Luisa Capetillo

Luisa Capetillo (October 28, 1879 – April 10, 1922) was one of Puerto Rico's most famous labor leaders. She was a labor movement organizer and a writer who pushed for equal rights for women's rights, free love and human emancipation.


A Nation of Women (1911)Edit

  • No me explico por qué el hombre crée tener siempre derechos sobre la mujer
    • I don't understand why men always think they have rights over women
  • Estudiemos y preparemos nuestra generación para las luchas futuras, que se avecinan.
    • Let us study and prepare our generation for the future struggles, which lie ahead.
  • Si la mujer estuviera convenientemente ilustrada, educada y emancipada de formulismos rutinarios, la politica de los pueblos seria distinta
    • If women were appropriately enlightened, educated and emancipated from routine formulism, the political life of most nations would be different
  • No hay duda que la primera y mejor escuela es el hogar. La mejor y superior maestra para el niño, es, la madre instruida.
    • No doubt, the first and best school is the home. The best and most superior teacher for the child is an educated mother
  • Useful hands are preferable to ones that are merely beautiful
  • I refuse to accept the assertion of any historian who erroneously believes that women have no right to use their freedom without being considered corrupt or immoral, while men have been able to do whatever they want and indulge the most absurd and ridiculous whims, without being judged, repudiated or prevented from going where they choose, with no concern about not being paid attention to, respected or sought after. We are going to put an end to those unequal laws-where the few have a lot and the many have a little-in order to finally secure peace for the just and achieve the truth and justice that our sex deserves.
  • Although we are all brothers, some die of hunger and of foodstuffs, clothing and shoes. And with so many naked and bare-while what is useful and necessary rots at the depots and warehouses
  • My great worry is the problem of poverty…Instead of prisons, I would have schools, art and vocational academies, free trade, free love, the abolition of marriage and the substitution of private property for public property.
  • Why call George Sand a wild woman in the publicity for her books? I protest the use of such an inaccurate epithet for such a cultivated and intelligent woman
  • Education is the mother of freedom; science is her eldest daughter; and her sisters, tolerance and discretion, with rights and responsibilities.
  • In the middle of great abundance, and without having studied the social question, I believed that everybody had the right to be clean and clothed, to wear shoes, and I didn’t understand why it wasn’t so. I thought everyone knew how to read and write and I was astonished when I saw the opposite
  • She’s a woman, not only when she’s powdered and wearing lace and ribbons, just like a man doesn’t stop being a man when he learns to cook, mend, sweep and sew.
  • Women, by force of will and energy, are quite capable of doing certain jobs that they previously had been denied. This theory is constantly disputed by those who claim women's inferiority due to sexual difference, which, it is said, seems to be an immutable law of nature. But there is nothing more false than to attempt in this way to uphold the permanent superiority of men.
  • As a general rule, women nowadays dedicate all their energy, all their attention to their appearance; they are not concerned with anything except wearing the latest fashion; they squander all their intelligence in trying to become more beautiful, and not even in any practical way, by some beneficial and hygienic method, like practicing gymnastics, exercising in the fresh air, or swimming every morning. But no, it must be done with ribbons and lace, by cutting their breath short from the excessive use of tight-fitting corsets. And this translates to a waste of time, health, and money.
  • a true beauty, real and lasting, [is] achieved by a healthy diet, without eating meat or drinking alcoholic beverages, by practicing gymnastics and taking walks in the open air, not a fictitious beauty such as that of adornment, without which, she is no longer herself.
  • Could there exist true happiness in a marriage when the man is the only one who can regularly exercise his free will and satisfy his desires, without caring whether or not his wife agrees? Accustomed to the passive obedience of women, he does not bother to find out whether or not she is satisfied with his conduct. And if she is not, he does not attempt to please her, nor to adapt his conduct to a new way of life. How can the holy priestess of the hearth preserve the sacred fire of love in the home when she has to officiate alone? Where is the principal object of her devotion? Look for him outside the home at those times when he should be at the side of his companion. Will a solid foundation for domestic happiness be established by this behavior? No. Men have the right to do or undo, without his companion. He goes to a masked ball or not, to the casino, to gamble, or chases other women.... and meanwhile, poor woman! A sad scenario for domestic bliss! She is subjected to a sad solitude for days and nights on end, orphaned of love, of sweet attentions and joys while the above-mentioned companion gambles, dances... or falls in love.
  • For women it is generally admitted that her sexual life is null or subordinate to that of the companion-legal or otherwise-that she has chosen. She should live and feel for him; be passionate if he is, and maintain herself neutral if he is cold. Until now a man has considered sensual desire as something that pertains to him, not recognizing in women a moral and physical self organized like him.
  • The only thing we want to put forth is that women must acquire greater freedom and rights. The current system, with all its errors, is sustained by the ignorance and slavery of women.
  • They call themselves patriots and fathers of the homeland. What idea of the homeland can they have? One that is egotistical, which begins and ends with them. They are everything.
  • Harmony within a marriage greatly influences the education of children, our future citizens. How many times have a mother’s tears, cried in moments of pain and contradiction, powerfully influenced her children!
  • Women must become enlightened or educated, because being enlightened encompasses all the fields of human science: Physiology, Geology, Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Engineering, Agriculture, Geometry, History, Music, and Painting...Education is a beautiful and necessary thing.
  • If a woman is not instructed and educated will she be able to educate, counsel, and guide her children suitably? No. And this is an important matter that should interest women, the home being the first and most necessary of schools. Whatever the child sees the mother do or say is what the child will observe and learn.
  • Education means cultivating patience, tolerance, a sweet disposition, harmony, abnegation, and temperateness. Anyone who cultivates these virtues is truly educated.
  • There are many women who think that being a mother means contradicting a child, and later they beat them, and order them about for the sake of giving orders, to see herself obeyed, ordering the child not to run, not to jump, not to yell, in sum, a whole bunch of ignorant things, the truth is, to prohibit a child from doing all this is to prohibit them from being healthy. They act like this with girls precisely because they are girls, as if a girl's organism did not have to develop, so that they can grow up beautiful and strong, and not scrawny and pale, nor become mothers full of pains and ailments. They think that being a mother authorizes them to mistreat and order the children at whim, and oblige them to do things against their will, that is an error.
  • How many girls pay for the tantrums, jealousies or vexations of their mothers, who act without any justifying motive, only because they need to blow off steam and they can’t do it in front of their husbands.
  • There is nothing more harmful to the success of an endeavor than timidity and doubt. This type of cowardice that I believe only the lazy possess. I do not believe anything to be impossible; nor am I amazed by any invention or discovery, which is why I do not find any idea utopian. What is essential is that the idea be put into practice. Begin! The rest is weakness and an erroneous concept of human power. Wanting is doing!

Quotes about Luisa CapetilloEdit

  • We identified as revolutionary nationalists' committed to ending exploitation and colonialism. We were inspired by the herstories of women activists in Puerto Rico. We learned about Lola Rodríguez de Tió and Mariana Bracetti, early fighters for the abolition of slavery and the island's independence from Spain; Luisa Capetillo and Juana Colón, working class organizers and women's rights advocates; and Lolita Lebrón and Blanca Canales, Nationalist Party militants imprisoned for their actions to free Puerto Rico. We studied the lives of African American women such as Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights activist, and Harriet Tubman, who freed slaves through the Underground Railroad. Our sisters in the Black Panther Party were diversifying the image of the revolutionary, and we joined the protests to demand the release of Angela Davis from a California prison, and of Afeni Shakur and Joan Bird in New York. The long line of women activists, from contemporary social justice movements, became our role models and mentors.
    • Iris Morales Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords 1969-1976 (2016)

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