Charles Fourier on “the progress of women”


As a general proposition: Social advances and changes of periods are brought about by virtue of the progress of women towards liberty, and the decadences of the social order are brought about by virtue of the decrease of liberty of women.

Other events influence these political vicissitudes; but there is no cause which so rapidly produces social progress or decline as a change in the condition of women…..To sum up, the extension of privileges to women is the general principle of all social progress.

This is quoted from DESIGN FOR UTOPIA  Selected Writings of Charles Fourier.  It’s a 1971 reprint of a 1901 book.  The translation seems a bit odd to modern ears.  This is probably just because it was done over a hundred years ago.

The sentence I left out spoke of open and closed harems.  I think what he alludes to is women going inward, toward their family situations versus going outward toward life and the world.

Eventually, I’ll write on Fourier at greater length and detail.  He was a hero to the surrealists and Andre Breton dedicated a book to him, Ode to Charles Fourier.

What interests me here is his sweeping and uncompromising view of women’s rights.  I believe that he’s totally correct in this.

If the success of the world is powerfully tied up in how much power it gives to women, the fact that it’s failed at this is tied to our troubles and disasters.  Just look at all the violence, exploitation and oppression word wide!  There’s plenty to go around.

Country by country, I think even “the best” aren’t giving as much respect, power and freedom to women as they should be.  It’s not a “cure all” perhaps, but it’s a direction to follow.  The road not taken could be taken after all.

When the ship’s sinking, some still cry “Woman and children first!”  Some say it and do something else.  Some don’t even say it and just worry about the men.  Others say it and let their deeds match their words.  Some don’t say a thing but still let all the women in the lifeboats before they start letting the men in.

More rights for women now!  Everywhere!  How can we bring this about?  Ah, there’s the rub!  Yet it’s obvious that we could do a lot better.  Our future depends on it.


2 Responses to “Charles Fourier on “the progress of women””

  1. Don Handy Says:

    It’s amazing how much women are still held-back in our society. Their pay is still about 2/3 that of men. Although they make-up about 1/2 of voters in this country, their representation in legislatures is still a pittance.

    Their equality shouldn’t be simply part of some utopian vision, but a recognized failure, with universal support for righting the wrongs.

    Getting Bikini Kill and Le Tigre onto radio playlists might be one way to start opening dialogue/raising consciousnesses…

  2. A World Run by Artists! « for art and artists Says:

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