C4SS Media presents Voltairine de Cleyre‘s “The Gates of Freedom“, read and edited by Nick Ford.
The Gates of Freedom is probably one of Voltairine’s least known essays even though it’s probably one of her longer and more important ones. This essay is in much the same spirit of her classic essay, Sex Slavery but instead of talking about the general phenomenon, here Voltairine mostly focuses on arguments that justify this phenomenon. Add to that specificity a further specificity with it being about scientific arguments and not legalistic or theistic and you’ve got much of this essay. Past that Voltairine has a few notable passages, one imagines the life of a wife under later 19th century marriage and the terror and dread she routinely feels with a life that isn’t hers but her husband’s. Another passage laments the role of religion in women’s mind and the role religion has generally played in reinforcing women’s oppression at the hands of men. Add to this numerous references to Voltairine’s dislike of “natural rights”, references to Story of an African Farm and generally dispelling pernicious sexist and supposedly “scientific” ideas at that time and you’ve got a powerful essay filled with much of Voltairine’s inspiration for opposing the oppression of women.