The Book of Women's Rights.




English translation copyrighted
 2nd April 2023.





Part A.



Women of Progress, I address the last part of this book to you. Give ear to my words in the name of the general good, in the name of your daughters and your sons.

You say: morals are corrupted; the laws, as far as our sex is concerned, need reform.

It's true: but do you think that noticing the evil is enough to cure it?

You say: as long as the woman is a minor in the City, the State, and Marriage, she will be so in the social workshop, she will be forced to live off the man: that is to say to debase him in s lowering itself.

It's true: but do you believe that noticing these things is enough to remedy our abasement?

You say: the education received by both sexes is deplorable from the point of view of the destiny of humanity.

It's true: but do you believe that affirming this is enough to improve, to transform the methods of education?

Can words, complaints, and protests change anything?

It is not lamenting that is necessary: ​​it is action.

It is not only to ask for justice and reform that one must: it is to work oneself for reform, it is to prove by one's works that one is worthy of obtaining justice; it is to resolutely take the contested place; in a word, it is to have intelligence, courage, and activity.

On whom, then, would you have the right to rely on, if you abandon yourselves?

Is it on men? Your negligence and your silence have partly discouraged those who supported your Law: they hardly defend you against those who, to oppress you, call to their aid all ignorance, all despotism, all selfishness, all the paradoxes they themselves despise when it comes to their sex.

They insult you, they outrage you, they deny you or they pity you, in order to enslave you, and you are hardly indignant at it!

When will you be ashamed of the role to which you are condemned?

When will you respond to the appeal that intelligent and generous men have made to you?

So when will you stop being male photographs, and will you decide to complete the Revelation of Humanity, by finally making the Word of Woman heard in Religion, Justice, Politics and Science?

What to do? Tell yourself.

What to do, ladies? Hey! What women of faith do. Look at those who have given their soul to a dogma; they organize themselves, teach, write, and act on their environment and on the young generations, in order to make triumph the faith which has the adhesion of their conscience. Why don't you do the same?

Your rivals write books imbued with supernaturalism and individualistic morality, why don't you write some that bear the stamp of rationalism, moral solidarity, and a holy faith in Progress?

Your rivals are founding houses of education, training teachers, in order to seize new generations for the benefit of their dogmas and their practices, why don't you do the same for the benefit of new ideas?

Your rivals organize workshops, why don't you imitate them?

Wouldn't what is lawful to them be lawful to you?

Could a government that claims to be governed by the principles of and issued from Revolutionary law, possibly have the thought of hindering the direct heiresses of the principles laid down by 1889, while it would let those who are more or less hostile to them act freely? None of you admit such a possibility, do you?

What to do!

You must find a newspaper to support your claims.

You have to form an encyclopedic committee, which writes a series of treatises on the principal branches of human knowledge, in order to enlighten women and the people.

You must find a polytechnic institute for women.

You must help your working sisters to organize themselves into workshops according to more equitable economic principles than those of today.

You must facilitate the return to the good of the lost women who will ask you for help and advice.

You must work with all your might for the reform of educational methods.

And, in the presence of such a complex task, you ask: what to do?

Ah! if you have heart and courage, adult women, rise!

Stand up! And that the most intelligent, the most educated, and those who have time and freedom constitute the Apostolate of Women.

That around this Apostolate, line up all the women of Progress, so that each one serves the common cause according to its means.

And remember, above all remember that unity is strength.


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Part B.





unity is strength, yes; but on condition that it be based on common principles, not on devotion to one or more people. because people pass and can change: the principles remain.

so, your nucleus of crystallization, ladies, must be less the apostolate than the principles it professes, than its credo, its profession of faith; for it needs one to rally minds and hearts and direct them towards a single goal.

allow me, ladies, to try here the outline of this credo, which we will divide into six titles and twenty-four articles.

law of humanity.

the law of humanity is progress.

we call to progress the development of the individual and of the species with a view to the realization of an ideal of justice and happiness, an ideal which is less and less imperfect and which is the product of human faculties.

the law of progress is not purely fatal, like the laws of the world; it combines with our own law or free will; whence it follows that humanity can, for a certain time, like the individual, remain stationary and even retrograde.

individual, his law, his mobiles.

each of us is a set of faculties destined to form harmony under the presidency of reason or the principle of order.

reason recognizes that each of the faculties has the right to exercise itself with a view to the good of the whole, and to the extent of the equal right posed by the other faculties.

each of us has as a spur to his actions the desire for well-being and happiness, and must propose as an end the triumph of our freedom over what the general laws of the universe have that hurt our organism; and, in the moral order, the triumph over the incessant tendency of our selfish instincts to sacrifice the higher instincts of justice and sociability.

the destiny of the individual is accomplished by the development of his faculties, work, and freedom inequality.

good and bad physics.

suffering is only a disagreement put in us either by our fault, or by that of a bad environment, or by the solidarity of blood. it is a product of our inadequacy, our mistakes or those of our predecessors in life.

suffering and evil are stimulants to progress, through the struggle one sustains to heal from it and guarantee oneself and one's successors from it: if one did not suffer, one would not progress, because nothing would hold awakens and in action the intelligence and the other faculties.

to resign oneself to the suffering that one can avoid without committing moral evil is to weaken one's being; it is an evil, an error or cowardice.

to impose upon oneself sufferings, except those which the fight against the exaggeration of inclinations requires, is an act of madness which tends to disharmonize our being, and makes it unfit to fulfill its function in humanity.

moral evil and moral good.

evil and good, in the moral sense, are not substances, beings in themselves, but the expression of relations deemed true to false between the act of our free will and the ideal of good posed by conscience.

the soul of a nation is good and just: which is proven by these two facts: the fall of civilizations and empires by the weakening of the moral sense; decadence, by this fact alone, despite literary, artistic, scientific and industrial progress.

the weakening of the moral sense is the result of the absence of a lofty ideal of good and justice and produces the increasing predominance of the selfish faculties over the social faculties.

the struggle is in us by the very constitution of our being, because there is antagonism between the instincts which tend to our own satisfaction, and those which bind us to our fellows; because, on the other hand, the first are given to us in all their harsh vigor, while the others are given to us only in germ so that we may have the glory of raising ourselves from animality to humanity. from these facts it follows that virtue, that is to say, the exercise of free will and moral force against the encroachments of selfish faculties, is and always will be necessary to keep them within their legitimate limits and prevent them from oppressing the higher faculties.

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The Seventh Chapter continued>




English translation copyrighted 2nd April 2023.


The Book of Women’s Rights 7. 1860.