Etta Lubina d’Aelders

Etta Lubina Johanna Palm d’Aelders (1743 – 1799) received a good education, which was remarkable for a girl in her age in a non-aristocratic family. Her marriage was not happy and her husband disappeared to the East Indies. Later, through all her connections of high circles  and her lovers she ended up in Paris living near the Palais Royal and was recruited for the French secret service.  Her missions allowed her to move up into the political life where she became a feminist who was outspoken during the French Revolution. This lead to her giving an address called the Discourse on the Injustice of the Laws in Favour of Men, at the Expense of Women to the French National Convention on 30 December 1790.

In 1795 the French revolutionary armies invaded the Netherlands and Etta became suspect Etta was put under arrest in the fortress of Woerden together with her old spymaster Van de Spiegel. She was released at the end of 1798, but her health had suffered so much that she died the following March.

Like many female activists, Etta  did not explicitly articulate a program for equal political rights for women, though that would no doubt have been her ultimate aim. Instead she worked to bring about a change in morals and customs that would in turn foster a more egalitarian atmosphere for women. She gave this address at a meeting of the Confederation of the Friends of Truth, the first political club to admit women as full members.

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