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Women's Activism in the Revolution of 1848/49: Louise Otto's Statement of Principles in the First Issue of the Women’s Newspaper (April 21, 1849)

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I believe that I have now said everything that needs to be said about this paper’s goals – but unfortunately I must agree with those who whisper in my ear (reversing the usual saying), ‘being positive is not enough’: I must also add something negative – meaning in this case: I must protect myself and this newspaper against misunderstandings. –

I cannot make up words to do this:
I invoke my life, my work as a writer since 1843 – anyone who is familiar with any of it knows that I am not one of the so-called ‘emancipated’ women, one of those who have brought discredit upon the words ‘women’s emancipation’ by degrading woman into a caricature of man. And let me reassure those who do not as of yet know anything about me that it is precisely through this paper that I hope to correct the error that often prompts the most talented women to satisfy their striving for intellectual freedom by succumbing to unbridled passion. –

And so no one can lump me or the sisters working together with these ‘emancipated ones,’ though we shall be proud to be called successors of that noble virgin of Bethany, of whom the shining exemplar of all humanity said: “The part that Mary has chosen is best!” –

And so I hereby call upon all like-minded writers, male and female, who support the cause of women’s rights, to support me in this endeavour by submitting contributions.

I also ask those of my sisters who are not writers to send me reports – first of all the oppressed, the poor working women, even if they do not feel skilled at stylish writing; if necessary, I shall be happy to edit their simple statements – but it is important to me that their concerns, above all, are placed before the public, for in this way they can be helped first.

I invite all who think alike to take out subscriptions so that this endeavour may succeed!

Louise Otto

Source: FRAUEN-ZEITUNG [WOMEN'S NEWSPAPER], vol. 1, 1849, Großenhain/Saxony, no. 1 (Saturday, April 21, 1849).

Original German text reprinted in Margrit Twellmann, Die Deutsche Frauenbewegung im Spiegel repräsentativer Frauenzeitschriften. Ihre Anfänge und erste Entwicklung. Quellen, 1843-1889 [The German Womens' Movement as Reflected in Representative Women's Journals: Its Beginnings and First Developments. Sources 1843-1889]. Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain, 1972, pp. 34-35.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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