Anniversary Post: La Citoyenne and Hubertine Auclert

Hubertine AuclertOn this day in 1881, the first issue of La Citoyenne was published. It was a bi-monthly feminist newspaper published by Hubertine Auclert. It ran for ten years until Auclert couldn’t afford to publish it anymore. The struggle for women’s rights has been a long one in France. The first signs of it appeared during the French Revolution. But Rousseau so dominated the thinking of that time that no one took it seriously.

Let me make a quick diversion. Conservatives so often say things to me like, “Of Course it was wrong to X, but that’s all solved now and there is no need to do Y.” This annoys me. I’m kinda sorta okay with conservatives being awful. But I’m not okay with them claiming ownership of things in the past that they would have been totally against! Every conservative I ever talk to thinks it’s obvious that women should be able to manage their own finances and stand for election or vote. They just don’t see any of the problems today. They see the demands today as unreasonable. Just like the conservatives of 1881 found these now “obvious” rights unreasonable.

Hubertine Auclert

Hubertine Auclert was a major figure in French struggle for women’s equality. And part of that was moving to Algeria in 1888. What is it about Algeria and feminism? I wrote about Isabelle Eberhardt before. But it seems to come down to what Hubertine Auclert noticed when she was there: that the way the French authorities treated the Algerians was the same way that they treated women back in France.

Of course, it wasn’t just that. It was also the case that the French government colluded with Arab males to suppress the education of women, and generally push a conservative approach to Islam. It’s interesting how common this kind of thing is and how those who supported regressive beliefs are just shocked when it ends up harming themselves.

Of course, Hubertine Auclert did not live to see French women get the right to vote. She would have had to live into her late 90s for that. Women didn’t get the right to vote in France until 1944. And this is especially embarrassing, it was under the Provisional Government of the French Republic. You know: the temporary one they set up after the Allies pushed the Germans out?! Pathetic. But Auclert did live long enough to see married women get the rights to their own paychecks. So there’s that.

After La Citoyenne, it was quickly replaced by Le Journal des femmes. And then in 1897, La Fronde was started — the first French feminist daily, written and edited entirely by women.

8 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: La Citoyenne and Hubertine Auclert

  1. The sexism that women face these days is so insidious. It is not the ‘you don’t deserve the right to vote” although there are a few men out there saying this that women faced so surprisingly little time ago. Or that women cannot have a bank account in her name or custody of the children in the event of the divorce.

    It is the endless “you don’t matter,” the dismissing of our accomplishments, efforts and views. The metaphoric patting on the head. Being ignored in meetings, being told our use of the word “just” is wrong. The fact that when I go on a news websites I see multiple articles telling the woman candidate still in the Presidential race how to run her campaign and next to none on the men. (There are some, not as many though.) The petty stuff that is so hard to fight against.

    But if it was not for women like her and Ms Eberhardt, we probably would not be here trying to decide if that sexist joke is worth causing a fight over.

    • There’s no contradiction between celebrating how far we’ve come and pointing out how far we have to go.

      There was a recent article that talked about how “cool” was still defined by what men liked. I thought that was an interesting insight. Being one to push back against what others think is cool or to argue that the un-cool is really totally cool, I feel like people give me a listen in a way that they mightn’t if I were a woman. But more than that, I don’t much care that other people are totally wrong because as a boy, I was raised with that limited kind of ubermensch idea where I define tastes. Now that could just be me, but I’ve seen it too much to think that there isn’t a whole lot of sexism in it.

      Or look at the common way that gay men and lesbians are portrayed. Other than in male sexual fantasies, it’s the gay men who get the “cool” points. It’s all worth thinking about.

      • You are cool? Oh wait, yeah you are. I am so mean.

        And yes, men dictate what is cool. Which is why your taste in music is considered instantly good and mine is obviously one step above liking Nickelback. I am kidding of course but the point remains.

        Women do beat themselves up a lot more than men do internally for stuff that happens and worry a lot more if people like them or in my case, tolerate my existence. I wonder if it is something to do with our hormones as I read an article once by a person who transitioned from female to male and he said that what would have bothered him as a woman stopped after a certain point in the hormone treatments.

        But at you said, something to think about.

        • There are biological components to it too. Testosterone has its good points as well as its bad points. The problem is that society dictates. Girls are taught to follow the rules. Boys are taught to bend if not break the rules.

          • I really want to go back in time to find out what exactly caused societies in general to decide that men were the default. I think it is probably tied up with property.

            • I suspect it was a slow process. But from what I know, it was related to the neolithic revolution — people settling down. So you are probably right: property.

              • Yep-“I conquered this land, therefore I want to work on it and pass it on to my children. But in order to ensure that it is my kid, I need to control this woman…”

                • Which is something that mail reptiles and insects do as well. But humans are more equal physically. I find it fascinating that creatures like the T-Rex had the women dominant and the males had to worry about getting eaten.

                  We can never forget that we are animals and we have less control than we think.

                  But the idea of property doesn’t help.

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