No Authority But Oneself

The Anarchist-Feminist Philosophy of Autonomy and Freedom

Voltairine de Cleyre was a 19th century American anarchist feminist and major advocate for women’s liberation who fiercely opposed marriage, the church, the state and any other social institutions that infringed on individual autonomy. She lived her life according to her principles, and believed that independence for women would only come “by making rebels wherever we can.” In this article, Presley explores de Cleyre’s writings, with a focus on her most radical essay, “Sex Slavery.” Presley makes an argument for de Cleyre’s relevance today, noting that many of her observations and critiques still apply to today’s society, despite what equalizing advances have been achieved.

Originally published in issue 27.