Document 5: "Jeanne-Victoire," (attrib. to Jeanne Deroin) "Appel aux Femmes" (Appeal to Women), La Femme Libre (The Free Woman), 1 (1832): 1-3. English translation by Anna Wheeler originally published in Robert Owen's The Crisis, 15 June 1833. Reprinted in Susan Groag Bell and Karen M. Offen, eds., Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, Volume I, 1750-1880 (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983), pp. 146-47.
Attributed to Jeanne Deroin, this appeal appeared in 1832 in a women's newspaper, La Femme Libre, which was published by Saint-Simonian women in 1832 and continued as Apostolat des Femmes in 1833. Like other feminist writings of the era, it called for equality within marriage.
At the moment when all peoples are aroused in the name of Liberty and the proletariat calls for its own emancipation, shall we women remain passive spectators of this great moment for social emancipation that is taking place before our eyes?
Is our own condition so happy that we ourselves have no demands to make? Until now woman has been exploited and tyrannized. This tyranny, this exploitation must cease. We are born free, like man, and half the human race cannot, without injustice, be in servitude to the other half.
Let us then understand our rights; let us understand our power. We have the power of attractiveness, the power of charms--an irresistible weapon. We must know how to employ it.
Let us refuse as husbands any man who is not sufficiently generous to consent to share his power; we want no more of this formula, Woman, submit to your husband!
We demand equality in marriage. We prefer celibacy to slavery!
We are free and equal to man; a powerful and just man [Enfantin] has so proclaimed, and he is understood by many who follow him.[A]
Honor to these generous men! A halo of glory awaits them in the future. Let us lift our voices, let us claim our rights as citizens in the new temple, which recognizes rights for women equal to those for men.
Universal association is beginning; among nations there will no longer be relationships other than industrial, scientific, and moral; the future will be peaceful. No more war, no more national antipathy, love for all. The reign of harmony and peace will be established upon earth, and the moment has arrived when woman should have her place upon it.
Liberty, equality--that is to say, a free and equal chance to develop our faculties: this is the victory we must win, and we can succeed only if we unite in a single group. Let us no longer form two camps--that of the women of the people and that of privileged women. Let our common interest unite us. To this end, let all jealousy among us disappear. Let us honor merit, let us give precedence to talent, on whichever side it appears.
Women of the privileged class--you who are young, rich, and beautiful, you who think yourselves happy when, in your salons, you breathe the incense of flattery lavishly bestowed by those who surround you; you reign, but your reign is of short duration; it ends with the ball! When you return home you are slaves once again; you find there a master who makes you feel his power, and you forget all the pleasures you have tasted.
Women of every class, you can exercise a powerful action; you are called upon to spread the notion of order and harmony everywhere. Turn to the advantage of society-at-large the irresistible charm of your beauty, the sweetness of your convincing words, which can make man march toward the same objective.
Come inspire the common people with a holy enthusiasm for the immense task that lies at hand.
Come calm the warlike ardor of young men; the elements of grandeur and glory are in their hearts. But they see grandeur and glory only as helmets on their heads and lances in their hand. We will say to them that it is no longer a matter of destroying, but of building anew.
The ladies of Rome awarded wreaths to the warriors; we will weave wreaths of flowers to encircle the heads of the peaceable and moral men who will lead humanity toward a social goal and who will enrich the globe by means of science and industry.
A. Barthélemy Prosper (1796-1864) was a French leader in the Saint Simonian movement. In 1832, with Enfantin's imprisonment for fraud, the unity of the Saint Simonians disintegrated. For more on Enfantin and the French movement, see "Saint Simonians."
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