Below is an edited version of our translation of Olympe de Gouge’s Declaration of the Rights of Women read by Francesca Fiorentini in Ep. 246 of Rumble with Michael Moore.
DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
Olympe de Gouges
Hero of the French Revolution
Men, are you capable of being fair? A woman is asking: at least you will allow her that right. Tell me, what gave you the sovereign right to oppress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the creator, examine nature in all its grandeur, and give me, if you dare, a pattern for this tyrannical power.
Reconsider animals, consult the elements, study plants. Search, excavate and discover, if you can, sexual characteristics in the workings of nature: everywhere you will find them intermingled, everywhere cooperating harmoniously within this immortal masterpiece.
Only man has cobbled together a rule to exclude himself from this system. Bizarre, blind, puffed up with the crassest ignorance, he wants to command, like a dictator, a sex that is blessed with every intellectual faculty; he feigns to rejoice in the revolution and demands its equal rights — and then to say nothing more.
THIS IS OUR DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND THE FEMALE CITIZEN
Mothers, daughters, sisters, representatives of the Nation all demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Given that ignorance, disregard or the disdain of the rights of women are the only causes of public misfortune and the corruption of governments, we have decided to make known in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of women; from this day forth, the sex that is superior in beauty as it is in courage during the pains of childbirth recognises and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of Women and the Female Citizen.
Women are born free and remain the equal of men in rights.
The purpose of all political organizations must be the protection of the natural and unchallengeable rights of Woman and Man: these rights are liberty, property, security and above all the right to resist oppression.
The principle of sovereignty is vested primarily in the Nation, which is but the union of Women and Men: no body, no individual, can exercise authority that does not explicitly emanate from it.
Liberty and justice exist to render unto others what is theirs; therefore the only limit preventing women from exercising their natural rights is the perpetual tyranny of men that opposes it. These limits must be reformed by the laws of nature and reason.
The law must embody the will of the majority.
All Female and all Male citizens, being equal in law, must be equally entitled to all public honours, positions and employment according to their capacities and with no other distinctions than those based solely on talent and virtue.
Women and men are subject to the same rule of law, and if accused of a crime, are entitled to the same due process of law.
None must fear expressing their opinions however fundamental.
The free expression of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of women. Any Female citizen can therefore freely, and truthfully declare ‘I am the mother of your child’ without a barbarous prejudice forcing them to hide the truth.
Guaranteeing the rights of women and the female citizen will be a great benefit: this guarantee must be instituted for the good of all and not just to the benefit of those individuals to whom it is entrusted.
Property belongs to both sexes, united or separated; for each it is an absolute and sacred right.
All tax-paying citizens have the right to hold accountable every public agent of the administration.
No society can have a constitution if rights are not guaranteed, or the separation of powers not determined; the constitution is worthless if the majority that make up the Nation — women! — have not participated in its drafting.
We women Declare this on this date, the 15th of September, in this Year of Our Lord, 1791.