The Book of Women’s Rights.

1860.

English translation copyrighted 2nd April 2023.

The Book of Wonen's Rights

   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
     
 
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THE FREE WOMAN.

Brussels. Typ. By A. LACROIX, VAN MEENEN, and Co, printers-publishers.

REPLY TO MM. Michelet, Proudhon, E. DE GIRARDIN, A. COMTE.

AND OTHER MODERN INNOVATORS. 

BY MRS JENNY P. D'HERICOURT.

  BRUSSELS

A. LACROIX, VAN MEENEN, and Co, PUBLISHERS.

33 PUTTERIE STREET,

  AT ALL PARIS BOOKSHOPS.

 All rights reserved.

SECOND PART.

right and duty; objections against Women's rights;

Women before Mores and the Civil Code.

 

FIRST CHAPTER.

 

BASIS AND FORMULAS OF RIGHTS AND DUTIES.

 

Part A.

 

Before saying what share of rights and duty we claim for women, we must define these two inseparable notions which assume, explain, and complete each other.

Daughter of my century, student of the doctrines summed up by our glorious Revolution, I will not seek the sources of right and duty in the world of Supernaturalism.

No; I leave to the last echoes of the ancient world the irrational fancy of using their argument, based on the unknown, to prove that the right is granted to us, the duty imposed by some god.

I say on the contrary that both have their origin in us; that they arise from the whole of our faculties, from our destiny, from the necessary relationships that we maintain with ourselves, with our fellows, with nature.

I say that if the origin, the explanation, the law, and the formula of right and duty are not contained in these facts and these relationships, it is because right and duty do not exist.

But it is because I firmly believe that they are contained therein that I will try to free them.

Finally, it is time for this precious and fruitful truth to be popularized, that we have rights and Duties, independently of any religious doctrine.

What! Some timorous people will say, you, a woman, dare to eliminate god from questions of right and duty!... Ah! All you need to do now is repeat this impious phrase:

God, it is evil! Reader, it is a true thought, hidden in a paradoxical form. god, in his absolute concept, is not evil; but humanity thinks that god under his relative aspect, god formulated by our intelligence, god hidden under the symbol invented by us, from good as he originally appeared, becomes evil, when humanity, which progresses, has surpassed in science and morality the motionless object of his former adoration.

Ask the Christians of the first centuries, heirs of two philosophical beliefs symbolized by Paul in the unity of god and that of humans, if the gods of the nations who seemed to them to divide this double unity, did not appear to them as evil. Certainly yes, since, of these gods of their ancestors they made demons.

It is true that I eliminate god from questions of right and duty; but it is because from the rational point of view, it is not the foundation of these two notions; and that to attach them to the divinity is to subject them to all the chances of death that religious dogma necessarily undergoes.

What, in fact, do the peoples who see in god the source of right and duty? When god falls from the pedestal, they had erected for him, right and duty disappear with him from the sanctuary of conscience. History shows us these peoples handing over the law to the despotism which devours it; history shows them to us at the same time given over to selfish passions, wallowing in the orgies of sensualism, having lost the idea of ​​duty and the dignity of their nature.

If god speaks, it is in the laws of the physical, intellectual, and moral universe. His word on earth is humanity revealing itself, not absolute truth, but indefinitely progressive truth.

It is therefore in the laws and relations which are within us and outside of us that we can ascertain, and that we must seek, the truth about right and duty.

However, do not believe, readers, that I misunderstand the usefulness of religious sentiment, that I deny the objective existence of the unknown facts which serve as the foundation of dogmas; no, because I would no longer understand why our species is religious; Why it developed in the Bosom of religions;

Why do human societies dissolve when all dogma has lost its empire over souls?

I would no longer understand the great biological law which establishes the inclinations and tendencies of beings, with a view to objects which correspond to them.

 

 

If, to our nutritive instincts, correspond the alimentary substances;

If nature corresponds to our need to know;

If, to our need to Love, to associate ourselves, correspond with our fellow men;

Doesn't the unity of law require that our religious instincts correspond to realities?

That these realities escape our means of verification, that they are not an object of knowledge, is not a reason for denying them; but it is enough to know that all the ideas that we form of it have value only for us and that, under pain of showing ourselves absurd and distorting our moral sense, we must put them in harmony with the science and morality of our time; for if they are above these things, they must not contradict them.

These few lines will prove to people who, from the rationalism with which my previous works are imbued, thought they could conclude that I was materialistic and perhaps my atheism, that they were mistaken about me. Materialism and Atheism are not crimes, but, in my opinion, sad errors, and I do not share them.
I belong to that small number who, unable to stop in sterile negation, seek a superior and fruitful affirmation.

I belong to that small number who, not finding the satisfaction of their religious needs in the teachings of an outdated and retrograde dogma, find it in a larger dogma that conscience and reason can accept.

I belong to that small, truly religious number, who call with all the aspirations of the heart for the new general doctrine, the only one capable of uniting us in Love and community of purpose.

But for me, Religion is not base; it is a crowning achievement.

For me, Religion is not a root; it is a flower.

For me, Religion explains neither science nor morality, is the foundation neither of right nor of duty; it is the resultant of all these holy things; it is its poetic blossoming, its perfume. If it does not issue from them like a flower from its stem, it has no other reason for being than an aberration of the religious instinct, stupefied by ignorance, maddened by a disordered imagination.

After this declaration of principles that I thought I owed to my friends and my enemies, let us pass on to the object of this chapter.

 

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Part B.

 

The right and the duty resulting from our needs, from our destiny, from the relations which we support; and assuming intelligence and free will, can only be conceived by the human being, because alone, he can note the relationships that bind things, of discovering the laws of these relationships;

Because he alone distinguishes himself very clearly from what is not him;

Because only he can, within certain limits, violate the laws he knows;

Because only, finally, he can discover the general goal of the laws or the destiny.

The formula of rights and Duties is therefore a human creation;

right and duty are therefore discoveries of human intelligence;

The justice which sums them up is, therefore, like science, a human work, as Feuerbach and, after him, Proudhon admirably affirm.

Through this creation, humanity makes a world apart, the moral world, the world of Justice, composed like our planet of different layers; a world increasingly in opposition to the physical world which is that of hierarchy and fate.

At the point of development where justice has arrived, how shall we define right and duty under their most general aspect?

We will say: the law is the legitimate claim of every human being to the development and exercise of his faculties, consequently to the possession of the objects which are their own stimulants, within the limits of equality.

duty, correlative to right, and which is its explanation and justification, is the employment of our faculties and their stimulants in view and in the direction of our destiny.
All rights and Duties derive from this fundamental right and Duties or exist only to guarantee them.

law, as we have just defined it, is therefore the very exercise of life, the sine qua non of the accomplishment of duty or the realization of destiny.

One cannot therefore validly alienate him, even in part, without diminishing his life, falsifying his destiny.

And if ignorance or force robs us of a part of it, we can, we must pursue the claim: for there is no right against right, and one does not prescribe against it.

Through all our needs and to fulfill our destiny, we sustain three main kinds of relationships:

1 With ourselves;

2 With nature;

3 With our fellow men.

Hence three forms of right and duty, which we can understand only by forming a clear idea of ​​our Destiny.

 

 

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Part C.


The destiny of the organized being is given in all its faculties.

What then will be that of the human being, an intelligent animal, loving, sociable, endowed with a sense of justice, free will, ideality, and numerous aptitudes by which he modifies everything around him, in order to satisfy his desire for well-being and happiness?

Who left on the threshold of animality by nature, creates himself humanity, by developing little by little what distinguishes him from the inferior species?
Obviously, for anyone who thinks, this destiny will be to gradually organize a society based on justice and Benevolence where each, depending only on himself, will find in science the satisfaction of his intellectual needs, and the principles proper to direct his productive faculties; in his fellows, the satisfaction of his needs to Love, to associate, to perpetuate his species; in the cultivation of the arts, sciences, industry, the satisfaction of one's aptitudes; and in the products, he obtains from their exercise, that of his material needs and his pleasures.

And as he will not be able to fulfill this task of human interest, without harmonizing it himself, without acting profoundly on his globe, without humanizing it by the use of his activity, by progressively imprinting on it the stamp of his reason or principle of order, it follows that the destiny of our species can be defined: the creation of order in humanity and on the globe which is subject to it.

This task imposed on the species requires a multitude of aptitudes too different for them to be united in each of us. Also, beneath the general characteristics which make us a single species, hide such profound dissimilarities, that one can establish in principle that there are as many different men as there are male individuals and as many different women than female individuals. This diversity becomes evident due to culture: everyone knows that two peasants are much more alike than two educated men.

From this it follows that the enjoyment of individual rights is the guarantee of social progress since this progress depends on the free development of aptitudes and that they can only develop through freedom: therefore, whoever is an enemy of freedom and obstruction, if he is not blind, is an enemy of collective destiny and of law.

 

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Part D.

 

I said that it is the necessity of our destiny to sustain three kinds of relationships: with ourselves, with nature, and with our fellows.
Let us look at the first ones.

Each of us presents itself to analysis as a society of faculties that all have the right to function, because all are necessary for the harmony of the whole.

Some of our impulses are antagonistic; and those whose goal is the satisfaction of our selfish needs, have a constant propensity to exceed their legitimate limits, consequently oppressing those who connect us to our fellow men.

When we are pulled in opposite directions, when dissent is within us, who will end the conflict by determining the option? Obviously, our free will is influenced by another faculty.

But to decide us in view of our destiny, what must be the governing faculty, if not reason or principle of order in each of us?

It is therefore by establishing in us the hierarchy of faculties in view of destiny, and under the government of reason, that none of our faculties will be sacrificed; that all will harmonize, according to M. Proudhon's expression, for the good and the glory of the whole.

It is in the establishment and maintenance of this hierarchy that the great autonomic duty, or self-government by self, consists.

Thus, in this first order of relations, there is the right of each faculty to be exercised;

right of each of them to its own stimulant;

But at the same time duty for each to exercise only for the good of the whole; that is to say never to exceed its limits and for that to obey reason.


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Part E.

 

Thus, what will be the rule of right and duty in our relations with nature, with the sentient beings of the lower species? The human being, reason, justice, and liberty, has right over the creatures on his globe in two respects: first for his conservation, then as a harmonizing power.

Eminent thinkers will stop me here to say: you are confusing fact with law. The latter is a creation of human Consciousness; there is only human being to his similar because it supposes the reciprocity and the possibility of a claim in front of another conscience.

I answer: the law is a creation of humanity, but only as a concept and formula. Our formulas expose the truth of the relations but are not these relations, any more than the formula of the law of attraction is attraction.

A notion is necessarily drawn from the things which contain it and consequently were antecedent to it, because our mind creates neither facts nor relations nor laws, it only discovers them, defines them, and systematizes them. Before knowing that we have rights, we feel them; if we did not feel them, we would never know.

Yes, the law presupposes reciprocity in human relations, but do we maintain relations only with our fellow men? Do we not support some with ourselves, as a Society of faculties? Do we not argue with the lower beings?

To claim, for example, that between the animal and us, there is neither law nor Justice, is this not to affirm that there is a whole order of relations from which can be banished the notion of double and correlative of right and duty?

Hey! Well, I can't accept that. Why, if that were so, would one say: it is wrong, when one sees someone torturing an animal or starving it to death? A thing is bad only when it is contrary to duty, and it has this character only when it is a violation of a right. I do not understand why there is no justice between the animal and us, why we applaud the laws protecting animals. If animals have no law, that of their owner is violated, by regulating the way, they must use these sentient beings.

He gives predominance to his nutritive instincts, usually oppresses in him the intellectual faculties, and develops selfish instincts at the expense of the instincts of justice and sociability: he violates his autonomic duty.

He who, by a vicious exaltation of his imagination, refuses to his nutritive faculties the exercise to which they are entitled, weakens reason, exalts pride into intolerance, places madness in the intellectual and moral domain: he there also violates the autonomic duty.

Wisdom and duty are, I repeat, to submit our whole being to reason: the very exaltation of the sense of Justice, the highest of all, is evil.

I know that these laws are explained by the obligation to prevent man from becoming hardened and to prepare him to be kind to his fellows. The same has probably been said of the laws protecting slaves. But consciousness, which is just as much moved by Sentiment as it is enlightened by reason, goes further without knowing it itself. If she were to analyze, she would understand that, under any protective law, there is the implicit recognition of a right.

One can still object to me that by transporting the notion of law beyond humanity, I anthropomorphize animals and that, if I do so, I am required, to be consistent, to respect their life, their offspring, and the exercise of all their faculties.

I do not anthropomorphize animals: I do not assimilate their law to ours; but recognizing a right in them, admitting that between them and us there is Justice, I am required to rationally explain to myself the difference that I place between them and us in relation to right, and to establish the principle by virtue of which I then legitimately dispose of them and eliminate them. So, I say to myself: our race is the reason and justice of the globe: it is she who has the government to harmonize it: she is to other creatures what our personal reason and justice are to our other faculties.

Now none of us disputes that our reason and our justice cannot legitimately suppress those of our acts or desires which would be contrary to our personal harmony.

Therefore, the human species, reason and justice of the earth, has the right to eliminate all that harms its harmony with the creation entrusted to it and of which it makes part of its organism. But when we retain sentient beings who become our auxiliaries, become in some way one of our organs, and thus unconsciously accomplish a duty, it is up to us to recognize their natural right to the extent required by the order. The animal feels its right, because it kicks back, revolts, should it be stripped of it because it does not know it; because he cannot formulate it; because, like the stupid slave, he has only our voice to claim him?

Yes, from us to the animal, there is Justice; justice is done by us alone, in the name of reason, sole judge of the measure of relations. One who causes a sentient creature to suffer without obvious necessity; who abuses it as a thing, who does not make it as happy as possible, who does not make it progress, is not only a cruel being but often a coward who abuses his intellectual superiority to violate the most sacred right: that of the weak; it is the same man who, in ancient Rome, threw his slave into the pond to fatten his moray eels, who tied him up in his vestibule with this sign above his head: beware of the dog!

Who used the breast of the female slave, like a ball, to stick her pins in her toilet. I will add, to complete my thoughts and justify my way of seeing things, that in my eyes, there is not an act or a human relationship that should not be submitted to the notion of duty correlative to that of right: because our species is not humanity apart from this double notion; it would no longer be anything but an animal family: consequently, our relations with nature cannot be excluded from the theory of law.

I apologize to my adversaries for differing with them on this serious point of Philosophy: but they will understand that a woman who does not consent to be a male daguerreotype must dare to speak her mind and have confidence in her reason.

 

 

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Part F.

 


In the first two orders of relationships that we have considered, right and duty tend to establish harmony or order through the Hierarchy.

For what? Because right and duty are, as notions and systematization, creations of human reason which, legitimately, subordinates everything to itself.

Because in each of us, this subordination must exist, since each of us has only one reason.

Because apart from humanity on this globe, there can only be relations of subordination between it and the lower beings.

Between our faculties of different species, there must be a Regulator;

Between us and the lower creatures there must still be a regulator;

In the first case, it is the individual reason that governs;

In second it is the reason for humanity.

But can this law of Hierarchy rationally apply to the relations of human beings among themselves?

No; for they are of the same species;

For each of them has his reason, his moral sense, his free will, his will;

For each of them is only an element of collective destiny; a being incomplete from the point of view of this destiny, and has no more the faculty of classifying others than others of classifying him;

For each of them is progressive in himself and in his race, and can, by culture, rise from the lowest rank to the highest in respect of utility.

That at the origin of societies, man, barely distinguishing himself from other species on which he established his law by cunning and force, transported this brutal notion into human relations, confounded the weak fellow of spirit or body with the animal, believed himself, by the same title, right of possession over them, and recognized as free and equal to him only the strong and the intelligent, things could not happen otherwise perhaps be.

That more developed, humanity transformed the notion of law on the model of the government of itself, consequently establishing the hierarchy and subordinating certain classes, certain castes, to the individuals whom it considered as the representatives of reason and Justice, things could not possibly have happened otherwise.

But we, French, children of disciples of a philosophy which establishes its axioms, no longer on the a priori of fantasy, but on the facts and the laws of nature and of humanity, we conceive perfectly today now that the human being cannot be compared either to a thing or to any of our faculties;

That being of identical species, we have an identical rights;

That it is only a question of balancing our individual rights;

That the law of balance is equality;

That equality is Justice;

That apart from equality, there is no longer either reason or Justice, but the reign of force, a return to the brutality of nature which is so inferior to us through the absence of morality and goodness.

In the light of this Revelation of the conscience of France, the notion of society is transformed. Society is no longer a hierarchy, it is no longer a being of reason, embodied in one or a few; it is something far grander and more beautiful; it is an organized group of human beings, associated to mutually guarantee the exercise of their individual right, to facilitate the practice of duty, to exchange their products equitably, and to work together for the progressive realization of human destiny.

It is a collective autonomy, governed by the law, synthesis of reason, Justice, and Love for all.

The state is no longer anything but a set of social organs, functioning for the benefit of all.

Power is no more than a function delegated by the national will.

Conceived in this way, society progressively develops four forms of law: Natural law, Civil law, Political law, and Economic law.

 

 

 

 

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Part G.

 

 

By Natural law, Society can no longer mean the satisfaction of animal needs alone: ​​for the human being is not a brute: he is an Intelligence, a reason, a Justice; it is also art, industry, and freedom.

Therefore, by natural law, every human creature is free, and autonomous, must develop its faculties, and exercise its aptitudes without any other limit than equality, or respect for the law identically the same in others.

When the General reason will be sufficiently penetrated with these notions, it will not only formulate laws to also protect the life, honor, the legitimate property of the associates, against whoever would penetrate into the sphere of others to disturb or destroy it; but moreover, it will place at the disposal of all, the means of development which it will be able to generalize: such as the teaching of sciences, arts, industry, laws, etc. She will understand that it is her duty and her interest.

 

Its a duty, because society pursues the realization of a destiny of which each of its members is a part;

His duty, because all co-partners have an equal right to social benefits;

Its duty, because they are united to guarantee the enjoyment of their rights, and to facilitate the practice of duty.

It's interesting because by working to make possible for each of its members the power to govern themselves well, it ensures the security of all.

The general reason, modified by the modern notion of society, will profoundly reform its Civil law. Before this law, all individuals of legal age and of sound mind will be recognized as capable of participating in acts of civil life, of disposing of their work and their fortune. Society will content itself with safeguarding the interests of minors and prohibited persons and preventing the insertion in any contract of a clause prejudicial to the dignity of the person and the exercise of his rights. All functions being under the jurisdiction of Civil law, the company will respect the manifestation of the activity of each and will submit public functions to election or competition.

Work is our great duty: it is through it that human destiny is realized; it is through it that well-being is produced; he is the father of all good, the helper of virtue. The general reason, enlightened by the economic science that is being formed, will understand that work is a right, since to live, for the social individual, is a right; it will therefore transform the great national workshop, and will gradually succeed in introducing equality, that is to say, equity, in the field of exchange. Economic law does not exist: humanity will draw it from its suffering entrails and from its brain, as it has drawn all the others.

Everyone must have equal natural, civil, and economic rights, and an equal interest in the fact that the laws and institutions are for the benefit of all, and has, by this very fact, an equal right to contribute to political acts which safeguard his other rights, and with the help of which the progress made in the minds are embodied in social facts. The general reason, well imbued with these truths, will organize, under the law of equality, the competition of all in political life, a competition by which only one can repute oneself free, by obeying only the law that one has. Made or consented to.

Such is the ideal of the society founded by the French Revolution; an ideal which confounds all races, and all peoples before the law.

With the help of this higher ideal, the glorious Credo of the faith of our fathers, we understand that the individuals, the nations, and the superior races are not masters, but elder brothers, and educators; that they commit cowardice, a crime against humanity when they oppress and brutalize for the benefit of their selfish passions, those who reason entrusts to them as pupils;

We understand that, before the dogma of perfectibility, all their hypocritical pretexts for domination fall;

Finally, by violating the rights of their fellows, they deny their own; by treating them as if they were brutes, they place themselves in the rank of brutes whose only law are force and cunning.

If the notion of right is transformed with the social ideal, how much, at the same time, is clarified, purified, and elevated the sublime notion of duty?

Respect the rights of others equal to those we recognize;

To protect anyone who is oppressed when society is not present or has not provided;

Ensure respect for his dignity, his right; for not to punish the one who, knowingly and maliciously, waits there, is to make oneself an accomplice of his bad passions, of the evil he does, of that which he can do as a result of the impunity of his first fault;

To work, not only in his particular interest but with a view to the collective destiny, observing, as far as he is in himself, good faith and equity in the exchange of products;

Strive to know one's own capacity, not to take pride in it, which is childish; but in order to render all the services of which one is capable, to the great body of which one is an organ;

To contribute according to his strengths, his intelligence, to the progress of others, to the establishment of Justice, to the popularization of true and moral ideas, to the destruction of false ideas;

To consider oneself as a teacher of the ignorant, as a vigilante, as one in solidarity with all;

To Love the fatherland in humanity and the family in the Fatherland;

Above all, cherish Justice.

Such are the principal duties of those who accept the new ideal; of those who are no longer slaves, but organs of the society founded and sealed with their blood by our glorious fathers.

And one cannot fulfill these duties without working to harmonize oneself: admirable economy of spring, which harmonizes our own improvement with the general good, Love and respect for our fellow men and order.

 

 

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Part H.

 
 

Many times, readers, we have pronounced the word, Liberty; I hope no one has misunderstood the meaning we attribute to it. freedom is not the power to do whatever one wants and is able to do: that is license; freedom is the exercise of the faculties within the limits of equality or of the identical right in others, within the limits of duty.

To what extent does society have the right to interfere in the government of ourselves and limit our freedom?

It is when by acts, and only by acts, we transport into the sphere of others the disturbance which we have established in our own: for we cannot do so without violating someone's right.

As for acts that harm only ourselves, society does not have to regulate them by law. What it must do is educate us, and organize itself in such a way that we do not need to commit them.

It is also of course understood that in speaking of equality, we have not pretended that we are equal or even equivalent in physical, intellectual, moral, and functional value: not only do we all differ; but again, in the same series of works, some are excellent, others are mediocre, and still, others are inferior.

 

It is not because you are equal in beauty, in strength, in intelligence, in goodness, in talent, neither among yourselves nor with your brothers, ladies, that you are equal to them and to your sisters before the inheritance. : it is because, on this point, we are willing to recognize that you belong to the human species and that, without losing public opinion, your parents can admit that you are, in their tenderness, the equals of your gentlemen. Brothers.

 

Similarly, it is not through equality of value that socialized human beings must be equal in law, it is because all, however humble they may be, have the similar right to develop and to act freely to fulfill their destiny.

Let us, therefore, work for the creation of freedom from inequality. Let us embody these holy things in law, social institutions, general practice, and our practice.

Let each one draw from the same medium the elements that suit his nature. One will be Cedar or Oak, the other a modest shrub or a simple flower, it is possible, it is even probable, but no one will have the right to complain; for each will be and do all that he can be and do.

There will no longer be, as today, which is the crime of some and the fault of all, human creatures who die without knowing themselves, without having been able to develop and render the services to which their organization called them.

History tells us: the exercise of law is so linked to progress, that new progress has been made by humanity, each time the society of the free has enlarged its ranks to admit newly emancipated people or each time that it has proclaimed the recognition of new rights and brought its institutions into line with them.

By folly or by selfishness, let us not remain deaf to this teaching: for we are guilty of all the evil and all the misfortune that is produced by the absence of freedom and equality, and guilt is like the top of the high’s buildings: it attracts lightning.

 

 

 

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Part I.


And now, readers, let us summarize this chapter.

The notions of right and duty, which are inseparable, can only be conceived by human beings.

The fundamental right, for each of us, is the legitimate claim that we must develop ourselves, to exercise our faculties and to possess the things by means of which and on which they act.

The fundamental duty, correlative to the right, is the use of our faculties and their stimulants with a view, and in the sense of destiny.

All destiny is given by all the faculties: according to this principle, that of our species is to found a society based on justice and Goodness; to satisfy all our needs by the creation of science, industry, art; to harmonize ourselves individually and collectively, and to gradually harmonize our globe as we bring order within ourselves.

The right, for each one of us, includes not only material life, the freedom of our movements, our security, but the development of our reason, our intelligence, our morality, our Love, our productive faculties, our autonomy.

Our duty is to employ all our faculties for the realization of our task, a task which is devolved to us by our attractions, which is specified and directed by reason, made possible by education, and which is accomplished by activity and freedom.

 
In our relationships with ourselves, as a set of faculties; legitimate right of each of them to exercise; duty of all to submit to the approval and control of reason, in each of us principle of order.

In our relations with nature, right of possession conceded by our needs and by our title of harmonizing power of the globe; duty to sentient creatures who are in our power.

In our relations with our fellow men, reciprocal right and duty; limitation of individual freedom by individual freedom, equal in others, or formation of the balance of similar rights in equality. Accordingly, recognition of the following principles:

Every human being is, by right, free, and autonomous, up to the limit of the freedom and autonomy of others;

Every human being has an equal right to the intellectual elements acquired in society, and in general institutions;

Every human being has the right to fair remuneration for work which provides for his needs;

Every adult human being has the same civil dignity. All public functions are accessible to him without any other formality than the competition, or the choice of co-partners.

In none of its stipulations, the human being cannot treat of his person, of his freedom. His commitments are personal.

Every human being, being equal to others before natural, civil and economic law, is, in principle, equal to others before political law, created to safeguard precedents, to bring down into social facts the progress made in ideas, and to prevent let no one submit to the law that he did not contribute to formulating.
 

Such are, ladies, the principles of modern law, proclaimed from the height of this new Sinai, France, our dear and glorious homeland, amid the lightning and thunder of our Revolution.

Ah! Blessed be this Revolution which said to the slave: Lift up your brow, break your chains: for you are a man. In front of me, genius of modern Humanity, there are no blacks, whites, yellows, coppers; there are no Germans, English, French, Italians, there are human beings, all equal before the Law, all equal before me, because they are all equal before reason.

Get up all, men bent under the scepter, under the crook, under the whip or under the stick, because you have no masters; the elders among you are only your teachers, and your education will come to an end.

Get up, all of you, brother men: listen to my voice which cries out to you: the human being cannot be happy and virtuous, cannot be worthy and useful, cannot be a human creature, finally, only through individual freedom in the collective equality.

And they stupidly cursed this holy voice which came to substitute justice for force, to recall humanity to a sense of its dignity, to put it back on the path of its sublime destinies!

It was stupidly cursed, this consoling voice which promised happiness through work and freedom; which electrified from pole to pole all that suffered, all that cried, all that immense herd of men and women placed on the rank of brutes by the odiously selfish and perverse passions of a handful of privileged people!

Holy Revolution, let them hurl their last anathemas at you, the disciples of the dying principle! You shouted: Universal deliverance! They persist in blocking the road to Progress; but humanity will pass over their bodies to obey his genius: for Woman is beginning to understand.

 

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The First Chapter continued>

 

   
     
   
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
     
   
     
   
     
   
 
 
   
     

 

English translation copyrighted 2nd April 2023.

 

The Book of Women’s Rights. 1860.