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Grandjean's Appeal - Why did Grandjean Believe they were in a Valid Marriage?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 07:00

Today's argumentation comes to the heart, not only of the lawyer's argument, but of the difficulty in determining the emotional and conceptual facts of Grandjean's experience. We cannot entirely trust the details of the lawyer's "facts" precisely because one particular version of the facts is essential for the successful argumentation of the case. And even in the structure of his presentation--whether he intended to be ambiguous or not--we can see the logical holes, given our context of being able to envision a greater range of possible identities. These details aren't always included in the brief summaries of this case in general works on the study of gender and sexuality, and knowing them validates the effort put into working through the original text, even with its limitations.

Major category: 
Full citation: 

Vermeil. 1765. Mémoire pour Anne Grandjean. Louis Cellot, Paris.

Publication summary: 

The original text, translation, and commentary on the appeal record of Anne Grandjean against a charge of "profaning the sacrament of marriage" by marrying a woman.

Third Issue

TROISIEME OBJET

Bonne foi de l'Accusé.

THIRD ISSUE

Good faith of the accused.

Il faut commencer par partir d'un point fixe; c'est que la mauvaise foi ne se présume pas, que la Justice suppose toujours l'innocence, & que pour condamner; il faut avoir contre l'Accusé des preuves de conviction.

We must begin by starting from a fixed point; it is that bad faith cannot be presumed, that Justice always assumes innocence, and that in order to convict, it is necessary to have proof of conviction against the accused.

{HRJ: This is an admirable legal principle, though one wonders whether it was adhered to regularly at this point.}

Or ici point de preuve de mauvaise foi contre l'Accusé; au contraire, sa bonne foi résulte du concours de plusieurs circonstances, les prises dans le physique, & les autres dans le moral.

But here there is no proof of bad faith against the accused; on the contrary, zir good faith results from the combination of several circumstances, some of which are physical, others moral.

Dans le phisique, en voici le développement.

Regarding the physical, here is the development.

1°. De tous les attributs de la masculinité, il n'en manque qu'un seul à l'Accusé, ainsi qu'on le peut voir par le détail que nous avons donné ci-dessus; attribut qui existe moins dans l'organisation extérieure, que dans le jeu des resorts internes, propres à l'expulsion du fluide, fans lequel toutes les autres parties ne peuvent servir à la propagation. L'Accusé n'étoit rien moins que philosophe, il ne connoissoit son état que par l'impulsion de la nature; & la nature, en lui faisant sentir des besoins, ne lui découvroit pas tous ses secrets. Quoiqu'il fût, lors de son mariage, âgé de vingt-huit années, l'expérience de la débauche ne l'avoit point éclairé; né dans la pauvreté, élevé & nourri chez son pere, ses momens étoient remplis le plus souvent par un travail nécessaire; ses moeurs étoient simples & son esprit borné.

1. Of all the attributes of masculinity, the Accused lacks only one, as can be seen from the detail we have given above; an attribute which exists less in the external organization, than in the play of the internal springs, suitable for the expulsion of the fluid, without which all the other parts cannot serve for propagation. The accused was nothing of a philosopher; he knew his state only by the impulse of nature; and nature, in making him feel the need, did not discover {or perhaps: "reveal"} all his secrets. Although he was, at the time of his marriage, twenty-eight years old, the experience of debauchery had not enlightened him; born in poverty, brought up and nourished by his father, his moments were filled most often by necessary work; his morals were simple and his mind limited.

{HRJ:Notice the “clockwork” model of biology in the reference “the play of the internal springs.” The narrator is making a bold claim in suggesting that the only thing standing in the way of Grandjean being able to function fully as a man in society is the inability to ejaculate. While I’m picking on details, I’m going to point out an possibly ironic word choice. When the narrator says that Grandjean wasn’t a “philosophe,” was he doing so in awareness that “philosophe” had become a slang term associated with libertine literature? (As in the pornographic novel Thérèse Philosophe, published 1748, which has a lesbian encounter.) So, was he not merely saying “Grandjean isn’t a sophisticated scholarly thinker” but also saying “Grandjean isn’t a sexual libertine?” He says that Grandjean had not experienced “debauchery” but perhaps we should recall that Grandjean and Lambert enjoyed “familiarities” before marriage (not uncommon, to be sure).  There certainly seems to be a connection being made here between “simple-minded, hard-working, and poor” and “moral, uncorrupted, and sincere.” There’s a lot of spin going on here. “Born in poverty” doesn’t fit solidly with the narrative of Grandjean gaining access to their finances and going into business with their wife. Not rich, certainly, but not poor. This looks like the creation of a useful myth. It's also worth pointing out that in arguing that Grandjean was acting "only by the impulse of nature," the lawyer is coming oh-so-close to the idea that same-sex desire might also be an "impulse of nature," and that such an impulse might justify behavior. "Born that way" as it were. But let us not attribute to the lawyer a more enlightened position than he presents. The fixation here is on binary gender, heteronormativity, and procreation as the central goal of sexual relationships, as we see in the following.}

2°. Ce qui aux yeux de l'Accusé caractérisoit son sexe de maniere à ne lui point laisser de doute, c'est cette indifférence qu'il avoit pour les hommes, cette ardeur dont il se sentoit embrasé près des femmes, le développement qu'il éprouvoit en leur présence & dans le desir de leurs caresses. La partie d'organisation qui chez lui appartient à la femme, existoit là, comme par un oubli de la nature; il n'avoit point éprouvé ces tems périodiques qui annoncent qu'une jeune fille devient propre à la fécondité; il n'auroit pu penser à se marier comme femme, tout lui faisoit croire au contraire, qu'il étoit en état de se choisir une compagne en qualité d'homme.

2. What in the eyes of the accused characterized his sex in such a way as to leave him no doubt, was this indifference which he had for men, this ardor with which he felt himself inflamed near women, the development which he experienced in their presence & in the desire for their caresses. The part of the organization which in him belongs to the woman, existed there, as if by an oversight of nature; he had not experienced those periodic times which announce that a young girl becomes suitable for fecundity; he could not have thought of marrying as a woman, everything made him believe, on the contrary, that he was in a position to choose a companion as a man.

{HRJ: Once again the narrator is spinning the start of Grandjean’s transgression in a heteronormative, gender-essentialist manner. “Grandjean believed he was a man because he was sexually indifferent to men and desired women.” Except that isn’t the story that was told about Grandjean’s adolescence. Grandjean didn’t go to their confessor and say, “I think I’m a man,” they said, “I like girls.” And I return to noting how very late in this process comes the suggestion that Grandjean did not experience menses. It's certainly possible that this came out in the course of the Lyon trial, but in general the narrator went into great detail about Grandjean's early life and experiences. I do think the omission of details from that early story--that are then raised laster--is meaningful. The narrator is picking and choosing Grandjean’s purported physical characteristics to emphasize those that support his goal. We don't know that Grandjean came to this conclusion about their gender based on their desire, only that the lawyer asserts this as an argument. This is, of course, the lawyer’s job. And his success would have significant consequences for Grandjean. But it gets in the way of trying to understand Grandjean as a person from a historic distance.}

3°. Il n'a point voulu tromper celle qu'il a associée à son sort; son amour, qu'elle partageoit, lui avoit donné des droits sur elle avant qu'il eût le titre d'époux: elle savoit ce qu'il étoit, elle n'en desiroit pas d'avantage: elle étoit sans doute dans la même erreur que lui. Cette erreur, si l'on en croit sa déposition, a continué pendant trois ans après son mariage; & le récit qu'elle fait des caresses de son époux, ne sert qu'à justifier l'illusion commune.

3. He did not want to deceive the one he associated with zir fate; zir love, which she shared, had given zem rights over her before he had the title of husband: she knew what he was, she did not want more: she was undoubtedly in the same error as zem. This error, if we are to believe her deposition, continued for three years after her marriage; and the account she gives of her husband's caresses serves only to justify the common illusion.

{HRJ: If we untangle the poetically vague language here, the argument seems to be “Grandjean had no intent to deceive Lambert, and since they’d shared “intimacies” prior to marriage, Lambert had knowledge of Grandjean’s body when she agreed to the marriage. And Lambert enjoyed sexual relations with Grandjean for three years after the marriage. Therefore Lambert must also have believed Grandjean to be male. The flaw in this logical chain is the assumption that Lambert could not possibly have loved, enjoyed sex with, and been willing to be married to, another woman.” If that assumption is wrong, then this “evidence” regarding Grandjean’s gender (whether we’re talking gender identity or physiology) is meaningless. Does the narrator genuinely believe that it’s not possible for a woman to desire another woman? Or is this simply the most useful argumentation? It’s unclear how much the narrator actually interacted with Lambert directly. And regardless of what Lambert actually thought, keep in mind that she had strong motivation to claim that she believed Grandjean to be a man, once the matter became public.}

L'Accusé étoit donc dans la bonne foi au tems de son mariage.

The accused was therefore in good faith at the time of zir marriage.

{HRJ: The fact that this is the bedrock of the narrator’s legal argument, is exactly what makes it subject to scrutiny.}

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historical