Olympe De Gouges: Hero or Liability for the French Revolution?
“Woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights”. Prior to 1789, the year the French Revolution began, women including Olympe De Gouges, were thought to have had few purposes. One being to “please” their husbands and two they were responsible for the upbringing of their children. However, because of women like Olympe De Gouges this was about to change. During the last decades of the eighteenth century, two parts of French society, women and the Third Estate (France’s middle-class and poor) fought to gain all of these rights: political, economic, and social all of which had been largely withheld from them. To Olympe De Gouges the French Revolution had a very different meaning than most, equal rights for ALL women and she wasn’t going to give up until she achieved that goal, which she was executed still trying to fight for her rights as a woman.
Olympe De Gouges was the daughter of a butcher and the wife of a restaurant owner, and a proud member of the middle class Bourgeoisie. She herself was a playwright and occasional actress. Women did not have the same rights as men, they could not have an education, they could not divorce, and they could not own property. Since De Gouges did not have an education and many women were illiterate this frightened her and made her very weary of writing her plays, so instead she said them aloud for someone to write down. She states, “I was obsessed with the desire to write, and also to publish” but she struggled to do so. She was however, not afraid to publish her name on her plays, like most women were. She “flaunted herself in all her texts” On August 26, 1789 The Declaration of the rights of Man and Citizen were written. Olympe then created her own document, “The Declaration of the Rights of Woman” in September of 1791. She writes these rights exactly the same as the one for man was written, except with the thoughts of both men and women. This...
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