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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.


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A FRENCH VIEW OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS


[Probably from the Allahabad Pioneer.]

WITH a little book entitled Les Femmes qui Tuent et les Femmes qui Votent, Alexandre Dumas, fils, has just entered the arena of social and political reform. The novelist, who began by picking up his Beatrices and Lauras in the social gutter, the author of La Dame aux Camélias and La Dame aux Perles, is regarded in France as the finest known analyst of the female heart. He now comes out in a new light; as a defender of Woman’s Rights in general, and of those women especially whom English people generally talk about as little as possible. If this gifted son of a still more gifted father never sank before to the miry depths of that modern French realistic school now in such vogue, the school headed by the author of L’Assommoir and Nana, and so fitly nicknamed L’Ecole Ordurialiste, it is because he is a born poet, and follows the paths traced out for him by the Marquis de Sade, rather than those of Zola. He is too refined to be the rival of writers like those who call themselves auteurs-naturalistes and romanciers-expérimentalistes, who use their pen as the student in surgery his scalpel, plunging it into the depths of all the social cancers they can find.

Until now he idealized and beautified vice. In the work under review, he defends not only its right to exist under certain conditions, but claims for it a recognized place in the broad sunlight of social and political life.

His brochure of 216 pages, which has lately been published in the shape of a letter to J. Clarétie, is now having an immense success. By the end of September, hardly a week after its appearance, it had already reached its sixth edition. It treats of two great social difficulties—the question of divorce, and the right of women to participate in elections. Dumas begins by assuming the defence of the several women who have recently played an important part in murder cases, in which their victims were their husbands and lovers.

All these women, he says, are the embodiment of the idea which for some time past has been fermenting in the world. It is that of the entire disenthralment of the woman from her old condition of slavery, created for her by the Bible, and enforced by tyrannical society. All these murders and this public vice, as we as the increasing mental labour of women, M. Dumas takes to be so many signs of one and the same aspiration—that of mastering man, getting the best of him, and competing with him in everything. What men will not give them willingly, women of a certain class endeavour to obtain by cunning. As a result of such a policy, he says, we see "those young ladies" acquiring an enormous influence over men in all social affairs and even in politics. Having amassed large fortunes, when older they appear as lady-patronesses of girls’ schools and of charitable institutions, and take a part in provincial administration. Their past is lost sight of; they succeed in establishing, so to say, an imperium in imperio, where they enforce their own laws, and manage to have them respected. This state of things is attributed by Dumas directly to the restriction of Woman’s Rights, to the state of legal slavery women have been subjected to for centuries, and especially to the marriage and anti-divorce laws. Answering the favourite objection of those who oppose divorce on the ground that its establishment would promote too much freedom in love, the author of Le Demi-Monde bravely pushes forward his last batteries and throws off the mask.

Why not promote such freedom? What appears a danger to some, a dishonour and shame to others,

Will become an independent and recognized profession in life—une carrière à part—a fact, a world of its own, with which all the other corporations and classes of society will have to reckon. It will not be long before everyone will have ceased to protest against its right to an independent and legal existence. Very shortly it will form itself into an integral, compact body; and the time will come when, between this world and the others, relations will be established as friendly as between two equally powerful and recognized empires.

With every year women free themselves more and more from empty formalism, and M. Dumas hopes there will never again be a reäction. If a woman is unable to give up the idea of love altogether, let her prefer unions binding neither party to anything, and let her be guided in this only by her own free will and honesty. Of course it is rather to review an important current of feeling in an important community than to discuss au fond the delicate questions with which M. Dumas deals, that we are taking notice of his book. We may thus leave the reader to his own reflections on this proposed reform, as also in reference to most of the points raised.

A certain Hubertine Auclaire, in France, has lately refused to pay her taxes on the plea that political rights belonging to man are denied to her as a woman; and Dumas, with this incident as a text, devotes the last part of this brochure to a defence of Woman’s Rights, as eloquent, impressive and original as other portions which will less bear discussion . He writes:

In 1847 political reformers thought it necessary to lower the electoral franchise and distribute the right of vote according to capacity.

That is, to limit it to intelligent men. The government refused, and this led to the Revolution of 1848. Scared, it gave the people the right of universal suffrage, extending the right to all, whether capable or incapable, provided the voters were only men. At present this right holds good, and nothing can abolish it. But women come, in their turn, and ask: "How about us? We claim the same privileges."

What [asks Dumas] can be more natural, reasonable and just? There is no reason why woman should not have equal rights with man. What difference do you find between the two which warrants your refusing her such a privilege? None at all. Sex? Her sex has no more to do with it than the sex of man. As to all other dissimilarities between us, they go far more to her credit than to ours. If one argues that woman is by nature a weaker creature than man, and that it is his duty to take care of and defend her, we will answer that hitherto we have, it seems, so badly defended her that she had to pick up a revolver and take that defence into her own hands; and to remain consequent with ourselves we have to enter the verdict of "Not guilty" whenever she is caught in that act of self-defence.

To the plea that woman is intellectually weaker than man, and is shown to be so by sacred writings, the author sets off against the biblical Adam and Eve, Jacolliot’s translation of the Hindû legend in his Bible dans l’Inde, and contends that it was man, not woman, who became the first sinner and was turned out of Paradise. If man is endowed with stronger muscles, woman’s nerves surpass his in capacity for endurance. The biggest brain ever found—in weight and size—is now proved to have belonged to a woman. It weighed 2,200 grammes—400 more than that of Cuvier. But brain has nothing to do with the electoral question. To drop a ballot into the urn no one is required to have invented powder, or to be able to lift 500 kilogrammes.

Dumas has an answer for every objection. Are illustrious women exceptions? He cites a brilliant array of great female names, and contends that the sex in which such exceptions are to be met has acquired a legal right to take part in the nomination of the village maires and municipal officers. The sex which claims a Blanche de Castille, an Elizabeth of England, another of Hungary, a Catherine II and a Maria Theresa, has won every right.

If so many women were found good enough to reign and govern nations, they surely must have been fit to vote. To the remark that women can neither go to war nor defend their country, the reader is reminded of such names as Joan of Arc, and the three other Joans, of Flanders, of Blois, and Joan Hachette. It was in memory of the brilliant defence and salvation of her native town, Beauvais, by the latter Joan, at the head of all the women of that city, besieged by Charles le Téméraire, that Louis XI decreed that henceforth and for ever the place of honour in all the national and public processions should belong to women. Had woman no other rights in France, the fact alone that she was called upon to sacrifice 1,800,000 of her sons to Napoleon the Great, ought to ensure to her every right. The example of Hubertine Auclaire will be soon followed by every woman in France. Law was ever unjust to woman; and instead of protecting her, it seeks but to strengthen her chains. In case of crimes committed, does law ever think of bringing forward as an extenuating circumstance, her weakness? On the contrary, it always takes advantage of it. The illegitimate child is given by it the right to find out who its mother was, but not its father. The husband can go anywhere, do whatever he pleases, abandon his family, change his citizenship, and even emigrate, without the consent or even knowledge of his wife.

She can do nothing of the kind. In case of a suspicion of her faith, he can deprive her of her marriage portion; and in case of guilt may even kill her. It is his right. Debarred from the benefits of a divorce, she has to suffer all, and finds no redress. She is fined, judged, sentenced, imprisoned, put to death, and suffers all the penalties of law just as much and under the same circumstances as he does, but no magistrate has ever thought of saying yet:

"Poor weak little creature! . . . Let us forgive her, for she is irresponsible, and so much lower than man!"

The whole eloquent, if sometimes rhapsodical plea in favour of women’s suffrage is concluded with the following suggestions:

First, the situation will appear absurd; but gradually people will become accustomed to the idea, and soon every protest will die out. No doubt at first the idea of woman in this new rôle will have to become the subject of bitter criticism and satire. Ladies will be accused of ordering their hats à l’urne, their bodices au suffrage universel, and their skirts au scrutin secret. But what then? After having served for a time as an object of amazement, then become a fashion and habit, the new system will be finally looked upon as a duty. At all events it has now become a claimed right. A few grandes dames in cities, some wealthy female landowners in provincial districts, and leaseholders in villages, will set the example, and it will be soon followed by the rest of the female population.

The book winds up with this question and answer:

I may, perhaps, be asked by some pious and disciplined lady, some fervent believer in the idea that humanity can only be rescued from perdition by codes and gospels, by the Roman law and Roman Church: "Pray, tell me, sir, where are we driving to with all these ideas?" ", madame! . . . we go where we were going to from the first, to that which must be, that is, the inevitable. We move slowly onward, because we can spare time, having some millions of years yet before us, and because we have to leave some work to do for those who are following us. For the present we are occupied in enfranchising women; when this is done we will try to enfranchise God. And as soon as full harmony will have been established between these three eternal principles—God, man and woman—our way will appear to us less dark before us, and we will journey on the quicker."

Certainly the advocates of Woman’s Rights in England have never yet approached their subject from this point of view. Is the new method of attack likely to prove more effective than the familiar declamation of the British platform, or the earnest prosing of our own great woman’s champion, John Stuart Mill? This remains to be seen; but certainly for the most part the English ladies who fight this battle will be puzzled how to accept an ally whose sympathy is due to principles so frightfully indecorous as those of our present author.

H. P. BLAVATSKY.




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List of Articles
1888
1890!
African Magic
Ahkoond of Swat
An Astral Prophet
An Unsolved Mystery
Ancient Doctrines Vindicated
Ancient Magic in Modern Science
Animated Statues
Answers to Queries
Antiquity of the Vedas
Apollonius Tyaneus and Simon Magus
Are Chelas "Mediums"?
Are Dreams but Idle Visions?
Arya Samaj
The Babel of Modern Thought
Black Magic in Science
Blessings of Publicity
Bright Spot of Light
Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism
Buddhism in America
Can the Double Murder?
Can the Mahatmas Be Selfish?
Case of Obsession
Chelas
Chelas and Lay Chelas
Chinese Spirits
Christmas Then and Christmas Now
Civilization, the Death of Art and Beauty
Claims of Occultism
Classification of "Principles"
Count St. Germain
Cross and Fire
Cycle Moveth
Denials and the Mistakes of the Nineteenth Century
Devil's Own-Thoughts on Ormuzd and Ahriman
Diagnoses and Palliatives
Dialogue on the Mysteries of the After Life
Dialogues between the Two Editors
Do the Rishis Exist?
Does Vaccination Prevent Smallpox?
Dr. Beard Criticized
Dreamland and Somnambulism
Drift of Western Spiritualism
Dual Aspect of Wisdomhe
Echoes from India. What is Hindu Spiritualism?
Eddy Manifestations
Editorial Comment
Editorial Appendix
Eighth Wonder
Electric and Magnetic Affinities between Man and Nature
Elementals
Elementaries
Esoteric Axioms and Spiritual Speculations
"Esoteric Buddhism" and its Critic
"Esoteric Buddhism" and the "Secret Doctrine"
Esoteric Character of the Gospels
Fakirs and Tables
Fall of Ideals
Fate of the Occultist
Few Thoughts on Some Wise Words from a Wise Man
Force of Prejudice
Fragments
French View of Women's Rights
Genius
Grand Inquisitor
"H. M." and the Todas
H. P. Blavatsky on Precipitation and Other Matters
H. P. Blavatsky's Masonic Patent
Have Animals Souls?
Hindu Widow-Marriage
History of a "Book"
History of a Planet
Holmes Controversy
Holmes Controversy(continued)
Huxley and Slade
Hypnotism
Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination
Imperfections of Science
Indian Metaphysics
Intro-Version of Mental Vision
Is Creation Possible for Man?
Is Denunciation a Duty?
Is Foeticide a Crime?
"Is it Idle to Argue Further?"
Is Suicide a Crime?
Is the Desire to "Live" Selfish?
Is Theosophy a Religion?
"Isis Unveiled" and the "Theosophist" on Reincarnation
Isis Unveiled and the Vishishtadwaita
"It's the Cat!"
Jews in Russia
Kabalah and the Kabalists
Kabalistic Views of "Spirits"
Karmic Visions
Knout, The. As Wielded by the Great Russian Theosophist
Kosmic Mind
Lack of Unity among Spiritualists
Lamas and Druses
Land of Mystery
Last Song of the Swan
Le Phare de L'Inconnu
Leaven of Theosophy
Leo Tolstoi and His Unecclesiastical Christianity
"Let Every Man Prove His Own Work"
Life and Death
Life Principle
Literary Jottings on Criticism, Authorities, and Other Matters
Lodges of Magic
Logic versus Peripatetic
Madame Blavatsky on "The Himalayan Brothers"
Magic
Mahatmas and Chelas
Memory in the Dying
Mind in Nature
Missing Link
Missionaries Militant
Mistaken Notions on "The Secret Doctrine"
Modern Apostles and Pseudo-Messiahs
Mote and the Beam
Mr. A. Lillie's Delusions
My Books
Mysterious Race
Nature's Human Magnets
Negations of Science
New Cycle
(New) York against Lankester. A new War of the Roses
"Not a Christian"!
Note on Eliphas Levi
Note on "Memory"
Notes on some Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets
Notice to Mediums
Number Seven
Number Seven and Our Society
Occult or Exact Science?
Occult Phenomena
Occultism or Magic
Occultism versus the Occult Arts
Old Hindu Ships
Old Philosophers and Modern Critics
On Pseudo-Theosophy
On The New Year's Morrow
"Oppressed Widowhood" in America
Organisation of the Theosophical Society
Origin of Evil
Our Cycle and the Next
Our Three Objects
Paradoxical World
Parting Words
Persian Zoroastrianism and Russian Vandalism
Pertinent Queries
Pertinent Questions
Philosophers and Philosophicules
Popular Idea of Soul-Survival
Posthumous Publication
Practical Occultism
Pralaya of Modern Science
"Precipitation"
Premature and Phenomenal Growths
Progress and Culture
Protest
Psychic and Noetic Action
Psychic Warning
Psychology - The Science of the Soul
Puzzle from Adyar
Puzzle in "Esoteric Buddhism"
Queries and Answers
Questions Answered about Yoga Vidya
Re-Classification of Principles
Rebuke
Recent Progress in Theosophy
Reincarnations in Tibet
Reply to Our Critics, A. Our Final Answer to Several Objections
Republican Citizen
Retort Courteous
Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry
Russian Atrocities
Sacred Tree of Kum Bum
Science of Life
Science of Magic
"Scrutator Again"
Search after Occultism
Seeming "Discrepancies"
Seventeen-Rayed Sun-Disc
She Being Dead Yet Speaketh
Signal of Danger
Signs of the Times
Six-Pointed and Five-Pointed Stars
Society Without a Dogma
Some Scientific Questions Answered
Spiritual Progress
Spiritualism and Occult Truth
Spiritualism and Spiritualists
Spiritualism in Russia
Spiritualistic Tricksters
Star-Angel-Worship in the Roman Catholic Church
Stars and Numbers
Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan
Substantial Nature of Magnetism
Tetragrammaton
Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits
Theory of Cycles
"Theosophical Mahatmas"
Theosophical Society: Its Mission and Its Future
Theosophists and their Opponents
Theosophy and Spiritualism
Theosophy or Jesuitism?
Thoughts of the Dead
Thoughts on the Elementals
Tibetan Teachings
Tidal Wave
"To the Readers of 'Lucifer'"
Todas
Transmigration of the Life Atoms
Trickery or Magic?
Universe in a Nut-Shell
Views of the Theosophists
War in Olympus
Warning to Mediums
Was Cagliostro a "Charlatan"?
Washing the Disciples' Feet
What Are the Theosophists?
What is Occultism?
What is Theosophy?
"What Is Truth?"
What of Phenomena?
What Shall We Do for Our Fellow-Men?
What's in a Name? - Why the Magazine is called "Lucifer"
Which First - the Egg or the Bird?
Why Do Animals Suffer?
Why I Do Not Return to India
Why the "Vahan"?
"Word with Our Friends"
World-Improvement or World-Deliverance
Year is Dead, Long Live the Year
Year of Theosophy
Yoga Philosophy
 
Acknowledgement