Maria Deraismes (17 August 1828 – 6 February 1894) was a French
author and major pioneering force for women's rights.
Born in Paris,
Maria Deraismes grew up in
Pontoise in the city's
northwest outskirts. From a prosperous middle-class family, she was
well educated and raised in a literary environment. She wrote several
literary works and soon developed a reputation as a very capable
communicator. She became active in promoting women's rights.
In 1866 a feminist group called the Société pour la Revendication du
Droit des Femmes began to meet at the house of André Léo. Members
included Paule Minck, Louise Michel, Eliska Vincent,
Élie Reclus and
his wife Néomie, Mme
Jules Simon and Caroline de Barrau. Maria
Deraismes was persuaded to participate.
Because of the broad range of opinions, the group decided to focus on
the subject of improving girls' education. In 1870 Deraismes
founded L'Association pour le droit des femmes with Léon Richer. She
helped fund Richer's paper Le Droit des femmes.
Following the ouster of Napoleon III, Deraismes understood the new
politics of the day meant a more moderate approach under the Third
Republic in order for feminism to survive and not be marginalized by
the new breed of male power brokers emerging at the time. Deraismes's
work brought her recognition in
Great Britain and she became an
influence upon American activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who met her
Paris in 1882.
Maria Deraismes was initiated into
Freemasonry on 14 January 1882,
when it was still rare for a woman to be admitted into that
Fraternity. She joined "Les Libres Penseurs" Lodge, of Pecq, a small
village to the west of Paris. A year later, she and Georges Martin
organized a Masonic lodge that allow both men and women as members.
From this co-masonic Lodge developed the Grande Loge Symbolique
Ecossaise "Le Droit Humain", which grew into the International Order
Freemasonry Le Droit Humain.
With support of other suffragettes such as Hubertine Auclert,
Deraismes worked to achieve political emancipation for women. She
stood as a symbolic candidate in the elections of 1885.
On her death in 1894, Deraismes was interred in the Montmartre
Cemetery. Her complete writings were published in 1895. Much
information on her work can be found at the Bibliothèque Marguerite
Durand in Paris.
To honor her memory, a street in
Paris was named for her. In addition,
a statue was erected in a small park. The town square in St. Nazaire
was also named in her honor.
^ "Le Petit Parisien", Obituary, 7 February 1894, Gallica, accessed 23
^ McMillan 2002, p. 130.
^ Bidelman 1976, p. 94ff.
Bidelman, Patrick Kay (Summer 1976). "The Politics of French Feminism:
Léon Richer and the Ligue Française pour le Droit des Femmes,
1882-1891". Historical Reflections / Réflexions Historiques. Berghahn
Books. 3 (1). JSTOR 41298677.
McMillan, James F. (2002-01-08).
France and Women, 1789-1914: Gender,
Society and Politics. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-58957-9.
"MARIA DESRAISMES". Droit Humain. Archived from the original on
2015-07-29. Retrieved 2014-10-23.
ISNI: 0000 0001 0717 9857
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