has been
the first to enter into another concubinage."--_Id._

But it is not from concubinage, but from marriage that all justice, all
right proceeds. This is so true, that if you "take away marriage, the
mother is left with her tenderness, but without authority, without
rights: _she can no longer do justice to her son_; there is illegitimacy,
a first step backward, a return to immorality."--_Id._

AUTHOR. All that you have just said concerning love, marriage, justice
and right, contains so many equivocations, errors, sophisms, and so much
pathos, that nothing less than a huge volume would suffice to refute,
after first explaining you. We will content ourselves, therefore, with
dwelling on the principal points.


1. The Androgynus, by definition, is a being combining the two sexes. Now
marriage does not make of man and woman _a single being_; each preserves
his individuality; your humanitary Androgynus is not therefore worth the
trouble of discussion; it is only a fantasy.

2. Every organ supposes a function, it is true, but what _facts_
authorize you to say that the married couple is the organ of justice?
Especially when you take the trouble to contradict yourself, in admitting
that justice is produced outside of marriage; that there is no need of
being married to be just?

The organ of justice, like all other organs, is in each of us; it is the
moral sense which comes into action when the point in question is the
appreciation of the moral value of an act, or to apply to our own
conduct the moral science accepted by the reason of the age.

3. According to you, equilibrium is _equality_; _equality is justice_:
there is, therefore, a contradiction on your part in exacting of two
beings, endowed each with liberty, will and intellect, that they should
acknowledge themselves _unequal_ to produce _equality_.

4. To affirm, as you have done, that progress is the realization of the
ideal through free will; that, consequently, the ideal is superior to the
reality, and that man progresses because he suffers himself to be guided
by it; then to affirm that woman is the ideal of man and that,
notwithstanding, she is _less_ and should _obey_, is a double
contradiction. If the point from which you start be admitted, logic would
exact that man should permit himself to be guided by woman. But what is
the use of discussing a thing that is devoid of meaning to the intellect?
If man, according to you, represents in reality strength, reason,
justice, woman being the idealization of man, would therefore represent
the greatest strength, the loftiest reason, the most sublime justice....
Do you pretend to say this, you who affirm the contrary?

5. To say that marriage is an institution _sui generis_, a _sacrament_, a
_mystery_, is to affirm what? And what enlightenment do you fancy that
you have given us? Are you fully sure of comprehending yourself better
than we comprehend you? I doubt it.

6. Can you demonstrate why, in an association between strong, intelligent
men, and weak, narrow-minded men, justice exacts _equality_, respect for
the dignity of all, and declares the slave _debased_ who submits; whilst
in the association of man and woman, _identical in species_ according to
you, the woman who is always, according to you, the weak and
narrow-minded being, would be _debased_ and would become _odious_ by

7. Can you explain also how, in a couple which stands for the producer of
justice or equality, this equality _would be the death of love and the
destruction of the human race_?

Grant that such a farrago of nonsense and contradictions presents as many
unfathomable _mysteries_ as your marriage.

We will say nothing of divorce: we leave it to modern reason and
conscience whether the dissolution of morals and of the family, due in a
great measure to the indissolubility of marriage, does not give cause
that it should be granted. What reasons do you give, besides, to support
your opinions? An absurdity: that the rupture of marriage is _sacrilege_;
an affirmation contradicted by facts: that conscience is immutable.

8. Between the bastard and his mother, there is no justice, say you. Your
conscience is younger by two thousand and some hundred years than the
modern conscience. In the work of reproduction, the task to be performed
with reference to the new being, is divided between the parents. On the
woman, as the more vital, more elastic, and more resisting, devolves the
more perilous part of this task. You shall risk your life to form
humanity from your own substance, says Nature to her. To the man it
belongs to pay his debt to his children by erecting the roof under which
they take shelter, by bringing the food which you elaborate or prepare
for them. To him it belongs to accomplish his duty towards his sons by
the use of his strength, as you accomplish yours by supplying them with
your blood and your milk.

Your rights over the child arise, adds conscience, from his incapacity to
take care of himself, from the duties which you fulfil towards him, from
the obligation under which you are placed to form his reason and
conscience, and to make him a useful and moral citizen.

Well, what happens most of the time, in cases of illegitimacy? That the
father having weakly, cruelly, contrary to all justice, deserted his
task, the mother performs double duty towards her children: _she is at
once father and mother_.

And it is when this mother has a _double_ right that you dare to say that
she has _none_! that between her and her son there is no justice! In
truth, I should rather live among savages than in a society that thinks
and _feels_ like you.

A mother has an incontestable right over her child, for she has risked
her own life to give it birth: the father acquires rights over it only
when ever he fulfils his duty; when he does not fulfil it, he has no
right; thus says reason. In this question, marriage signifies nothing. If
I were illegitimate, and my father had basely abandoned me, I should
despise and hate him as the executioner of my mother; as a man without
heart and conscience, a vile egotist; and I should doubly love and
respect her who had been at once my mother and my father. Such are the
dictates of my conscience, my reason, and my heart.

9. What is your marriage, _the first form given by Nature to the religion
of the human race_, in which woman is an idol who does the cooking and
mends the stockings of her priest?

What is this institution, in which man is reputed to defend his wife and
children with his sword, whom the law defends, even against him?

In which man is reputed to support by his labor those who often labor
more than he, or who bring him a dowry?

_The wife and children are under the jurisdiction of the tribunal of
man!_ May the gods preserve us from this frightful return to the manners
and customs of the patriarchs and Romans. Women and children are under
the jurisdiction of the social tribunal, and it is safer for them: the
French wife has not at least to fear that her Abraham will sacrifice her
little Isaac, nor that her domestic despot, leaving the child on the
ground, like the ancient Roman, will thus condemn it to death. Society
has a heart and generous proctors who, happily, no longer see the family
tribunal in the same light as Proudhon. It is true that our author is an
Epimenides, awaking after a sleep of more than two thousand years.

I have finished, Master; have you anything more to say?

PROUDHON. Certainly. I have to speak of the sphere of woman. This sphere
is "the care of the household, the education of childhood, the
instruction of young girls under the superintendence of the magistrates,
the service of public charity. We dare not add the national festivals and
spectacles, which might be considered as the seed-time of love.

"Man is the worker, woman the housewife.

"The household is the full manifestation of woman.

"For woman, the household is an honorable necessity.

"As all her literary productions are always reduced to a domestic novel,
the whole value of which is to serve, through love and sentiment, to the
popularization of justice, so her industrial production is brought back
in conclusion, to the labors of the household; she will never depart from
this circle."--_Id._

AUTHOR. Pardon my astonishment, Master, that woman, whose mind is
_irremediably false_, who is _immoral_, who composes nothing but
_medleys_, _monsters_, who _takes chimeras for realities, who does not
even know how to write a novel_, knows how, notwithstanding, by your own
admission, to write a novel in order to popularize justice through
sentiment and love. She therefore comprehends, feels, and loves justice?

I remark next, that the cares of the household are _labor_;

That education is _labor_;

That the service of public charity is _labor_;

That the arrangement and superintendence of festivals and spectacles
presume varied _labors_;

That to popularize justice through a domestic novel is _labor_;

Whence it follows that woman is a _worker_, that is, a useful producer;
she differs from man, therefore, merely in the kind of production; and we
have only to ascertain whether the labor of woman is as useful to society
as that of man. I charge myself, when you like, with establishing this
_equivalence_ by _facts_.

I remark, in the second place, that the education of childhood, the
instruction of young girls, the service of public charity, the
arrangement of festivals and spectacles, the popularization of justice by
literature, do not form a part of the labors of the household; and that
woman, therefore, is not _merely housewife_.

I remark, thirdly, that our female superintendents, merchants, artists,
accountants, clerks, and professors, are no more housewives than your
male superintendents, merchants, artists, book keepers, clerks, and
professors; that our female cooks and waiting-maids are no more
housewives, than your male cooks, bakers, confectioners, and footmen;
that, in all these functions, and in many others, women equal men, which
proves that they are not less fitted than you for employments that do not
pertain to the household, and that you are not less adapted than they to
those that do pertain to it. Rude facts thus stifle your affirmations,
and show us that woman may be _something else than housewife or

Lastly, Master, what is the position of all women relatively to all men?

PROUDHON. Inferiority; for the entire feminine sex fills the place with
regard to the other sex, in certain respects, of the wife with regard to
the husband: this proceeds from the sum total of the respective

AUTHOR. So there is neither liberty nor equality even for the woman who
has not a father or husband?

PROUDHON. "The truly free woman is the woman who is chaste; the chaste
woman is she who experiences no amorous emotion for any one, _not even
for her husband_."--_Vol._ III.

AUTHOR. Such a woman is not chaste: she is a statue. Chastity being a
_virtue_, supposes the dominion of the reason and the moral sense over an
instinct: the chaste woman, therefore, is she who controls a certain
instinct, not she who is destitute of it. I add that the woman who yields
herself to her husband without attraction, plays the part of a
prostitute. I knew well that you understood nothing either of love or of

Shall we, in conclusion, compare your doctrine concerning the right of
woman with that which you profess concerning right in general?

PROUDHON. Willingly ... since I cannot do otherwise.

AUTHOR. Do you admit that woman is identical in species with man?

PROUDHON. Yes, only her faculties are less energetic.

AUTHOR. I grant you this for the sake of discussion. Expound your general
theory concerning right, I will apply it to woman, and you shall draw the


PROUDHON. "The law regulating only human relations, _it is the same for
all_; so that, to establish exceptions, it will be necessary to prove
that the individuals excepted are of superior order, or inferior to the
human species."--_Creation of Order in Humanity._

AUTHOR. Now you admit that woman is neither superior nor inferior to the
human species, but is identical in species with man; the law is therefore
the same for her as for man.

PROUDHON. I draw the contrary conclusion, _because man is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Neither figure, nor birth, nor _the faculties_, nor fortune,
nor rank, nor profession, nor talent, _nor anything which distinguishes
individuals apart_, establishes between them a difference of species: all
being men, and the law only regulating human relations, it is the same
for all."--_Id._

AUTHOR. Now, woman is in essence identical with man; she differs from him
only in manners and qualities which, according to you, by no means make
her differ in essence; once more, therefore, the law is the same for her
as for man.

PROUDHON. It is logical; but I conclude the contrary, _because man is the

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Social equilibrium is the equalization of the strong and the
weak. So long as the strong and the weak are not equal, they are
_strangers_, they cannot form an alliance, they are _enemies_."--1st
_Memoir on Property_.

AUTHOR. Now, according to you, man is the strong and woman the weak of an
identical species; social equilibrium ought therefore to _equalize_ them,
that they may be neither strangers nor enemies.

PROUDHON. It is logical; but I claim that they should be _made unequal_
in society and in marriage. Man should have the prepotence, _because he
is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "From the identity of reason in all men, and the sentiment of
respect which leads them to maintain their mutual dignity at any cost,
follows equality before justice."--(_Justice_, _Vol._ III, etc.) All are
born free: between individual liberties there is no other judge than
equilibrium, _which is equality_; the identity of essence does not permit
the creation of a hierarchy.--_Vol._ II, the whole of the 8th _Study_.

AUTHOR. Now, woman is in essence identical with man. She is born free;
between her and man there is, therefore, no other judge than equality; it
is not permissible, therefore, to establish a hierarchy between them.

PROUDHON. It is logical. But I conclude, on the contrary, that it is
necessary to create a hierarchy between the sexes, and to give the
prepotence to man, _because he is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "The dignity of the human soul consists in being unwilling to
suffer any one of its powers _to subordinate_ the others, to require all
to be at the service of the collective whole; this is morality, this is
virtue. Whoever speaks of harmony or agreement, in fact, necessarily
supposes terms in opposition. Attempt a hierarchy, a prepotence! _you
think to create order, you create nothing but absolutism._"--_Justice_,
_Vol._ II.

AUTHOR. Woman, according to you, forms with man an organism, that of
justice. Now, according to you, the two halves of the androgynus have
different qualities, which are required to harmonize with each other in
equality under pain of creating absolutism instead of order; the feminine
faculty is therefore required to form an equipoise with the masculine

PROUDHON. It is logical; but I conclude that the dignity of the
humanitary androgynus lies in subjugating the feminine faculty and
creating despotism, _because man is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Justice is the respect spontaneously felt for and
_reciprocally guarantied_ to human dignity, in _whatever person_ and
whatever circumstance it may be found compromised."--_Justice_, _Vol._ I.

AUTHOR. Now, woman is a human being, possessing a dignity which should be
respected and guarantied by the law of reciprocity; therefore one cannot
be wanting in respect to feminine dignity without being wanting in

PROUDHON. It is logical; but although woman is a human being, identical
in species with man, and although I believe that there is no other basis
of right than equality, I nevertheless affirm that the dignity of woman
is inferior to that of man, _because he is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Right is to each the faculty of exacting from others respect
for human dignity in his person," duty is "the obligation of each to
respect this dignity in another."--_Justice_, _Vol._ I.

AUTHOR. Now, woman being identical in species, man possesses a dignity
_equal_ to hers; therefore she should be respected in her dignity, that
is, in her person, her liberty, her property, her affections; this is her
right as a human being, and man cannot deny it without failing in justice
and in his duty.

PROUDHON. It is logical. But I claim that woman has not the right which
my principles attribute to her; that man alone has rights, _because man
is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Liberty is an _absolute_ right, because it is to man what
impenetrability is to matter, a condition _sine qua non_ of
existence."--1st _Memoir on Property_.

AUTHOR. Now, woman is a human being, she has therefore an _absolute_
right to liberty, which is her condition _sine qua non_ of existence.

PROUDHON. It is logical. But I conclude, on the contrary, that woman has
no need of liberty; that this condition _sine qua non_ of existence for
our species, does not regard one half of the species; that man alone
cannot exist without liberty, _because he is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. A contradiction, Master.

PROUDHON. "Equality is an absolute right, _because without equality,
there is no society_."--_Id._

AUTHOR. Now, woman is a human and social being; she has an absolute
right, therefore, to this equality, without which she would be but a
Pariah in society.

PROUDHON. It is logical. But I nevertheless conclude from this that woman
has no more right to equality than to liberty. That, although of the same
species as man, and consequently amenable to the law of equality,
nevertheless she is not amenable to it, and should be unequal and in
subjection to man, _because he is the stronger_.

AUTHOR. Fie, Master! To contradict yourself thus is disgraceful to your
reputation. It would be better to maintain that woman has not the same
rights as man, because she is of a different species.

PROUDHON. Woman is bound to feel that she does not possess a dignity
equal to that of man; in the association formed between them to produce
justice, _the notions of right and duty shall be no longer correlative_.
Man shall have all rights, and shall accept only such duties as it shall
please him to recognize.

AUTHOR. Reflect that man, after having denied the dignity and the right
of woman, will labor to stultify her more and more in the interest of his

PROUDHON. That does not concern me: the family should be immured: the
husband is priest and king therein. If, as in the case with all liberty
oppressed, the woman grows restive, we will tell her _that she does not
know herself, that she is incapable of judging and ruling herself_; that
she is a cypher; we will outrage her in her moral worth; we will deny her
intellect and activity: and by dint of intimidating her, we will succeed
in forcing her to be silent: for man must remain master, _since he is
the stronger_!

AUTHOR. Deny and insult us, Master, this does us no harm: the lords of
the Middle Age employed this method with their serfs, your sires ... we
are now indignant at them. Slaveholders employed and still employ this
method with the blacks, and the civilized world is indignant at them,
slavery is restricted, and is on the way to disappear.

Meanwhile, I point out your contradictions to my readers; your authority
over minds will be thereby lessened, I hope.

Those who claim, in accordance with the major of the preceding
syllogisms, that you found right upon identity of species, an abstraction
of individual qualities; that you believe right and duty correlative;
that you desire equality and liberty, will be quite as nearly right as
those who claim, in accordance with the conclusion of the same
syllogisms, that you base right upon force, superiority of faculties;
that you accept inequality and despotism, deny individual liberty and
social equality, and do not believe in the correlation of right and duty.

If it is painful to you to have fallen into contradictions so monstrous,
believe that it is not less painful to me to be forced, in the interest
of my cause, to point them out to the world.

Having taken in hand the cause of my sex, I was under obligations to
parry your attacks by turning against yourself your allegations against

It was necessary to do this, not by denials and declamations which prove
nothing, or by affirmations without proofs, according to your method of
proceeding; but by opposing to you science and facts; by making use only
of the rational method which you extol without employing it, by charging
you often with contradicting yourself when proofs _de facto_ would have
demanded too much detail and time.

You accuse women of _taking chimeras for realities_. I have proved to you
that you deserve this reproach, since your theory is in contradiction to
science and facts.

You accuse women of _erecting unreal analogies into principles_.... I
have proved that you have done so as well, in deducing from the
_pretended_ absence of physical germs in woman, the absence of
intellectual and moral germs.

You accuse woman of _reasoning wrongly_.... I have brought you face to
face with your own principles, that you might draw from them
contradictory conclusions.

You accuse woman of creating nothing but _medleys, monsters_.... The
anatomy of your theory proves that you know how to do so quite as well.

You accuse woman of lacking intellect, of want of justice, virtue,
chastity.... I appeal from you to yourself, and you say positively the

Where you are fantastic, contradictory, I, _a woman_, appeal to logic.

Where you are wanting in method, I, _a woman_, employ scientific and
rational method.

Where you contradict your own principles, I appeal to these same
principles to judge and condemn you.

Which of us two is the more reasonable and more rational?

My modesty suffers, I acknowledge, at the thought that I have played the
part of _Minerva shaming Ulysses_ _of his paradoxes and his
profligacies_. At last, this tiresome part is ended!

I have addressed so many harsh things to you in so firm and resolute a
tone, that I should be sorry to quit you without a few friendly words
coming from my heart. You ought to be fully convinced of my sincerity,
for you see that you have to deal with a woman who shrinks from no one;
who is never intimidated, however great may be her opponent, or whatever
name he may bear. You may be my adversary: I shall never be your enemy,
for I regard you as an honest man, a vigorous thinker, one of the glories
of France, one of the great men of our Comté, always so dear to the heart
of her children; lastly, one of the admirations of my youth. You and I
belong to the great army that is assaulting the citadel of abuse, and
endeavoring to mine and sap it; I do not shun this solidarity. Is it so
necessary that we should fight? Let us live in peace; I can entreat it of
you without stooping, since I do not fear you. Understand one thing that
I tell you without bitterness: that you are incapable of understanding
woman, and that by continuing the struggle, you will inevitably range her
under the banner of the anti-revolutionists.

Your pride has set enmity between you and woman, and you have bruised her
heel: no one would be more sorry than I to see her crush your head.



What thought Auguste Comte, who died in September, 1857.

To solve this question, it is necessary first to divide the man into two
parts; not as the wise king Solomon designed to divide the child disputed
for by two mothers, but in thought, by making of him two distinct men; a
philosopher and a revealer.

M. Comte, who denied and insulted his master, Saint Simon, is only the
popularizer of his recently edited works: so much for the rational phase.

What belongs to him exclusively is a socio-religious organization, which
cannot be the work of a healthy mind.

What belongs to him exclusively, is a heavy, dry, insulting style,
arrogant to the point of being revolting, loaded and overloaded with
adjectives and adverbs.

What belongs to him exclusively, are a few ideas that he has submerged in
volumes, containing not less than from seven hundred and fifty to eight
hundred pages, in small type. I do not advise you to peruse them,
readers, unless in your heart and soul you believe yourself deserving of
many years of purgatory, which you prefer to expiate on the earth ... I
do not know whether I ought to say above or below, since astronomy has
reversed the positions of the material and spiritual worlds.

The disciples of Comte are divided into two schools: that of the
Positivist Philosophers, and that of the Priesthood.

The first reject the religious organization of Comte, and are in reality
nothing but the children of modern Philosophy, and very estimable
adversaries of that nebulous thing which is called Metaphysics. We could
not therefore have them in sight in this article; so, let not M. Littré
and his honorable friends frown in reading us: we are about to find fault
only with the high priest and his priesthood.

The doctrine of Comte concerning woman being connected with the whole of
his religious system, let us first say a word about this system.

_There is no God; there is no soul_: the object of our adoration should
be Humanity, represented by the best of our species....

There are three social elements: woman, priest, and man.

Woman is the moral providence, the guardian of morals.

Had it not been for the wholly mystical love, I willingly believe, that
Comte had for Madame Clotilde de Vaux, it is probable that woman would
not have been the _moral Providence_; thanks to this love, she is nothing
less than this. We will see that neither is she anything more.

Of a nature superior to that of man (in the opinion of Comte), she is
nevertheless subject to him, in consequence of a philosophical paradox
which we need not refute here.

The function of woman is to render man _moral_; a task which she can
perform well only in private life; all social and sacerdotal functions
are therefore interdicted her.

She should be _preserved from labor_, should renounce dowry and
inheritance; man is charged with maintaining her; daughter, she is
supported by her father or her brothers; wife, by her husband; widow, by
her sons. In default of her natural maintainers, the state, _on the
requisition of the priesthood_, provides for her wants.

Marriage is instituted for the perfecting of the married couple, above
all, for that of the man: the reproduction of the species has so little
to do with its end, that the progress of science permits us to hope that,
some day, woman will be able _alone_ to reproduce humanity, so as to
realize and to generalize the hypothesis of the Virgin Mother. Then it
will be possible to regulate human production, by entrusting to none but
the most deserving women the task of conceiving children and bringing
them into the world, especially members of the priesthood.

Divorce is not permitted, and widowhood is eternal for both sexes.

Such, in brief, is the Comtist doctrine concerning woman, marriage and
procreation. As the reader might suspect us of malicious exaggeration, we
entreat him to read attentively the following pages, emanating from the
pen of the originator of the system.

According to him, women have never demanded their emancipation; the men
who claim it for them are, after Comte's usual courteous style, nothing
but _utopists corrupted by retrogression_. "All transitional ages,' he
says, "have given rise, like our own, to sophistical aberrations
concerning the social condition of woman. But the natural law which
assigns to the effective sex an existence essentially domestic, has never
been materially altered.... Women were then (in antiquity) too low to
reject worthily, even by their silence, the doctoral aberrations of their
pretended defenders.... But among the moderns, the happy liberty of the
western women permits them to manifest a decisive repugnance which is
sufficient, in default of rational ratification, to neutralize these
wanderings of the mind, _inspired by the intemperance of the heart_.

"Without discussing unreal retrograde utopias, it is of importance to
feel, the better to appreciate real order, that if women should ever
obtain this temporal equality demanded, without their consent, by their
pretended defenders, their social guaranties would suffer thereby as much
as their moral character. For they would find themselves thus subjected,
in the majority of occupations, to an active daily competition which they
could not sustain, while at the same time the practical rivalry would
corrupt the principal sources of mutual affection. Man should support
woman, such is the natural law of our species."--_Politique Positive_, t.

"It is necessary to consider the just independence of the affective sex
as founded upon two connected conditions, its universal affranchisement
from labor outside the household, and its free renunciation of all

"Domestic priestesses of humanity, born to modify by affection the
necessary reign of force, they should shun, as radically degrading, all
participation in command."--_Id._ t. IV.

"The moral degradation appears to me still greater when woman enriches
herself by her own labor. The continued eagerness of gain makes her then
lose even that spontaneous kindness which preserves the other type in the
midst of its dissipations.

"No worse industrial chiefs can exist than women."--_Caté._ _Pos._

So ladies, ye who prefer labor to prostitution, who pass days and nights
in providing for the wants of your family, it is understood of course
that you _are degraded_; a woman ought not to do anything; respect and
honor belong to idleness.

You, Victoria of England, Isabella of Spain,--you command, therefore you
_are radically degraded_.

M. Comte pretends that masculine superiority is incontestable in all that
concerns the properly called "source of command ... that the intellect of
man is stronger, more extended than that of woman.

"A healthy appreciation of the universal order will make the affective
sex comprehend how important _submission_ is to dignity.

"The priesthood will make women feel the merit of _submission_, by
developing this _admirable_ maxim of Aristotle: _the chief strength of
woman consists in surmounting the difficulty of obeying_; their education
will have prepared them to comprehend that all dominion, far from really
elevating, necessarily degrades them, by depreciating their chief worth
so as to expect from strength the ascendancy which is due to love

Here are a few pages from the system of Politique Positive, t. IV., which
are too curious not to interest the reader.

"The better to characterize feminine independence, I think it best to
introduce a bold hypothesis, which human progress perhaps will realize,
although it is my business neither to examine when nor how.

"If the masculine apparatus contributes to our generation only after a
simple excitement, derived from its organic destination, the possibility
may be conceived of replacing this stimulant _by another or several
others, of which the woman would dispose at will_. The absence of such a
faculty among the neighboring species cannot be sufficient to interdict
it to the most eminent and most modifiable race....

"If feminine independence can ever reach this limit, in accordance with
the sum total of moral, intellectual, and even material progress, the
social function of the affective sex will be found notably improved. Then
all fluctuation between the animal appreciation which still prevails, and
the noble doctrine systematized by positivism, would cease. The most
essential production (that of our species) would become independent of
the caprices of a perturbating instinct, the normal repression of which
has hitherto constituted the principal obstacle to human discipline. Such
a privilege would be naturally found transferred, with full
responsibility, to the organs best fitted to its use, alone capable of
guarding themselves from vicious impulses, so as to realize all the
advantages that it permits."

Which means in good English, my female readers, that perhaps the time
will come when you will create children without the co-operation of these
gentlemen; that this function will be confided to those among you who
shall be most worthy of it, and that they will be held responsible for
the imperfection of the product.

"Thenceforth," resumes the author, "the utopia of the Virgin Mother will
become to the purest and most eminent an ideal goal, directly suited to
sum up human perfection, thus carried even to systematizing procreation,
while ennobling it.... Success depends most of all on the general
development of the relations between the soul and the body, its continued
search (that of the problem of fruitful virginity) will worthily
institute the systematic study of vital harmony, by procuring to it at
once the noblest aim and the best organs."--_Ibid._

Translated: the study of the relations of the brain with the body will
lead us to discover the means of procreating children without the
co-operation of man; this is the noblest aim of this study, as the
faculty of being a virgin mother should be the ideal which the purest and
most eminent women should seek to attain.

"Thus," continues M. Comte, "I am led to represent the utopia of the
Virgin Mother as the synthetic résume of positive religion, all the
phases of which it combines."--_Ibid._

Translation: To procreate children without the concurrence of man, _sums
up positive religion, and combines all its phases_.

This may be very fine, but as to being _rational_ and _positive_--what do
you think, readers?

"The rationality of the problem," adds the author, "is founded upon the
determination of the true office of the masculine apparatus, designed
especially to supply to the blood an excitative fluid, capable of
strengthening all the vital operations, whether animal or organic. In
comparison with this general service, the special use of the fecundative
stimulus becomes more and more secondary in proportion as the organism is
elevated. It may thus be conceived that in the noblest species, this
liquid ceases to be indispensable to the awakening of the germ, which may
result artificially from several other, and even from material sources,
especially from a better reaction of the nervous upon the vascular

All this would be possible, I grant, _if_ the fluid of which you speak,
High Priest, had, above all, the general function which you attribute to

_If_ the reproduction of our species by the co-operation of the two sexes
were not a _law_;

_If_ we could preserve a species while destroying its law;

_If_ facts did not contradict the possibility of the hypothesis.

Now, to place an _if_ before a natural law and the phenomena which are
its expression, is only a gross absurdity: we explain laws, we do not
reform them without profoundly modifying the being that they govern; we
do not destroy without destroying this being: for the individual being is
_the law in form_.

The author dwells as follows on the consequences of the absurd

"Thence it may be conceived that civilization not only disposes man
better to appreciate woman, but augments the participation of this sex in
human reproduction, which ought, finally, _to emanate from it alone_.

"Regarded individually, such a modification ought to improve the cerebral
and corporal constitution of both sexes, by developing therein continued
chastity, the importance of which has been felt more and more by
universal instinct, even during irregularities.--p. 277.

"Considered domestically, this transformation would render the
constitution of the human family more in conformity with the general
spirit of sociocracy, by completing the just emancipation of woman, thus
made, even physically, independent of man. The normal ascendancy of the
affective sex would be no longer contestable with respect to children
_emanated from it exclusively_.

"But the principal result would consist in perfecting the fundamental
institution of marriage (the improvement of the married couple without
sexual motive), the positive theory of which would then become
unexceptionable. Thus purified, the conjugal tie would experience an
amelioration as marked as when Polygamy was replaced by Monogamy: for we
should generalize the utopia of the Middle Age, in which Maternity was
reconciled with Virginity.

"Regarded civilly, this institution alone permits the regulation of the
most important of productions, which can never become sufficiently
susceptible of systematization, so long as it shall be accomplished in
delirium and without responsibility.

"Reserved to its best organs, this function would perfect the human race
by better determining the transmission of ameliorations due to external
influences, both social and personal.... Systematic procreation coming to
remain more or less concentrated among the better types, the comparison
of the two cases would give rise not only to valuable enlightenment, but
also to an important institution which would procure to sociocracy the
principal advantage of theocracy. For the development of the new mode
would soon cause a non-hereditary caste to spring up, better adapted than
the common populace _for the recruital of spiritual and even temporal
chiefs_, whose authority would then rest on a truly _superior_ origin,
which would not shun investigation.

All these indications will suffice to show the value of the utopia of the
Virgin Mother, destined to procure to Positivism a synthetic résume,
equivalent to that which the institution of the Eucharist furnishes to

It is much to be feared, alas! that the disciples of this great man,
however ardent seekers of _vital harmony_ they may be, will never find
the _synthetic résume_ of Positivism, the _equivalent_ of the Eucharist:
and it will be a great pity: to order children as we order shoes, and
leave them on the mother's hands when they do not suit, would be very

And what, I ask you, will the future leaders of humanity do, if they can
only obtain respect and obedience on the condition of proving that they
are _sons of virgins_?

But we will not jest with so grave a personage as the High Priest of
Humanity: we will only say in passing, that never was atheist seen to
show himself more profoundly a Christian through contempt for works of
the flesh. Hear what he says on page 286 of the work before cited:

"Useless to individual conservation, the sexual instinct co-operates only
in an _accessory and even equivocal_ manner to the propagation of the
species. Philosophers truly freed from superstition should regard it more
and more as tending above all to disturb the principal design of the
vivifying fluid. But without waiting for the feminine utopia to be
realized, we may determine, _if not the atrophy, at least the inertia of
this cerebral superfoetation_, with more facility than is indicated by
the insufficient efforts of theologism. While positive education will
make the vices of such an instinct everywhere felt, and _will raise up
the continued hope of its desuetude_, the whole final system ought
naturally to institute a revulsive treatment with respect to it, more
efficacious than Catholic austerities. For the universal aspiration of
domestic existence and of public life will develop the sympathetic
faculties to such a degree, that sentiment, intellect, and activity will
always concur to stigmatize and repress the most perturbing of selfish

Despite all this _aspiration_, and all these stigmas, do not trust to it,
High Priest! Be advised by me, use camphor, and plenty of it; scatter it
everywhere as a certain Amphitryon scattered nutmeg.

It is in prevision of the excommunications hurled by you against this
_vile_, this _useless_ instinct, that Nature has been prodigal of

Upon the whole, you see, my female readers, that if M. Comte believes us
weaker than man in body, mind, and character, in return, he believes us

We are moral providence, guardian angels: he dreams of affranchisement
for us through the subversion of a natural law.

But meanwhile he places us under the yoke of man by exempting us from

He rivets our chains by persuading us cajolingly to despoil ourselves of
our property;

He says to us in the gentlest voice imaginable: never command: it would
degrade you;

Your great strength is in obeying him whom _it is your destiny to

You will be naught in the temple, naught in the state.

In the family, you are domestic priestesses, the auxiliaries of the

Three sacraments out of nine are refused you: that of destiny, because,
for you, it is confounded with that of marriage; that of retirement,
because you have no profession; lastly, that of incorporation, because a
woman cannot, in herself, merit a personal and public apotheosis.

If you have been worthy auxiliaries, you shall be interred near those
whom you shall have influenced, like their other useful auxiliaries: the
horse, the dog, the cow, and the ass; and mention shall be made of you
when honors shall be paid to the member of humanity to whom you shall
have belonged.

Shall we refute such doctrines? No. Our answer to them finds a fitter
place in the article devoted to M. Proudhon, who has drawn largely from
the doctrine of M. Comte.

As to the priests who continue the teachings of their master, it suffices
to refer them to what I said to M. Comte in the _Revue Philosophique_ of
December, 1855.

The women of the present time are in general intelligent, because they
receive an education superior to that of their mothers. The majority of
them devote themselves to an active life either in the arts or the
trades; men acknowledge them as their competitors in these, and even
confess that they are superior in management. No man, worthy of the name,
would dare contest that woman is his equal, and that the day of her civil
emancipation is close at hand.

Women, on their side, more independent and more deserving, without having
lost anything of their grace and gentleness, no longer accept the famous
axiom: _man should support woman_; still less do they accept the
_admirable_ maxim of Aristotle, fit for the slaves of the gyneceum. Be
sure that every _true_ woman will laugh at the raiment of clouds which
you pretend to give her, at the incense with which you wish to asphyxiate
her; for she cares no longer for adoration. She wishes to carry her
intellect and activity unfettered into spheres suited to her aptitudes;
she wishes to aid her brother, man, in clearing up the field of theory,
the domain of practice; she claims that every human being is the judge of
his own aptitudes; she does not recognize in any man or in any doctrine
the right of fixing her place, and of marking out her road. Through the
labor of war was the patriciate constituted; through peaceful labor was
servitude emancipated; _through labor_, also, does woman claim to conquer
her civil rights.

Such is what many women are, what they wish to be to-day; see if it is
not madness to seek to revive the gyneceum and the atrium for these
women, impregnated with the ideas of the eighteenth century, wrought upon
by the ideas of '89 and of the modern reformers. To say to such women
that they shall have no place in the state, nor in marriage, nor in
science, nor in art, nor in the trades, nor even in your subjective
paradise, is something so monstrous that I cannot conceive, for my part,
how aberration could go so far.

You will no longer find an interlocutress to say: "that a woman can
scarcely ever deserve a personal and public apotheosis ... that views
involving the fullest experience and the profoundest reflection are
_naturally interdicted_ to the sex whose contemplations can scarcely go
beyond the circle of private life _with success_ ... that _the moral
degradation of woman is_ _still greater when she enriches herself by her
own labor_ ... that there are no worse industrial chiefs than women...."
And if any woman behind the times should be so imbecile and immodest as
to hold such language, all men of any worth whatever would regard her
only with disdain.

But you, who wish to annihilate woman, from what principle do you draw
such a consequence? That she is an affective power, you say ... yes, but,
as to that, man is such, likewise; and is not woman, as well as he, alike
intellect and activity? By reason of a purely accidental predominance,
can one half of the human species be banished beyond the clouds of
sentimentality? And ought not all serious discipline to tend to develop,
not one phase of the being, but the ponderation, the harmony of all its
phases? Want of harmony is the source of disorder and deformity. The
woman who is solely sentimental commits irreparable errors; the man who
is solely rational is a species of monster, and the person in whom
activity predominates is but a brute. Since you believe in Gall and
Spurzheim, you know that the encephalon of the two sexes is alike, that
it is modifiable in both, that all education is founded on this
modificability; why has it never occurred to you that if man _en masse_
is more rational than woman, it is because education, laws and custom
have developed in him the anterior lobes of the brain; while in woman,
education, laws and custom develop especially the posterior lobes of this
organ; and why, having established these facts, have you not been led to
conclude that, since organs are developed only in consequence of the
excitants applied to them, it is probable that man and woman, subjected
to the same cerebral excitants, would be developed in the same manner,
with the shades of difference peculiar to each individuality; and that
for woman to be developed harmoniously under her three aspects, she must
manifest herself socially under three aspects? Be sure, sir, your
principle is thrice false, thrice in contradiction to science and reason;
in the presence of the physiology of the brain, all theories of
classification fall to the ground: before the nervous system, women are
the equals of men: they can be their inferiors only before muscular
supremacy, attacked by the invention of powder, and about to be reduced
to dust by the triumph of mechanism.

I should say many more things to you, sir, were not this critical sketch
too long already; but imperfect though it may be, having to my mind only
the meaning of a woman's protest against your doctrines, I shall pause



The inheritor of a name which commands respect, Ernest Legouvé, an
elegant, eloquent, and impassioned author, has written a Moral History of
Women, whence exhales a perfume of purity and love which refreshes the
heart and calms the soul.

In every page of this book, we detect the impulse of an upright heart and
lofty mind, indignant at injustice, oppression, and moral deformity. The
author has deserved well of women, and it is with pleasure that I seize
the opportunity of thanking him in the name of those who, at the present
time, are struggling in various countries for the emancipation of half
the human race.

What is the object of Legouvé's work? We will let him tell it himself.

"The object of this book is summed up in these words: to lay claim to
feminine liberty in the name of the two very principles of the
adversaries of this liberty: tradition and difference (of the sexes),
that is to say, to show in tradition progress, and in difference

God created the human species double, we utilize but half of it; Nature
says two, we say one; we must agree with Nature. Unity itself, instead of
perishing thereby, would only then be true unity; that is, not the
sterile absorption of one of two terms for the benefit of the other, but
the living fusion of two fraternal individualities, increasing the common
power with all the force of their individual development.

"The feminine spirit is stifled, but not dead.... We cannot annihilate at
our pleasure a force created by God, or extinguish a torch lighted by his
hand; but turned aside from its purpose, this force, instead of creating,
destroys; this torch consumes instead of giving light.

"Let us then open wide the gates of the world to this new element: we
have need of it."

Then, examining the position of women, the author adds: "No history
presents, we believe, more iniquitous prejudices to combat, more secret
wounds to heal.

"Shall we speak of the present? As daughters, no public education for
them, no professional instruction, no possible life without marriage, no
marriage without a dowry. Wives--they do not legally possess their
property, they do not possess their persons, they cannot give, they
cannot receive, they are under the ban of an eternal interdict.
Mothers--they have not the legal right to direct the education of their
children, they can neither marry them, nor prevent them from marrying,
nor banish them from the paternal house nor retain them there. Members of
the commonwealth, they can neither be the guardians of other orphans than
their sons or their grand-sons, nor take part in a family council, nor
witness a will; they have not the right of testifying in the state to the
birth of a child! Among the working people, what class is most wretched?
Women. Who are they that earn from sixteen to eighteen sous for twelve
hours of labor? Women. Upon whom falls all the expense of illegitimate
children? Upon women. Who bear all the disgrace of faults committed
through passion? Women."

Then, after showing the position of rich women, he continues: "And thus,
slaves everywhere, slaves of want, slaves of wealth, slaves of ignorance,
they can only maintain themselves great and pure by force of native
nobleness and almost superhuman virtue. Can such domination endure?
Evidently not. It necessarily falls before the principle of natural
equity; and the moment has come to claim for women their share of rights
and, above all, of duties; to demonstrate what subjection takes away from
them, and what true liberty will restore to them; to show, in short, the
good that they do not and the good they might do."

The history of the past shows us woman more and more oppressed in
proportion as we trace back the course of centuries. "The French
Revolution (itself), which renewed the whole order of things in order to
affranchise men, did nothing, we may say, for the affranchisement of
women.... '91 respected almost all of the feminine disabilities of '88,
and the Consulate confirmed them in the civil code."

This, in Legouvé's opinion was the fault of the philosophy of the
eighteenth century, for "woman is, according to Diderot, a courtesan;
according to Montesquieu, an attractive child; according to Rousseau, an
object of pleasure to man; according to Voltaire, nothing.... Condorcet
and Sieyès demanded even the political emancipation of woman; but their
protests were stifled by the powerful voices of the three great
continuers of the eighteenth century, Mirabeau, Danton, and Robespierre."

Under the Consulate, "feminine liberty had no more decided enemy (than
Bonaparte:) a southerner, the spirituality of woman was lost on him; a
warrior, he saw in the family a camp, and there required, before all
else, discipline; a despot, he saw in it a state, and there required,
before all else, obedience. He it was who concluded a discussion in
council with these words: _There is one thing that is not French; that a
woman can do as she pleases_.... Always man (in the thought of
Bonaparte), always the honor of man! As to the happiness of woman, it is
not a single time in question (in the civil code.)"

It is in behalf of the weakness of women, it is in behalf of tradition
which shows them constantly subordinate, it is in behalf of their
household functions, that the adversaries of the emancipation of women
oppose it. "To educate them is to deform them; and they do not want their
playthings spoiled," says M. Legouvé, ironically. He then continues in a
serious strain: "What matters tradition to us? What matters history to
us? There is an authority more powerful than the consent of the human
race: _it is the Right_. Though a thousand more centuries of servitude
should be added to those which have already passed, their accord could
not banish the primordial right which rules over everything, the absolute
right of perfecting one's self which every being has received from the
sole fact that he has been created."

To those who base their opposition on the domestic functions of woman, he
answers: "If there (in the household) is their kingdom, then there they
should be queens; their own faculties assure them there of authority, and
their adversaries are forced, by their own principles, to emancipate
them as daughters, as wives, as mothers. Or, on the contrary, it is
sought to extend their influence, to give them a rôle in the state, _and
we believe that they should have one_: well; it is also in this
dissimilarity (between the two sexes), that it is fitting to seek it.
When two beings are of value to each other, it is almost always because
they differ from, not because they resemble each other. Far from
dispossessing men, the mission of women therefore would be to do what men
leave undone, to aspire to empty places, in short, to represent in the
commonwealth the spirit of woman."

As is evident, Legouvé demands the civil emancipation of woman in the
name of the eternal Right, in the name of the happiness of the family, in
the name of the commonwealth; their long standing oppression is an
iniquitous fact, and he casts blame on all who have perpetuated it. This
blame from a man of heart and justice may perhaps have some weight with
those women who are so much accustomed to bondage that they do not blush
at it--that they even no longer feel it!

In his first book, "The Daughter," which is divided into seven chapters,
Legouvé takes the child from her birth; he shows her made inferior in the
ancient religions and systems of legislation by Menu, by Moses, at Rome,
at Sparta, at Athens, and under the feudal régime; and he asks why, even
in our days, the birth of a daughter is received with a sort of disfavor.
It is because she will neither continue the name nor the works of her
father, says he; it is because her future gives rise to a thousand
anxieties. "Life is so rude and so uncertain for a girl! Poor, how many
chances of misery! Rich, how many chances of moral suffering! If she is
to have only her labor for a maintenance, how shall we give her an
occupation that will support her in a state of society in which women
scarcely earn wherewith not to die? If she has no dowry, how can she
marry in this world in which woman, never representing anything but a
passive being, is forced to buy a husband?... From this _début_, and in
this child's cradle, we have found and caught a glimpse of all the chains
that await women: insufficiency of education for the rich girl;
insufficiency of wages for the poor girl; exclusion from the greater part
of the professions; subordination in the conjugal abode."

In the second chapter, the author shows by what gradations the daughter,
deprived of the right of inheritance, has come in our times to share
equally with her brothers; then, passing to the right of education, he
answers those who pretend that to give a solid education to woman would
be to corrupt her and to injure the family: "The diversity of their
nature (man and woman) being developed by the identity of their studies,
it may be said that women would become so much the more fully women in
proportion as they received a masculine education.

"Well! it is in the name of the family, in the name of the salvation of
the family, in the name of maternity, of marriage, of the household, that
a solid and earnest education must be demanded for girls.... Without
knowledge, no mother is completely a mother, without knowledge no wife is
truly a wife. The question is not, in revealing to the feminine intellect
the laws of nature, to make all our girls astronomers or physicians; do
we see all men become Latinists by spending ten years of their life in
the study of Latin? The question is to strengthen their minds by
acquaintance with science; and to prepare them to participate in all the
thoughts of their husbands, all the studies of their children....
Ignorance leads to a thousand faults, a thousand errors in the wife. The
husband who scoffs at science might have been saved by it from dishonor."

Insisting upon the rights of woman, the author adds: "As such (the work
of God) she has the right to the most complete development of her mind
and heart. Away then with these vain objections, drawn from the laws of a
day! It is in the name of eternity that you owe her enlightenment."
Further on, he exclaims indignantly: "What! the state maintains a
university for men, a polytechnic school for men, academies of art and
trades for men, agricultural schools for men--and for woman, what has it
established? Primary schools! And even these were not founded by the
State, but by the Commune. No inequality could be more humiliating. There
are courts and prisons for women, there should be public education for
women; you have not the right to punish those whom you do not instruct!"
M. Legouvé demands, in consequence, public education for girls in
athenæums, "which, by thorough instruction with respect to France, her
laws, her annals, and her poetry, shall make her women French women in
truth. The country alone can teach love of country."

Ancient religions and systems of legislation punished misdemeanors and
crimes against the purity of women severely (says M. Legouvé in his
fourth chapter). Our code, profoundly immoral, does not punish seduction,
and punishes corruption only derisively, and violation insufficiently. To
declare void the promise of marriage is fearful immorality; to permit no
investigation of paternity and to admit that of maternity, is as cruel
as it is immoral. If the solicitude of the legislator for property be
compared with his solicitude for purity, we shall soon see how little the
law cares for the latter. "The law recognizes as criminal only a single
kind of robbery of honor, _violation_, but it defines, pursues and
punishes two kinds of robbery of money, _larceny_ and _fraud_; there are
thieves of coin, there are no sharpers in chastity."

When a man has seduced a girl fifteen years old under promise of
marriage, he has "a right to come before a magistrate and say: This is my
signature, it is true; but I refuse to acknowledge it; a debt of love is
void in law."

The indignant author exclaims, further on: "Thus, therefore, on every
side, in practice and in theory, in the world and in the law, for the
rich as for the poor, we see abandonment of public purity, and a loose
rein to all ungoverned or depraved desires.... Manufacturers seduce their
workwomen, foremen of workshops discharge young girls who will not yield
to them, masters corrupt their servant maids. Of 5083 lost women,
enumerated by the grave Parent-Duchâtelet at Paris in 1830, 285 were
servants, seduced by their masters, and discarded. Clerks, merchants,
officers, students deprave poor country girls and bring them to Paris,
where they abandon them, and prostitution gathers them up.... At Rheims,
at Lille, in all the great centres of industry, are found organized
companies for the recruital of the houses of debauchery of Paris."

With the indignation of an upright man, M. Legouvé adds: "Punish the
guilty woman if you will, but punish also the man! She is already
punished; punished by abandonment, punished by dishonor, punished by
remorse, punished by nine months of suffering, punished by the burden of
rearing a child: let him then be smitten in turn; or else, it is not
public decency that you are protecting, as you say, it is masculine
sovereignty, in its vilest form: seigniorial right!

"Impunity assured to men doubles the number of illegitimate children.
Impunity fosters libertinism; libertinism enervates the race, wastes
fortunes and blights offspring. Impunity fosters prostitution;
prostitution destroys the public health, and makes a profession of
idleness and license. Impunity, in short, surrenders half the human race
as a prey to the vices of the other half: behold its condemnation in a
single word."

In the fifth chapter, the author finding, with reason, that girls are
married too young, desires that they should not enter upon family duties
until twenty-two years old; works of charity, solid studies, innocent
pleasures, and the ideal of pure love will suffice to keep them pure till
this age. "If the young maiden learns that nothing is more fatal to this
divine sentiment (love) than the ephemeral fancies which dare call
themselves by its name; if she perceives in it one of those rare
treasures which we win only by conquering them, which we keep only by
deserving them; if she knows that the heart which would be worthy to
receive it must be purified like a sanctuary and enlarged like a temple;
then be sure that this sublime ideal, engraven within her, will disgust
her, by its beauty alone, with the vain images that profane or parody it;
idols are not worshipped when God is known."

"What is marriage?" asks M. Legouvé.

"The union of two free beings, forming an alliance in order to perfect
themselves through love." Neither antiquity nor the Middle Age considered
it in this light. The father, in ancient times, transmitted to the
husband his right of property in his daughter in consideration of a
certain sum. At Athens, the daughter, even when married, formed part of
the paternal inheritance, and was bound to leave her husband to espouse
the heir. At Rome, the father, after having given his daughter in
marriage, had the power to take her back and to espouse her to another.
Among the barbarians, she belonged to him who paid the _mundium_ to her
father. Under the feudal system, the law disposed also of the daughter
without her consent. The French Revolution emancipated her in this
respect; she is required now to consent to her marriage; but the customs
of the age take from her the benefit of this emancipation; she is married
too young to know what she is doing, and interest almost always
determines her parents to give her in marriage. For woman to profit by
her legal emancipation, she should be at least twenty-two years old when
she marries; she should make her choice freely; and her relatives should
content themselves with keeping her apart from those whom she ought not
to choose, and should only enlighten and counsel her; for on the love
between the married couple depends the happiness and virtue of the wife.

Examining next the origin of the dower, the transferral of the dowry, the
betrothal and the marriage, he shows the _mundium_ paid at first to the
father or the brother; then later, to the maiden, becoming, with the rest
of the nuptial gifts, the origin of the dower, which he wishes to see
made obligatory in modern times. Passing to the dowry, he proves that,
becoming by degrees a custom among the Romans, it was at first the
property of the husband; then, as the world progressed, it became the
property of the wife. Our code fully protects the dowry; but the law
should oblige wealthy parents to endow their daughters so that they can
marry. In olden times, a maiden was betrothed by pledges exchanged by the
father and the man who asked her in marriage; at a later date the pledge
was given to the maiden instead of the father, and the law intervened to
render obligatory promises of marriage. At the present day, in France,
there are no longer betrothed, but future spouses.

In his second book, the author distinguishes the beloved one from the
mistress, the adoration of pure from that of sensual love; the first
produces goodness, patriotism, and respect for woman; the second regards
her only as an object of pleasure and of disdain. Antiquity had no
knowledge of pure love; the Middle Age, which comprehended it, was
divided equally between it and sensual love; to-day, we have learned to
comprehend that the two loves should be united; that the beloved and the
mistress should make one in the person of the wife.

The third book, "The Wife," is divided into seven chapters.

The subordination of woman in marriage, with contempt for the mother,
arose from two erroneous ideas: the inferiority of her nature; her
passivity in the reproduction of the species, in which she performed the
part of the earth with respect to the reception of germs. Modern science
has destroyed these bases of inferiority by demonstrating: 1st, that the
human germ, before taking its definitive form, passes, in the bosom of
its mother, through progressive degrees of animal life; 2d, that in all
species, both animal and vegetable, the females are the conservers of the
race, which they bring to their own type.

Among the Romans, two forms of marriage placed the wife, soul, body and
estate, _in the hands_ of her husband; in a third form, which left her in
her father's family, she received a dowry, inherited, and administered
her property. Barbarism and feudality made the wife a ward, the husband
an administrator, and a step was taken towards the equality of the
spouses by the institution of _acquêts_, or property belonging to both,
though obtained by but one. To-day, the maiden is married sometimes under
the dotal system, occasionally under that of the separation of property,
and chiefly under that of communion of goods. This last, which is the
rule, permits the husband to dispose of the property of his partner, to
sell the household furniture, to take possession of the very jewels of
his wife to adorn his mistress. "Thus, this law respects no dignity, no
delicacy, nothing whatever," says M. Legouvé. The omnipotence of the
husband is a crime of the law in every point of view; it is in manifest
violation of the modern principle, which exacts that all authority shall
be limited and placed under surveillance. "To surrender to the husband
the fortune of the wife is to condemn her to an eternal moral minority,
to create him absolute master of the actions and almost of the soul of
his companion." The author next addresses himself to those who pretend to
justify marital omnipotence by the incapacity of woman: "In vain do facts
protest against this alleged incapacity; in vain does reality say: To
whom is the prosperity of most of our commercial houses due? To women.
Who establish, who superintend the thousands of establishments of
millinery and objects of taste? Women. By whom are the boarding-schools,
the farms, often even, the manufactories, sustained? By women. It matters
not, the Code denies to the wife the foresight to preserve, the judgment
to administer, even the maternal tenderness to economize, and the
marriage certificate becomes the expression of this disdainful phrase:
the most reasonable woman never attains the good sense of a boy fourteen
years of age." How shall we set to work to remedy this iniquitous and
shameful state of affairs? The property of the partners should be divided
into three shares: one for the wife, to be placed at her disposal five
years after marriage, one for the husband, and a third common to both, to
be administered by the husband under the direction of a family council,
which council, in case of incapacity or waste, shall have the right
provisionally to take away the management from him, to entrust it to his

If anything is iniquitous and revolting, it is the power of the husband
over the person and the actions of his wife; the right over her of
correction, still tolerated in our days. There must be a directing power
in the household; the husband must be the depositary of this power, which
should be limited, and controlled by the family council. Legal
omnipotence demoralizes the husband, who believes in the end in the
lawfulness of his despotism. It is said that custom establishes precisely
the contrary of what the laws prescribe: this is generally true, but it
is at the expense of the moral character of the wife, thus forced to have
recourse to artifice. "Restore liberty to women, since liberty is truth!"
exclaims Legouvé. "This will be, at the same time, to affranchise man.
Servitude always creates two slaves: he who holds the chain and he who
wears it."

Antiquity, the Middle Age, and the centuries nearer our own, punished the
adultery of the wife severely, even cruelly, yet did not admit that a man
could become guilty of this offence with respect to his spouse. Our
present code acknowledges, indeed, that the husband can commit adultery,
but only in case he maintains his mistress under the conjugal roof; the
wife is an adulteress everywhere, and is punished severely; as to the
husband, his punishment is a farce. "Such impunity," says M. Legouvé, "is
not only injurious to order, it is an insult to public morals, _it is a
lesson of debauchery, given by the law itself_." If, by adultery, the
wife wounds the heart of an honorable man, introduces false heirs into
the family, she at least can abstract nothing from the common fortune;
while the husband, in the same case, can ruin the family, while
increasing the number of natural children and provoking his wife to wrong
by his neglect and brutality. The husband, besides, is more criminal than
the wife, for he seeks adultery, while, on the contrary, it comes to the
wife under a thousand attractive forms. Notwithstanding, the adultery of
the woman deserves greater punishment than that of the man.... Ah! M.
Legouvé, is this logic?

The Oriental wife was and is still, a slave, a generatrix; the Roman wife
was something more than this; the wife of the Middle Age owed her body to
her husband, but the Courts of Love had decided that her affections
could, nay, should belong to another. To-day, the ideal of marriage is
enlarged; we comprehend that it is the fusion of two souls, a school for
mutual perfection, and that the two spouses should belong wholly to each

We have been led to this new ideal of the conjugal union by the
civilizing struggles of the church against divorce and repudiation. In
its nature, marriage is indissoluble, but in the existing state of things
in which the ideal is but very exceptionally realized, the legislator has
deemed it right to render possible the separation of the spouses: this
measure is immoral and unfortunate both for the partners and for their
children. The only remedy for family difficulties is _divorce_, a
question with which the church has nothing to do.

The whole of the last chapter of the third book is a condemnation of
fickleness in love, and an affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage
and of the sanctity of the conjugal tie.

The fourth book, "The Mother," comprises six chapters.

Until a late day, it was believed that woman was only the soil in which
man, the creator of the species, deposited the human germ. Modern science
has overthrown this false doctrine, and elevated woman by demonstrating
these three incontestable facts: 1st, that, dating from the moment of
conception, the human germ passes through successive degrees of animal
life until it acquires its proper form; 2d, that the female sex is the
conserver of the race, since it always brings them to its own type, as
well in the human as in the animal and vegetable species; 3d, that woman
is physiologically of a nature superior to man, since it is now
demonstrated that the higher the respiratory apparatus is placed in the
organism, the more elevated is the species in the scale of beings; and
that woman breathes from the upper, and man from the lower part of the

Maternity does not give to women rights over their children, but
contributes, notwithstanding, to their emancipation; thus, in India, a
woman who had borne sons could not be repudiated, and at Rome, a woman
emerged from tutelage at maternity.

It is iniquitous to give the paternal authority to the father alone; the
mother should have an equal right with him over her children. Supremacy
of direction belongs indeed to the father, but this direction should be
limited and superintended by a family council, and transferred to the
mother in case of the unworthiness of her spouse.

The education of the children belongs of right to the mother, because she
understands them best, and because it is necessary that she should
acquire that entire influence over her sons which she will need
afterwards to counsel and to console them. Public education is not fit
for boys until they have attained their twelfth year; younger, it is
injurious in its results to their character. The author demands that the
maternal grand-parents shall not be made inferior in guardianship, as is
the case now in the law; and he considers it as sacrilege not to give to
the mother an equal right with respect to consent to the marriage of
their children.

Legitimate maternity is happiness to the rich woman; want, often grief,
to the poor woman. Illegitimate maternity is to women of all ranks a
source of sorrow, shame and crime. To the rich girl it is dishonor, an
eternal bar to marriage; to the poor girl it is poverty, shame if she
keeps her child; crime, if she destroys it. Yet the law dares grant
impunity to the corrupter, to the seducer, to the man who has not
hesitated to sacrifice to a moment of passion the whole future of a
woman, the whole future of a child! The State ought to come to the aid of
all poor mothers, because it is for its interest that the race should be
strong and vigorous, and because mothers are the preservers of the race.
Let the genius of women be set to work; let infant schools and infant
asylums be founded in every quarter of France.

The Hindoo widow was burned; the Jewish widow was bound to re-marry
certain men designated by the law; the Grecian and the Gothic widow
passed under the guardianship of her son, and the latter could not even
re-marry without his permission; the Christian widow was condemned to
seclusion; none of these women had any rights over their children. The
French code restores full liberty to the widow, renders to her the right
of majority, appoints her the guardian and directress of her children; it
is a preliminary step to liberty in marriage.

The fifth book, _Woman_, is divided into five chapters.

All antiquity oppressed woman, although it recognized in her something
superior, and made her a priestess or a prophetess. The Christian woman
of the early ages, who alone could dethrone the Pagan woman, not only
endured martyrdom as courageously as man, but was distinguished for her
great charity, for the purity and lucidity of doctrine which rendered her
the counsellor of learned men. We do not know, in reality, to what
heights woman can attain; we cannot judge her by what she is to-day,
since she is the work of the eternal oppression of man. "Who can say
whether many of the ills that rend society, and of the insoluble
problems that trouble it, may not be caused in part by the annihilation
of one of the two forces of creation, the ban placed on female genius?
Have we a right to say to half the human kind: you shall not have your
share in life and in the state? Is it not to deny to them (to women)
their title of human beings? Is it not to disinherit the state itself?
Yes, woman should have her place in civil life," concludes Legouvé.

Woman and man are equal, but different. To man, belong synthesis,
superiority in all that demands comprehensive views, genius, muscular
force; to woman, belong the spirit of analysis, the comprehension of
details, imagination, tenderness, grace. Man has more strength of reason
and body, woman more strength of heart, with a marvelous perspicacity to
which man will never attain. The division thus fixed, what ought woman to

In the family, the task of the wife is the management of domestic
affairs, the education of the children, and the comfort of the husband,
of whom she should be the inspiration. By the side of the eminent man,
yet in the shade, there is always a woman; this career of hidden utility
and of modest devotion is the one best suited to woman. In civil life
there are several fields of occupation which they may enter with success:
art, literature, instruction, _administration_, medicine. "Modesty itself
demands that we should call in women as physicians, not to men, but to
women; for it is an abiding outrage upon all purity that their ignorance
should forcibly expose to masculine curiosity the sufferings of their
sisters.... Nervous diseases, especially, would find in feminine genius
the only adversary able to understand and combat them." The author says
that it is the duty of society to see that poor women do not work for
one-third or one-fourth the wages of men; and that, in manufactures, they
have not the most dangerous and least remunerative labors.
"Parent-Duchâtelet," says he, "attests that of three thousand lost women,
_only thirty-five had an occupation that could support them_, and that
fourteen hundred had been precipitated into this horrible life by
destitution. One of them, when she resolved on this course, _had eaten
nothing for three days_." M. Legouvé thinks it shameful that men should
enter into competition with women in the manufacture of articles of dress
and taste.

In the fifth and last chapter, the author recognizes the remarkable
capacity of women in administration, of which he cites numerous examples.
He demands that they should have the superintendence of prisons for
women, hospitals, charitable institutions, the legal guardianship of
foundlings, the management, in short, of all that concerns social
charity, because they will acquit themselves in it infinitely better than
men. But he refuses to them all participation in political acts and in
all that concerns the government, because they have no aptitude for
things of this nature. Finally, he concludes thus: "Our task is finished;
we have examined the principal phases of the life of women, in the
character of daughters, wives, mothers, and women, comparing the present
with the past, and endeavoring to indicate the future; that is, by
pointing out the bad, verifying the better, seeking the best.

"What principle has served us in this as a guide? Equality in difference.

"In the name of this principle, what ameliorations have we demanded in
the laws and customs?

"For daughters:

"Reform in education.

"Laws against seduction.

"The postponement of the marriageable age.

"The actual participation of the betrothed parties in the execution of
their contract.

"Abolition of the formal request to the father of consent to marriage,
which is an insult to the father and an injustice to the child.

"For wives:

"An age of legal majority.

"Administration, and the right of disposing of a portion of their private

"The right to appear in law without the consent of their husbands.

"The limitation of the power of the husband over the person of the wife.

"The creation of a family council, charged with controlling this part of
the power.

"For mothers:

"The right of government.

"The right of direction.

"The right of education.

"The right of consent to the marriage of their children.

"A law requiring the investigation of paternity.

"The creation of a family council to decide on serious disagreements
between father and mother.

"For women:

"Admission to guardianship and the family council.

"Admission to all professions.

"Admission within the bounds of their capabilities and duties to public

It is evident that Legouvé has but one end, that of advancing the
emancipation of women a single step; he does not demand all that he
believes just, but all that seems to him mature and possible.

We should thank him for his prudence: he has brought over many men to our
cause, and has prepared them to hear the voice of woman, speaking loudly
and firmly by her right as a wife and a human being, as a worker and a
member of the social body.

By the side of Legouvé, outside the social schools, are a phalanx of just
and generous men who have written in our favor. We thank them all for
their good words.



On page 42 of his pamphlet, "Liberty in Marriage," De Girardin says, with
great reason: "Man is born of woman. Everything, therefore, that benefits
woman will benefit man."

"To fight and conquer for her is to fight and conquer for himself."

Inspired by these excellent sentiments, the celebrated publicist has
investigated the causes of the slavery and degradation of woman, and the
means of paralyzing them.

_Every child has for its father the husband of its mother_: this,
according to M. de Girardin, is the principle of two great wrongs: the
servitude of the married woman; the inequality of children before the
law, which classes them as legitimate and illegitimate.

That children may become equal, that woman may be affranchised from the
yoke of man, it is necessary, says the author, to substitute the system
of maternity for that of paternity; to modify Marriage, and to render
woman independent through the institution and universalizing of the

We will let M. de Girardin expound the rest of his doctrine himself. "We
must choose," says he, "between these two systems:

"Between the system of _presumed_ paternity, _which is the system of the
law_, and the system of maternity, _bearing its proof within itself,
which is the system of Nature_; the latter is in conformity with
incontestable truth, the former is condemned by undisputed statistics.
The system of paternity is _inequality of children before the mother and
before the law; it is woman possessed and not possessing_; ... it is no
longer the legal slavery of woman, _but is still conjugal
servitude_."--_Liberty in Marriage._

"Without equality of children before the mother, equality of citizens
before the law _is only an imposture_, for evidently and incontestably,
this equality does not exist for 2,800,000 children, who, arbitrarily
entitled illegitimate, are placed outside of common right in violation of
natural law."--_Id._

According to De Girardin, the logical consequences of the system of
maternity would be:

The abolition of civil marriage;

The mother's name alone given to the child;

The inheritance placed solely in the maternal line.

"Marriage," says he, "is a purely individual act, and, as regards its
celebration, a purely religious act.--

"Marriage is an act of faith, not of law: it is for faith to govern it,
_not for law to make rules for it_.

"As soon as the law intervenes, it intervenes _without right_, without
necessity, _without utility_.

"For one abuse that it pretends to avert, it gives rise to innumerable
others which are worse, and from which society afterwards suffers
seriously, without taking into account the cause that produced them.

"Legal liberty in marriage is durable love in the household;
indissolubility of marriage is habitual love outside of the

With respect to inheritance and dowry, the author expresses himself thus:

"To inherit at the death of the mother, because maternity and certitude
are two equipollent terms, and to receive a support from the father,
because paternity and doubt are two inseparable terms; such is the true
law of Nature."--_Id._

In De Girardin's opinion, woman has the same rights as man to liberty and
equality; the sexes are equal, not through _similitude_ but _equivalence_
of faculties and functions; man produces, acquires, woman administers,
economizes; it belongs therefore to man to provide for the expenses of
the household. It is his duty, on uniting himself to a woman, to settle
on her an inalienable dower that will permit her to perform her maternal
functions properly, and to escape from the vices that frequently result
from want and abandonment.

To the objection that the wages of the working people are insufficient to
satisfy this duty, the generous publicist replies: Well, raise the rate
of wages by excluding from industrial occupations the women and children
that lower it by competition with men. And if this measure be not
sufficient to balance receipts and expenses, increase the wages, for
"there is no consideration weighty enough to make me admit that, in order
not to diminish the profits of some men, others shall be eternally
condemned to insufficient wages; and that to shelter some women from
violation, others shall be necessarily devoted to prostitution."--_Id._

In comparing the lot of the wife under the two systems, De Girardin
expresses himself thus:

"Under the system of paternity, the wife, loaded with the gifts of
fortune, sinks under the weight of an idleness which most frequently
inflames and disorders her imagination. She does not know what to do to
employ her time. Woman does nothing because man does everything.

"The wife who has brought no dowry and received no dower, sinks under the
weight of a toil contrary to nature which obliges her, through economy,
to separate herself from her child a few days after giving it birth, and
to put it away from her to nurse, for the consideration of five or six
francs a month; to go to work in one direction while her husband works in
the other, and not to rejoin him till evening, when each returns from the
workshop which has kept them absent from their household all day: if this
is what is called the family, _is it indeed worth all the stir that is
made about it_?

"Under the system of maternity, on the contrary, the richer a woman is,
the further she is removed from idleness; for not only has she her
children to nurse, to rear, to instruct, and to watch over, but she has
also to administer her fortune which will one day be theirs.

"To preserve this fortune, to increase it still more: here is wherewith
to occupy her leisure, to calm her imagination, to place her under curb.
It is wrong to suppose women not qualified for the management of
business; they excel in it, however little may have been their practice
or application.

"Long enough has man been the personification of war, of slavery, of
conquest; it is the turn of woman to be the personification of peace, of
liberty, of civilization.

"In this new system (_that of maternity_), each of the two has his part:
to man labor, the genius of enterprise; to woman economy and the spirit
of foresight.

"Man speculates, woman administers;

"Man acquires, woman preserves;

"Man brings in, woman transmits;

"The dowry remains the attribute of the father, the inheritance becomes
the privilege of the mother;

"Each of the two thus exercises the function that is _natural_ to him,
and in conformity with the essence of things."--_Id._

A number of women have asked whether De Girardin recognizes political
right for women. He says nothing about it, either in his work "Liberty in
Marriage," or in his "Universal Politics." But when a man writes that:

"Woman, belonging to herself, and being dependent only on her reason, has
the same rights as man to liberty and equality."

That "universal suffrage should be _individual_ and _direct_."

That "every holder of a general insurance has a right to be a party to

It is evident that we may deduce, without any great stretch of logic,
that, woman being _free and equal to man_,

Woman being comprised in universality,

Woman holding, like man, her policy of insurance, has a right, like man,
to be elector, to be eligible to office, and to vote _individually and

Now, as M. de Girardin is not one of those who recoil from the
consequences of their principles, we are led to believe that he admits to
woman the exercise of political right for woman.

I have been told that, in 1848, one of those pitiable individuals who
have neither intellect enough to be logical, nor justice enough to
comprehend the oppressed, was haranguing before M. de Girardin against
the claims of certain women to enter political life. "Why not?" asked M.
de Girardin. "Do you believe that Madame de Girardin would deposit a less
intelligent vote in the electoral urn than that of her footman?"

If this anecdote be true, the opinion of the publicist concerning the
political right of woman is not doubtful.

_La liberté dans le mariage_ has raised a tempest of indignation, to a
greater or less degree feigned, among the prudes; and for some time it
required courage openly to proclaim one's self the (feminine) champion of
the author.

Abolish marriage! cry some, veiling their faces with an air of offended

Make a speculation of love! exclaim others who, apparently, have
preserved their holy innocence and baptismal ignorance.

Come, ladies, we might say,--a truce to conventional delicacy and
sentimentality. Let men suffer themselves to be deceived by our mask,
nothing is more natural; but what is the use of playing the farce among

M. de Girardin does not really suppress marriage; he changes it in some
respects, but leaves it intact in a religious point of view. If his
system should be adopted, therefore, you might be married in the presence
of the clergymen of your respective faiths, precisely as was done some
seventy years ago, and you would have no fewer scruples than your
grandmothers, who believed themselves then sufficiently married.

On the other hand, in suppressing civil marriage, the author does not
interdict such and such particular stipulations; if therefore you hold in
any degree to the religion of the Code, it will be lawful for you to
stipulate in your notarial contract:

1. That you will be submissive to your husbands;

2. That you will permit them to manage your fortune, even contrary to
your interests and to those of your children;

3. That without authority from them, you will neither go to law, nor
undertake anything, nor sell anything, nor receive anything, nor give
anything away;

4. That, so long as they shall live, you renounce all authority over your
children; that they can, if they please, take them from you, banish you
from them, have them reared by whoever they choose, even by their
mistress, finally, give them in marriage contrary to your will;

5. That you recognise their right to carry elsewhere their love, their
attentions, their fortune and your own; provided that this does not
happen under your roof;

6. That, lastly, you grant their right, if, abandoned by them, you attach
yourself to another, to drag you before the bar, to dishonor you, to
imprison you with thieves and prostitutes; that even in such case you
declare them excusable in killing you.

Yes, ladies, you might stipulate all this, for M. de Girardin disputes no
one the rights of lacking dignity and being imbecile; of what then do you

You reproach M. de Girardin with wishing to make a speculation of love!
Be good enough to tell me what you call the greater part of the marriages
of the present time, in which men have the heartlessness to speculate
even on death!--in which they ask how much a young girl has, what are her
expectations, and _how old are her parents_.

Answer, women:

Is it true that the great majority of seduced women are incapacitated,
through shame and poverty, from rearing their children?

That what you call a first fault, drives the greater part of them to make
a traffic of their charms?

That the great majority of men forget, after satisfying their passion,
both the woman whom they have led astray, and the innocent creature that
owes its life to them?

Is it true that the horrible and cruel selfishness of men and the insane
confidence of women produces annually a fearful number of so called
illegitimate children, the greater part of which people the prisons, the
galleys, and the public brothels?

Is it true, lastly, that this same selfishness and this same confidence
are the cause of thousands of human lives being criminally sacrificed?

And if all this shame, all these griefs, all these crimes are true?

If there are so many women seduced and heartbroken;

If there are so many children abandoned;

If there are so many infanticides;

If the law does not protect the woman deceived and made a mother;

If this law does not compel the seducer to any reparation;

If public opinion leaves to the victim all the shame;

Why do you reproach a man for reminding a young girl that from love may
proceed maternity?

For telling her that she ought to provide in advance for the child that
may be born, in order that it may not be cast upon public charity, and
that she herself may not risk falling into those sinks of impurity that
are the shame and degradation of our sex?

Do you reproach a man then for taking our part against the selfish and
animal passions of his sex, and against the impunity accorded them by the

Do you reproach him for taking in hand the cause of morals and health, in
opposition to the degradation of soul and body?

A young girl stipulate the sale of her person! say you? what essential
difference do you find between this kind of contract, and those that are
made to-day before the notary on the occasion of a marriage?

Did not most among you, ladies, purchase your husbands with so much
dowry, so much income, so much _expectations_? And if these husbands of
yours did not think it shameful to be sold, and if you do not esteem them
less for it, be good enough to tell me from what principle you judge it
shameful for a young girl to do the same in order to rear her children,
and to live without prostituting herself?

For my part, I do not see.

Ladies, you are grown-up children: men feign to have contempt for the
woman who thinks of her interests in love ... because they wish, if
possible, to keep their money, that is all.

Is this to say that I admit all the ideas of M. de Girardin? No.

I admit with him, that woman can only be free and the equal of man, in
so far as she is a wife, through a change in marriage.

That, in the state of insecurity in which she is placed with respect to
wages and to maternity outside of marriages, woman _does well_ to take
measures to prevent man from shifting the obligations of paternity from
himself to her.

I would willingly admit that the child should bear the mother's name
only, if men did not object so strongly to it. The child, belonging to
both, should bear both names, and choose, at majority, the one that he
preferred; or else the daughters should bear the name of the mother and
the sons that of the father, from the time of majority.

I readily admit the equality of children before the mother and the law;
for bastardy is meaningless in nature and is social iniquity. But what I
do not admit, is the ideal M. de Girardin has formed with regard to the
respective functions of each sex:

The exclusion of woman from active occupations;

The universalizing of the dower;

Lastly, family education.

To say that man represents labor, the genius of enterprise, that he
speculates, acquires, brings in,--that woman represents economy, the
spirit of foresight,--that she administers, preserves, transmits, is to
establish a series which does not appear to me at all in conformity with
the nature of things, since it is notorious that a great number of women
do what M. de Girardin attributes to the other sex, and _vice versâ_.

Functions, to be properly performed, should be the result of aptitudes.
Now Nature, except in what concerns the reproduction of the species, does
not appear to have classed these according to the sexes. Since the
origin of society, we have attempted to do it, but history is at hand to
reveal to us that, in acting thus, we have only succeeded in tyrannizing
over the sturdy minorities that have given the lie to such pretensions.
Now, M. de Girardin, admitting a false series, _à priori_, is led without
perceiving it to forge chains for all women whom Nature has not made in
conformity with the conventional order which he wishes to see realized.

To exclude woman from active occupations in order to confine her to the
cares of the household is to attempt an impossibility, to close the way
to progress, and to replace woman beneath the yoke of man. It is to
attempt an impossibility, because there are branches of manufactures that
can be executed only by women; because many women who would not marry, or
who would be left portionless widows without resources, could only remain
pure by devoting themselves to some active employment which,
notwithstanding, would be interdicted to them. To see woman in the
household alone, is to view her from a contracted stand point, which
retards the advent of her liberty. It is to close the way to progress,
because there are social functions which will never be well performed
until woman shall participate in them, and social questions that will
never be resolved until woman shall stand by the side of man to elucidate
them. It is to replace woman beneath the yoke of man, because it is in
human nature to rule and domineer over those whom we provide with their
daily bread.

To wish to erect the dower into an institution, is to wish to restore one
of the most lamentable phases of the Past at the moment when Humanity is
marching towards the Future--that which shows us woman purchased by man.
The universalizing of the dower would be therefore a criminal attempt on
the liberty and moral dignity of woman. Lastly, to claim that every
mother ought to educate her children herself appears to us to propose as
great impossibility as social danger.

If every well constituted woman is fit to bring children into the world
and to nourish them with her milk, very few are capable of developing
their intellect and heart, for education is a special function, requiring
a particular aptitude, with which all mothers cannot be endowed.

Next, family education perpetuates divergence of opinions and sentiments,
maintains prejudices, favors the development of vanity and selfishness,
and tends, by this means, to paralyze the most noble, the most civilizing
sentiment--that of universal solidarity. Assuredly, at the present time,
many motives may justify family education, but for the good of humanity
it is to be desired that parents who sympathize in progressive ideas
should assemble their children together to form them for social life,
instead of rearing them each by himself.

I submit this critical sketch to M. de Girardin in the name of the
principle that he has always defended:--_individual dignity and human



The Communists hold as the principle of social organization, not _the
agrarian law_, as has been charged on them through ignorance or bad
faith, but the enjoyment _in common_ of the soil, of implements of labor,
and of products. _From each one according to his strength, to each one
according to his needs_, is the formula of most among them.

It is not our business to examine the social value of this doctrine, but
only to show what Communism thinks of woman and her rights.

The modern communists may be divided into two classes: the religious and
the political.

Among the first are the Saint Simonians, the Fusionists and the

Among the second, are the Equalitarians, the Unitarians, the Icarians,

The first consider woman as the equal of man. To the others, she is free;
among some, with a shade of subordination.

The Unitarians, who have drawn largely from Fourier, proclaim woman free,
and equal with man.

We shall speak here of only a few of the communistic sects, reserving
for separate articles what relates to the Saint Simonians and the

The Philadelphians, admitting God and the immortality of the soul, lay
down these two principles: God is the chief of the social order;
Fraternity is the law that governs human relations.

Religion, to the Philadelphians, is the practice of Fraternity; Progress
is a dogma, Community is the law of the individual before God and

Touching the relations of the sexes and the rights of woman, M. Pecqueur
thus expresses himself in his work _La République de Dieu_, pp. 194, 195:

"Complete equality of the man and the woman."

The Monogamic marriage, intentionally indissoluble as a normal condition;
such is the second practical consequence of the dogma of religious


"We bring no proofs in evidence of this; _his reason is blotted out by
prejudice and his heart chilled by egotism_, who is not impressed at once
with the truth of equality.

"In the state of society created by the religion of fraternity and
equality, women will find, from their earliest years, _the same means and
the same conditions of development of function and of remuneration_, in
short, THE SAME RIGHTS, the same social aim to pursue as men; and in
proportion as custom shall correspond with the religious and moral ends
of the union, will the living law deduce the practical consequences of
all order, contained in the germ in the dogma of the complete equality of
the sexes.


"To comprehend the lawfulness of the unlimited or indefinite monogamic
marriage, it suffices to consider: 1st. the exigencies of our inmost
nature, that is, the characteristics of love; its instinctive aspiration
to the union and the fusion of two beings, to duration and to perpetuity;
the necessity of possessing each other reciprocally and of having faith
in this possession _in order to love each other_; in short, instinct,
desire; the irresistible and universal affections, and the joys of
paternity and of the family; 2d. the physiological conditions of
generation, which exact monogamy in order to assure the reproduction and
the good and progressive conservation of the species; 3d. social and
religious exigencies, which require relations of all kinds to be
predetermined and regulated, that each one may be secure in his
expectation and his possession, and that there may be a possibility of
satisfying the fundamental propensities of our natures.... To claim to
introduce polygamy, promiscuousness, or union for a term of years into
such surroundings, (the Philadelphian society,) is evidently to decree
selfishness and mere carnal pleasure, while proclaiming duty and dignity.
It is inconceivable that two moral beings, once united by pure love,
should ever cease to love each other, to delight in each other, or at
least to endure each other, when they are presumed already to be devoted
and sacrificing without distinction in their love to their brothers and

"Still less is it conceivable that their brothers and sisters would dream
of diverting this reciprocal love of two members of the family to their
personal advantage; _for this would be infamy_."

M. Pecqueur admits, notwithstanding, that in very rare cases, divorce may
be granted on account of incompatibility of temper. In such case the
offending party would be excluded from the republic, and the other would
be at liberty to remarry.

According to M. Pecqueur, indissolubility of marriage does not relate to
the present antagonistic state of society, as he says:

"Divorce is a great misfortune, not only to the parties concerned, but to
religion; notwithstanding, in the kingdom of Cæsar in which pure justice
is the question, it is the lesser evil, when the individuals are
determined on a separation in fact, and are lusting after other ties.
They do evil clandestinely; they are the cause or the occasion of the
temptation or the fall of others. Do what they will, the scandal is
known; so that neither society, nor the spouses, nor the children, nor
morality derive benefit from the consecration of absolute perpetuity.

"It is not charitable, it is _impious_ to force two beings to remain
together, one of which, to say the least, maltreats, detests, takes
advantage of, or domineers over the other. It is equally wrong to grant
them a separation from bed and board without at the same time permitting
them to yield to chaste affections when they acknowledge these in purity
and liberty."

So then, to the Philadelphians, expounded by M. Pecqueur, marriage is
monogamous, indissoluble by intention; divorce is a sad necessity of the
existing state of society, whilst separation is immorality. In short,
woman is _free and the equal of man_.

Another communist sect, that of the Icarians, takes no notice either of
the nature or the rights of women. Its chief, M. Cabet, an
ex-attorney-general, was too fully imbued with the doctrines of the Civil
Code, that inelegant paraphrase of the Apostle Paul, not to be persuaded
that woman ought to remain outside the pale of political right, and that
she ought to be subordinate to man in general, and to her husband, good
or bad, in particular.

Let us do justice however to M. Cabet's disciples; I have never found a
single one of them of his opinion on this great question.

One evening in 1848, as M. Cabet was presiding over a well attended club,
he was requested by a woman to put the question: _Is woman the equal of
man before social and political rights?_ Almost every hand was raised in
the affirmative; in the negative, not a hand was raised, not a man
protested against the affirmation. A round of applause followed from the
galleries filled with women; and M. Cabet was somewhat disconcerted by
the result. He seemed to be ignorant that the people, always eminently
logical, are never guilty of quibbling to elude or to limit the
principles that they have adopted.

This vote of the Cabet club was repeated in three others, in my presence.
The men in paletots laughed at the demands of brave Jeanne Deroin; the
men in blouses did not even smile at them.

M. Dezamy representing another shade of communism, thus expresses himself
in the code of the Community; "Away with marital dominion! Freedom of
alliance! _perfect equality of both sexes!_ Freedom of divorce!"

He adds, under the heading; Laws for the union of the sexes, designed to
prevent all discord and debauchery, page 266:

"Art. I. Mutual love, inmost sympathy, purity of heart between two
beings, form and legalize their union.

"Art. II. _There should be perfect equality between the two sexes._

"Art. III. No bond except that of mutual love can link the man and the
woman together.

"Art. IV. Nothing shall prevent lovers who have separated from forming
new ties as often as they shall be attracted to another person."

The ethics of M. Dezamy are not to our taste; we prefer those of the
Communist, Pecqueur; but we are glad to prove that modern communism,
divided on the questions of marriage, the family, and morals in relations
of the sexes, is unanimous with respect to the liberty of woman and the
equality of the sexes before the law and society.

In this, modern communism is greatly superior to that of the ancient
school, practised among several nations, and taught by Plato, Morelly,
etc. We recognize a sign of the times in this juster appreciation of
woman, with the introduction of the principle of her rights into
doctrines which formerly never took them into account.

The greater part of the Communists belong to the working class; which
proves that the people most of all feel the great truth, _that the
liberty of woman is identical with that of the masses_; and it will take
more than MM. Proudhon, Comte, Michelet and their adepts, to throw cold
water on their feelings and to make them retrace their steps.


My mother, a zealous Protestant and very austere in morals, disapproved
of St. Simonianism, and never permitted any one to speak of it in my
presence except to condemn it; she took great care that not a line of the
new doctrine should fall under my eyes.

Whether from a natural spirit of opposition or from instinctive justice,
I know not, but I by no means shared in the censure that I heard
expressed about me; one thing alone resulted from it--curiosity to become
acquainted with what were called immoral dogmas.

I was in this frame of mind when one day while with my mother in the
neighborhood of the _Palais du Justice_, I saw a company of men
advancing, clad in a graceful costume; they were the Saint Simonians
going in a body to defend their infant church against prosecution at the
bar. I was greatly moved by the sight; I felt in communion with these
youth who were about to bear testimony to their faith; they did not seem
like strangers, but as struggling for my own cause or for one that
deserved my sympathy, and tears sprang to my eyes. I could have heartily
embraced those whom I heard defending them, and as heartily have assailed
those who claimed that it would be just to condemn them. My mother being
too generous to join with the latter, we departed in silence. I knew,
without having any knowledge of the details, that the church of St. Simon
had been dispersed.

It was not until some years after that, having made the acquaintance of a
St. Simonian lady, I was enabled to read the doctrinal writings and to
form an idea of the aspirations and the dogmas of the school of St.
Simon. If the nature of this work forbids me their analysis, it cannot
reproach me for expressing my sympathies for those who have had great and
generous aspirations; for those who, in a critical point of view, have
rendered real services to the cause of Progress; for those who have
brought to light the solution of the two capital problems of our epoch;
_the emancipation of woman and of the workman_. The St. Simonians have
been enough assailed, enough calumniated to justify a woman who is not a
St. Simonian in considering it a duty to render them justice, by
acknowledging the good which they have done.

Yes, you have a right to be proud of your name of St. Simonians, you who
have proclaimed the obligation of laboring without respite for the
physical, moral and intellectual amelioration of the most numerous and
the poorest class;

You who have proclaimed the _sanctity_ of science, art, manufactures, and
labor in every form;

You who have proclaimed the equality of the sexes in the family, the
church, and the state;

You who have preached of peace and fraternity to a world given over to
wars of cannon and competition.

You who have criticised the ancient dogma, and all the evil institutions
that have thence arisen;

Yes, I repeat, you have deserved well of Progress, you have deserved well
of Humanity; and you have a right to bear with pride your great
scholastic name; for it was noble to desire the emancipation of woman, of
labor, and of the laborer; it was generous to consecrate youth and
fortune to it, as so many among you have done.

Through your aspirations, you have been the continuers of '89, since you
dreamed of realizing what was contained in the germ in the Declaration of
Rights: these are your titles of greatness; this is why your name will
not perish. But if, through your sentiments, you belonged to the great
era of '89, the social form in which you claimed to incarnate your
principles, belonged to the Middle Ages; the age therefore has done right
to leave you behind. Seduced by trinitarian mysticism, deluded by an
erroneous historical point of view, you claimed to resuscitate hierarchy
and theocracy in a system of humanity fashioned in conformity with the
opposing principle; the triumph of individual liberty in social equality.
This is the reason that the age could not follow you. No more could women
follow you, for they felt that they could only be affranchised through
labor and through purity of morals; by ruling over, not imitating
masculine passions. They felt that their power of moralization was due as
much to their chastity as to their intellect; they knew that those who
make use of the most liberty in love, neither love nor esteem the other
sex; that, in general, they employ their ascendancy over it to pervert it
to ruin and afflict their companions, and to dissolve the family and
civilization; that, in consequence, they are the most dangerous enemies
of the emancipation of their sex; for man, sobered of his passion, can
never desire to emancipate those by whom he has been deceived, ruined and

The St. Simonian orthodoxy is therefore, in my opinion, greatly mistaken
with respect to the ways and means of realization. Shall we impute this
to it as a crime? No, indeed! social problems are not mathematical
problems; there is merit in propounding them; courage and devotion in
pursuing their solution, even when we fail completely to attain it.

We all know the spirit of the St. Simonians who first brought before the
public mind of the age the question of female emancipation; it would be
ungrateful in the women who demand liberty and equality not to recognize
the debt of gratitude which they have contracted toward them. It is their
duty to say to their companions: the seal of St. Simonianism is the
safeguard of the liberty of woman; wherever therefore you meet a St.
Simonian, you may press his hand fraternally; you have in him a defender
of your right.

Let us sketch the general outline of the St. Simonian doctrine, touching
woman and her rights.

All of the St. Simonians admit that the sexes are equal;

That the couple forms the social individual;

That marriage is the sacred bond of generations; the association of a man
and a woman for the accomplishment of a sacerdotal, scientific, artistic,
or industrial work;

All admit divorce, and transition to another union; but some are more
severe than others with respect to the conditions of divorce.

There is a division among them on the question of morals. Olinde
Rodrigues and Bazard do not admit any _liaison_ of love outside of
marriage. M. Enfantine, on the contrary, claims the greatest liberty in

We should add that he gives to this opinion a fixed and provisional value
only, since he says that the law of the relations of sexes can only be
established in a sure and definitive manner by the concurrence of the
woman; and since, on the other hand, he prescribes continence to his
closest followers, until the coming of the Woman, of which he regards
himself the precursor.

In addition, to give our readers a more precise idea of the sentiments of
the St. Simonians concerning woman, we will cite some passages of their

"The use of woman by man still exists," says M. Enfantin; "_this it is
that constitutes the necessity of our apostleship_. This use, this
subalternation _contrary to nature_, with respect to the future, results
on the one hand, in falsehood and fraud; on the other, in violence and
animal passions; it is necessary to put an end to these
vices."--(_Religion St. Simonienne_, 1832, p. 5.)

"Woman, as we have said, _is the equal of man_; She is now a slave; it
belongs to her master to affranchise her." (_Id._ p. 12.)

"There will be no definitive law and morality until woman shall have
spoken." (_Id._ p. 18.)

"In the name of God," exclaims M. Enfantin in his _Appel à la Femme_, "in
the name of God and of all the sufferings which Humanity, his loved
child, endures to-day in her flesh; in the name of the poorest and most
numerous class whose daughters are sold to Indolence and whose sons are
given up to War; in the name of all those men and of all those women, who
cast the glittering veil of falsehood or the filthy rays of debauchery
over their secret or public prostitution; in the name of St. Simon who
came to announce to man and woman _their moral, social and religious
equality_, I conjure woman to answer me!" (_Entretien du 7 Décembre_,

On his side, Bazard concludes a pamphlet, published in January, 1832,
with these words:

"And we too have hastened the coming of woman; we too summon her with all
our might; but it is in the name of the pure love with which she has
imbued the heart of man, and which man is now ready to give her in
return; it is in the name of the dignity which is promised her in
marriage; it is lastly and above all, in the name of the most numerous
and poorest class, _whose servitudes and humiliations she has hitherto
shared_, and whom her enchanting voice can alone to-day have power
finally to release from the harsh imposition with which it is still
weighed down by the wrecks of the past."

Ah! you are to a great extent right, Enfantin and Bazard! So long as
woman is not free and the equal of man; so long as she is not everywhere
at his side, sorrows, disorders, war, the exploitation of the weak, will
be the sad lot of humanity.

Pierre Leroux, the gentlest, best and most simple man that I know, writes
in turn in the fourth volume of his _Encyclopédie Nouvelle_, article
_Egalité_, the following remarkable paragraphs:

"There are not two different beings, man and woman, there is but a single
human being with two phases, which correspond and are united by love.

"Man and woman exist to form the couple; they are the two parts of it.
_Outside of the couple, outside of love and marriage, there is no longer
any sex_; there are human beings of a common origin and of like
faculties. Man at every moment of his life is sensation, sentiment,
knowledge; so is woman. The definition is therefore the same."

After having proved, according to his idea, that the type of woman
differs from that of man, he continues:

"But this type does not separate them from the rest of humanity, and does
not make of them a separate race which must be distinguished
philosophically from man.... Love being absent, they manifest themselves
to man as human beings, and are ranked, like man, under the various
categories of civil society."

After having observed that, however different men may be, they are
therefore none the less equal, since they all are sensation, sentiment
and knowledge, Pierre Leroux, applying this principle to the question of
the right of woman, adds:

"From whatever side we look at this question, we are led to proclaim the
equality of man and woman. For, if we consider woman in the couple, woman
is the equal of man, since the couple itself is founded on equality,
since love is equality in itself, and since where justice, that is,
equality, does not reign, there love cannot reign, but the contrary of

"And if we consider woman outside of the couple, she is a being like unto
man, endowed with the same faculties in various degrees; one of those
varieties in unity which constitute the world and human society."

The author says that woman should lay claim to equality only as a spouse
and a human being; that to acknowledge her as free because she has sex,
is to declare her at liberty not only to use but also to abuse love; and
that the abuse of love must not be the appanage and sign of liberty.

He says that woman has sex only for him whom she loves and by whom she is
loved; that to all others she can be merely a human being.

"From this point of view," continues he, "we must say to women: you have
a right to equality by two distinct titles; as human beings and as wives.
As wives, you are our equals, for love in itself is equality. As human
beings, your cause is that of all, _it is the same as that of the people;
it is allied to the great revolutionary cause_; that is, to the general
progress of the human kind. _You are our equals, not because you are
women but because there are no longer either slaves or serfs._

"This is the truth that must be spoken to men and women; but it would be
to pervert this truth and to transform it into error to say to women: You
are a sex apart, a sex in the possession of love. Emancipate yourselves;
that is, use and abuse love. Woman thus transformed into an unchaste
Venus, loses at once her dignity as a human being and as a woman; that
is, as a being capable of forming a human couple under the sacred law of

The excellent Leroux asks who does not feel, who does not admit at the
present day the equality of the sexes?

Who would dare maintain that woman is an inferior being, of whom man is
the guide and beacon light?

That woman is elevated by man, who is elevated only by himself and by

Who would dare maintain such absurdities to-day, brave and upright
Leroux? P. J. Proudhon, the man who called you _Theopompe_ and
_Pâlissier_--M. Michelet, who claims that woman was created to be the
most tiresome doll of her loving husband.

But to return to yourself.

You affirm that God is androgynous; that in him coexist the male and
female principles on the footing of equality: that consequently, man and
woman are equal in God. I assent to this willingly, although I know
absolutely nothing about it. But when you add that woman is deserving of
quite as much as man, because she has shared in all the agonizing crises
of the progressive education of the human race;

That love, which cannot exist without the woman, has led us from the law
of slavery to that of equality;

That consequently woman represents half in the work of the ages;

In this there is no mystery; I join you therefore with all my heart in
repeating to men the invitations and the lessons which you give to these
ungrateful and stubborn males:

"If we are free, it is in part by woman; let her then be made free by us.

"But is she so? Is she treated by us as an equal?

"A wife--does she find equality in love and marriage?

"A human being, does she find equality in the State?

"This is the question.

"On the subject of woman, our civil law is a model of absurd
contradictions. According to the Roman law, woman lived perpetually under
tutelage; in this system of legislation, everything was at least in
perfect harmony; woman was always a minor. We, on our part, declare her
in a multitude of cases to be free as man. She is no longer under general
or fictitious tutelage; her age of majority is fixed; she is competent to
inherit in her own right; she inherits in equal proportion; she controls
and disposes of her property; more than this, in the system of communion
of goods between husband and wife, we admit the separation of property.
But let the marriage bond itself be in question, in which wealth is no
longer at stake, but ourselves and our mothers, ourselves and our
sisters, ourselves and our daughters; then we are found intractable in
our laws; we no longer admit equality; we require woman to declare
herself our inferior and servant, and to swear obedience to us.

"Truly we cling more to money than to love; we have more consideration
for money-bags than for human dignity; for we emancipate women as soon as
they become freeholders; but as soon as they become wives the law
declares them our inferiors. Here notwithstanding, that bond is in
question in which the equality of man and woman is most evident; that
bond in which this equality breaks forth, as it were; that bond in which
it is so necessary to proclaim that without equality, the bond itself
exists no longer. Yet, by an absurd contradiction, our civil law chooses
this moment to proclaim the inferiority of woman; it condemns her to
obedience, makes her take a false oath, and takes advantage of love to
make it outrage itself.

"I have no doubt that, to future ages, the characteristic symbol of our
moral condition will be that article of our laws which sanctions in set
terms inequality in love. It will be said of us: they had so little
comprehension of justice, that they did not comprehend love which is
justice in even its holiest type; they had so little comprehension of
love, that they did not even admit justice in it; and that in their
written law, their Code, the form of marriage, the only sacrament of
which they yet had any idea, instead of sanctioning equality, sanctions
inequality; instead of union, disunion; instead of the love that
equalizes and identifies its objects, some contradictory and monstrous
relation, founded at the same time upon identity, and upon inferiority
and slavery. Yes, like those forms of the law of the Twelve Tables, that
we quote now to prove the barbarity of the ancient Romans and their
ignorance of justice, this article of our Code will be some day cited to
characterize our grossness and ignorance, for the absence of an elevated
notion of justice is as marked in it as is the absence of an elevated
notion of love.

"Thence follows everything relative to the condition of woman; or rather,
everything is connected with this point; for will we respect the
equality of woman as a human being when we are senseless enough to deny
her this quality as a wife? Is woman to-day, in so far as a human being,
really treated as the equal of man? I will not enter upon this broad
subject. I confine myself to a single question; what education do women
receive? You treat them as you treat the people. To these too you leave
the old religion that fits us no longer. They are children kept as long
as possible in swaddling clothes, as though this were not the true way to
deform them, to destroy at once the rectitude of their mind and the
candor of their soul. Besides, what does Society do for them? To what new
careers does she give them access? Yet, notwithstanding, it is evident to
every thinking mind that our arts, our sciences, our manufactures will
make as much new progress when women are called to take a part in them,
as they did a few years ago, when they were opened to the serfs. You
complain of the want and wretchedness that weighs down your systems of
society; _abolish the castes that are still subsisting; abolish the caste
in which you hold immured the half of the human race_."

These few pages, my readers, give you the compass of the sentiments of
the St. Simonians, both orthodox and dissenters, and justify the sympathy
entertained by women who have attained _majority_ for those who have so
ardently pleaded their cause.


Louis de Tourreil, the revealer of Fusionism, is a man whom it is
impossible to behold without sympathy or to hear without pleasure; he is
kindly, he speaks well, and his ideas are most logically deduced; his
principles once admitted, one is constrained to follow him to the end.

Tourreil expresses himself in the _Revue Philosophique_ of May, 1856, on
the subject of woman and her rights, as follows:

"Nature is reduced to three great co-eternal principles or productive
agents of all things. These principles are:

"The female or passive principle,

"The male or active principle,

"And the mixed or unificative principle, participating in both, which is
called Love.

"God is therefore Female, Male and Androgynous, in his trinary unity.

"He is simultaneously from all eternity Mother, Father and Love, instead
of being, as the theologians say, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three
agents of like sex, incapable of producing anything.

"You will easily conceive, my dear brother, that if the masculine and the
feminine sex hold the same rank in the Divine Trinity, they will be also
found in the same rank in humanity. The part which the divine woman plays
in Heaven, the human woman will play on Earth....

"Were he (_God_) only of the masculine sex, men would say that the
masculine sex alone is noble, and that woman is created merely for the
service of man, as man is created for that of God. They would even
question whether she had a soul, and would think that they were doing her
a favor in admitting her as something in life."

After quoting the teachings of the apostle Paul with respect to woman and
marriage, the author continues:

"Behold, my dear brother, the part which Christianity assigns to woman.
If this doctrine therefore were followed in every point, and if it ought
to be replaced by no higher one, woman would find herself condemned in
perpetuity to a subalternization humiliating to her nature.

"But Fusionism, which is the doctrine of Salvation for all, does not
permit any one to be sacrificed; for this reason, woman is the equal of
man and man the equal of woman, as in God, the eternal Mother is the
equal of the eternal Father, and the eternal Father is the equal of the
eternal Mother."

De Tourreil believes that the Mother gives form and the Father life, two
things equally necessary to constitute the being.

"Since woman is the equal of man in absolute principle," continues he,
"and since she is co-eternal with him, there is injustice in
subordinating her to man in the relative; and the book of _Genesis_
commits a gross error in making her proceed from man:

"If either of the two could be before the other, it would be the woman,
for strictly speaking, we could conceive of the being without the life,
but it would be quite impossible to conceive of the life without the
being: The being without the life would be a dead being, but what would
the life be without the being? It would be a life without existence,
negation, the absence of life, nothingness. Therefore, in logical order,
woman is first....

"Not only ought woman to be the equal of man, as we have seen, but in
enunciation and classification, she should be named and classed first.

"Woman is the mould by which the species is perfected or depraved,
according as the mould is good or bad. The fate of humanity depends
therefore on woman, since she has all powerful influence on the fruit
that she bears in her bosom.

"Pure, good, intelligent, she will produce healthy, intelligent and good

"Impure, narrow, and wicked, she will produce unhealthy, unintelligent
and wicked beings.

"In a word, the child will be what its mother is, for nothing can give
what it has not.

"It is important therefore that woman should be developed like man, that
her education should be comprehensive, that her person should be honored,
respected, and tenderly cared for, in order that nothing in the social
surroundings may shape it to evil.

"Destined by the Supreme Being to form the human being from her flesh,
her blood and her soul, destined to nourish it with her milk and to give
it its earliest education, the two acts which have the greatest influence
over the individual life, woman should be considered as the chief agent
of perfection. This _rôle_ classes her naturally in a very elevated rank
in society, and exacts of her superior perfections.

"Thus in the future she will be the image of Divine Wisdom on earth, as
man will represent Divine Power.

"To man more especially will belong action; to woman, counsel.

"Man will take the initiative in difficult enterprises; woman will
moderate or excite ardor therein.

"Man will rule the planet; woman will embellish it.

"Man will symbolize science and manufactures; woman will symbolize poetry
and art.

"The one will always have need of the other; they will walk together
side by side, and will find completeness reciprocally in each other.

"Such, my dear friend, after a brief fashion, is the idea which should be
formed of woman. Man and woman are not two beings radically separated;
both together make but a single being. To subordinate woman to man or man
to woman is therefore to mutilate the human being, or to fail to
comprehend its interests. That humanity may be happy, neither of its
halves must suffer. And how can it help suffering if it is reduced to
servitude and oppressed by the other?

"Our destiny on earth is to constitute the collective being in his own
consciousness. For this, it is necessary to realize the humanitary
androgynus. Now the humanitary androgynus necessitates first the
individual androgynus which can only be constituted by harmonious

"Marriage is therefore the great formative or deformative law of the
collective being, according as it is expressed by the legislator in a
manner conformably or contrary to human destiny.

"It is in marriage that the sources of good and evil are found; would you
know why?

"Because in the act that joins the man to the woman, and by which the
couple are made to form but one body, the two souls are fused by means of
a reciprocal donation, which unites the souls of the two for eternity.

"So that, after the conjunction, the soul of the woman adheres to the
soul of the man and accompanies it everywhere, while the soul of the man
adheres to the woman and never more quits it.

"Whence it follows that if the soul of the man be depraved, it depraves
the woman to whom it is united, by exercising over her a continued
action, even at a distance. So also does the depravity of the woman
united to the man deprave him without his knowing it by an occult and
permanent action.

"The souls of two depraved beings may be therefore inseparably conjoined,
without thus constituting the individual androgynus, which is the divine
end of marriage or the union of the sexes.

"The individual androgynus is only possible to the condition of unity.
But unity cannot be constituted by evil.

"The good, the true and the perfect alone can combine the conditions of
unity. The evil, the false and the imperfect are essentially inharmonious
in their nature.

"Two wicked, insincere and vicious beings will only produce by their
conjunction a still greater difference. They will be united, but only
reciprocally to torment each other. Unity will never be constituted by
them; and without the constitution of unity or the individual androgynus,
it will be impossible to realize the human destiny.

"In order that the individual androgynus may exist in the couple, there
must be perfect spiritual communion between them; that is, communion of
thought, of feeling, and of will. But how can two individuals who,
instead of being ruled by truth, are ruled only by their misdirected
passions,--how can these two make but one? It is impossible.

"You will comprehend, my dear brother, from these few words, how sacred
is marriage, and how important it is to contract none but harmonious
unions, for the unhappiness of a lifetime often depends on an
inconsiderate conjunction."

Having had several opportunities of meeting M. de Tourreil, I asked him
for some exact details in respect to the liberty of woman and marriage.

The following is an abstract of those that he has kindly given me;

Education should be the same for both sexes;

Woman should be at liberty to follow the vocation which comes to her from
God; and of which she alone is judge;

"In all grades and employments in the republic of God, woman should be at
the side of man;

After the age of fifty, all individuals of both sexes should be rulers
and priests;

The reproduction of the species being the work of the love of persons
healthy in mind and in body, before marriage, the bride should be
required to make confession to a priestess and the bridegroom to a
priest, in order to be enlightened with respect to the opportuneness or
unsuitableness of the union.

Dissolution of marriage should take place but in a single case,--when the
husband and wife have attained to complete fusion; that is, to feeling
and knowing reciprocally that they have no longer anything to exchange.
It then becomes necessary to form new ties, and, each one to labor to
fuse with a new consort. In the existing condition of humanity, this
fusion cannot take place; but in the future, when we shall be nearer
perfection, it will become possible several times in life.

Fusionism is, as is evident, mystical socialism.

Its votaries are gentle and good, and very tolerant towards those who do
not think like them.


The motto of the Fourieristic, Societary or Phalansterian school is
_respect for individual liberty_, based on the following notions:

All nature is good; it becomes perverted only when performing its
functions in evil surroundings.

No person exactly resembling the rest, each one should be the sole judge
of his capacities, and should receive laws only from himself.

Attractions are proportional to destinies.

If the disciples of my compatriot, Charles Fourier, do not express
themselves exactly in this wise, all that have written bears the imprint
of these thoughts.

Are Fourier and his disciples right in believing that the law of
passional attraction _alone_ is required to organize the industrial,
moral and social world?

That the primordial element of a system of society should be the
Societary or Phalansterian association?

That the most opposite, the most diverse passions are the conditions
_sine quâ non_ of harmony?

That the compensation of labor and of competition should be regulated
according to Labor, Capital and Talent?

We are not called on to examine this here.

The only thing that need occupy us in this rapid review of
contemporaneous opinions is the investigation of the sentiments and ideas
of Fourier and his school in that which concerns the principal object of
this book. A few pages from the chief of the order, and a summary
analysis will suffice for this.

In the _Théorie des quatre Mouvements_, M. Fourier writes;

"That the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome should have disdained
the interests of women is by no means surprising, since these
rhetoricians were all ultra partisans of the pederasty which they had
brought in high honor in _la belle antiquité_. They cast ridicule upon
the associating with women; this passion was considered dishonorable....
These manners obtained the unanimous suffrage of the philosophers who,
from the virtuous Socrates to the delicate Anacreon, affected Sodomitish
love alone and contempt for women, who were banished to the upper
apartments, immured as in a seraglio, and exiled from the society of men.

"These fantastic tastes not having found favor among the moderns, there
is reason for surprise that our philosophers should have inherited the
hatred that the ancient scholars bore to women, and that they should
continue to disparage the sex on account of a few wiles to which woman is
forced by the oppression which weighs upon her; for every word or thought
in conformity with the voice of nature is made in her a crime.

"What can be more inconsistent than the opinion of Diderot, who pretends
that, to write to woman, one has only to dip his pen in the rainbow, and
sprinkle the writing with dust from butterflies' wings? Women might reply
to the philosopher: Your civilization persecutes us as soon as we obey
nature; we are obliged to assume a fictitious character and to listen to
impulses contrary to our desires. To give us a relish for this doctrine,
you are forced to bring in play deceitful illusions and language, as you
do with respect to the soldier whom you cradle in laurels and immortality
to divert his thoughts from his wretched condition. If he were truly
happy, he would welcome the plain and truthful language which you take
care not to address to him. It is the same with women; if they were free
and happy, they would be less eager for illusions and cajoleries, and it
would no longer be necessary in writing to them to place rainbows and
butterflies' wings under contribution.

"When it (Philosophy) rails at the vices of women, it criticises itself;
this it is that produces these vices by a social system which, repressing
their faculties from their infancy and through the whole course of their
life, forces them to have recourse to fraud in order to yield to nature.

"To attempt to judge of women by the vicious character which they display
in civilization is like attempting to judge of human nature by the
character of the Russian peasant, who is destitute of all ideas of honor
and liberty; or like judging the beaver by the stupidity which they show
when domesticated, whilst in a condition of liberty combined with labor,
they become the most intelligent of all quadrupeds. The same contrast
will reign between the women who are slaves of civilization and those who
are free in the combined order; they will surpass men in industrial
devotion, in loyalty, in nobleness; but outside of the free and combined
state, woman, like the domesticated beaver or the Russian peasant,
becomes a being so inferior to her destiny and talents that we are
inclined to despise her when judging her superficially according to

"It is a surprising thing that women should have always shown themselves
superior to men when they have had it in their power to display on the
throne their natural talents, of which the diadem assured them a free
use. Is it not certain that of eight queens, independent and unmarried,
seven will be found to have reigned with glory, while of eight kings, we
count habitually seven feeble sovereigns.

... The Elizabeths and Catherines did not make war in person, but they
knew how to choose their generals; and it is enough that these are good.
In every other branch of administration, has not woman given lessons to
man? What prince has surpassed in firmness Maria Theresa who, in a
disastrous moment, when the fidelity of her subjects was tottering and
her ministers were struck with terror, undertook herself alone to inspire
all with new courage? She intimidated by her presence, the disaffected
Diet of Hungary; she harangued the Magnates in the Latin tongue, and
brought her very enemies to swear on their sabres to die for her. This is
an indication of the prodigies that would be wrought by feminine
emulation in a social order which would permit free scope to her

"And you, the oppressing sex,--would you not go beyond the faults imputed
to women if you, like them, had been moulded by a servile education to
believe yourselves automatons created to obey prejudices and to cringe
before the master whom chance had given you? Have we not seen your
pretensions to superiority confounded by Catharine, who trampled under
foot the masculine sex? In creating titled favorites, she trailed man in
the dust, and proved that it is possible for him in full liberty to abase
himself beneath woman, whose degradation is forced, and consequently,
excusable. It would be necessary, to confound the tyranny of man that,
for the space of a century, a third sex should exist, which should be
both male and female, and stronger than man. This new sex would prove by
dint of blows that men as well as women were made for its pleasures; then
we should hear men protest against the tyranny of the hermaphrodite sex,
and confess that force ought not to be the sole law of right. Now why
are these privileges, this independence, which they would reclaim from
this third sex, refused by them to women.

"In singling out those women who have had power to soar, from the virago,
like Maria Theresia, to those of a gentler type, like the Ninons and the
Sévignés, I am authorized in saying that woman, in a state of liberty,
will surpass man in all functions of the mind and body which are not the
attributes of physical strength.

"Man seems already to foresee this; he becomes indignant and alarmed when
women give the lie to the prejudice that accuses them of inferiority.
_Masculine jealousy has especially broken out against women authors;
philosophy has kept them out of academic honors, and has sent them back
ignominiously to the household._"... (p. 148.)

"What is their existence to-day (that of women)? They exist in privations
alone, even in the trades, in which man has encroached on everything,
_even to the minutest occupations of the needle and the pen, while women
are seen employed in the toilsome labors of the field. Is it not
scandalous to see athletes thirty years old squatted before a desk, or
carrying a cup of coffee with muscular arms_, as if there were not women
and children enough to attend to the minor details of the counting-room
and the household.

"What then are the means of subsistence for women destitute of fortune?
The distaff, or else their charms if they have any. _Yes, prostitution
more or less glossed over is their only resource_, which philosophy again
contests to them; this is the abject fate to which they are reduced by
this civilization, this conjugal slavery which they have not even thought
of attacking." (p. 150.)

Fourier bitterly reproaches women authors for having neglected to seek
the means whereby to put an end to such a state of affairs, and adds with
great reason:

"Their indolence in this respect is one of the causes that have accrued
from the contempt of man. _The slave is never more contemptible than by a
blind submission which persuades the oppressor that his victim was born
for slavery._, (p. 150)."

Fourier is right, but ... to elevate others is to risk being lost one's
self in the crowd; and every one is not capable of this degree of

To combat for the right of the weak when men have admitted you to their
ranks, is to prepare for yourself a rough way and a heavy cross.

In the first place, you are exposed to the hatred and raillery of men,
then half-cultured women corroded by jealousy, invent a thousand
calumnies for your destruction; they feign to be scandalized that a woman
dare protest against the inferiority and use of her sex; they enter into
league with the masters, clamor louder than they and satirize you without

Now all women are not made to shrug their shoulders in the face of this
cohort of morbid minds ... they love peace too well, they lack courage,
and _they do not care enough for justice_; is it not so, ladies?

Let us return to Fourier. It is known that he admits several social
periods. According to him, the pivot of each of them hinges on love and
the degree of liberty of woman.

"As a general rule," he says, "_social progress and changes of the period
will be wrought in proportion to the progress of women towards liberty,
and the decay of the social order will be wrought in proportion to the
decline of the liberty of women_."

In another place, he adds in speaking of philosophers:

"If they treat of morals, they forget to recognize and to claim the
rights of the weaker sex, _the oppression of which destroys the basis of

He says again, elsewhere:

"Now, God recognizes as liberty only that which is extended to both
sexes, and not to one alone; so he has prescribed that all the germs of
social evils, as the savage state, barbarism, civilization, should have
no other pivot than the enthrallment of women; and that all the germs of
social good, as the sixth, seventh and eighth period, should have no
other pivot, no other compass, than the progressive affranchisement of
the weaker sex."

Fourier is reproached with having desired the emancipation of woman in
love; nothing is more true. But to impute this to him as immorality, men
must censure their own morals. Now, these gentlemen considering
themselves as wholly _pure_, though themselves representing the
_butterfly_ in love, infidelity and the simultaneous possession of
several women being only a pastime to them, I do not really see what they
can blame in Fourier.

Either what they do is right, and therefore cannot be wrong in woman;

Or what they do is wrong; then why do they do it?

Fourier believed in the unity of the moral law and in the equality of the
sexes; he believed in the lawfulness of the morals of these gentlemen,
_minus perfidy and hypocrisy_; this is the reason that he claims
emancipation in love for woman: he is logical.

Besides, he repeats continually that the ethics that he depicts would
cause disorder in the civilized period; and that they can only be
established progressively in subsequent periods. Many among the
Phalansterians reject Fourier's ethics with respect to love as well as
his Theodicy, and I myself have heard several discourses in which the
orator condemned, not only falsity in conjugal relations, but also
looseness of morals.

Fourier and the Saint Simonian orthodoxy have both been guilty of the
same error with regard to the emancipation of woman; but, men, I repeat,
must be very audacious to impute it to them as a crime, since they
indulge themselves in worse; as to women, sustained and loved by these
reformers, let them imitate the pious conduct of Shem and Japhet; one
owes respect to his father, whatever may be the idea or the wine with
which he is drunken.

Now that we have cited the master, let us enumerate the principal points
of the Fourierist doctrine, touching the liberty of woman and the
equality of the sexes:

1. Man and woman are composed of the same physical, moral and
intellectual elements; there is, therefore, between the sexes, identity
of nature.

2. The proportion of these elements differs in the two sexes, and
constitutes the difference that exists between them.

3. This difference is so equalized that the value shall be equal. Where
man is the stronger, he takes precedence of woman; where woman is
stronger, she takes precedence of man.

4. Man belongs to the _major mode_: he has the ascendency over woman in
intellect, in logic, in the larger manufactures, in friendship; it
belongs to him therefore to create positive science, to connect facts, to
regulate commercial relations, to bind together interests, and to
organize groups and series. To all these things, woman brings her
indispensable aid, but by reason of her aptitudes, her services are only
secondary therein.

5. Woman belongs to the _minor mode_; she has the ascendency over man in
the kind of intellect that applies and adapts, in the intuition that puts
man on the track of the good to which masculine logic should attain; in
the sphere of maternity in which she presides over education, for she
comprehends the means to be employed to ameliorate the species in every
respect better than man; in the sphere of love in which she has the right
and the power to civilize and refine the relations of the sexes; and to
stimulate man to conquest of the intellect, to the amelioration of the
physical conditions of the globe, of industry, of art, of social
relations, etc.

Woman intervenes to a certain point in the major mode, so does man enter
into the minor mode, in which his coöperation is indispensable.

Thus, in general, in man the head predominates, in woman, the heart; but
as both have a heart and a head, man, through his heart, becomes an aid
in the minor mode, and woman, through her head, becomes an aid in the
major mode.

6. There are men who are women both in head and in heart; women who are
men both in heart and in head; in humanity they form the eighth of an
exception. Full liberty and right are granted to them.

7. Each member of the Phalanstery follows his vocation, obeys his
attractions, _for attractions are proportional to destinies_. Therefore
the eighth of an exception in both sexes, having an attraction towards
labors that belong more especially to the other sex, is at liberty to
yield to them.

8. All major men and women have an equal vote.

9. All matters are regulated by chiefs _of both sexes_, chosen by the
free vote of both sexes.

10. All offices, from the presidency of the group to that of the globe,
are filled jointly by men and women, who divide between them the details
of this common function.

11. The mother is the instructress of her children; they belong to her
alone; the father has no rights over them unless the mother chooses to
confer these on him.

Such is the summary of the Fourierist doctrine on the subject of which we

If the Societary School has not reached perfect truth, it must be at
least acknowledged that it has taken the right way to attain it. Whether
its theory of the classification and the predominance of faculties in
conformity with the sexes be exact or not, the error will not be
productive of mischievous results in practice. Woman being free to follow
her aptitudes, being half in rights and functions, could always place
herself in the exceptional eighth, without fear of encountering jealous
individuals, better fitted than herself to warble in the minor key, who
would send her back to the duties of the household.

I remember, in this connection, a certain advocate, by no means
_feminine_, professing a superb disdain of the sex to which his mother
belonged, worthy in a word, to be the disciple of P. J. Proudhon; would
you know what this man had retained of all his lessons in law? The art of
sweeping a room properly, of polishing furniture, of hemming napkins and
pocket handkerchiefs neatly, and of compounding sauces. Do you not think,
illustrious Proudhon, that he might have been advised with more justice
to _go and iron his collars_, than certain women who write good articles
on Philosophy.

But let us return to Fourier.

Among the Socialist Schools, that of Fourier occupies a distinguished
place; it is the one most deserving of the gratitude of women through the
principles that it has laid down. Be it understood, we separate in this
connection the principles of Liberty and Equality from all that relates
to the question of ethics, which we cannot resolve in the same manner as
Fourier, _any more for woman than man_.



Appear, all ye modern innovators, before your judge, the public. Sum up
your opinions.

COMMUNIST. The two sexes differ, do not perform the same functions, but
_they are equal before the law_.

For woman to be really emancipated, society must be remoulded
economically, and marriage suppressed.

PHILADELPHIAN AND ICARIAN. We are of your opinion, brother, except in
what concerns marriage.

ORTHODOX ST. SIMONIAN. If Christianity has despised and oppressed woman,
it has been because, in its sight, she represented matter, the world,
evil. We, who are come to give the true meaning of the Trinity,
rehabilitate or explain what our predecessors have condemned. Woman is
the equal of man, because in God, who comprises everything, matter is
equal to spirit. With man, woman forms the couple which is the social
individual, the functionary. As woman is very different from man, we do
not take the liberty of judging her; we content ourselves with
_summoning_ her that she may reveal herself.

Notwithstanding we think that she can only be affranchised by being
emancipated in love.

PIERRE LEROUX _agitated_. Take care! It is not so much in sex that woman
should be affranchised; it is only in her quality of _wife and human
being_. She has sex only for him she loves; to all other men she is what
they are themselves: sensation, sentiment, sense. She must be free in
marriage and in the commonwealth as man himself should be.

FUSIONIST _interrupting him_. You are right, Pierre Leroux; yet neither
is the previous speaker wholly wrong; woman is free and the equal of man
in everything, because spirit and matter are equal in God; because the
man and the woman form together the human androgynus, the derivation of
the divine androgynus. It is not so, my dear sister?

MYSELF. Excuse me, brothers, from joining in your theological discussion;
my wings are not strong enough to follow you into the bosom of God, in
order to assure myself whether he is spirit or matter, androgynus or not,
binary, trinary, quarternary, or nothing of all these. It is enough for
me that you all grant that woman should be free, and the equal of man.

I permit myself only a single observation; that your notion of the couple
or of the androgynus, at the bottom one and the same thing, tends fatally
to the subjugation of my sex; if, by a metaphor, a fiction, we make of
two beings, endowed each with a separate will, free-will and intellect, a
single unity; _in social practice_, this unity is manifested by a single
will, a single free-will, a single intellect, and the individuality that
prevails in our society is that which is endowed with strength of arm;
the other is annihilated, and the right given to the couple is in reality
only the right of the stronger. The use that M. Proudhon has made of
androgyny ought to cure you of this fancy; as the use which your
predecessors made of the ternary ought to have preserved you from
trinitary metaphysics. Be it said without offence to you, gentlemen, I
have a decided antipathy to any trinities and androgynies whatsoever; I
am a sworn enemy to all metaphysics, whether profane or sacred,--a
constitutional vice, aggravated in me by Kant and his school.

PHALANSTERIAN. For God's sake, gentlemen, let us quit this mysticism. Man
and woman are different, but the one is as necessary as the other to the
great work that should be accomplished by humanity; therefore they are
equal. As each individual has a right to develop himself integrally, to
manifest himself completely in order to perform the parcellary task which
his attractions assign to him, the liberty of one sex can no more be
called in question than can that of the other. Man modulates in major,
woman in minor, with an exceptional eighth; but, as in all the general
functions, the combination of the two modes is necessary, it is evident
that each of them ought to be double, and that woman ought everywhere to
be equal with man.

M. DE GIRARDIN _somewhat abruptly_. Gentlemen, I agree with you that
woman ought to be free and equal with man; only I maintain that her
function is to manage, to economize, and to rear her children, while man
labors and brings into the household the product of his industry.

As I wish woman to be freed from servitude and all children to be
rendered legitimate, I suppress civil marriage, and institute universal

M. LEGOUVE _smiling_. You go too fast and too far, my dear sir, you will
frighten everybody. At least, I believe like you in the equality of the
sexes through the equivalence of their functions, but I take good care
not to breathe a word of it. I content myself with claiming for woman
instruction, diminution of conjugal servitude, and offices of charity;
counting, between ourselves, that these victories obtained, women will be
in a position through their education and proved utility, to affranchise
themselves completely. Well! despite my reserve and moderation, you see
that some call me _effeminate_, others _sans culotte_.

M. MICHELET, _rising with tears in his eyes_. Alas, gentlemen, you are
all in the wrong road; and I am very sorry, my beloved academician
Legouvé, to see you employ your elegant pen in leading woman in so
perilous and irrational a way.

As to you, gentlemen, who lay claim to liberty and equality of rights for
woman, you are not authorized by her to do so; she demands no right, what
should she do with it--a being always feeble, always sick, always
wounded. Poor creature! What can be her rôle here below, if not to be
adored by her husband, whose duty it is to constitute himself her
instructor, her physician, her confessor, her sick nurse, her
waiting-maid; to keep her in a hot-house, and with all these multiplied
cares to earn beside the daily bread; for woman cannot, ought not to
work; she is the love and the altar of the heart of man.

Some among you have dared utter the vile word: Divorce.

No divorce! The woman who has given herself away, has received the
imprint of man. You should not abandon her, however guilty she may be. I
thought in the beginning that after your death she ought to wear mourning
to the tomb, beyond which, she and her husband would be fused into the
unity of love. But I have thought better of it; you may appoint a

While Michelet is seating himself, wiping his eyes, the lid of a coffin
is seen to rise, and Comte exclaims in a sepulchral tone:

_Worthily_ and _admirably_ spoken, illustrious professor!

What! you here? exclaims the assembly. Then one does not perish entirely,
as you taught your disciples?

COMTE. No, gentlemen, and I was very agreeably surprised to see myself
mistaken. But it is not to instruct you about the life beyond the tomb
that I return; that would not have been worth the trouble of disturbing
myself. It is to express to the great professor Michelet all the
satisfaction that I feel in seeing him so richly poetise the ideal that I
set up, and strew so many flowers over the _admirable_ maxim of Aristotle
and the _commandment_ of the great St. Paul.

Yes, thrice illustrious Master, you have rightly said: woman is made for
man, she should obey him, be devoted to him; she is only a doll in
private life, absolutely nothing in public life. Yes, men should labor
for her; yes, marriage is indissoluble; all this is irreproachable.

AUGUSTE COMTISM. I regret but one thing--that you have not preserved the
ejaculatory orisons of the wife to the husband, and of the husband to the
wife; it would have been a good example and have made a fine effect to
see them every morning kneeling face to face, with clasped hands and
closed eyes. I hope that this is only forgetfulness, and that you will
reëstablish this detail in your next edition. I congratulate you openly
on the happy thought that you have conceived of justifying the absorption
of woman by man by aid of a wound and the mysteries of impregnation;
this will have a great effect on the ignorant.

Rebellious women, and the madmen _with corrupt hearts_ who sustain them,
say that you are a poetic and ingenuous egotist, that our beloved
Proudhon is a brutal egotist; that I am an egotist by A + B. Let them say
so; I approve and bless you."

The apparition was preparing to lie down again in his coffin when, having
a passion for encountering phantoms, I seized a corner of his winding
sheet, and, notwithstanding an unequivocal sign from him of _vade retro_,
I had the courage to represent humbly to the defunct high priest that the
brow of M. Proudhon deserved quite as much to be blessed as that of M.
Michelet. The defunct gravely crossed his fleshless fore finger and thumb
over the haughty and irreverent head of the great critic, who neither
bowed nor seemed infinitely flattered.

It being his turn to speak, Proudhon rose and said: "Gentlemen
Communists, Philadelphians, Fusionists, Phalansterians, Saint Simonians,
and you, MM. Girardin and Legouvé, as well as all of your adherents, you
are all _effeminate_, men _hardened in absurdity_.

"If my friend Michelet has gilded, perfumed and sugared the pill for you,
I cannot imitate his address and moderation, for you know that in
temperament I, P. J. Proudhon, am neither tender nor poetical. Permit me
then roughly to tell you the truth concerning a question _of which you do
not understand the first word_.

"The Church, St. Thomas d'Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Paul, and Auguste
Comte, as well as the Romans, the Greeks, Manu and Mahomet teach that
woman is made for the pleasure and use of man, and that she should be
subjected to him; now I have sufficiently established these great truths
by affirmations without reply. It is demonstrated to-day, therefore, to
all who believe in me that woman is a passive being, having the germ of
nothing, who owes everything to man, and that, consequently, she belongs
to him as the work to the workman. Lest my solution might appear somewhat
harsh to you, or to savor too much of antiquity of the Middle Ages, I
have borrowed of the modern innovators their farce of Androgyny; I have
made the couple the organ of Justice; in this couple, woman, transformed
by man, becomes a triple deity, a domestic idol, subject in everything to
her priest. I shut her up in the household, and permit her to have only
the superintendence of festivals and spectacles, the education of
children and maidens, etc.

"Is it not evident, gentlemen, that woman, because she is weaker than we,
is, _by justice_, condemned to obey us, and that _her liberty consists in
experiencing no amorous emotion, even for her husband_? Is it not
evident, in consequence, that you, who do not think as I, are
_effeminate, absurd_ men, and that the women who are no more willing to
be slaves than we were in '89 are _insurgents, impure women whom sin has
rendered mad_?"

The majority of the assembly laugh; De Girardin shrugs his shoulders;
Legouvé bites his lip in order not to laugh; Michelet appears troubled at
this sally which may spoil everything. As, in uttering the word
_insurgent_, the orator glances at me with marked design, I cannot help
saying "yes, I deserve the name of _insurgent_ like our fathers of '89.
As to you, if you do not amend, I fear greatly that I shall see you die
duly confessed and blessed with extreme unction ... and you will have
well deserved it!"

Now, gentlemen, let us ascertain the vote of your honorable assembly.

Four schools,--the Communists, the St. Simonians, the Fusionians and the
Phalansterians,--with one publicist, M. de Girardin, who makes as much
noise by himself alone as a whole school, are for the liberty of woman
and the equality of the sexes.

MM. Comte, Proudhon and Michelet are against the liberty of women and the
equality of the sexes.

M. Legouvé and his innumerable adherents wish liberty for woman, and
desire that she should labor to become equal to man through equivalence
of functions.

Which means that the great majority of those _who think_ are, in
different degrees, for our emancipation.

Now that my readers are acquainted with your several opinions, gentlemen,
it belongs to me, a woman, to speak myself in behalf of my right, without
leaning on anything but Justice and Reason.





What arguments do the adversaries of the emancipation of women use to
refute the equality of the rights of the sexes?

Some, theosophists of the old school, claim that one half of humanity is
condemned by God himself to submit to the other half, because, they say,
the first woman sinned.

Not wishing to depart from the firm ground of justice, reason and proved
facts, we will not argue with this class of adversaries.

Others, who claim to be imbued with the modern spirit, and pretend to be
disciples of the doctrines of liberty, condemn woman to inferiority and
obedience because, they say, she is weaker physically and intellectually
than man;

Because she performs functions of an inferior order;

Because she produces less than man in an industrial point of view;

Because her peculiar temperament prevents her from performing certain

Because she is only fit for in-door life; because her vocation is to be
mother and housewife, to devote herself entirely to her husband and

Because man protects and supports her;

Because man is her proxy, and exercises rights both for her and himself;

Because woman has no more time than capacity to exercise certain rights.

The rights of woman are in her beauty and our love, add some, gallantly.

Woman does not claim her rights; many women themselves are scandalized by
the demands made by a few of their sex, continue other men.

And they spare the courageous women who plead the cause of right, and the
men who sustain them neither calumnies, nor mockery, nor insult, hoping
to intimidate the former and disgust the latter.

Vain hope! the time in which we could be intimidated has gone by. If it
is justifiable to fear the opinion of those whom we deem juster and more
intelligent than ourselves, it would be folly to be disturbed by those
whose irrationality and injustice we feel able to demonstrate.

This double demonstration we are about to attempt, taking up one by one
the arguments of these gentlemen.

1. Woman cannot have the same rights as man, because she is inferior to
him in intellectual faculties, you say. From this proposition, we have a
right to conclude that you consider the _human faculties as the basis of

That, the law proclaiming equality of right for your sex, you are all
equal in qualities, all alike strong and alike intelligent.

That, lastly, no woman is as strong and as intelligent as you; I cannot
say, as the least among you, since, if right is founded on qualities, as
it is equal, your qualities must be equal.

Now gentlemen, what becomes of these pretensions in the presence of
_facts_ that show you all unequal in strength and in intellect? What
becomes of these pretensions in the presence of _facts_ that show us a
host of women stronger than many men; a host of women more intelligent
than the great mass of men?

Being unequal in strength and in intellect, and notwithstanding declared
equal in right, it is evident therefore that you have not founded right
on qualities.

And if you have not taken these qualities into account when your right
has been in question, why then do you talk so loudly of them when the
question is that of the right of woman.

If the faculties were the basis of right, as the faculties are unequal,
the right would be unequal; and, to be just, it would be necessary to
accord right to those who made good their claims to the necessary
faculties and to exclude the rest; by this standard many women would be
chosen and an infinite number of men excluded. See where we end when we
have not the intellectual energy to take principles into consideration!
You have but one means of evicting us of equality; namely, to prove that
we do not belong to the same species as you.

2. Woman, you add, cannot have the same rights as man because, as mother
and housewife, she performs only functions of an inferior order.

From this second proposition, we have a right to conclude that _functions
are the basis of right_;

That your functions are equivalent, since your right is equal!

That the functions of woman are not equivalent to those of man.

You have to prove then, gentlemen, that the functions _individually_
performed by each of you are equivalent; that, for example, Cuvier,
Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Arago, Fulton, Jacquard, and other inventors and
scholars have not done more, are not doing more for humanity and
civilization than an equal number of manufacturers of pins' heads.

You have to prove next that the labors of maternity, those of the
household to which the workman owes his life, his health, his strength,
the possibility of accomplishing his task--that these functions without
which there would be no humanity, are not equivalent; that is, as useful
to the social body as those of the manufacturer of jewels or of toys.

You have to prove lastly that the functions of the female teacher,
merchant, book keeper, clerk, dressmaker, milliner, cook, waiting-maid,
etc., are not equivalent to those of the male teacher, merchant,
accountant, clerk, cook, tailor, hatter, footman, etc.;

I grant that it is embarrassing to your triumphant argument to encounter
the thousands of _facts_ which show us the _real_ woman performing
numerous functions in competition with you;

So it is, and these facts must be taken into account. But gentlemen, I
have you in a dilemma! if functions are the basis of right, as right is
equal, functions are equivalent; in which case those performed by woman
are not inferior, since none are so. The functions which she performs are
therefore equivalent to yours, and, by this equivalence, she again
becomes equal.

Or else functions are not the basis of right; did you not take them into
account when the establishment of your right was in question; why then do
you speak of functions when the question is the right of woman?

Extricate yourself from this as you can; I shall not help you.


3. Woman produces less than man industrially, you say. Admitting this to
be true, do you count as nothing the great maternal function--the risks
that woman runs in accomplishing it;

Do you count as nothing the labors of the household, the cares that are
lavished upon you, and to which you owe cleanliness and health?

If the quantity of the product be the origin of the equality of right,
why have those who produce little, those who produce nothing, and all of
you who produce unequally, equal right?

Why are all those women who produce, while their husbands and sons enjoy
and dissipate, destitute of the rights which the latter possess?

You do not admit the question of product into that of right when man is
in question, why then do you admit it when woman is in question?

You see that this is inconsiderate, irrational, unjust.

4. Woman cannot be the equal of man, because her peculiar temperament
interdicts to her certain functions.

Well, then a legislator can, without being unreasonable, decree that all
men who are unfitted by temperament for the profession of arms, for
instance, are excluded from equality of right!

Temperament, the source of right?

If a woman had written anything so absurd, she would have been cried down
from one end of the world to the other.

Why, gentlemen, do you not exclude from equality all men who are weak,
all those who are incapable of performing the functions that you
_prejudge_ woman incapable of performing?

When you are in question, you admit indeed that the right to perform
every function supposes neither the faculty nor the inclination to make
use of it; why do you not reason in the same manner when the question
concerns us? What would you think of women if, having your rights while
you were in subjection, they should keep you in an inferior position
because you could not accomplish the great functions of gestation and

Man, they would say, being unable to be mother and nurse, shall not have
the right of being instructed like us; of having, like us, civil dignity.
His coarser temperament renders him incapable of being a witness to a
certificate of birth or death; it is evident that his clumsiness excludes
him judicially from diplomatic functions; we cannot therefore recognize
his right to solicit them, etc.

Ah! gentlemen, you reason in the same manner in excluding woman from
equality under the pretext that, in general, she is of a temperament
weaker than your own; that is, you reason absurdly.

5. Woman cannot be the equal of man in right because he protects and
maintains her.

If it is because you protect and maintain us, that we ought not to have
our right, restore it then to unmarried women who are of age, and to
widows whom you neither protect nor maintain.

Restore their right then to the wives who have no need of your
protection, since the law protects them, even against you; to the wives
whom you do not maintain, since they bring you either a dowry, or a
profession, or services which you would be obliged to recompense if any
other rendered them to you.

And if to be maintained by another, suffices to deprive an individual of
his right, take it away from the host of men who are maintained by the
incomes or the labor of their wives.

6. Man, in the exercise of certain rights, is the proxy of woman.

Gentleman, a proxy is chosen freely, and is not imposed on an individual;
I do not accept you as proxies: I am intelligent enough to transact my
business myself, and I pray you to restore to me, as well as to all the
women who think as I do, an authority which you use unworthily. If
married women, to have peace, are willing to continue you as their
authority, it is their business; but none of you can legitimately retain
that of widows and unmarried women who have attained majority.

7. Woman has not the same rights as man, because she has no more time
than capacity to exercise them.

Has woman less time and capacity than your working men, pinned twelve
hours a day to their petty and stultifying tasks? Affirm it if you dare!

Does it need less time and capacity to make a deposition in a criminal
suit, as woman does, than to witness a civil act or a notarial contract,
a right that woman has not.

Does it need less time and capacity to be the guardian of sons and to
administer their fortune, as woman does, than to be the guardian of a
stranger or of a nephew, and administer their property, a right that
woman has not.

Does it need less time and capacity to superintend a manufactory, a
commercial establishment, workmen, as do so many women, than to be at the
head of an office, or of a public administration, and to superintend its
officials, a right that woman has not?

Does it need less time and capacity to devote one's self to instruction
in a large boarding school, as do so many women, than in the chair of a
professorship, as man alone has the right to do?

Woman proves, _by her works_, that she lacks capacity and time no more
than you. Facts stifle affirmations for which you should blush. Fie! I am
glad that I am not a man, lest I might say like things and be led to
pretend that an instructress, a literary woman, a woman artist, an
experienced female merchant has not the capacity of a porter or a
rag-picker because she has not a beard on her chin.

8. The rights of woman are in her beauty and in the love of man.

Rights, based on beauty, and on that fragile thing styled man's love!
What are these worth, I ask you, gentlemen?

Then woman shall have rights if she is beautiful, and as long as she
shall continue so; if she is beloved, and as long as she shall continue
so? Old, ugly and forsaken, she must be thrown into the car of the
condemned to be transported to the guillotine?

If a woman should say such things, what a universal hue and cry would be

Yet men pretend that they are rational! We congratulate woman on having
too much common sense ever to be so in this wise.

After all these arguments, none of which will bear analysis, comes at
last the triumphant objection: women do not claim their rights, many
among them are even scandalized by the demand made by a few in the name
of all. Do not women demand them, gentlemen?

What are a host of American women doing at the present time?

What have a number of English women done already?

What did Jean Deroin, Pauline Roland and many others, do here in 1848?

What am I doing to-day, in the name of a legion of women of whom I am the

_All_ women do not make reclamations, no; but do you not know that every
demand of right is made at first singly?

That slaves accustomed to their chains, do not feel them until their
instigators to revolt show them the bruises on their flesh?

A few only demand their rights, you say; but is it in accordance with
principle or with numbers that you judge of the justice of a cause?

Did you wait until _all_ the male population demanded their right of
universal suffrage in order to decree it to them?

Did you wait for the revendication of _all_ the slaves of your colonies
before emancipating them?

Yes, it is true, gentlemen, that many women are opposed to the
emancipation of their sex. What does this prove? That there are human
beings abased enough to have lost all sentiment of dignity; but not that
right is not right.

Among the blacks, there are many who hate, denounce, and deliver up to
the scourge and to death those among them who are meditating how to break
their chains; which is right, which has the sentiment of human dignity,
the latter or the former?

We demand our place at your side, gentlemen, because identity of species
gives us the right to occupy it.

We demand our right, because the inferiority inwhich we are kept is one
of the most active causes of the decay of morals.

We demand our right, because we are persuaded that woman has to set her
stamp on Science, Philosophy, Justice and Politics.

We demand our right, lastly, because we are convinced that the general
questions, the lack of solution of which threatens our modern
civilization with ruin, can only be resolved by the co-operation of woman
delivered from her fetters and left free in her genius.

Is it not a great proof of our insanity, our _impurity_, gentlemen, that
we feel this ardent desire to check the corruption of morals, and to
labor for the triumph of Justice, the coming of the reign of Duty and
Reason, the establishment of an order of things in which humanity,
worthier and happier, shall pursue its glorious destinies without the
accompaniment of cannon or the shedding of blood?

Is it not because the advocates of emancipation are _impure women whom
sin has rendered mad, beings incapable of comprehending Justice and
conscientious works_?


Gentlemen, we will conclude.

Though that were true which I deny; that woman is inferior to you;
though that were true which _facts_ prove false; that she can perform
none of the functions which you perform, that she is fit only for
maternity and the household, she would be none the less your equal in
right, because right is based neither on superiority of faculties nor on
that of the functions which proceed from them, but on identity of

A human being, like you, having, like you, intellect, will, free will and
various aptitudes, woman has the right, like you, to be free and
autonomous, to develop her faculties freely, to exercise her activity
freely; to mark out her path, to reduce her to subjection, as you do, is
therefore a violation of Human Right in the person of woman--an odious
abuse of force.

From the stand point of facts, this violation of right takes the form of
grievous inconsistency; for we find many women far superior to the
majority of men; whence it follows that right is granted to those who
ought not to have it, according to your doctrine, and refused to those
who ought to possess it, according to the same doctrine, since they make
good their claim to the qualities requisite.

We find that you accord right to qualities and functions, _because the
individual is a man_, and that you cease to recognize it in the same
case, _because the individual is a woman_.

Yet you boast of your lofty reason,--yet you boast of possessing the
sense of justice!

Take care, gentlemen! Our rights have the same foundation as yours: in
denying the former, you deny the latter in principle.

A word more to you, pretended disciples of the doctrines of '89, and we
have done. Do you know why so many women took part with our Revolution,
armed the men, and rocked their children to the song of the
_Marseillaise_! It was because they thought they saw under the
Declaration of the rights of men and citizens, the declaration of the
rights of women and female citizens.

When the Assembly took it upon itself to undeceive them, by lacking logic
with respect to them, and closing their meetings, they abandoned the
Revolution, and you know what ensued.

Do you know why, in 1848, so many women, especially among the people,
declared themselves for the Revolution? It was because they hoped that
this Revolution would be more consistent with respect to them than the
former had been.

When, in their senseless arrogance and lack of intelligence, the
representatives not only forbid them to assemble, but _drove_ them from
the assemblies of men, the women abandoned the Revolution by detaching
their husbands and sons from it, and you know what ensued.

Do you comprehend at last?

I tell you truly; all your struggles are in vain, if woman does not go
with you.

An order of things may be established by a _coup de main_, but it is only
maintained by the adhesion of majorities; and these majorities,
gentlemen, are formed by us women, through the influence that we possess
over men, through the education that we give them with our milk.

We have it in our power to inspire them from their cradles with love,
hatred or indifference for certain principles; in this is our strength;
and you are blind not to comprehend that if man is on one side and woman
on the other, humanity is condemned to weave Penelope's web.

Gentlemen, woman is ripe for civil liberty, and we declare to you that we
shall henceforth regard whoever shall rise against our lawful claim as an
enemy of progress and of the Revolution; while we shall rank among the
friends of progress and of the Revolution, those who declare themselves
in favor of our civil emancipation, SHOULD THEY BE YOUR ADVERSARIES?

If you refuse to listen to our lawful demands, we shall accuse you before
posterity of the crime with which you reproach the holders of slaves.

We shall accuse you before posterity of having denied the faculties of
woman, because you feared her competition.

We shall accuse you before posterity of having refused her justice,
because you wished to make her your servant and plaything. We shall
accuse you before posterity of being enemies of right and progress.

And our accusation will remain standing and living before future
generations who, more enlightened, more just, more moral than you, will
turn away their eyes with disdain and contempt from the tomb of their



I think that we have sufficiently though summarily proved to all honest
inquiries that social right is identical for both sexes since they are
identical in species. The question of right being placed beyond
discussion, we can now ask what use woman shall make of her right; in
other terms, what functions she is qualified to perform in accordance
with her whole nature.

Let us first mark the profound difference that exists between right and
function, then define and divide the latter.

_Right_ is the condition _sine qua non_ of the development and
manifestations of the human being: it is absolute, general for the whole
species, because the individuals who compose it should be able lawfully
to develop and manifest themselves.

_Function_ is the use of the faculties of the individual with a view to a
purpose useful to himself and to others; function is therefore a
production of utility and, in conclusion, the manifestation of the
aptitudes predominating in each of us, whether naturally, or in
consequence of education and habit.

Society, having needs of every kind, has functions of every nature and
various scope; these functions may be classified as follows:

     1. Scientific and philosophic functions;
     2. Industrial functions;
     3. Artistic functions;
     4. Educational functions;
     5. Medical functions;
     6. Functions for the preservation of safety;
     7. Judicial functions;
     8. Functions of exchange and circulation;
     9. Administrative and governmental functions;
    10. Legislative functions;
    11. Functions of solidarity or of social benevolence and of
        institutions for the prevention of crime.

This classification, which would be very imperfect and insufficient, were
this a treatise on social organization, being all that is needed for the
use that we have to make of it, we shall adhere to it in this place.

Men, and women after them, have deemed proper hitherto to class man and
woman separately; to define each type, and to deduce from this ideal the
functions suited to each sex. Neither have chosen to see that numerous
facts contradict their classification.

What! exclaims the classifiers, do you deny that the sexes differ? Do you
deny that, if they differ, they should have different functions?

If our classification does not seem good to you, criticise it, we ask
nothing more; but replace it by a better one.

To criticise your classification, ladies and gentlemen, is what I intend
to do; but if the elements are wanting to establish a better, can you,
ought you even to require me to present you one.

Do you think me a man, that you exact of me abuse of the _à priora_, and
a startling arbitrary course of reasoning. "Proudhon is right," murmur
these gentlemen; "woman is incapable of abstract reasoning, of
generalizing, of _knowing herself_"....

Really, gentlemen, do you think that it is through incapacity that I am
unwilling to present to you a classification of the sexes, a theory of
the nature of woman?... Let us hasten then to prove the contrary: instead
of one theory, we will give you _four_. Man and woman form a series only
with respect to the reproduction of the species: all the other
characteristics by which it has been attempted to make a distinction
between them are only generalities contradicted by a multitude of facts;
now, as a generality is not a law, nothing can be therefore concluded
from these, nothing absolute deduced from them in a functional point of

On the other hand, the greatest radical difference of zoological species
lies in the nervous system, especially in the greater or lesser bulk and
complexity of the encephalus; now, Anatomy admits, after numerous
experiments, that, in proportion to the whole size of the body, the brain
of woman equals in volume that of man; that the composition of both is
the same, and Phrenology adds that the organs of the brain are the same
in both sexes.

Lastly, it is a biological principle that organs are developed by
exercise and atrophied by continued repose; now, man and woman do not
exercise their encephalic organs in the same manner; educational
training, manners, prejudice, enforced habits tend to develop in the
masculine what becomes atrophied in the feminine head; whence it follows
that the differences empirically established are by no means the result
of Nature, but of the accidental causes by which they have been produced.

Conclusion: the two sexes therefore, when reared alike become developed
alike, and are fit for the same functions, except those which concern the
reproduction of the species.

Here, gentlemen, is a theory complete in all its parts, tenable in an
anatomo-biologic point of view, and which I challenge you to prove false,
for I shall find replies to all your objections.


We admit the principle that the sexes form series in physical, moral,
intellectual, consequently functional respects.

We believe that they should become subordinate to each other in
proportion to their relative excellence; and we take the destiny of the
species as the touchstone of their respective value.

If we compare the sexes with each other, we prove in a general way, that
man is merely woman on a coarser scale; we prove in the second place that
he is far more animal than woman, since his muscular system is more fully
developed and since he respires lower; so that he is most evidently a
medium between woman and the higher species of apes.

Woman alone contains and develops the human germ; she is the creator and
preserver of the race.

It is not quite certain that the co-operation of man is necessary for the
work of reproduction; _this is the means chosen by Nature_, but human
science will succeed, we hope, in delivering woman from this
insupportable subjection.

Analogy authorises us to believe that woman, the sole depositary of the
human germ, is equally the sole depositary of all the moral and
intellectual germs, whence it follows that she is the inspirer of all
knowledge, all discoveries, all justice, the mother of all virtue. Our
analogous deductions are confirmed by facts; woman employs her intellect
in the concrete; she is an acute observer; man is only fit to construct
paradoxes and to lose himself in the abyss of metaphysics; science has
only emerged from the limbo of _à priora_ without confirmation, since the
advent into this domain of the form of the feminine mind; we shall
affirm, therefore, that true scholars are feminized minds.

In moral respects, man and woman differ greatly; the former is harsh,
rough, without delicacy, devoid of sensibility and modesty; his habitual
relations with the other sex modify him only with great difficulty; woman
is naturally gentle, loving, feeling, equitable, modest; to her, man owes
justice and his other virtues, when he has any; whence it follows that it
is really to woman alone that social progress is due; hence it is that
every step made towards civilization is marked by an advance of woman
towards liberty.

If we consider each of the sexes in their relation to human destiny, we
are forced to admit that, if there was reason for the predominance of man
in the necessity of hewing out this destiny, the pre-eminence of woman is
ensured in the future reign of right and peace.

It was necessary to struggle and fight in order to establish justice and
to subject nature to humanity; this belonged of right to man, who
represents muscular force, the spirit of conflict; but as we already
foresee in the approaching future, the coming of peace, the substitution
of pacific labor and negotiations for war, it is clear that woman will
take rightfully the direction of human affairs, to which she will be
called by her faculties, found better adapted to the end henceforth to be

Woman should be the last to develop and manifest herself socially, for
the same reason that the human species is the last creation of our globe;
the perfect being always appears after those that have served to pave the

As it is demonstrated, on the other hand, that, in the scale of the
various organisms, the organ that is superadded to the others to
constitute a change of species, governs those which the individual
derives from inferior species, so woman, fully developed in a social body
organized for peace and pacific labor, will be the new organ that will
govern the social body.

Does this signify that woman should oppress man? By no means; she would
thus be ungrateful for the services rendered her, and would trespass
against her gentle nature; but she will teach him to comprehend that _his
glory is to obey_, to become subordinate to the other sex, because he is
less perfect, and because his qualities are no longer necessary to the
general good.

You laugh, gentlemen, at this second theory; you think it absurd.... So
it is; for it is the counterpart of the thetic woman of Proudhon. Let us
proceed then to the third theory.


Every classification of the human species is a pure subjective creation;
that is, one which exists only in the form given to the perception by
the intellect; the very conception of humanity with the enumeration of
the characteristics which are reputed to distinguish it from the other
species, is stamped with subjectivity.

The truth is that not a single human being resembles his neighbor; that
there are as many different men and women as there are men and women
composing the species.

Classifications, in all things, are illusions of the mind, for nature
hates identity and never repeats herself: there are not two grains of
sand, not two drops of water, not two leaves alike; and most probably the
sun, since the commencement of its existence, has not appeared twice
identically the same at its rising. Yet despite the evidence of these
truths, despite the conviction which we have attained of the illusion of
the senses, of the weakness of our intellect, which can know nothing of
the inmost nature of beings; which can only seize upon a few fleeting
traces of their personal characteristics; yet despite all these things we
dare establish series, attribute to them characteristics which are
speedily contradicted by facts, and torture and do violence to the only
beings that really exist; namely, individuals, in the name of that other
thing which exists only in our sick brain: kind, class!

The bitter fruits that have been produced by our mania for classification
ought to cure us of this. Has not this malady, impelling theocratists and
legislators to divide humanity into castes and classes, caused most of
the calamities of our species? Have we not, thanks to these execrable
divisions, a hideous past, the echoes of which bring back to our
shrinking ears naught but sobs, cries of anger, rebellion, malediction
and vengeance, and sinister clanking of weapons and chains?

Have we not also to thank them that, on the pages of our history, all
stained with blood and tears and exhaling an odor of the charnel house,
we read nought but tyranny, brutishness and demoralization?

Have we not further to thank them that king and subject, master and serf,
white and black, man and woman become demoralized by oppression,
injustice and cruelty on one hand; and intrigue, baseness, and vengeance
on the other?

Are not wrong and wretchedness found everywhere, because inequality, the
offspring of insane classifications, is found everywhere?

Ah! who shall deliver us from our infatuation!

Let us class animals, vegetables, minerals if we will! our errors do not
influence and cannot disturb them; but let us respect the human species
which will escape all classification, however reasonable the process may
be, because every human being is changeable, progressive, and differs far
more from his fellows than the most intelligent animal from the rest of
his species.

Let us leave each one then to make his own autonomic law and to manifest
himself in conformity with his nature, and take care only that right
shall be equal for all; that the strong shall not oppress the weak; that
each function shall be entrusted to the one individual that is proved the
best qualified to perform it; this is all that we can do, all that we
should do, if we seek to show ourselves wise and just.

Harmony exists in nature, because each being in it follows peaceably the
laws that govern his individuality; it will be the same in humanity, when
universal reason shall comprehend that human order is pre-established in
the co-operation of individual faculties left free in their
manifestations; and that to establish a factitious, wholly imaginary
order; that is, true disorder, is to retard the coming of order, peace
and happiness.

Let us refrain then from all classification of faculties and functions
according to the sexes: besides being false, they will lead us to
cruelty; for we shall oppress those, whether men or women, who are
neither yielding enough to submit to it nor hypocritical enough to appear
to do so; and we shall do this without profit to human destiny, but, on
the contrary, to its detriment.

Here, gentlemen, is a _nominalistic_ theory which I challenge you to
overthrow by sufficient reasons: for, as in the first, I shall have
answers to all your objections.

We now come to our last theory, which is yours in the major and minor
terms, but the opposite in the conclusions.


All the different parts of the same organism are modified by each other,
and in this manner the functions become mutually modified.

Now, man and woman differ from each other in important organs.

Each of the sexes must therefore differ from the other not only through
the organs that distinguish them, but through the modifications produced
by the presence of these organs.

This, gentleman, is my first syllogism: I know that we shall not contest
this point--it is classical Biology.

Let us investigate anatomically the organic differences to which
sexuality subjects man and woman.

_Nervous System._ The so called nerves of feeling are more fully
developed in woman than in man, those of motion are less developed in the
former than in the latter; the cerebellum is more fully developed in the
head of man than in that of woman; in the latter, the antero-posterior
diameter of the brain preponderates over the bi-lateral, which is greater
in proportion in the masculine sex: it is also observed that the organs
of observation, circumspection, subtleness and philoprogenitiveness are
more prominent in the head of woman than in that of man, in which the
reasoning organs, with those of combativeness and destructiveness

_Locomotive System._ Man is larger than woman, he has more compact bones,
and larger and better developed muscles, his thorax is the reverse of
that of woman, in which, the greatest breadth is between the shoulders,
while, with him, it is at the base; the pelvis is larger and broader in
the female than the male sex.

_Epidermic and cellular systems._ Man has a more hairy skin than woman;
what is called fat is less abundant in the masculine than in the feminine
organism; in general, the skin of man is rougher, and his form less
round; woman has longer and more silky hair. _Splanchnic organs._ The
cerebral mass is the same in proportion in both sexes, as well as the
organs of the brain, with the exception of the predominances which we
have pointed out; the respiratory systems differ somewhat; woman breaths
higher than man; in the latter, the circulation is more active and

To these physical differences correspond intellectual and moral

Woman, having the nerves of feeling more fully developed, is more
impressionable and more mobile than man.

Being weaker and as persistent, she obtains by address and stratagem what
she cannot obtain by force; her weakness gives her timidity,
circumspection, the necessity of feeling herself protected.

The kinds of labor that require strength are repugnant to her.

Her maternal destiny renders her an enemy of destruction, of war; and her
more delicate organization makes her dread and shun contention. This same
maternal destination impresses a peculiar stamp on her intellect; she
loves the concrete, and is always inclined to transform thought into
facts, to incarnate it, to give it a fixed form; her reasoning is
intuition or quick perception of a general relation, of a truth that man
elucidates only with great difficulty, by the aid of stilted logic.

Woman is a better observer than man, and carries induction farther than
he; she is consequently more penetrating, and is a much better judge of
the moral and intellectual value of those about her.

She has, more than man, sentiment of the beautiful, delicacy of heart,
love of good, respect for modesty, veneration for everything superior.

More provident than he, she has more order and economy, and looks after
administrative details with a carefulness which is often carried to

Woman is adroit, sedulous; she excels in works of taste, and possesses
strong artistic tendencies.

Gentler, more tender, more patient than man, she loves everything that is
weak, protects everything that suffers; every sorrow, every calamity
brings a tear to her eye and draws a sigh from her breast.

This is woman, such as you paint her, gentlemen.

You then add:

The vocation of woman therefore is love, maternity, the household,
sedentary occupations.

She is too weak for occupations that demand strength, and for those of

She is too impressionable and too feeling, too good, too gentle to be
legislator, judge or juror.

Her taste for household details, a retired life, and the grave functions
of maternity indicate clearly that she is not made for public
employments. She is too variable to cultivate science with profit; too
feeble and too much occupied beside to pursue protracted experiments.

Her kind of rationality renders her unsuited to the elaboration of
theories; and she is too fond of the concrete and of details to become
seriously interested in general ideas; which excludes her from all high
professional functions and from those requiring serious study.

Her place is therefore at the fireside to make man better, to sustain
him, to care for him, to procure him the joys of paternity, and to fill
the place of a good housewife.

Such are your conclusions: here are mine, admitting as a hypothesis, what
I affirm with you of woman.


1. Woman carrying into Philosophy and Science her subtleness of
observation, her love of the concrete, will correct the exaggerated
tendency of man for abstract reasoning, and demonstrate the falsity of
theories constructed, _à priori_, on a few facts alone. Then only will
ontology disappear, then will it be recognized that a hypothesis is
merely an interrogation point; that truth is always intelligible in its
nature, however unknown it may be; we shall generalize nothing but known
facts, we shall carefully avoid erecting simple generalities into laws,
and we shall thus have veritable philosophy, and true human science,
because they will bear the imprint of both sexes.

2. Woman carrying her peculiar faculties into the arts and manufactures,
will increasingly introduce therein art, perfection in details.
Cultivated in the direction of her aptitudes, she will find ingenious
methods of application of scientific discoveries.

3. Patient, gentle, good, more moral than man, she is the born educator
of childhood, the moralizer of the grown man; the majority of the
educational functions revert to her of right, and she has her assigned
place in special instruction.

4. By her quick intuition and her acuteness of observation, woman alone
can discover the therapeutics of nervous affections; her dexterity will
render her valuable in all delicate surgical operations. On her should
devolve the care of treating the diseases of women and children, because
she alone is capable of fully comprehending them; she has her especial
place in hospitals, not only for the cure of disease, but also for the
execution and surveillance of the details of management and the care of
the patients.

5. The presence of woman in judicial functions, as juror and arbiter,
will be a guarantee of veritable human justice to all; that is, of

Woman alone through her gentleness, her mercy, her sympathetic
disposition, and her subtleness and observation, can comprehend that
society has its share of culpability in every fault committed; for it
should be organized to prevent wrong rather than to punish it. This point
of view, especially feminine, will transform the penitentiary system and
raise up numerous institutions. Then only will the world comprehend that
the punishment inflicted on the guilty should be a means of reparation
and regeneration; society will no longer slay its prisoners as if weak
and fearful: it will amend the assassin instead of imitating him; it will
force the thief to work to make restitution of what he has stolen; it
will no longer believe that it has the right by imprisoning a criminal to
deprive him of his reason, to drive him to despair, to suicide by
solitary confinement; to deprive him completely of marriage; to couple
him with those more corrupt than himself. Conscious of its own share of
culpability, society will repair in penitentiaries the fault of its
carelessness: it will be firm, yet kind and moralizing: it will give in
them the education which it ought to have given outside, and will prepare
work houses for the liberated convicts in order that the contempt and
horror often shown toward them by men worse than they may not drive them
to a second offence.

7. Woman, carrying into the social household her spirit of order and
economy, her love of details and abhorrence of waste and foolish expense,
will reform government: she will simplify everything; will suppress
sinecures and the accumulation of offices, and will produce much from
little instead of, like man, producing little from much: the purse of the
tax-payers will not complain of the change.

8. Under the direct influence of woman as legislator, we shall have a
reconstruction of all laws; first and before everything, we shall have
preventive measures, a compulsory education; then the form of legal
proceedings will be simplified, the civil code recast, and all laws
concerning illegitimate children and the inequality of the sexes banished
from it; the laws concerning morals will be more severe, and the penal
code more rational and equitable.

By her administrative reforms born of the economical instinct of woman,
taxes will be diminished; her abhorrence of blood and war will greatly
reduce the fearful impost of blood-shed. Having a deliberative voice, and
knowing, by her griefs and love the value of a man, it will be only from
sheer necessity that she will consent to vote bevies of citizens for the
shambles called wars: she will do this only when her country is menaced
or when it is necessary to protect oppressed nationalities; in all other
cases, she will employ the system of conciliation.

9. Woman, being much more economical and a better analyst than man, when
thoroughly instructed, will soon perceive that nations, like individuals,
differ in aptitudes, and that the end of these differences is union and
fraternity through exchange of products: she will therefore deter her
country from cultivating certain branches of the acts and manufactures in
which other nations excel and which they can produce to better advantage;
she will cure it of the foolish pretension of being sufficient unto
itself, and will prevent it from sacrificing the interest of the mass of
consumers to that of a few producers: thus the barriers and custom duties
that separate the different organs of humanity will fall by degrees;
there will be treaties of free trade, and all will be gainers by the
cheapness of products, and the suppression of the expenses of maintaining
a too often annoying department of customs.

The qualities and faculties of woman not only make her an educator, but
assure her preponderance in all functions arising from social solidarity;
she alone knows how to console, to encourage, to moralize with
gentleness, to comfort with delicacy; she has the genius of charity; to
her therefore should revert the superintendence and direction of
hospitals and prisons for women, the management of charitable
institutions, the care of abandoned children, etc. She should create
institutions to furnish employment to workmen out of work, and to save
liberated convicts from indolence and relapse into crime.

Thus, gentleman, without departing from the data of your theory, you
behold woman placed everywhere by the side of man, except in the hard
labor from which you yourselves will soon be released by machinery, and
in the military institutions which, in all probability, will some day

Hitherto institutions, laws, sciences, philosophy have chiefly borne the
masculine imprint; all of these things are only half human; in order that
they may become wholly so, woman must be associated in them ostensibly
and lawfully, consequently, she must be cultivated like you; culture will
not make her like you, do not fear it; the rose and the carnation growing
in the same soil, under the same sky, in the same sunshine, with the
cares of the same gardener, remain rose and carnation: they are more
beautiful in proportion as they are better cultivated, and as the
elements which they absorb are more abundant: if man and woman differ, a
similar education will only make them differ still more, because each
will employ it in the development of that which is peculiar to himself.

For the interest of all things and people it is necessary that woman
should enter all the avocations of life, that she should have her
function in all the functions: _after_ the general interest of humanity,
comes that of the family; it cannot go _before_ it.

Since woman now is generally mother and housewife while performing at the
same time a host of other functions, she will become none the less so in
taking upon herself a few more; besides, the time of life at which an
individual enters certain important functions is that at which woman has
finished her maternal task. A few women acting as public functionaries
will not hinder the great majority of their companions from remaining in
private life, any more than a few men in the same position hinder the
mass of men from continuing there.


You admit a classification at last, you say, and still more you grant
that there are masculine and feminine functions. You are mistaken,
gentlemen: you accused me of being incapable of giving you a complete
theory, I have given you the outlines of four--outlines which it would be
easy for me to extend and perfect. But I do not admit a single one of
these theories as a whole.

Are you eclectic, then?

The gods forbid! I have as much repugnance to eclecticism, as to _mystic
trinitarianism_ and _androgyny_.

I do not admit the theory of the identity of the sexes, because I believe
with Biology that an essential organic difference modifies the entire
being; that therefore woman must differ from man.

I do not admit the theory of the superiority of either sex, because it is
absurd; humanity is man-woman or woman-man; we do not know what one sex
would be if it were not incessantly modified by its relations with the
other, and we know them only as thus modified: What we know to a
certainty is that they form together the existing condition of humanity;
that they are equally necessary and equally useful to each other and to

I do not admit my third theory because it is ultra-nominalism nominalism;
if it is really true that all the individuals of both sexes differ among
themselves in a far more remarkable manner than those of the other
species, it is none the less true that a classification, founded upon a
constant anatomical characteristic, is legitimate, and that the principle
of classification lies in the nature of things, for if things appear to
us classified, it is because they are so; the laws of the mind are the
same as those of Nature so far as knowledge is concerned; we must admit
this, unless we are sceptics or idealists, and I am neither the one nor
the other; neither am I a realist in the philosophic acceptation of the
word, for I do not believe that the species is something apart from the
individuals in which it is manifested; it is in them and through them;
this repeats the affirmation that there are individuals identical in one
or several respects, although different in all others.

Lastly, I do not admit the fourth theory, although it may be true in
principle, because the numerous facts that contradict the distinguishing
characteristics, do not permit me to believe that these characteristics
are laws established by sexuality.

In fact, there are brains of men in heads of women, and _vice versa_.

Men mobile and impressionable; women firm and insensible.

Women large, strong and muscular, lifting a man like a feather; men
small, frail, and of extreme delicacy of constitution.

Women with a stentorian voice and abrupt manners; men with a soft voice
and graceful manners.

Women with short, harsh hair, bearded, with rough skin and angular
figures; men with long, silky hair without beard, round and portly.

Women with an energetic circulation of blood; men in whose veins it
courses feebly and slowly.

Women frank, inconsiderate and daring; men strategic, dissembling and

Women violent, loving strife, war and contention, and wont to storm on
every occasion; men gentle, patient, dreading strife, and exceedingly

Women loving abstract reasoning, generalizing and synthetizing much, and
without intuition of any sort; men intuitive, acute observers, good
analysts, incapable of generalizing.... I know many such.

Women insensible to works of art, and without the sentiment of the
beautiful; men full of enthusiasm for both.

Women immoral, immodest, respecting nothing or no one; men moral, chaste
and reverential.

Women extravagant and disorderly; men economical and parsimonious to

Women thoroughly selfish, rigid, disposed to take advantage of the
weakness, kindness, folly or misery of others; men full of generosity,
mansuetude, and self-sacrifice.

What follows from these undeniable facts? that the law of sexual
differences is not manifested through the several characteristics which
have been laid down.

That these characteristics may be only the result of education, of the
difference of prejudices, of that of occupations, etc.

That, as these generalities may be the fruit of the difference of
training and surroundings, nothing can be legitimately deduced from them
as to the functions of woman; would it not be absurd, in fact, to pretend
that a woman who is organized for philosophy and the sciences _can not_,
ought not to occupy herself with them because she is a woman, while a
man, who is incapable of them but foolish and vain enough to be ignorant
of his incapacity, can and ought to engage in them because he is a man?

Functions belong to those who prove their aptitude for them, and not to
an abstraction called sex, for, definitively, every function is
individual in its aggregate or in its elements.


We have explained why we reject the theories that we have sketched; we
will now explain why we neither give nor wish to give a classification of
the sexes.

We do not give a classification, because we neither have nor can have
one; the elements for its establishment are lacking. A biological
deduction permits us to affirm that such a one exists; but it is
impossible to disengage its law in the present surroundings; the
veritable feminine stamp will be known only after one or two centuries of
like education and equal rights: then there will be no need of a
classification, for the function will fall naturally to the proper
functionary under a system of equality in which the social elements
classify themselves.

My belief and my hopes concerning the future, I shall not confess; for I
may be in error, since I have no facts to control my intuitions, and
everything that is purely Utopian has always a dangerous side. Besides
have I not said that, had I formed a classification, I should not give
it? Why not? Because, a detestable use would be made of it, as usual, if
it were adopted.

Hitherto, have not men availed themselves of classifications based upon
characteristics afterwards recognized as purely imaginary to oppress,
distort and calumniate those banished to the inferior ranks?

History is at hand to give us this salutary lesson. Where is now to-day
the _ville-pedaille_, the villains and base-tenants, fit only to drain
ditches and to be stripped to the skin? Inventing, governing, making laws
for, and gradually transforming our globe, devastated by the _superior
and only capable_ species, into a smiling and peaceful domain.

Upon all classification of the human species, whether in castes, in
classes, or in sexes, are based three wrongs.

The first is to make it a crime in the individual degraded into the lower
series, that he does not resemble the conventional type that has been
formed of this series, while the so called superior being is not required
to resemble his type; thus a weak, cowardly, unintelligent man, a _man
milliner_ or an _embroiderer_, is none the less a man, while a virago, a
firm and courageous woman, a great queen, a woman philosopher are not
women, but men whom none love and who are given over as a prey to wild
beasts, jealous, effeminate men, to devour.

The second wrong is to take advantage of the conventional type to deform
the being classed in the inferior series in order to kill his energies
and to hinder his progress. Then, to attain this end, education, social
surroundings are organized, prejudices are invented; and so successfully
is this done in general that the oppressed, ignorant of himself, believes
himself really of an inferior nature, resigns himself to his chains, and
is even indignant at the rebellion of those of his series who are too
energetic and individual not to react against the part to which social
imbecility has condemned them.

The third wrong is to take advantage of the state of debasement to which
the oppressed has been reduced, to calumniate him and deny his rights;
men exclaim, Look! See the serf! see the slave! see the negro! see the
workingman! see woman! What rights would you grant these inferior and
feeble natures? _They are incapable of knowing and ruling themselves_: we
must therefore think for them, wish for them, and govern them.

Ah no, gentlemen, these are not men and women; they are the deplorable
results of your selfishness, of your frightful spirit of domination, of
your imbecility.... If there were infernal gods, I should devote you to
them relentlessly with all my heart. Instead of calumniating your fellows
that you may preserve your privileges, give them instruction and liberty;
then only will you have the right to pass judgment on their nature: for
we can only know the nature of a human being when it has become freely
developed in equality.

I think that I have justified my repugnance to give a classification of
the sexes, both by the impossibility of actually establishing a
reasonable one, and by the very legitimate fear of the bad use that would
be made of it.

But it will be objected, and not without reason, that a classification is
necessary for social practice.

I consent to it with all my heart, since I have reserved my positions,
and proved the worthlessness of existing classifications.

As it is my principle that the function should fall to the functionary
who proves his capacity, I say that at present, through the difference of
education, man and woman have distinct functions; and that we must give
to the latter the place that in general she deserves.

I add that it is a violation of the natural right of woman to form her
with a view to certain functions to which she is destined; she should in
all respects enjoy the rights common to all; it cannot rightfully be said
to her any more than to man, "your sex cannot do that, cannot pretend to
that;" if it does it and pretends to it, it is because the sex can do it
and pretend to it; if it could not, it would not do it; the first right
is liberty, the first duty, the culture of one's aptitudes, the
development of his reason and his power of usefulness: if a god should
affirm the contrary, not conscience, but the god would speak falsely.

Let woman take the place therefore that is suited to her present
development, but let her never cease to remember that this place is not a
fixed point, and that she should continually strive to mount upwards
until, her peculiar nature revealing itself through equality of
education, instruction, right and duty, she takes her rightful place by
the side of man and on a level with him.

Let her laugh at all the utopian follies elaborated concerning her
nature, her functions determined for eternity, and remember that she is
not what nature, but what subjection, prejudice, ignorance has made her;
let her escape from all her chains, and no longer permit herself to be
intimidated and debased.

Thus, gentlemen, all my ideas on the nature and functions of woman may be
summed up in these few propositions:

I believe, because a physiological deduction authorizes me to do so, that
general humanity common to both sexes is stamped by sexuality.

In _fact_, I know not, and you know no better than I, what are the true
characteristics arising from the distinction of the sexes, and I believe
that they can be revealed only by liberty in equality, parity of
instruction and of education.

In social practice, functions should belong to those who can perform
them: woman therefore should perform those functions for which she shows
herself qualified, and society should become so organized that this may
be possible.

What are these functions relative to her degree of present development? I
will tell you directly.



You tell the child that lies, "it is wrong to deceive; you would not wish
others to deceive you."

You tell the child that pilfers, "it is wrong to steal; you would not
wish others to steal from you."

You tell the child that takes advantage of his strength and knowledge to
torment his younger companion; "you would not wish others to do these
things to you; you are wicked and cowardly."

These are good lessons. Why then, when the child has become a young man,
do you say: _Young men must sow their wild oats_?

_To sow their wild oats_ is to deceive young girls, to destroy their
future, to practice adultery, to keep mistresses, to visit brothels.

Yet mothers, women thus consent to the profanation of their sex!

Those who forbade their child to steal a toy, permit him to steal the
honor and repose of human beings!

Those who shamed their son for falsehood, permit him to deceive poor
young girls!

Those who made it a crime in their son to oppress those weaker than
themselves, permit him to be oppressive and perfidious toward women!

Then they complain later that their sons treat them ill; that they
dishonor and ruin themselves;

That they desire the death of their parents, in order to enrich the
usurers from whom they have borrowed money to maintain their mistresses
in luxury.

They complain that they destroy their health, and give their mothers puny
grandchildren, for whose existence they are in continual anxiety.

Ah! ladies, you have only what you deserve; bear the weight of a joint
responsibility which you cannot escape. You authorized your sons to sow
their wild oats; endure the consequences.

But a mother cannot be the confident of her son, it is said.

Why not, madam, if you have brought him up in such a way as to have no
dishonorable confidence to make to you.

He would have none to make, if you had accustomed him to conquer himself,
to respect every woman as though she were his mother, every young girl as
though she were his sister; to treat others as he would think it right to
be treated by them; if you had fully inculcated on him that there is but
one system of morality, which both sexes are equally bound to obey; if
you had caused him to honor, love and practice labor; if you had told him
that we live to improve ourselves, to practise justice and kindness, and
to render back to humanity what it does for us in protecting us,
enlightening us, rendering us moral, surrounding us with security and
comfort; that in fine our glory lies in subjecting ourselves to the great
law of Duty.

If you had reared him in this manner, madam, on surprising in your son
the first signs of the ardent attraction that man feels toward the other
sex, far from abandoning the education of this instinct to the chances of
inexperience, you would do for it what you did for the others; you would
teach the young man to subject it to a wise discipline.

Instead of repeating the stupidly atrocious phrase; _young men must sow
their wild oats_, you would have taken your son's hand affectionately in
your own, and, looking in his face, would have said: "My child, Nature
decrees that a woman should henceforth attract you more strongly than I,
and should maintain or destroy what I have so laboriously built up: I do
not murmur at this; it must be so. But my affection and duty require me
to enlighten you in this grave juncture. Tell me, if a young man, to
satisfy the instinct which is now awakening in you, should corrupt your
sister, should sacrifice her life, what would you think of him? what
would you do?"

The young man, accustomed from childhood to practise Justice, would not
fail to reply: "I should think him depraved and cowardly. Would he not be

"No, my son, the seducer is not punished by the law."

"Well! I would kill him, for my right of justice reverts to me when the
law makes no provision."

"Right, my child. Then you will be neither depraved nor cowardly with
respect to any young girl; you will not deserve the sentence which you
have pronounced; namely, death. You will respect all young girls and
women as you would wish your sister, your daughter to be respected.

"Another question: what would you think of a man who should persuade me
to betray your father; who should rob him of my heart and cares; who
should draw me aside from the grave duties of maternity? What would you
think of the man who should act thus with respect to your own companion?"

"I would judge him like the former and would treat him no better."

"Right again. Then you will respect all married women as you would wish
your mother and your wife to be respected; and if you should meet any one
towards whom you should feel attracted, or who should be disloyal enough
to seek to attract you, you will shun her: for flight is the sole remedy
for passion.

"A multitude of women, innocent at first, have been turned aside from the
right path by men who do not think as you do. They now avenge themselves
upon your sex for the evil it has done them. They corrupt and ruin men
who, in their company, lose all sense of morality, who learn to laugh at
what you believe and venerate, and undermine and destroy their health. Do
you feel the deplorable courage to expose yourself to such risks?"

The young man, practised from childhood to subject his inclinations to
reason and justice, would reply: "No, mother, I will not do what I would
not wish my companion to do; I will neither degrade myself morally, nor
destroy my health, nor contribute my share towards perpetuating a state
of things which degrades the sex to which belongs my mother, my sister,
my wife and my daughters, should I be so happy as to possess them.

"I acknowledge frankly that I foresee a violent struggle with myself,
but, thanks to the moral training to which you have accustomed me, thanks
to the ideal of destiny which you have given me, which I have accepted in
the plenitude of my reason, and which my duty marks out for me, I do not
despair of subduing myself."--"This victory will be less difficult to
obtain, if you employ yourself usefully and seriously; for you will thus
attract your vitality to the superior regions of the brain. You will do
wisely to add to this, much physical exercise; to abstain from too
substantial a diet, and especially from stimulating drinks! you know the
reaction of the physical upon the moral system. Carefully avoid
licentious reading and improper conversation; give a place in your mind
to the virgin who will be united to you; think and act as if in her
presence; it will guard you and keep you pure. This sweet ideal will
strengthen you against temptation, and contribute greatly to render you
insensible towards those women who should have no place in your heart."

"Love, my child, is a thing most serious in its results; for the beings
whom it unites become modified by each other; it leaves its traces,
however short may be its duration.

"Its end is Marriage, one of the ends of which is the continuity of the
species. Now, you know the effects of solidarity of blood; it is most
important therefore that you should choose for your companion a woman
whose character, morals and principles are in unison with your own; not
only for your happiness, but for the _organization_ of your children, the
harmony of their nature and conduct.

"If passion does not leave you sufficiently free in your judgment, come
to me: I will see for you, and if I say: my son, this woman will debase
you, will cause you to commit faults; be sure that your children will
have evil propensities; she is not adapted to rear them according to your
ideal, which she will never accept, because she is vain and selfish; if
I tell you this, I know, my son, that whatever may be your suffering, you
will renounce a woman whom you would cease to love after a few months'
union, and will prefer a transient sadness to a life of unhappiness."


The mother who has just shown her son why love should be subjected to
Reason and Justice, and has pointed out to him what he should do to
subdue its animal phase, perceives also the awakening of this instinct in
her daughter. She wins her attention and gains her confidence by
revealing to her what is passing within her heart, telling her that, at
her age, she felt the same.

"Hitherto," continues she, "you have been but a child; your career as a
woman is now commencing. You desire the affection of a man, and your
heart is moved at the sweet thought of becoming a mother. Do not blush,
my daughter; it is lawful, on condition that your desires are made
subject to Reason and the law of Duty.

"Many snares will be spread before your steps; for men of all ages
address to a young girl innumerable flattering speeches, and surround her
with homage which renders her vain and coquettish if she has the weakness
to suffer herself to be intoxicated thereby. Persuade yourself fully that
all this adoration is not addressed to you individually, but to your
youth, to the brightness of your eyes, to the freshness of your
complexion, and that, were you far better than you are and far superior
in intellect, these men would be ceremoniously and frigidly polite, were
you thirty years older. This thought present in your mind will make you
smile at their frivolous and common-place jargon, and will preserve you
from many weaknesses, such as rivalry of dress, petty jealousies, and the
ridiculous blunder of playing the young girl at fifty.

"As you can espouse but one man, it is sufficient to be loved by one in
the manner that you wish. A woman who comports herself voluntarily so as
to captivate the hearts of many men, and leaves each to believe that she
prefers him above all, is an unworthy coquette, who sins against Justice
and Kindness: against Justice, inasmuch as she demands a sentiment for
which she can make no return; as she acts towards others as she would
think it unjust that others should act towards her; against Kindness,
inasmuch as she risks causing suffering to sincere hearts and sacrificing
their repose to a pleasurable impulse of vanity: such a woman, my child,
is contemptible; she is a dangerous enemy of her sex; first, because she
gives a bad opinion of it; next, because she is an enemy to the repose of
other women; I know that you are too ingenuous, too true and too worthy
to fear that you will fall into such errors.

"You have acknowledged to me that your young imagination had pictured to
itself a man. Far from banishing this ideal, let it be always present to
your mind, much less in its physical aspect than in that of intellect,
morality and industry. This image will do more to keep you safe than all
my counsels, than all the surveillance that I might, but never would
exercise over you, because this would be unworthy of us both.

"Do not forget however that an ideal is absolute; that the reality is
always defective; do not therefore seek in the man to whom you shall give
your heart, a realization of the ideal, but the qualities and faculties
which, with your aid, will permit him to approximate to what you wish to
see him. You yourself are the ideal of a man, not such as you are, but
such as he will aid you to become.

"I dwell upon this point, my daughter, because nothing is more dangerous
than to insist on finding the ideal in the reality; this makes us over
difficult and lacking in indulgence; and, if we have a lively imagination
and little reason, renders us unhappy and involves us in innumerable

You know and feel that the end of love is Marriage; now one of your
duties as lover and spouse is the improvement of the one to whom you
shall be united. You will stand with him in two different relations!
first as his betrothed, afterwards as his wife. Your modifying power
will, in the first case, be exercised in a direct proportion to his
desire to please and to be worthy of you; in the second, in proportion to
his confidence, esteem and affection for you. In the first case, he will
_wish_ to modify himself; in the second, he will do so without knowing

"What, mother, will he not always love me the same?"

"Love, my child, undergoes transformations which we should expect and to
which we should submit; in the beginning it is a fever of the soul; but
fever is a condition which cannot last without destroying life. Your
husband, while loving you perhaps more deeply, will love you less
ardently than before Marriage. Your love will become transformed, why
shall not his be the same?

"You cannot imagine how much trouble results from the ignorance of women
on this point, and from the vain pursuit of the ideal in love. Many
women, believing that their husband loves them no longer because he
loves them in a different manner, become detached from him, suffer, and
betray their duties; others, dreaming of perfection in the loved one,
fancy that they have found it, and becoming disabused after the fever has
past, quit him, accusing him of having deceived them; they love others
with the same illusion, followed by the same disenchantment, until age
creeps on without curing them of the chimera. Lastly, there are others
who, comprehending only the first period of love, cease to love the man
who has passed beyond it, and pursue another love which will bring them
the same fever; these, as you comprehend, have not the slightest idea of
woman's grave duties in Love.

"What I have just said of women is equally true of men. You will avoid
these dangers, my daughter, you who have been accustomed from childhood
to submit to reason; who know that all reality is imperfect, that habit
weakens sentiment, you will therefore take the man who suits you, as he
is, designing to improve him and to render him happy, knowing in advance
that his love will change without becoming extinguished, if you succeed
in gaining his affection, confidence and esteem, so that he will find in
you good counsel, peace, assistance and security. You are too pure, my
daughter, to foresee all the snares that will be spread for you. It
belongs to me therefore to arm your youthful prudence: You will perhaps
encounter men married or betrothed who, according to the common
expression, _will pay court to you_, and will utter innumerable sophisms
to justify their conduct."

"Their sophisms would fall to the ground before the simple answer: Sir,
as I should be driven to despair if another woman should rob me of him
whom I loved, as I should despise and hate her, all your compliments
cannot persuade me that it is right for me to do what I would not that
others should do to me. If you return to the subject, I shall inform the
person interested.

"Right, my child: but if a young man who was free should speak of love,
and urge you to write to him in secret?"

"Might he not have good reason for acting in this manner?"

"None, my child. You must know that men are exceedingly corrupt; that
many among them eschew marriage, flit from one woman to another, take
advantage of our credulity, and make use of the most impassioned language
to lead us in the way of shame and perdition. Now, my child, know besides
that we bear the weight of men's faults as well as of our own; the verbal
and written promises of a man bind him to nothing. If, suffering yourself
to be led astray, you should become a mother, the child would remain your
charge; and you could no longer hope for marriage; I say nothing of our
grief and shame, nor of the terrible risks to which you would expose your
brother, who might perish in punishing the vile seducer whom the law does
not touch. If a man seeks you therefore unknown to us, be sure that it is
because his intentions are evil; that he considers you as a toy which he
purposes to break when it ceases to amuse him. Now, my daughter, you know
that woman is created to be the worthy companion of man; that she is not
born to be sacrificed to him as an object of pleasure. Instead therefore
of suffering yourself to be seduced, profit by the influence over men
which is given you by your beauty and grace, to recall them to their
duties: in this manner, you may be the means of saving many women; you
will give a favorable opinion of your sex, and will prepare a good
example for your daughter by setting one to your companions, many of whom
will follow it in order to share in the esteem that will surround you;
always remember that our acts not only injure ourselves, but we have a
joint responsibility with others, and consequently no one can be lost or
saved alone.

"One word more, my child. In your uncertainties, do not hesitate to
confide your troubles to me; do not say, My mother is too reasonable to
understand me in this. Was it not by becoming a child again in order to
comprehend you, that I fulfilled my sacred task of instructor? be
persuaded that it will not be more difficult for me to become a young
girl again in order to comprehend, while remaining a tender and
experienced mother to advise you.

"You are free: I am not your censor, but your elder sister, who loves you
with devotion and desires your happiness before all things. As a
recompense for my love and my long-continued cares, I only ask to be your
best friend; that is, the one in whose presence you will think and speak
aloud. Is this asking too much of you, who are my joy and crown."

This is the way, ladies, in which the woman who has attained majority,
strives to educate the world in Love.


The young girl and young man enter into society. The prudent mother knows
that it is gently insinuated to her son that she is a _prude_, a _dotard_
who knows nothing of the passions; who does not suspect that _everything
in nature is good_, and should be respected; and who has read the
history of our species to so little purpose that she has not perceived
that humanity has love in all forms: the _polygamic_ and _polyandric_,
and even ... the _ambiguous_.

She knows also, that he is told that the satisfaction of the animal
instinct is necessary to the _health_ of man, and that brothels are
places of public utility.

She knows, lastly, that young and giddy girls, with lax principles, make
dangerous confidences to her daughter.

It is time, in opposition to these lax doctrines and pernicious examples,
to give to her children the philosophy of Love. According to her method,
she suffers is to elucidate itself.

My son, says she, what is the end of the attraction of mineral molecules
towards each other?

SON. The _production_ of a body having a determined form.

MOTHER. What is the end of the attraction of the plant for heat, light,
air, the elements which it absorbs?

SON. The _production_ of its own body, the development of its organs, and
of its properties, its preservation.

MOTHER. And do you know, my daughter, what is the end of the attraction
of the pistil and stamens of the flower.

DAUGHTER. The _production_ of a being resembling its parents.

MOTHER. Why do we as well as the animals experience an inclination or
attraction for certain kinds of food?

SON. It is evidently in order to incite to action the organs which
procure to the organism the elements adapted to _produce_ blood.

MOTHER. Why do both sexes of the same species experience an attraction
towards each other?

DAUGHTER. For the _production_ of young to perpetuate the species.

MOTHER. Why do the females, and often males among animals experience an
inclination or attraction to take care of the young?

DAUGHTER. In order to preserve them and to educate them as far as is in
their power, that they may be able to provide for themselves.

MOTHER. Are you quite sure, my children, that the end of these
attractions is not the attraction itself, the procurement of a pleasure?

SON. The pleasure seems to me only the means of impelling the being to
fulfill a necessary or useful function. Thus the end of our scientific,
artistic and industrial inclinations or attractions is not the pleasure
which we take in their satisfaction, but the _production_ of science, art
and industry.

DAUGHTER. That is, the increase and progress of our intellect through the
knowledge of the laws of Nature, in order to modify this nature with a
view to our wants and pleasures.

MOTHER. To what inclination or attraction is Society due?

SON. To our attraction for our fellow beings.

DAUGHTER. This attraction is the father of Justice and of Goodness: it
_produces_ them.

MOTHER. Will you generalize the character of this inclination or
attraction in accordance with what we have just said?

SON. The end of all attraction or inclination is the _production_,
_progress_ and _preservation_ of beings.

MOTHER. Are all instincts good which are merely inclinations or

SON. For animals, which are subject to fatality, they are; because they
tend directly to their end, without ever appearing to deviate from it. In
our species, they are good in principle, if we regard their end; but they
may become evil through the deviation to which our liberty subjects them.

MOTHER. By what token can we know that our instinct has a right tendency?

DAUGHTER. By comparing its use with its end; by assuring ourselves that
this use is not prejudicial to the practice of justice, that it does not
detract from the right of any of our faculties; that is, that it disturbs
neither our individual harmony nor that of others; for it is on these
conditions alone that it can coöperate in the realization of the social

MOTHER. Very well. Now apply this general doctrine to human love, my

SON. Since love is one of the forms of attraction, and since the general
end of attraction is the production, progress and preservation of beings
and species, it is evident that human love should possess these
characteristics. Its principal function appears to me to be the
reproduction of the species.

DAUGHTER. It seems to me, brother, that this is not enough; since true
husbands and wives do not cease to love each other after this end has
been fulfilled, and since persons may love without having children.

MOTHER. You are right, my daughter; our faculties being more numerous and
more fully developed than those of the animals, our love cannot be
incomplete like theirs; it cannot be of the same nature in our
progressive species as in those species fatal and unprogressive of
themselves. In us, each faculty, properly employed, aids in the
improvement of all the rest, wrongly employed, it interrupts our harmony
and lowers us; it is the same with our love. Or rather this passion is
the one that most of all causes us to grow or to decline.

You know, my children, that humanity advances only by forming itself an
ideal and endeavoring to realize it. Every passion has its ideal, which
is modified by that of the whole. In the beginning, man, in the animal
state, made the end of love the pleasure resulting from the satisfaction
of a wholly physical want: he cared nothing for the most evident
aim--progeny. A little later, man less gross, loved woman for her beauty
and fruitfulness; this was the patriarchal age of love. Later still, the
Northern races wrought a change in this instinct; love became decomposed,
as it were; the lover possessed the love of the soul; the woman was loved
not only for her beauty, but as the inspirer of lofty deeds; the husband
was the possessor of the body alone and the children were the fruit of
marriage; this was the chivalrous age of love. Since pacific labor has
been organized and has gained a place in public opinion, love has entered
a new phase; many among the moderns consider it as the initiative of
labor. Some regard the attraction of pleasure as playing the chief part
in industrial production, and leave full liberty to the attraction,
however inconsistent it may be; others preserve the couple, and transform
woman into the moving power of action; the love that she inspires excites
the efforts of the worker.

The progress hitherto made by humanity is therefore that love has now
for its end the perpetuation of the species, the modification of man by
woman, and the production of labor.

In a higher ideal of Justice, the sexes being equal in rights, love will
have a higher end; the spouses will unite on account of conformity of
principles, union of hearts, wedding of intellects, common labor: love
will join them to double their strength, to modify them by each other,
from the friction of their hearts will be struck out sentiments which
neither would have had alone; from the union of their intellects will be
born thoughts which neither would have had alone; from the aid that they
will lend each other in their common labor will proceed works that
neither would have accomplished alone, as from the union of their whole
being, will be born new generations more perfect than the preceding
because they will be the product of the greatest possible harmony. It
will be only when woman shall take her lawful place that humanity will
see love in all its splendor, and that this passion, subversive to-day in
inequality and incoherence, will become what it should be; one of the
great instruments of Progress.

We, my children, who are too rational to mistake the means by which
Nature impels us to accomplish her designs for the designs themselves,
will take care not to fancy that the end of love is pleasure; on the
other hand, we have too much respect for equality to imagine that it is
for the benefit of one sex alone. We will remain faithful to the ideal of
our lofty destinies, in defining love as the reciprocal attraction of man
and woman with the end of perpetuating the species, of improving the
partners mutually with respect to intellect and feeling, and of advancing
science, art and industry by the labor of the pair.


Sophists have told you, my son, that all our inclinations are in Nature;
that they are good and should be respected.

You asked them doubtless whether the inclinations to theft, to
assassination, to violation, to anthropophagy, which are in Nature, are
good, and why, instead of respecting them, society punishes their

You demonstrated to them, I hope, that there is nothing commendable in
the exaggeration or the perversion of instincts.

You demonstrated to them, I hope, that Nature is brutal fatality against
which we are bound to struggle both within and without ourselves; that
our Justice and virtue are composed only of conquests made over it in us,
as all that constitutes our physical well-being is only the result of
conquests made over it outside of us.

These sophists have told you that love comes and goes without our knowing
how or wherefore; and that we can no more command it to spring up than to

This is true, my son, of the brutal desires of the flesh, which is the
passion of animals alone, and is extinguished by possession.

This is also true of that complex passion which has its seat in the
imagination and the senses, and ends with the illusion that is always of
short duration.

But it is not true of genuine love; this sees both the faults and the
virtues of the loved one; but softens the first and exalts the last, and
hopes by degrees to put an end to that which wounds it.

This sentiment which takes possession of the heart, is patient; it bears
lest it become effaced, it surrounds itself with precautions in order to
remain constant; if it becomes extinct, it is not unconsciously: for we
suffer cruel tortures before resolving to cease to love.

You have been told that love is irrepressible; are we then beings of
fatality? This sophism renders man cowardly and depraves him; for what is
the use of struggling against what we know to be unconquerable, and why
not sacrifice to it the best of our tendencies? Examine the conduct of
the partisans of such a doctrine.

The human ideal requires that they shall not do to others what they would
not think it just that others should do to them; yet they seduce maidens,
make them mothers, and abandon them without caring about the children
born of these unions; without caring whether the young mother commits
suicide, dies of grief, or becomes depraved; without caring whether the
parents go down to the grave.

Like deadly reptiles, they glide to the domestic fireside of others, rob
their friend of the affection of his wife, and force him to labor for the
children of adultery.

The woman who believes in irrepressible love breaks her pledges to her
husband; lives a life of deceit; brings trouble and sorrow into the
houses of other women, whose lives are blighted by her.

It is in this way that those who practice this sophistry fulfil their
duty to be just, not to afflict their fellows, to labor for the happiness
and improvement of those about them, to preserve the weak from oppression
and wrong. To this pretended irrepressibility of love, they sacrifice
Justice, goodness, the happiness, repose and honor of others; lead them
into the path of dissipation; bring dissolution into the family and
society; in a word, offer up as a sacrifice to animal instinct, moral
sense and reason.

You have also been told that every species of love is found in Nature;
the polyamic and polygandric, as well as that of the constant pair.

Yes, my child, every species of love is found in Nature, as is every
species of vice and every species of virtue. But you know that it is not
enough that a thing exists within us to prove it to be good; it must be
in conformity with the ideal of our destiny, with our harmony: it is
wrong in the opposite case.

Love, such as we have defined it, needs duration and equality; duration,
because we do not become modified in a few months; because we do not
accomplish great works in a few months; because we do not rear children
in a few months; duration is so truly an aspiration of love, that it
imagines that eternity will hardly suffice for it. It must have equality;
division is hateful to it; it will therefore have a unit for a unit, both
male and female. Now polygamy and polyandria are the negation of
equality, of dignity in love.

Let us consider the effects of these two deviations of instinct.

Oriental polygamy renders human beings profoundly unequal, transforms
women into cattle, mutilates thousands of men to guard the harems,
depraves the possessor of women by despotism and cruelty, concentrates
all his vitality upon a single instinct at the expense of intellect,
reason and activity; whence it follows that he is lost to science, art,
industry, society according to right: that he submits without repugnance
to despotism, and passively extends his neck to the halter. There, no
influence is wielded by woman, who is subjected to designed enervation,
who is depraved in as hideous a manner as the eunuch, her keeper. Thus,
inequality in love and in right, abandonment of art, science and
industry, intellectual and physical enervation, debasement of the moral
sense--such are vices inherent to the polygamy of the East. You see that
this is far from the ideal of our destinies.

In our West, polygamy _de facto_ produces the cattle of the brothel,
legions of courtesans who ruin families. As many of these women are
diseased, they infect those who associate with them with fearful maladies
which undermine their constitutions, and thus pave the way for puny
offspring, consequently, for weak minds and feeble intellects. I appeal
for proof to the conscription; never were so many exemptions seen as now
on account of under size, although the standard has been lowered, never
were so many exemptions seen as now for constitutional imperfections and
acquired disease.

To vitiate the generation in its germ is not the only crime of our
polygamy; it enervates those who practice it, for nothing leads to
excess, consequently to enervation, so much as the change of relations.
On the other hand, our polygamists become transformed into machines of
sensation; then intellect grows weak; they become stupid and selfish.
Look at the pitiable young men of the present time, emaciated by their
vices and by those of their sires; scoffers, faithless, jesting at the
most sacred things, despising, not only the corrupt women, their worthy
companions, but also the whole sex to which their mothers belong; look at
them; so gross as to sicken the observer, nothing longer commands their
respect; they thrust aside gray haired women from the sidewalk into the
gutter; they are impertinent to old men; they put young girls to the
blush with their cynical speeches; polygamy has rendered them ignoble,
and has destroyed our native urbanity as well as all dignity.

They will tell you that women are but little better than they. But this
result becomes inevitable in a country in which women are not kept in
seclusion. Polyandria becomes the necessary companion of polygamy; for
since men consider themselves at liberty to have more than one woman, why
should women consider themselves forbidden to have more than one man?

Finally, my son, the results of irrepressible love, Polygamy and
Polyandria in our Western country are:

The seduction and corruption of women;

Adultery, debasement of character; the moral and intellectual enfeebling
of both sexes;

The enervation and degeneracy of the race;

Falsehood, deceit, cruelty, injustice of every kind, the use of woman by
man for her beauty, that of man by woman for his money or position;

The dissolution and ruin of the family;

Several thousand illegitimate children annually, without counting

Such is the value of these theories put in practice.

Is this in conformity with our ideal of human love? Is it in conformity
with our ideal of human destiny, which requires that we shall progress
and cause others to progress in good; that we shall practice Justice and

A word more, and we have done.

When Rome had ceased to believe in chastity, in the sacredness of oaths;
when she wallowed in polygamic and polyandric customs; when she took
pleasure for her end, tyranny appeared. Nothing was more natural: man
binds captive those only who have first suffered themselves to be bound
under the yoke of bestial instinct: he who knows how to govern himself
does not yield obedience to man; he bows only before the law when it is
the expression of Reason.

Remember, my son, that we are powerful only through chastity; only thus
can we produce great works in science, art and industry; only thus can we
practice Justice, be worthy of liberty. Outside of chastity, there is
nothing but degradation, injustice, impotence, slavery; and every nation
that forsakes it falls from the arms of despotism into the grave.

Do not suffer yourself therefore to be moved by modern sophisms, have
always before your thoughts your obligations as a moral and a free being,
your duties as a member of humanity; subject all that is within you to
Reason, to Justice, to the sentiment of your dignity, and live like a
man, not like a brute.


READER. We are about to speak of Marriage from the stand point of the
modern ideal--how do you define it?

AUTHOR. Love, sanctioned by Society.

READER. Do you consider Marriage as indissoluble?

AUTHOR. Before the law, I do not; but at the moment of their union, the
spouses should have full confidence that the bond will never be

I believe that Marriage becomes indissoluble by the will alone of the
spouses; that it can be so only in this manner.

READER. What part do you assign to Society in Marriage?

AUTHOR. You shall fix it yourself after recalling our principles.

If man and woman are free beings at any period of their life, they cannot
_legally and validly_ lose their liberty.

If man and woman are beings socially equal in any of their relations, the
one cannot _legally, validly_ be subordinated to the other.

If the continual end of the human being is to become perfected through
liberty, and to seek happiness, no law can legitimately, _validly_ turn
him aside from its pursuit.

If the end of society should be to render individuals _equal_ it cannot,
under penalty of forfeiting its mission, constitute inequality of persons
and of rights.

If Society cannot without iniquity enter the domain of individual
liberty, it cannot _lawfully, validly_ prescribe duties that pertain only
to the jurisdiction of the conscience, and annul moral liberty.

Now draw your conclusions.

READER. From these principles, it follows that man and woman should
remain free and equal in Marriage; that Society has no right to intervene
in their association except to render them equal; that it has no right to
prescribe to them duties which proceed only from love, nor consequently
to punish their violation, that it cannot in principle grant or refuse
divorce, because it belongs to the husband and wife alone to know whether
it is useful for their happiness and progress to be separated from each

AUTHOR. Your conclusions are right, but if Society has no right over the
body or the soul of the husband and wife in their capacity of spouses, if
it cannot without abuse of power interfere in any of their intimate
relations, it is its right and duty to intervene in Marriage as regards
interests and children.

READER. In fact, in the union of the sexes, there is not merely an
association of two free and equal persons, but also a partnership of
capital and labor; then, from the marriage, children are born for whose
education, occupation and subsistence it is necessary to provide.

AUTHOR. Now, the general protection of material interests and of the
rising generation devolves of right upon Society. In the sight of the
law, the husband and wife ought to be regarded only as partners, engaging
to employ a certain share of capital, together with their labor, for a
definite purpose. Society takes note only of a contract of interests, the
execution of which it guarantees like that of any other contract, and the
breach of which it makes public, should it take place by the wish of the
parties interested. On the other hand, the education of the rising
generation is a question of life and death to Society. The children being
free with respect to development, and liable to be useful or injurious to
their fellow citizens according to the training which they have received,
society has a right to watch over them, to secure their material support,
their moral future, to fix the age of marriage, to entrust the children
to the more deserving parent in case of separation, and if both are
unworthy, to take them away entirely.

READER. Do you not go a little too far; on the one hand, do not children
belong to their parents, on the other, may not Society err with respect
to the choice of the principles to be instilled in them?

AUTHOR. Children do not belong to their parents because they are not
THINGS: to those who obstinately persist in believing them _property_, we
say that Society has the right of dispossession for the public good. Then
the social right over children is limited so far as principles are
concerned to those of morality. Society has no right over religious
beliefs which belong to the domain of spiritual jurisdiction. The power
that should take away children from their parents because they were not
of a certain religious faith would be guilty of despotism, and would
merit universal execration. If you say that Society has no right to
impose a dogma upon children, you speak truly; but I cannot conceive how
you can entertain the thought of forbidding it the right to teach them,
even against the will of their parents, enlightening science, purifying
morality. Is it not the duty of society to secure the progress of its
members, and can any one have a right to keep a human being in ignorance
and evil?

READER. You are right, and I condemn myself. Let us return to Marriage. I
see with pleasure that you differ in opinion from a number of modern
innovators who deny the lawfulness of social interference in the union of
the sexes.

AUTHOR. If the union were without protection, who would suffer by it? Not
men, but rather women and children.

No one can compel a man to live with a woman whom he has ceased to love;
but he must be constrained to fulfill his duties with respect to the
children born of this union, and to keep his business engagements: in
wronging his companion and escaping from the burdens of paternity, he
takes advantage of his liberty to the detriment of others: Society has a
right to prevent this.

READER. So you do not grant to Society the right of binding souls or
bodies; but that of guaranteeing the contract of Marriage, and the
obligations of the spouses towards their future children; of forcing
them, in case of separation, to fulfill this last obligation?

AUTHOR. Yes; thus in case of the rupture of the marriage tie, society has
only to state publicly the responsibilities of the spouses, the number of
children, and the name of the parent on whom their guardianship devolves,
either by mutual consent or by social authority. And in confining itself
to this part, Society would do more to prevent the separation of married
couples than by all that it has hitherto foolishly invented for the
purpose. The parties would be free to marry again; but what woman would
be willing to unite herself to a man who was burdened with several
children, or who had treated his first companion unkindly? What man would
consent to wed a woman in the same position?

Do you not think that the difficulty that would be experienced in
contracting a new marriage would be a curb on the inconstancy and bad
conduct that lead to a rupture?

READER. I believe indeed that marriage, as you understand it, would have
more chances of duration than ours: first, because it is our nature to
cling most closely to that which we may lose. I have often asked myself
why many men remain faithful to their mistresses and treat them kindly,
while they are disrespectful and unfaithful to their wives; I have asked
myself also why many couples who had long lived happily together when
voluntarily united, were unhappy and often driven to a legal separation
when they had finally married; and the only reason that I have been able
to find is that we set the most value on that which we know may escape
us. Man has more respect for a woman who is not his legal property, his
inferior, than for her who is thus transformed by the law.
Notwithstanding, it must be acknowledged that your ideas appear

AUTHOR. Yet they are nothing more than an application of our laws;
indeed, do they not decree that covenants can have _things_ only, not
_persons_ for their object. That Society _does not recognize vows_, and
that proceedings cannot be instituted against their violation?

Now the existing law of marriage _alienates_ one of the partners in favor
of the other; the wife _belongs_ to the husband; she is in his _power_.
What is such a contract, if not the violation of the principle which
affirms that no covenant can be made involving persons? can it be more
lawful to alienate one's person by a contract of slavery?

Some say that we are at liberty to dispose of our freedom as we choose,
even though it be to renounce it. Indeed, we may do this, as we may
commit suicide, but to make use of our liberty to renounce it or to
commit suicide is much less to use aright than to violate the laws of
moral or physical nature; these are acts of insanity which we should
pity, but which we are not at liberty to erect into a law.

Why does Society refuse to recognize vows and to punish their violation,
if not because it admits that it is forbidden to penetrate into the
jurisdiction of the conscience? if not because it does not admit that an
individual may alienate his moral and intellectual being any more than
his body, and devote himself to immobility when it is his duty, on the
contrary, to go forward?

I ask then if this same Society is not inconsistent in exacting perpetual
vows from the husband and wife, in exacting from the wife a vow of
obedience, a tacit vow to deliver up her person to the desires of the

Is not the moral liberty of the spouses as worthy of respect as that of
nuns, priests and monks?

Have married persons more right in Nature and Reason, to alienate their
moral and intellectual being, their liberty and their person than the
celibates of the Church?

Another inconsistency of the law is that it declares Marriage an
association; the contract of Marriage is therefore a contract of
partnership. Now I ask whether, in a single contract of this kind, it is
enjoined by law on one of the partners to _obey_, to be subjected to a
_perpetual minority_, to be _absorbed_?

I doubt not that the law would declare such a contract between
independent partners void; why then does it legalize such a monstrosity
in the partnership of husband and wife? It is a relic of barbarism, as
you will see if you reflect on it.

READER. I hope that, through reason and necessity, the law will be
reformed sooner or later: but a reformation which will not take place is
that of the forms of religious marriage, which prescribe to the spouses
the same oaths as the code, and like it, subject the wife to the husband.

AUTHOR. Well, what matters it to us, since, thanks to liberty, the
religious marriage is merely a benediction with which we can dispense.
Those who have a disposition to go to the Church, the Temple, or the
Synagogue should have full liberty to receive the blessing of their
respective priests! this does not concern Society. What we need is that,
if afterward their vows should not seem to them binding, social authority
should not make them obligatory; they have a right to be absurd, but
society has no right to impose absurdity on them. Its duty is, on the
contrary, to enlighten them, and to render them free.


READER. Those who subordinate woman in marriage rest on the assertion
that unity of direction, consequently a ruling power, is needed in the
family; now, your theory evidently destroys this ruling power.

AUTHOR. What is the ruling power? Practically, it is manifested through
the function of government. Formerly, it was based upon two principles,
now recognized as radically false: _Divine right_ and _inequality_. It
was the _right_ of those who exercised it to call themselves kings,
autocrats, priests, men; it was the _duty_ therefore of the people, the
church, woman to obey the elect of God, their superiors by the grace of
right delegated from on high.

But in modern opinion, the ruling power is nothing more than a function
delegated by the parties interested in order to execute their will.

It is not our business to inquire here whether this modern interpretation
has become incarnated in facts; whether the old principle is not still
struggling with the new; whether the holders of political and familial
authority are not still making insane pretensions to divine right; we
have only to show what the notion of the ruling power has become in the
present state of thought and feeling.

What will be the ruling power in marriage, in accordance with modern
opinion, if not the delegation by one spouse to the other of the
management of business and of the family--a delegation of function; no
longer a right?

And if man and woman are socially equal in principle, if the aptitudes,
upon which all functions are based, are not dependent on sex, by what
right does society interfere to give the authority either to the husband
or the wife?

If there is need of a ruling power in the household, are not the parties
themselves best capable of bestowing it on the one who can best and most
usefully exercise it?

But among partners, is there really room for a ruling power? No, there is
room only for division of labor, mutual understanding with respect to
common interests. To consult each other, to come to an agreement, to
divide the tasks, to remain master each of his own department; this is
what the spouses should do, and what they do in general.

The law has so little part in our customs that to-day things happen in
this wise: many rich women translate two articles of the Code as follows;
_the husband shall obey his wife, and shall follow her wherever she sees
fit to dwell or sojourn_. And the husbands obey, because it would not do
to offend a wife with a large dowry; because it would make a scandal to
thwart their wife; because they need her, being unable, without
dishonoring themselves, to keep a mistress.

Husbands in the great centres of population escape obedience through love
outside of marriage; they lay no restrictions on their part; Madame is

Among the working classes of the citizens and the people, it is
practically admitted that neither shall command, and that the husband
shall do nothing without consulting his wife and obtaining her consent.

In all classes, if any husband is simple enough to take his pretended
right in earnest, he is cited as a bad man, an intolerable despot whom
his wife may hate and deceive with a safe conscience; and it is a curious
fact that the greater part of the legal separations are for no other
cause at the bottom than the exercise of the rights and prerogatives
conceded to the husbands by law.

I ask you now, what is the use of maintaining against reason and custom,
an authority which does not exist, or which is transferred to the spouse
condemned to subjection.

READER. On this point, I am wholly of your opinion; not a single woman of
modern times takes the rights of her husband in earnest. But your theory
not only attacks his authority; it also wages war against the
indissolubility of marriage, which it is affirmed, is necessary to the
dignity of this tie; to the happiness and future of the children, to the
morality of the family.

AUTHOR. I claim, on the contrary, that my theory secures, as far as is
humanly possible, the perpetuity and purity of marriage. At present, when
the knot is tied, the spouses, no longer fearing to lose each other, find
in the absence of this fear the germ of a mutual coolness; they may
quarrel, be discourteous or unfaithful to each other; there will be
scandal, a legal separation perhaps, but they are riveted together; they
can never become strangers. Contrast with this picture a household in
which the bond is dissoluble; all is changed; the despotic or brutal
husband represses his evil propensities, because he knows that his
companion, whom after all he loves, would quit him and transfer to
another the attentions she lavishes on him; and that no honest woman
would be willing to take her place.

The husband disposed to be unfaithful would continue in the path of duty,
because his abandonment and offences would alienate his wife, blast his
reputation, and prevent him from forming an honorable alliance.

The worn out profligate would no longer espouse the dowry of a young
girl, because he would know that, promptly disenchanted, the young wife,
instead of having recourse to adultery, would break the ill assorted

The woman who should take advantage of her dowry, of the necessity of her
husband to remain faithful, to tyrannise over him, would fear a divorce
which would throw the blame on her and condemn her to a life of solitude.

A shrewish wife would no longer dare to inflict suffering on her husband,
or a coquette to deceive or torment him; who would marry them after a

Do you not see that free marriages are happier and more lasting than any

Have you not yourself admitted that to separate the parties in these
unions, it often suffices to join them legally?

I know myself of a voluntary union that was very happy during
_twenty-two_ years, and was dissolved by separation at the end of three
years of legal marriage; I have known of many others of a shorter
duration which legality contributed to dissolve instead of rendering

You would hardly believe how many married couples reformed in their
treatment of each other in 1848, when they feared that the law of divorce
might be accepted. If the simple expedient of divorce has power to
produce good results, what may not be expected from a rational law.

We need only to reflect in order to comprehend that voluntary
dissolubility, without social intervention, would render unions better
assorted, for it would be for one's interest, for his own reputation, to
enter into them only with the moral conviction of being able to preserve
them; then only would no excuse be found for infidelity; loyalty would
make part of the relations of the spouses. The law of perpetuity has
perverted everything, corrupted everything; on the side of the woman, it
favors, yes, necessitates stratagem; on the side of the man, it favors
brutality and despotism; it provokes on both sides adultery, poisoning
and assassination; and leads to those separations which are daily
increasing in number, and which, by giving the lie to the indissolubility
of marriage, place the partners in a painful and perilous situation, and
bring in their train a host of irregularities.

In fact, if the spouses are separated while young, concubinage is their
refuge. The man in this false position finds many to excuse him; but the
woman is forced to conceal herself, to tremble at the thought of a
pregnancy and to make it disappear. Legal separation leads the spouses
not only to concubinage, to mutual hatred, but causes the birth of
thousands of children whose future is compromised, destroyed by the fact
of their illegitimacy. Let the spouses be free in accordance with their
right, and all will fall into its proper order, for all will be done
openly and truly.

READER. But the future of the children?

AUTHOR. The morality of the children is better insured under the system
of liberty than under that of indissolubility, for they will not be
witnesses for years of the bitter contention and licentiousness which now
render them deceitful and vicious, and inspire them with contempt or
hatred for one of the authors of their being, sometimes of both, when
they do not take them for models; if life in common becomes impossible to
the parents, which will be more rare under the law of liberty, the
children will not be subjected to the power of those who violate the law
of received morality; they may see these parents contract a new alliance
_as now_, but this alliance will be honored by all.

From these unions children may be born _as now_, but these children,
instead of being cast into the hospital, will share with the first the
affection and inheritance of their father or mother. The so-styled
legitimate children will lose in fortune, it is true; but they will gain
in good examples; many children who are now in the category of the
illegitimate will be ranked among the former, and will be no longer
condemned by desertion to die young, or else to grovel in ignorance, vice
and misery; to see their brow branded with the fault of their parents as
of their own by a host of imbeciles and men without heart, who have no
other guarantee for what they call their legitimacy than the presumption
accorded them by the law.


READER. It will be long yet, perhaps, before collective Reason
comprehends liberty in the union of the sexes as you do, and men will
ascribe to themselves the right not only of binding the interests, but
the souls and bodies of the spouses.

AUTHOR. As far as we can foresee, Society must necessarily? pass through
two stages to realize our opinion; it must first grant divorce _for a
declared cause_; later it will grant divorce decreed in private on the
petition of one or both of the spouses. We will not take up this last
form of the rupture of the conjugal tie, but that which is nearest
us--divorce for a declared cause.

What are the reasons which you would consider valid for a petition for

READER. First, those which now give rise to separation from bed and
board: adultery of the wife, cruelty, grave abuses, condemnation of one
of the spouses to punishment affecting the liberty or person, the
fraudulent management of the property by the husband; next, infidelity of
the husband, qualified adultery, incompatibility of temper, notable
vices, such as drunkenness, gaming, etc.

AUTHOR. Very well; these causes suffice.

READER. During the proceedings for divorce, the wife should be as free as
the husband. The child that should be born to her after more than ten
months' separation should be reputed natural, even though the divorce had
not been pronounced; and should bear her name and inherit from her like
one of her legitimate children.

AUTHOR. Who should take custody of the children and the property during
the proceedings?

READER. The court should decide who should have the care of the children,
in accordance with the causes for the petition for divorce and the
testimony of the parents, friends and neighbors.

AUTHOR. But if the spouses ask to be divorced only on account of
incompatibility of temper, and are both honorable?

READER. They should be requested to agree mutually either to share the
children, or to entrust them to one of the two, or to give the younger
children to the mother, leaving the sons over fifteen to the father. The
court, besides, should appoint from the family of the mother, a guardian
to watch over the conduct of the father towards the children left in his
care; and from the family of the father, a similar guardian to the mother
and the children remaining with her. This guardianship, which should be
strictly moral, should continue till the children had attained majority.

AUTHOR. And in case the parents should be alike unworthy?

READER. In such a case, which would seldom happen, the judge, in behalf
of society, should deprive them of the custody of the children, and
entrust it to a member of the family of one of the parents, appointing a
guardian to watch over his conduct and protect the interests of his ward
from the family of the other.

AUTHOR. Very well; I see with pleasure that you are cured of the
erroneous belief that the children _belong_ to the parents, and that you
comprehend the high function of society as the protector of minors.

During the suit for divorce, who shall have the control of the property?

READER. If the contract has been made under the system of separation of
property, and for paraphernalia, there is no need of putting the
question; each one will manage his own.

But I am somewhat puzzled how to answer you in case of communion of
goods, or in case the capital is embarked in a common business, carried
on solely by one of the parties. The present law does not seem to me
sufficiently to protect the interests of the wife in case of separation.

AUTHOR. Without entangling ourselves in a host of individual cases which
modify or contradict each other, let us provide that in case of communion
of goods, the administration of the property shall be taken from the
spouse holding it if the petition for divorce be based on his bad
management, his dissipated habits, or his condemnation to a penalty
affecting his liberty or person; that in all other cases, he shall make
an inventory of the property and the condition of the business; and a
person shall be appointed from the family of the spouse excluded from the
management to watch over the conduct of the spouse to whom it is
entrusted, who shall be bound to pay alimony to the other until the
divorce shall be decreed.

READER. And if there is no fortune?

AUTHOR. Until the spouses become strangers, they owe assistance to each
other: the court should therefore require the spouse that earns the more
to aid the other.

READER. How long a time should elapse between the admission of the
petition and the judgment of divorce?

AUTHOR. A year, in order that the parties may have time for reflection.

READER. The divorce being granted, and the ex-partners restored to
liberty, would you permit them to marry others?

AUTHOR. Most assuredly; else what signifies our arguments against

READER. What! the adulterous and brutal spouse, he who has inflicted
suffering on his partner, who has been wholly in the wrong, should enjoy
like the other the privilege of marrying again? I confess that this
shocks me.

AUTHOR. Because you are not sufficiently imbued with the doctrines of
liberty and the sentiment of right. Marriage is the natural right of
every adult; society has no right therefore to prohibit it or to make it
a privilege; on the other hand, in every divorce, there is wrong or the
lack of something on either side with respect to the other; the man or
woman who commits adultery may be a model of fidelity to a partner
better suited to his or her temperament and disposition; he who has been
brutal and violent may be wholly different with a wife possessing a
different character; in short, we repeat, to prohibit marriage is to
permit libertinism, and it is not the interest of society to pervert
itself. Both partners therefore should have a right to marry, but the law
should take care that all should be informed of the burdens resting upon
them by reason of their first marriage, and know that they are divorced.
Consequently, society has a right to publish the bill of divorce, and to
require that the parties divorced should provide for the necessities of
their minor children, and that the bill of divorce, joined to the one
setting forth this obligation, should accompany the publication of the
bans of a new marriage; in this, there is neither injustice nor abuse of
power; for each one will submit to the consequence of what he has done in
perfect freedom.

READER. And would you not fix the number of times that a divorced person
might re-marry?

AUTHOR. Why fix it? do you fix the number of times that a widow or
widower may marry again?

READER. But a libertine, a bad man might marry ten times, and thus render
ten women unhappy.

AUTHOR. What are you talking of! do you seriously believe that there
would be a woman insane enough to marry a man _nine times_ divorced, a
man obliged to accompany the publication of his bans with nine bills of
divorce, with nine judgements compelling him to pay so much yearly for
the support of seven, eight or nine children. Do you seriously believe
that a woman would consent to become the companion of such a man! This
man might indeed marry twice--but three times! do you think that it would
be possible?

READER. You are right, and on reflection, the measures which you advocate
appear perhaps severe.

AUTHOR. I know it; but our aim is not to favor divorces nor subsequent
unions; but, on the contrary, to prevent the former as far as possible by
the difficulties of forming the latter. Now for this it is not necessary
to restrict the liberty of the individual, but to render him responsible
for his acts, and to rivet the chain that he has forged for himself in
such a manner that he can neither cast it aside nor lay the burden of it
on others unless they are duly warned of it and consent thereto.


READER. Ought society to permit unions disproportioned in age? Is it not
to expose a woman to adultery, to marry her at seventeen or eighteen to a
man of thirty, forty or even fifty years of age? What harmony of
sentiments and views can exist at that time between the spouses? The wife
sees in her husband a sort of father, whom notwithstanding she can
neither love nor respect like a father, and she remains a minor all her

AUTHOR. These unions are very prejudicial to woman and the race, and they
would be for the most part averted, if the law should fix the
marriageable age at twenty-four or twenty-five for both sexes. At
seventeen, we marry to be called Madame, and to wear a bridal dress and a
wreath of orange flowers; we certainly should not do this at twenty-five.

If the flower is not called on to form its fruit until it is fully
matured, neither should man and woman: now, in our climate the
organization of neither is complete until twenty-four or twenty-five.

Woman gives more to the great work of reproduction and wears out faster
in it; to render her liable to become a mother prematurely is therefore
to expose her to greater sufferings.

In the first place, she is forced to share between herself and her
offspring the elements necessary to her own nutrition, which weakens both
her and the child.

Her development is checked, her constitution is changed, she becomes
predisposed to uterine affections, and runs the risk of becoming an
invalid at the age when she ought to enjoy robust health.

The enervation of the body brings with it that of the mind: the woman
becomes nervous, irritable, and often capricious; she cannot nurse her
children; she will not be capable of rearing them properly, she will make
dolls of them, and will favor the development of faults which afterwards
becoming vices, will afflict the family and society.

This woman, a mother before her time, not only will never become the
thoughtful companion and counsellor of her husband who, being much older
than she, will amuse himself with her as with a child, but will be his
ward for her whole life, and will have recourse to artifice to have her
own way. Thus to weaken woman in every respect, to shorten her life, to
put her under guardianship, to prepare the way for puny and badly reared
offspring,--such are the most obvious results of her precocious marriage.

To hold women in voluntary subjection and to organize the harem among us,
we need only take advantage of the permission of the law authorising
their marriage at the age of fifteen.

That woman may not be in subjection; that she may be able to become a
mother without detriment to her health and under circumstances favorable
to the good organization of her children; that she may be a worthy and
earnest wife, prepared to fulfill all her duties, she must not be
married, I repeat, before twenty-four or twenty-five; and she must not
marry a man older than herself.

READER. But it is claimed that the husband ought to be ten years older
than the wife, because the latter grows old faster, and because it is
necessary that the husband should have had experience in life in order to
appreciate his wife and to render her happy.

AUTHOR. Errors and prejudices all. Woman grows old sooner than man only
through premature marriage and maternity; a well preserved man and woman
are alike old at the same age. But the woman consents to grow old while
the man is much less willing to do so, since he does not blush when gray
haired, to marry a young girl, and to set up the ridiculous pretention of
being loved by her for love. Men must be broken of the habit of believing
themselves perpetually at the age of pleasing; of imagining that they are
quite as agreeable to our eyes when they are old and ugly as if they were
Adonises. They must be told unceasingly that what is unbecoming in us is
equally so in them; and that an old woman would be no more ridiculous in
seeking the love of a young man, than an old man in pretending to that of
a young girl.

The husband and wife should be nearly of the same age; first, to treat
each other more easily as equals; next, because there will be more
harmony in their feelings and views, as well as in their temperaments,
all things very necessary to the organization of children.

It is necessary besides, in order that the woman may not be tempted to
infidelity; you know how many troubles arise from unions disproportioned
in age.

The husband must have _seen life_, it is said; this is the opinion of
those who permit their sons to _sow their wild oats_; who believe that
man is at liberty to wallow in the mire of dens of infamy, and that there
are two kinds of morality. We do not belong to this class. You would not
give your daughter to a man who had _seen life_, because he would be
_blasé_, because he would pervert her or expose her, through the
disenchantment that would follow, to seek in another what she did not
find in her husband.

What we have said as regards your daughter applies also to your son; he
must not marry a woman younger than himself; for you would no more desire
a disadvantageous position for your daughter-in-law than for your
daughter; both are dear to you and worthy of respect before the
solidarity of sex.

READER. I shall educate my son to comprehend that the form of marriage
prescribed by the Code is merely a relic of barbarism, that his wife owes
obedience only to Duty, that she is a free being and his equal; and that
he has no rights over her person but those which she herself accords to
him. I shall tell him that love is a tender plant which must be tended
carefully to keep it alive; that it is blighted by unceremoniousness and
slovenliness; that he should therefore be as careful of his personal
appearance after marriage as he was to be pleasing to the eyes of his
betrothed. I shall say to him: ask nothing except from the love of your
wife; remember that more than one husband has excited repulsion by the
brutality of the wedding night. Marriage, my son, is a grave and holy
thing; purity is its choicest jewel; know that many men have owed the
adultery of their wife to the deplorable pains that they have taken to
deprave her imagination. Far from using your influence over her who will
be the half of yourself in order to render her docile to your wishes, and
to make her your echo, develop reason and character in her; in elevating
her, you will become better, and will prepare for yourself a counsel and
stay. I have married you under the system of separation of goods in order
that your wife may be protected against you, should you depart from your
principles; and should you ever grieve me by straying from them, your
wife will became doubly my daughter. I shall be her companion and
consoler, and shall close my arms and my doors on you.

AUTHOR. Right, and you will do well to add: interest your wife in your
occupation; take care that she is always busy, for labor is the preserver
of chastity.

READER. To my daughter I will say: the social order in which we live
requires, my child, that you shall superintend your house; the state of
Society is still far distant in which our sex will be relieved from this
function. Do not forget that the prosperity of the family depends on the
spirit of order and economy of the wife. What your fortune or special
business exempts you from executing, superintend and direct. Extravagance
of dress and furniture now surpasses all bounds. Luxury is not wrong in
itself, but in the existing state of things, it is a great relative evil,
for we have not yet resolved the problem of increasing and varying
products without at the same time increasing the wretchedness and
debasement of their producers. Be simple therefore: this does not exclude
elegance, but only those piles of silks and laces which trail in the dust
of the streets, those diamonds and precious stones which make the fortune
of the few at the expense of the morality of the many, and which are only
dead capital, the liberation of which would be productive of great good.
Do not suffer yourself to be ensnared by the sophism that honest women
must adorn themselves to hinder men from passing their time with
courtesans. Would you not be ashamed to compete in dress with women whom
you do not esteem, and would the man who could be retained by such means
be worth the trouble?

I have instructed you in your legal position as wife, mother and property
holder; I marry you under the system of separation of goods in order to
spare your husband the temptation of regarding himself as your master; in
order that he may be obliged to take your advice and to look upon you as
his partner. Despite these precautions, you will be a minor, since the
law thus decrees. But our law is not Reason: never forget that you are a
human being; that is, a being endowed like your husband with intellect,
sentiments, free will, and inclination; that you owe submission only to
Reason and your conscience; that if it is your duty to make sacrifices to
the peace in little things, and to tolerate the faults of your husband as
he should tolerate yours, it is none the less your duty resolutely to
resist a brutal--_I will have it so_.

You will be a mother, I hope; nurse your children yourself, rear them in
the principles of Right and Duty which I have instilled into your
intellect and heart, in order to make of them, not only just, good,
chaste men and women, but laborers in the great work of Progress.

You understand the great destiny of our species; you understand your
rights and duties; I need not therefore repeat to you that woman is no
more made for man than man for woman; that consequently woman cannot,
without failing in her duty, become lost and absorbed in man; for with
him, she should love her children, her country, humanity; she owes more
to her children than she does to him; and if forced to choose between
family interests and generous sentiments of a higher order woman should
no more hesitate than should man to sacrifice the former to justice.

AUTHOR. It will be said that you instruct your daughter in a very manly

READER. Since in our days men play the mandolin, is it not necessary that
women should speak seriously? Since men, in the name of their naïve
selfishness, claim the right to confiscate woman to their use, to extol
to her the charms of the gyneceum, to suppress her rights, and to preach
to her the sweets of absorption, must not women re-act against these
soporific doctrines, and recall their daughters to the sentiment of
dignity and individuality.

AUTHOR. I endorse you with all my heart!

Now that we are nearly agreed on all points, we have only to sum up what
we have said, and to give an outline of the principal reforms necessary
to be wrought in order that woman my be placed in a position more in
conformity with Right and Justice.



AUTHOR. Identity of right being based on identity of species, and woman
being of the same species as man, what ought she to be before civil
dignity, in the employment of her activity and in marriage?

READER. The equal of man.

AUTHOR. How will she become the equal of man in civil dignity?

READER. When she shall hold a place on the jury and by the side of all
civil functionaries; shall be a member of boards of trade and mercantile
associations; and shall be a witness in all cases in which the testimony
of man is required.

AUTHOR. Why ought the testimony of woman to be admitted in all cases in
which that of man is required?

READER. Because woman is as credible as man; because she is, like him, a
civil personage.

AUTHOR. Why ought woman to have a place on the jury?

READER. Because the Code declaring her the equal of man as regards
culpability, misdemeanor, crime and punishment, she is thus declared
capable like him of comprehending wrong in others;

Because the jury being a guarantee for the male culprit, the female
culprit should have a similar guarantee;

Because if the _male_ criminal is better comprehended by men, the
_female_ criminal will be better comprehended by women;

Because society in its aggregate being offended by the crime, it is
necessary that this society, composed of two sexes, should be represented
by both to judge and to condemn it. Because, lastly, where the moral
sense is concerned, the feminine element is the more necessary inasmuch
as men claim that our sex is in general more moral and more merciful than
their own.

AUTHOR. Why ought woman to hold a place among civil functionaries?

READER. Because society, represented by these functionaries, is composed
of two sexes;

Because even now in a number of public functions, there is a department
more especially belonging to woman;

Because, in the ceremony of the marriage celebration for instance, if
woman does not appear as magistrate, not only is society insufficiently
represented, but the wife may regard herself as delivered up to the power
of a man by all the men of the country.

AUTHOR. Why ought woman to have her place in boards of trade and
mercantile associations?

READER. Because she shares equally in industrial production;

Because she shares equally in commerce;

Because she understands business transactions and contracts as well if
not better than man;

Because, in all questions of interests, she should be her own

AUTHOR. When will woman become the equal of man in the employment of her
activity and of her other faculties?

READER. When she shall have colleges, academies and schools for special
instruction, and when all vocations shall be accessible to her.

AUTHOR. Why ought women to receive the same national education as men?

READER. Because they exercise a vast influence over the ideas, sentiments
and conduct of men, and because it is for the interest of society that
this influence should be salutary;

Because it is for the interest of all to enlarge the views and elevate
the sentiments of women, in order that they may use their natural
ascendency for the advancement of progress, of truth, of good, of moral

Because woman has a right, like man, to cultivate her intellect, and to
acquire the knowledge bestowed by the state;

Because, lastly, as she pays her part of the expenses of national
education, it is robbery to prohibit her from participating in it.

AUTHOR. Why ought woman to be admitted to academies and professional

READER. Because Society, not having a right to deny the existence of any
aptitude among its members, has consequently no right to prevent those
who claim to possess them from cultivating them, nor to lock up from them
the treasures of science and practice which are at its disposal.

Because there are women who are born chemists, physicians,
mathematicians, etc., and because these women have a right to find in
social institutions the same resources as man for the cultivation of
their aptitudes;

Because there are professions practised by women who need the instruction
that is interdicted them.

AUTHOR. Why ought every field of occupation to be accessible to woman?

READER. Because woman is a free being, whose vocation no one has a right
to contest or to restrict;

Because she, no more than man, will enter vocations forbidden her by
temperament, lack of aptitude or want of time; and it is therefore quite
as unnecessary to interdict them to her as to those men who are unfit to
enter them.

AUTHOR. Do you not even interdict to her those vocations in which
strength is needed, or which are attended with danger?

READER. Women are not forbidden to be carpenters or tilers, yet they do
not become such, because their nature opposes it; it is precisely because
nature does oppose it, that I think society unreasonable in meddling with
the nature. There is no need to prohibit what is impossible; and if what
has been declared impossible is done, it is because it is possible: now
society has no right to prohibit what is possible to any of its members;
this appears even absurd where vocation is in question.

AUTHOR. Let each one follow his private occupation at his own risk and
peril, then; but are there not certain public functions which are not
suitable for women?

READER. No one knows this, since they are not open for her admission;
and, were it so, the prohibition would be useless: competition would show
the falsity of ill-founded pretentions.

AUTHOR. When will woman become the equal of man in marriage?

READER. When the person of the wife is not pledged in marriage; when the
engagements are reciprocal, and when the wife is not treated as a minor
and absorbed in the husband. And this should be so:

Because it is not allowable to alienate one's personality, such an
alienation, being _immoral_ and _void_ of itself;

Because the wife being a distinct individual, cannot be actually absorbed
by the husband, and a law is absurd when it rests on a fiction and
supposes an impossibility;

Because, in fine, woman, being the equal of man before Society, cannot,
under any pretext, lose this equality by reason of a closer association
with him.

AUTHOR. There are two questions in marriage, aside from that of the
person--property and children. Do you not think that the married woman
ought, like the unmarried woman who has attained majority, to be mistress
of her property, to be free to exercise any profession that suits her,
and to be at liberty to sell, to buy, to give, to receive, and to
institute suits at law?

READER. The married man having all these rights, it is evident that the
married woman ought to have them under the law of equality. Are you not
of the same opinion?

AUTHOR. In all partnerships, we pledge a portion of our liberty on
certain points agreed upon. Now the husband and wife are partners; they
cannot therefore be as perfectly free with respect to each other as
though they were strangers; but it is necessary, we repeat, that their
position should be the same and their pledges mutual. If the wife can
neither sell, nor alienate, nor give, nor receive, nor appear in court
without the consent of the husband, it is not allowable for the husband
to do these things without the consent of the wife; if the wife is not
permitted to practise a profession without the consent of the husband,
the husband is not at liberty to do so without the consent of the wife;
if the wife cannot pledge the common property without authority from the
husband, the husband cannot pledge it without the consent of the wife. I
go further; I would not willingly permit the wife, before the age of
twenty-five, to give her husband authority to alienate anything belonging
to one of the two; the husband has too much influence over her for her to
be really free before this age.

READER. But what if one of the parties through caprice or evil motives is
unwilling that the other should do something that is proper and

AUTHOR. Arbiters are frequently chosen in the differences that arise
between partners in business; society, represented by the judicial power,
is the general arbiter between the husband and wife; still we think that
it would be well to establish between them a perpetual arbiter, holding
the first degree of jurisdiction: this might be the family council,
organized differently from the present. Before this confidential
tribunal, better fitted than any other to understand the case, the
husband and wife should carry, not only the differences arising between
them concerning questions of interests, but those relating to the
education, profession and marriage of the children. This tribunal should
give the first judgment, and much scandal would be avoided by its
decisions, from which besides one could always appeal to the social

I need not add that the right of the father and the mother over the
children is absolutely equal, and that, if the right of either could be
contested, it would not be that of the mother, who alone can say, I
_know_, I am _certain_ that these children are mine.

READER. In fact, it is odious that the plenitude of right should be found
on the side of the mere legal presumption, the act of faith, uncertainty.

Regarding marriage as a partnership of equals, do you not think that it
would be well to mark this equality and the distinction of personalities
in the name borne by the spouses and their children?

AUTHOR. Certainly, on the day of marriage each of the spouses should join
his partner's name to his own; this is done already in certain cantons of
Switzerland, and even in France, among a few individuals.

The children should bear the double name of their parents until marriage,
when the daughters should keep the mother's name, and the sons the
father's; or else, if we wish to bring into the question the system of
liberty, it might be decreed that, on attaining majority, the child
himself should choose which of the two names he would bear and transmit.


READER. Now, let us take up the political right.

AUTHOR. A nation is an association of free and equal individuals,
co-operating, by their labor and contributions, to the maintenance of the
common work; they have an incontestible right to do whatever is necessary
to protect their persons, their rights and their property from injury.
Man has political rights because he is free and the equal of his
co-partners; according to others, because he is a producer and a
tax-payer; now, woman being, through identity of species, free and the
equal of man; being in point of fact, a producer and a tax-payer; and
having the same general instincts as man, it is evident that she has the
same political rights as he. Such are the principles, let us proceed to
the application.

We have said elsewhere, that it is not enough that a thing should be true
in an absolute sense; it is necessary under penalty of transforming good
into evil, to take into account the surroundings into which we seek to
introduce it; this men too often forget, the _practical_ truth in our
question is that it is profitable to recognize political rights _only to
the extent to which it is demanded_, because those who do not demand it
are intellectually incapable of making use of it, and because if they
should exercise it, in a majority of cases, it would be against their own
interests; Prudence exacts that we should be sure that the possessor of a
right is really emancipated, and that he will not be the blind tool of a
man or a party.

Now, in the existing state of affairs, women not only do not demand their
political rights, but laugh at those who address them on the subject;
they pride themselves on being thought unfit for that which regards
general interests; they recognize themselves therefore as incapable.

On the other hand, they are minors civilly, slaves of prejudice, deprived
of general education, submissive for the most part to the influence of
their husbands, lovers or confessors, clinging as a majority to the ways
of the past. If therefore they should enter without preparation into
political life, they would either duplicate men or cause humanity to

You comprehend now why many women who are more capable than an infinite
number of men of coöperating in great political acts, choose rather to
renounce them than to compromise the cause of progress by the extension
of political right to all women.

READER. Personally, I am of your opinion; but it is necessary to foresee
and to refute the objections that may be made to you by very intelligent
women; these women will say, Reflect, the negation of right is
iniquitous, for it is the negation of equality and of human nature. It is
as false as dangerous to lay down the principle of the recognition of
right only to the extent in which it is claimed; for it is notorious that
slaves are not the ones in general to demand their own rights; your
affirmation therefore condemns the emancipation of slaves and serfs, and
universal suffrage.

The objection that you raise against the right on account of the
incapacity of women and the low use which they would make of it, might
apply quite as well to men who are scarcely more fully emancipated than
they; who are often the duplicate of their wife or confessor, or who have
no other opinion than that of their electoral committee.

In right, as in everything else, an apprenticeship is necessary: woman
will make use of it at first badly, then better, then well; for we learn
to play on an instrument much more quickly by using it than by learning
its theory.

The exercise of right gives elevation and dignity, elevates the
individual in his own esteem, and causes him to study questions which he
would have neglected had he not been obliged to examine them in order to
concur in and resolve them. Do you wish women to take to heart matters of
general interest? Then give them political right.

These objections, may be raised against you.

AUTHOR. They were raised against me in 1848 by a number of eminent women,
and by many men devoted to the triumph of the new principles.

I answered them then and I answer them again to-day: We should speedily
agree, if our modern society were not the scene of conflict between two
diametrically opposite principles.

The question is not to decide whether political right belongs to woman,
whether she would develop it, enlarge it, etc., but rather whether she
would use it to ensure the triumph of the principle that says to
humanity, Advance! or of that which gives as the word of command,

What is the end of political right? Evidently, to accomplish a great duty
in the direction of progress. Well, is it not dangerous to accord it to
those who would employ it against this end?

What! you struggle for right, in order to obtain the triumph of a holy
cause, yet feel no hesitation in according it to those who would
certainly make use of right to kill right!

You reproach me for acting like the Jesuits, who value justice much less
than expediency. Well, gentlemen, if you had had half their ability, you
would have been successful long ago. Like true savages, you would think
yourselves dishonored by possessing prudence and practical sense, by
offering yourselves to battle otherwise than with naked bodies; this may
be very fine, very courageous--but as to being sensible, that is another

I am not guilty of the crime of denying right, since I do not deny it; I
only desire that it shall not be demanded since this would be suicidal, I
do not lay down the principle that _every kind_ of right should be
recognized only to the extent in which it is claimed, since I speak to
you of political rights alone; there are rights which make their own
demand, such as those of living, of development, of enjoyment, of the
fruit of one's labor, and it is shameful for society not to recognize
them to their full extent. But we awaken later to the sentiment of civil
right, and still later to that of political right; take the logical
advance of humanity into account therefore and do not remain in the

I know that my objection on the score of the incapacity of women is quite
as applicable to that of men; but is it a reason, because you have
admitted the right of the ignorant masses of men who had not demanded it,
to show yourselves equally unwise with respect to women who are in the
same position? I will correct myself, gentlemen, of what you term my
_aristocratic_ spirit, when I see your political freedmen comprehending
the tendencies of civilization, and making use of their right to drive
the abettors of the past to despair by promoting the triumph of liberty
and equality. Until then, permit me to keep my opinion.

And I have kept my opinion, which is this: the exercise of political
right is a means of reform and progress, only if those who enjoy it
believe in progress and are anxious for reforms: in the opposite case,
the popular vote can be nothing but the expression of prejudices, errors
and passions--instead of learning to exercise it through the use of it,
as it is urged, they employ it simply to cut their own fingers.

READER. May it not be objected that, in accordance with your theory of
right, all being equal, no one can arrogate to himself the function of
distributing rights?

AUTHOR. Theory is the ideal towards which practice should tend; if we had
not this ideal, we could not know by what principle to guide ourselves;
but in social _reality_, there are individuals who have attained
majority, and others who, being minors, are destined to attain it.

If I should assert that those who have attained majority can rightfully
accord or refuse right to the minors, I should depart essentially from my
principles; it is by the _law_, which is the expression of the conscience
of those most advanced, while waiting till it shall be the conscience of
all, that political majority is decreed and that its conditions are
established. The right is virtual in each of us; no one therefore has the
right to give it, to take it away, or to contest it; it is recognized
when we are in a condition to exercise and to demand it; and we prove
that we are in a condition to exercise it when we satisfy the conditions
fixed by the law.

READER. What should be these conditions for the enjoyment of political
right, in your opinion?

AUTHOR. Twenty-five years of age; and a certificate attesting that the
individual knows how to read, write and reckon, that he possesses an
elementary knowledge of the history and geography of his country;
together with a correct theory with respect to Right and Duty, and the
destiny of humanity upon earth. The knowledge of a small volume would be
sufficient, as you see, to enable every man and woman, twenty-five years
of age and healthy in mind, to enjoy political rights, after having been
subjected to an initiation by the enjoyment of civil rights. But, I ask
you, what could those do with political right who confound liberty with
license, who scarcely know the meaning of the words Right and Duty, and
who are even incapable of writing their own vote! Men have their rights,
let them keep them! a right once admitted cannot be taken away: let them
render themselves fit to exercise them. As to women, let them first
emancipate themselves civilly and become educated: their turn will come.

READER. It is very important that men should comprehend that you do not
deny, but merely postpone the political rights of our sex.

AUTHOR. Be easy; they will comprehend it rightly; they will not mistake
counsel dictated by prudence for an acknowledgement of inferiority and a
resignation of functions.


READER. Will you now state the legal reforms which we should demand

AUTHOR. So far as civil life is concerned, we should ask:

That a woman who is a foreigner may be able to become naturalized in a
country otherwise than by marriage.

That woman shall not lose her nationality by the same sacrament.

That woman be admitted to sign, as a witness, all certificates of social
condition, with all others that have been hitherto interdicted to her.

You know that already, in derogation of the law, midwives sign
certificates of birth of unacknowledged natural children, and that, in
certain notarial documents, drawn up by justices of the peace, to attest
to a fact in the absence of written evidence, the testimony of women is

We demand that tradeswomen and merchant women shall form a part of the
boards of trade; that in every criminal trial, women shall be placed on
the jury: that to women shall be entrusted the management and
superintendence of hospitals, prisons for women, and charitable

That in every district, a woman shall be appointed to superintend girls'
schools, infant asylums, and nurses.

You know that women are already filling public employments in derogation
of the law, since the teaching and inspection of girls' schools, and
other asylums, are entrusted to them, and since women keep post-offices,
stamp offices, etc.

READER. This regards civil Right in general; what reforms shall we demand
concerning married women?

AUTHOR. That the conjugal abode shall be that which is inhabited by the
husband and wife _together_, no longer by the man alone.

That the articles shall be suppressed which command the wife to obey her
husband, and to follow him wherever he sees fit to reside.

That the prohibition to sell, mortgage, receive, give, appear in law,
etc., without the consent of the husband or court, shall be extended to
the husband as far as to the wife.

That marriage under the system of separation of goods shall become the
public law.

READER. What reforms do you demand with respect to the family council and

AUTHOR. We demand that the family council shall be composed of twenty
persons; ten men and ten women, parents, relatives and friends, chosen by
the spouses.

That the powers of this council, presided over by the justice of the
peace, shall be so determined that it shall give the first judgment in
differences arising between the spouses as to children, property,
guardianship, etc.

We demand that every woman may be qualified to be appointed guardian or
to watch over the conduct of the guardian towards the ward.

That the guardianship of the spouse interdicted shall be always confessed
by the family council.

That the wife like the husband, may name a definitive guardian and a
council of guardianship for her surviving spouse.

That the spouses may name during their lifetime, the father, a male
inspecting guardian from his family, the mother, a female inspecting
guardian from hers, that in case of pre-decease, the children may be
always under the influence of both sexes.

That this superior guardianship, in the absence of any expressed desire,
belongs of right to a member of the family of the defunct, who must be of
the same sex.

That in case of a second marriage, if the child is maltreated or unhappy,
the inspecting guardian, whether male or female, can have it adjudged to
him by the family council, without excluding the appeal of the guardian
to the courts.

That in case of the death of the father or mother, the guardianship
belongs of right to the nearest ancestor, and the inspecting guardianship
to the nearest ancestor of the other line.

If there be competition between the two lines, the family councils shall
choose the guardian from one family and the inspecting guardian from the
other, and of opposite sex.

That the duties of guardianship and inspecting guardianship shall
comprehend, not only the material, but also the moral and intellectual
interests of the wards.

That the father who is guardian, shall lose the right of guardianship
over the children if he re-marries without first having had it continued
to him by the family council.

That lastly, the State shall so organize a board of guardianship for
abandoned children that the boys shall be under the superintendence of
the men and the girls under that of the women; this board will form a
great family council.

READER. I like your system better than that of the law, not only because
woman is the equal of man therein, but because wards will be better
protected by it; I have known men to cause their wives, over-excited by
their ill treatment, to be placed under interdict, in order to remain
masters of their property; on the other hand, you know how many children
are wronged or made unhappy by the second marriage of their father. A
step-mother has full power to inflict suffering on the little

But you have said nothing of the authority of parents over their

AUTHOR. The authority of the parents over the children is the same; the
expression, paternal authority, is incomplete; the true phrase would be
_parental_ authority. On this head, we demand that if there be dissension
between the father and mother with regard to the children, the family
council shall decide in the first instance.

That neither the father nor the mother shall have power to shut up the
child unless _both are agreed_.

That the father or the mother acting as guardian shall not have power to
have recourse to this measure except with the concurrence of the
inspecting guardian, or, in case of difference, with the approbation of
the family council, always reserving the right of appeal to the court.

That the marriageable age shall be fixed at twenty-five for both sexes.

READER. Shall we demand the suppression of separation from bed and board?

AUTHOR. No; but we must demand that _divorce shall be established_.

That divorce may be obtained for the adultery of one of the parties,
cruelty, grave abuses, condemnation to punishment affecting the liberty
or person, notorious vices, incompatibility of temper, mutual consent.

That, during the suit for separation or for divorce, the guardianship of
the children shall be given to the most deserving parent; and that, if
both are alike unworthy, a guardian and inspecting guardian of different
sexes shall be appointed.

That, if both are deserving, they shall settle it amicably between
themselves before the family council.

That parties married under the dotal system or under that of the
separation of goods, shall have control of their own property.

That if the petition for divorce be on account of the bad management of
the common property, the administration shall be taken away from the
husband and entrusted to the wife.

That if the petition be on account of the condemnation of one of the
parties to punishment affecting the liberty or person, the other shall
remain administrator.

That, in all other cases, an inventory shall be made and the spouse best
fitted to the task be appointed guardian under the surveillance of one or
two members of the family of the other spouse, with the obligation of
furnishing estovers to the other.

That the decree granting the divorce or separation shall bear the number,
name and age of the children born of the marriage, together with the
annual sum that each party is bound to furnish for their maintenance and

That this decree shall state to whose custody the children are entrusted,
whether by natural consent or by familial or judicial authority.

That it shall be placarded publicly in the courts, and inserted in the
leading journals of the vicinity.

That this instrument shall accompany the publication of the bans of a
subsequent marriage, under pain of heavy penalties.

READER. These measures are severe; if it would be easy to become
divorced, it would not be easy to marry afterwards.

AUTHOR. I do not deny it; but it is better to prevent divorce by the
difficulty of marrying afterwards, than by placing restrictions upon it;
in the first case, the difficulty comes from the fetters which the
individual has forged for himself; he makes his own destiny; in the
second, individual liberty is infringed upon by social authority, which
is an abuse of power.

READER. Let us enter upon the legal reforms concerning morals.

AUTHOR. We demand that every promise of marriage which is not fulfilled
shall be punished with a fine and damages.

That every man whom an unmarried mother can prove by witnesses or
letters, to be the father of her child, shall be subject to the burdens
of paternity.

That the investigation of paternity shall be authorized like that of

That the seduction of an unmarried woman under twenty-five shall be
severely punished.

That no unmarried woman can be registered among the public women before
twenty-five years old, and that she shall be put into the house of
correction if she abandons herself to prostitution before this age.

That every abandoned woman who receives a man under twenty-five years of
age shall be punished with fine and imprisonment, and that the penalty
shall be terrible if she is diseased.

READER. It will be said that paternity cannot be proved.

AUTHOR. I do not deny that it may be possible that the father attributed
to the natural child will not be the true one; but it will be necessary
to establish by proofs that he has rendered himself liable to be reputed
such: it is the probability of paternity in marriage extended to
paternity out of marriage. So much the worse for men who suffer
themselves to be caught! it is shameful to attach impunity to the most
disorderly and subversive of selfish desires; women must no longer bear
alone the burden of natural children, and no longer be tempted to abandon

READER. But what if it be proved that a married man has rendered himself
liable to become a father outside his household.

AUTHOR. This should be first a case of divorce; next, of punishment for
him and his accomplice. As to the child, the man should bear the charge
of it in concert with the mother.

READER. These are indeed Draconian laws!

AUTHOR. Do you not see that corruption is shutting us in, body and soul;
and that if we do not create a vigorous reaction against it by the
severity of the laws, the reform of education, and the awakening of the
ideal, our society will be, ere long, only an immense brothel?

READER. Alas! it is but too true.

AUTHOR. Let us demand then, not only a rational reform of the national
education, but also that the number of lyceums shall be doubled for

That all the institutions of higher instruction dependent on the state
shall be open to them as to boys.

That they shall be admitted to receive the same university degrees, and
the same diplomas of capacity as men.

That every field of occupation shall be opened to them as to men;

So that, elevated in public opinion by equality, their activity shall no
longer be nominally compensated; that they may live by their labor, and
that want, discouragement and suicide may no longer terminate their life
when they do not make choice of the sad part of elements of



Progressive women, to you, I address my last words, Listen in the name of
the general good, in the name of your sons and your daughters.

You say: the manners of our time are corrupt; the laws concerning our sex
need reform.

It is true; but do you think that to verify the evil suffices to cure it?

You say: so long as woman shall be a minor in the city, the state and
marriage, she will be so in social labor; she will be forced to be
supported by man; that is to debase him while humbling herself.

It is true; but do you believe that to verify these things suffices to
remedy our abasement?

You say: the education that both sexes receive is deplorable in view of
the destiny of humanity.

It is true; but do you believe that to affirm this suffices to improve,
to transform the method of education?

Will words, complaints and protestations have power to change any of
these things?

It is not to lament over them that is needed; it is to act.

It is not merely to demand justice and reform that is needed; it is to
labor ourselves for reform; it is to prove _by our works_ that we are
worthy to obtain justice; it is to take possession resolutely of the
contested place; it is, in a word, to have intellect, courage and

Upon whom then will you have a right to count, if you abandon yourselves?

Upon men? Your carelessness and silence have in part discouraged those
who maintained your right; it is much if they defend you against those
who, to oppress you, call to their aid every species of ignorance, every
species of despotism, every selfish passion, all the paradoxes which they
despise when their own sex is in question.

You are insulted, you are outraged, you are denied or you are blamed in
order that you may be reduced to subjection, and it is much if your
indignation is roused thereby!

When will you be ashamed of the part to which you are condemned?

When will you respond to the appeal that generous and intelligent men
have made to you?

When will you cease to be masculine photographs, and resolve to complete
the revolution of humanity by finally making the word of woman heard in
Religion, in Justice, in Politics and in Science?

What are we to do, you say?

What are you to do, ladies? Well! what is done by women believing. Look
at those who have given their soul to a dogma; they form organizations,
teach, write, act on their surroundings and on the rising generation in
order to secure the triumph of the faith that has the support of their
conscience. Why do not you do as much as they?

Your rivals write books stamped with supernaturalism and individualistic
morality, why do you not write those that bear the stamp of rationalism,
of solidary morality and of a holy faith in Progress?

Your rivals found educational institutions and train up professors in
order to gain over the new generation to their dogmas and their
practices, why do not you do as much for the benefit of the new ideas?

Your rivals organize industrial associations, why do not you imitate

Would not what is lawful to them be so to you.

Could a government which professes to revive the principles of '89, and
which is the offspring of Revolutionary right, entertain the thought of
fettering the direct heirs of the principles laid down by '89, while
leaving those free to act who are more or less their enemies? Can any one
of you admit such a possibility?

What are we to do?

You are to establish a journal to maintain your claims.

You are to appoint an encyclopedic committee to draw up a series of
treatises on the principal branches of human knowledge for the
enlightenment of women and the people.

You are to found a Polytechnic Institute for women.

You are to aid your sisters of the laboring classes to organize
themselves in trades associations on economical principles more equitable
than those of the present time.

You are to facilitate the return to virtue of the lost women who ask you
for aid and counsel.

You are to labor with all your might for the reform of educational

Yet, in the face of a task so complicated, you ask: what are we to do?

Ah, ye women who have attained majority, arise, if ye have heart and

Arise, and let those among you who are the most intelligent, the most
instructed, and who have the most time and liberty constitute an
_Apostleship of women_.

Around this Apostleship, let all the women of Progress be ranged, that
each one may serve the common cause according to her means.

And remember, remember above all things, that _Union is strength_.



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