Jeanne Deroin (
31 December 1805– 2 April 1894) was a French socialist feminist.
Paris, Deroin became a seamstress. In 1831, she joined the followers of utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon. For her required statement of her belief in their principles, she wrote a forty-four page essay, in part inspired by Olympe de Gouges' " Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen", in which Deroin argued against the idea that women were inferior to men, and likened marriageto slavery. Despite this, in 1832, she married Antoine Ulysse Desroches, a fellow Saint-Simonite, but refused to take his surname"Deroin, Jeanne", " Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"] and insisted on taking a vow of equality in a civil ceremony. [http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/dh/deroin.htm Jeanne Deroin] , Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions]
Later in 1832, Deroin was part of a group of working women who, in protest at the Saint-Simonites hierarchical and religious nature left the group, and became supporters of the socialist
Charles Fourier. They began publishing " La Femme Libre", the first newspaper for women in France, for which she wrote under the pseudonym Jeanne Victoire.
Deroin was a prominent figure during the Revolutions of 1848, campaigning on the rights of women and against the exploitation of children and harsh treatment of convicts. With other Fourierist women such as
Pauline Roland, Eugenie Niboyetand Desirée Gay, she launched a socialist feminist newspaper and club, the " Voix des Femmes". She personally led calls for women's suffrage. The group was soon forced to close, but Deroin worked with Gay to found the Association Mutuelle des Femmesand "Politique des Femmes" newspaper. The organisation gave free courses to working women. "Politique des Femmes" soon found itself unable to raise a 5,000 franc security bond required by the government. Deroin replaced it with "Opinion des Femmes", but this lasted only one issue.
In January 1849, Deroin relaunched "Opinion des Femmes". She continued her campaigns, and in particular argued against the
anarchistphilosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Deroin stood in the Department of the Seineat the French legislative election, 1849, becoming the first woman in France to stand in a national election. She stood for the Comité Démocrate Sociale, but received only fifteen votes, in part because she would not have been permitted to take a seat. [ [http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/whm2003/deroin.html Jeanne Deroin] , Sunshine for Women] She then became the Deputy President of the Société Populaire pour le Progression et la Réalisation de la Science Sociale, which campaigned for a peaceful social revolution.
In "Opinion des Femmes" last issue, of August 1849, Deroin called for the formation of the
Association Fraternelle et Solidaire de Toutes les Associations, seeing it as a chance to transform the loose co-operative movementinto a revolutionary general unionwhich could organise work through its affiliated associations, eliminate wages and control the economy.
The National Assembly gave her and Gay 12,000 francs to form an association of women seamstresses making ladies' underwear, and a fraternal association along a watered-down version of her proposal was initially able to link together more than one hundred existing organisations. Deroin was elected to its Central Committee, alongside Roland. However, the Association was gradually repressed by the Government, and in May 1850, its offices were raided, forty-six members being arrested.
Deroin was imprisoned until June 1851, using this time to campaign further on women's rights. She wrote to groups including the
Women's Rights Conventionin Massachusetts and the Sheffield Female Political Association, giving advice on tactics. On her release, she returned to teaching, but in 1852, fearing re-arrest, she travelled to Londonwith her two youngest children. She lived in Shepherd's Bush, where she worked teaching and embroidering. She also published three women's almanacs and remained active in supporting workers' co-operatives.
In 1862, Deroin founded a
boarding schoolfor children of French exiles, aiming to admit even the poorest children, but the project did not prove financially viable. In 1871, she was granted a small pensionby the new Government of France. Although she remained in London, she kept up a correspondence with socialist feminists and women's suffrage campaigners in France, such as Léon Richer, Madame Arnaudand Hubertine Auclert.
In the 1880s, Deroin joined the Socialist League, and its founder
William Morrisdelivered the oration at her funeral.
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