Dora Marsden

Freewoman and Egoist
1882 – 1960

Democracy is a weed of the tuber order. When its visible leaves are lopped off, the underground root remains strong as before. Proof that the worship of democracy is just the apotheosis of tyranny, that democracy is tyranny erected into a cult, does not make patent the absurdity of the conclusion that democracy is the gospel of the free.

The New Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 3, July 15th 1913

The New Freewoman is not for the advancement of Woman, but for the empowering of individuals - men and women; it is not to set women free, but to demonstrate the fact that “freeing” is the individual’s affair and must be done first-hand, and that individual power is the first step thereto; it is not to bring new thoughts to individuals, but to set the thinking mechanism to the task of destroying thoughts - to make plain that thinking has no merit in itself, but is a machine, of which the purpose is not to create something, but to liberate something: not to create thoughts but to set free life impulses.

The New Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

"Would not your Cause be better promoted… ?" Dear friends and readers, The New Freewoman has no Cause. The nearest approach to a Cause it desires to attain, is to destroy Causes, and for the doing of this it finds its reward and incentive in its own satisfaction.

The New Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

The universe for us is divided into “Ourselves” and the “Others.” The Others are all mixed up one with the rest; like a returning bank holiday picnic, they are linked together all in a row. It is impossible to tell where one begins and the other leaves off. It is consequently impossible to differentiate.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

One point at least in our “attitude” has been caught - our “commonness.” It is cardinal, and we must insist on it. We are “common.” This does not mean, either on our lips, or on others, that we are like everybody else. Tout au contraire! It means that we are egoistic, individual, selfish. To be “common” with the “fine” means to be in the bonds of selfish motives and to see others in the same - not to be under sway of the fine concepts; the “noble” emotions; to be running amok of the whole cultural structure. And so we are. We are seeking our individual satisfactions, and find instruction in tracing out the ridiculous figure cut by those who are gadding about pretending to seek other peoples.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

Moreover we believe that the individuals of the future, if they are worth anything at all, will be as well able to look after themselves, as we are to look after ourselves. In short there may be glorious and radiant individuals in the dim future as there have been in the past: but they are no concern of ours. Our joy is not in them: their beauty is not ours.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

If men and women would try to turn their attention away from the infinitesimally small differences which distinguish them, as handsome people have to turn their attention away from their good looks, we should soon have heard the last of Man and Woman spelt with capitals, and the day of the individual would be at hand. And the measure of the individual would be not sex, but individual power.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

Do we then repudiate sex, one asks? Again the questioner confuses the accidental outer with a real inner. Inner feeling, attracted impulse, occasionally enters the sphere of sex. But in itself feeling is sexless. It is not necessary to repudiate feeling or to harbor it; we can please ourselves regarding it.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

Pshaw! The fact is that we have had far too much of this “skirt” nonsense. We are weary of the sound of it. “Woman Movement” forsooth. Why does not someone start a “straight-nose movement,” or a “mole movement,” or any other movement based upon some accidental physical contoration? They would be as sensible as we who have run a “Skirts movement” which is the essential meaning of “woman movement.”

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913

Our quarrel with things in general is difficult to state in words for the precise reason that the biggest part of our quarrel is against words - against “thoughts.” It is a quarrel with human culture, with the kinds of labels put on things - or rather on living activities.

The Freewoman, Volume 1 Number 2, July 1st 1913