Jeanne Deroin, “Prospectus” of l’Opinion des Femmes (1848)

The women who understand the greatness of their mission, in the present and in the future, feel deeply that it is for them not only a right, but a duty, to take part in all the acts of social life, and to express their opinion on all the questions that relate to the organization of society.
Until now, men alone have ruled the destinies of the human race. Women have been excluded from all the religious and political assemblies, where the great principles on which societies are founded are discussed; and human intelligence, split by the pride of man, has only been able to glimpse a part of the truth. The religious traditions have remained misunderstood, because men have wished to raise the impenetrable veil that envelops them all by themselves.
The dogmas of all the religions, explained by man alone, in an incomplete fashion, have produced error, superstition, and the crimes of fanaticism.
Rebelling against his own work, man has fallen into atheism; he misunderstood God and his holy law, because he could not understand it alone.
The same aberration has produced analogous results in the political systems; the right of the peoples has been based on the right of the strongest, justice on privilege, the liberty of the few on the slavery of the greatest number, order on despotism and morality on respect for false theories and incomplete laws, oppressive and improvident.
Wars of invasion, civil discord, and all the miseries that degrade humanity are the consequences. Endless political convulsions testify to the suffering state of societies, and prove that man alone cannot organize and reveal the approach of a new era.
The time has come when we must realize the promise that God has made to woman, by telling her that she is called to triumph over the spirit of evil.  That is to say, that she will triumph over selfishness by the power of her love and devotion.
Daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, women have the same interest as men in social happiness.
In the face of these threatening hatreds, which prepare new civil discords for us, all those who have a generous heart and elevated sentiments recognize that the moment has come for them to demand the right to accomplish all their duties, to intervene in order to calm all the irritated minds, and to make everyone understand that the temple of fraternity cannot be built on a bloodstained foundation.
It is time, finally, that the opinions of women come to bear their full weight in the balance of the interests of humanity, and make them tilt in favor of the oppressed.
Truth has never flowed from the mind of man; it will flow from the minds and hearts of men and women laboring towards the same goal and with the same love.
We appeal to all men and women of heart and intelligence to aid us in founding a publication, the principle aim of which will be to develop all the consequences of the divine principles on which our future institutions must be based. We will constantly demand, not only as a right, but as a duty and with dedication, the civil and political equality of women, because we have the deep conviction that social organization cannot be complete and lasting without the cooperation of the two sexes.
We will summon with all our will and all our efforts the reign of the law of God on earth.
We want to recognize, explain and reconcile all the principles of eternal truth contained in all the religious and social beliefs of the past and of the present, in order to arrive at the unity of doctrine which will satisfy every conscience, and we will unite all in a single communion.
Finally, we want to establish the temple of the future, the great religion of fraternity and universal solidarity, the bases of which were posited by Christ, within which we will no long have heresies or outcasts, where all will be called and all will be among the elect.
We sincerely accept the Republic, and we want, progressively and peacefully, all the consequences of the three great principles that it has proclaimed at the hour of its advent.
Our politics will be a politics of peace, of labor, and of reconciliation among all parties; we will use all our influence to gather them into one, the party of universal fraternity.
We will debate principles, opinions and facts, with fairness, without ever accusing individuals or intentions. We will respond to the serious objections that are addressed to us, and that polemic will always be, on our part, honest and dignified: writings by women should give every example of moderation and respect for conventions.
Education, on which rests the future of the human race, we be for us the object of serious study, and we will constantly demand that we occupy ourselves with concern for the development of all the physical, moral and intellectual faculties of the children of both sexes, and that all be given equal education, a scientific, artistic or industrial education, depending on their vocation.
The Opinion des Femmes will concern itself with the sciences, fine arts, literature, and industry, in eminently religious and moral aspects, and with regard to practical utility.
Our critique will be a meticulous study; we will give kindly advice and well-earned praise.
We will welcome the complaint of the laborer who asks for work and credit, instead of an unproductive handout; we will support the just demands of the oppressed.
We will constantly seek the promptest and most effective means possible of improving the condition of all suffering beings
We will prepare for the reconciliation of the rich and poor, by all the means in our powers.
We will constantly labor to reconcile all opinions and all interests.
Finally, we will ensure that this publication contains both theory and practical means, and that it isat once a high education and good work.
Jeanne DEROIN.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]