Takver's Initiatives. P.O. Box 1078, Brunswick M.D.C, Victoria, 3056, Australia

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Personalising one's politics when speaking of voluntary contracts in the 1880's required radical adjustments to one's views of sex, marriage and women's role. Because these are areas of great personal fearfulness and guilt, even communist males found it difficult going.

David Andrade also appeared to lose interest in this area after 1887-88. He probably wrote 'Free Love: Explained and Defended' and he certainly wrote:

The economic fetters being removed and woman becoming the equal of man, her wretched dependence upon him will have vanished, and she will be sovereign over her own body, her own mind and her own passions.

Only allow natural selection in the sexual relationship, and the fittest systems will survive. Let each one choose his or her own methods and take the natural consequences of those methods. That is liberty. That is free love.

He made this second statement in the first ASA debate after the Club's establishment and found the free thinkers 'did not take too kindly' to his advocacy; he then pointed out that free love did not exclude monogamy with which he was personally satisfied.

Regular references appear in Honesty to the Lucifer circle in the U.S., members of which were enjoying 'autonomous marriages" and being jailed by vice crusader Comstock for this and other manifestations of freedom. Women's involvement with controversial matters was often disguised, in both hemispheres, through the use of male titles while many pseudonyms in Honesty have proved impregnable. Women were not excluded from MAC activities but so rarely formed part of the audience that female attendance rated a mention each time it occurred. The usual custom was to refer only to the female speaker'. The known facts about relevant women can be quickly stated, unfortunately. As one example, Miss Wigraf, ostensibly a founding member of the MAC, made no other contribution to anarchism or secularism that I know of. Miss Lucraft, said to be a relative of a member of the First International, may be disguised as 'Mr Lucraft' in a Club debate on 'The Malthusian Theory'. David Andrade's wife Emily set the type for The Melbourne Riots, in 1892, but whether from choice, duty or compulsion is not clear. The female characters in this novel of David Andrade's are pasteboard and far less substantial than the male figures, though this isn't saying a great deal. He clearly spent more time on the economic detail than the personal. Robert Beattie has provided some of the very little information about life behind the scenes with Honesty:

After wheeling bricks, digging holes, poring over ledgers, or plying the needle all day...we adjourned to our printery...lt was an edifying sight to see the horny-handed navvy and the palefaced sewing girl working side-by-side at the same frame.

Alice Winspear, although not an MAC member, can be referred to in this context. Married to the editor of The Radical, she set type and provided at least one scintillating article in favour of economic, sexual and marital voluntarism. She found too, her life did not match her hopes:

Let us have freedom - freedom for both man and woman - freedom to earn- our bread in whatever vocation is best suited to us, and freedom to love where we like, and to live only with those whom we love, and by whom we are loved in return.

She suicided when her husband's jailing left her with more children to feed than she could manage on her own.

'Chummy' Fleming wrote about the mixed group which came together in the Co-operative Home at Albert Park, when the MAC moved there from the city:

I recall a female friend, who could spontaneously speak about certain male qualities which she admired, yet single out certain other qualities which she admired in another man, hence compelling her to love both of them yet in totally different ways. Her life in any case was logical and unaffected.

Similarly, he provides no names when referring to other women who joined him in the early 20th century:

We even had on our side two very elegant women magnificent speakers and also intrepid fighters for their ideas, who withdrew suddenly for reasons of procedure.

Such are the barriers to acknowledging many of our female forerunners. Even when names and public statements are clear, as with the important Creo Stanley and Rose Summerfield, both as yet unrecognised by feminist historians, self-censorship is clearly being practiced and conjecture on the part of the reader is necessary. But see other items in this collection.

Bob James 1986

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Last modified: February 2, 1998

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