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The Εμανοϕ αήον of Women: Argentina 1876 Translated by the Palouse Translation Projed1 On May 7,1876, a young writer of growing reputation, Maria Eugenia Echenique (1851-1878), pubUshed the essay "Brushstrokes" in La Ondina del Plata, the leading women's newspaper of the day. In this as in her other essays, Edienique presented arguments in favor of women's emancipation, particularly advocating that women receive a modern, scientific education and that they be trained for economic self-sufficiency. The essay caught the eye of Josefina Pelliza de Sagasta (1848-1888), also a well-known writer, who opposed emancipation. Her reply opened a debate between the two women that lasted several months and was widely read and commented on. Echenique's views were pioneering in their understanding of women's role in the national economy. She also was a fervent believer in the sciences as the ultimate proof of religion and as a source of power for women. Pelliza, on the other hand, believed women to be divine creatures because of their ability to create life. For her, entry into higher education, business, or politics would be a step down into an immoral shabbiness fit only for men. Pelliza was also disturbed by scientific challenges to Christian belief. The two debaters could not help talking at cross purposes: one viewed women's emandpation as an economic and legal issue, whereas the other viewed it as a private matter threatening to traditional famüy structure. Today's readers will find many familiar topics here, such as chüd care, housework, egaUtarian love, employment for unmarried women, the role of the family in nationhood, and the conflict between religion and sdence. Both Echenique and Pelliza died young, the former probably of cancer and the latter of uremia. Pelliza wrote a very tender obituary for Echenique in La Alborada del Plata (February 3, 1878), and, ironicaUy, incorporated many of Echenique's economic and legal arguments into her own book, Conferencias (1885), although she still opposed poUtical emancipation . A note about the translation: whüe we have tried to maintain each writer's style as much as possible, we have sometimes changed punctuation , the order of dauses, and paragraphing to make the meaning clearer in English. This is particularly true of PelUza's essays; even for a century tolerant of individuaUstic punctuation and syntax, PeUiza's is eccentric to an extreme. The strings of clauses with vague antecedents are PelUza's, not © 1995 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 7 No. 3 (Fall) 1995 Palouse Translation project 103 ours. AU essays were translated by the Palouse Translation Project. The debate has been edited for length. * * * * * "Brushstrokes" by Maria Eugenia Echenique (May 7,1876) I have held my pen in hand for five minutes, and I still do not know what I am going to write about. There are so many ideas and feelings overwhelrning me at this moment that I remain in doubt about the choice of a specific point to serve as the topic for an article. I could easüy allow myself a pleasant moment of innocent entertainment that still would have a certain utility—surrendering to purely imaginative games, tracing with my pen beautiful images capable of stirring sweet emotions in the heart without compromising men's morality or dignity, writing a dream, a meditation, or a fantasy drawing all the soul's sensations into a world of poetry—that would satisfy the need that my spirit feels to communicate and open the gate to vast fields of thought. But to write a fantasy when the women of this century have need of our meager education and of resources useful to them in the difficult circumstances through which they are passing; when they have need of the cooperation of Argentine women writers in the great work of their regeneration, begun recently in this part of America, that brings to each of us serious obUgations to fulfill in the social and moral order; to waste time in futile games when the majority of our sex cries forgotten on the path of ignorance, being toys of charlatanism, waiting for a protecting hand to come take them out of inaction and put them in their rightful...


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