Corinne Chambers

Early 20th Century Anarchist Women on Limits to Legality, Workers’ and Animal Rights

By, Corinne Chambers, Member of the International Centre for Anarchist Studies in Marseille


The writings of anarchist women have mostly been forgotten. However, many of them took a keen interest on the links between human and non­human liberation, as well as the usefulness and limits to the legal recognition of struggles. Marie Huot, a French feminist, anti­vivisectionist, individualist anarchist militant, as early as 1887, wrote, in an article on “The Rights of Animals”, about the limits to the Grammont Law, which penalised domestic animal abuse. Although bulls used in bull­fighting were explicitly made part of this category in 1895, the lack of enforcement of this law culminated in the 1901 attacks on bull fighters which she plotted and defended in the press. In 1912, Sophie Zaikowska, an anarchist nutrition scientist writes about the co­optation of May Day protests, and ends her article explaining how reasoning their needs as consumers, and especially adopting a vegan diet can change the condition of the proletariat as a class in a way that demand for workers’ rights cannot. In 1922, Clara Wichmann, an anarcho­syndicalist criminologist living in the Netherlands, writes an article about the legal status of animals. Many other anarchist women, in their writings centred on human liberation, also use comparisons in their writings which can help us shed some light on the links between human and non­human liberation. Their lack of trust towards the proposed legal means of social change can be compared and contrasted with anarchist women’s views on the contemporaneous so called woman question, especially in Rebecca Edelsohn’s article “Hunger­Striking in America”, in the French­language women’s syndicalist newspaper L’Exploitée (1907­08), and in Chinese anarcha­feminist He­Yin Zhen’s writings made available in Liu, Karl, and Ko’s The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential texts in Transnational Theory. This should help us define a vision of liberation which does not depend on the granting of rights, which would reinforce and legitimise the authority able to grant th century anarchist women on limits to legality, workers’ and animal rights.


Corinne Chambers is an anarchist translator who is currently working on an anthology of anarchist women from the 1900s­1930s, as well as preparing a Masters’ degree at the Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès in France. She is a member of the CIRA in Marseille (International Centre for Anarchist Studies).