tribune des femmes.jpeg
tribune des femmes.jpeg


La Tribune des femmes, and its earlier iterations, La femme libre, Apostolat des femmes, La femme d’avenir, La femme nouvelle Affranchissement des femmes, was founded and edited by the Saint-Simonians Jeanne-Désirée Veret (1810-1891) and Marie-Reine Guindorf (1812-1836) between August 1832 and April 1834, when it ceased publication. The newspaper was based at Guindorf’s first-floor apartment in the rue du Caire, and printed and distributed by August Auffray. The newspaper’s founding coincided with the female members of the Saint-Simonian movement being removed from its hierarchy as its leader, Prosper Enfantin (1796-1864) and the male members of the movement shifted toward an increasingly theoretical and mystical understanding of their mission and withdrew to an all-male commune of about forty men at Enfantin’s family home at Ménilmontant in the outskirts of Paris. Veret and Guindorf saw the La Tribune, which operated as a co-operative, as complementing the more theoretical and mystical work of the male members of the movement by publishing articles written by women offering practical and pragmatic responses to the pressing social, economic, and political problems of the day. La Tribune was written and managed by women who were themselves mostly from the working and artisan classes. It combined socialist and feminist concerns, seeing the two as indivisible, and thereby making it one of the first working-class feminist newspapers of its kind. The newspaper’s cosmopolitan perspective meant that it was concerned with the state of women’s and working-class emancipation throughout Europe, and not just in France. Between 1833 and 1834 it published numerous articles on the state of female emancipation in England and France and engaged in a lively debate with the English Owenite newspaper, The Crisis.

At the heart of La Tribune’s feminist critique of established social relations was a democratic ideal of equality, and most arrestingly, an ethic of care that emerged from the experience of women. The Wollstonecraftian inspired feminist critique – that private vice corrupts public virtue – was the compass to La Tribune’s editorial orientation. La Tribune argued for the independence of women from men, equality in marriage, including rights over property and decisions over children, the establishment of nurseries and universal schooling for children as ways of promoting female independence and equality between the sexes and classes. It saw the neglect of education was one of the important sources of women’s misery, and, in a direct response to lacunas in the July Monarchy’s 1833 law on public education, argued for the establishment of public schools for girls, especially working-class girls.

La Tribune offered a wide-ranging and inspiring critique of established domestic and social relations that its authors contended were defined by a base selfishness and crude instrumentalisation of social relations that were the root causes of a ‘moral decrepitude that threatens to annihilate in humanity all ties, and fellow feeling’. Against this, the women writers for La Tribune developed ideas of solidarity between both women of different classes, and between men and women workers, championing ‘universal association’ – a term with Fourierist connotations – as the means by which they would attain their goal of achieving ‘a unified’ and equal society and polity.