Women's Rights in the French Revolution

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 927
  • Published : February 22, 2002
Open Document
Text Preview
Many women were involved in the uncertainty of women's rights during the French Revolution between the years of 1789 and 1804. Exploration of the unfolding struggles of France managed to turn my head in the direction of woman's rights more than once in my discovery. Perhaps because of the persistence of the women during this time period and their straight forwardness in their mission, was I so determined to see a positive progression in the fulfillment of their needs. "Even during a revolutionary time like this, equal rights for women seemed out of reach. Women had to struggle for a position in the revolution" (Ajaibu 2001, 1). One of the main women involved in the French Revolution was Olympe de Gouges. Olympe de Gouges is how one would recognize her, but her birth name was Olympe Gouze. Gouze, the daughter of a butcher, and a part of the lower class found prostitution as her occupation. Gouze was very bright and her enlightened views were bound to change the future, which they seemed to. She continued prostitution until she was thirty-six and respectfully became a playwright. After the death of her husband, Gouze moved to Paris and changed her name to Olympe de Gouges. Upon arrival, de Gouges proposed a new French theater that would only show women's plays (Ajaibu 2001, 1). "In 1788 Olympe started creating her pamphlets and petitions that were pro-woman and anti-monarchy" (Ajaibu 2001, 1). About a year after de Gouges produced her petitions and pamphlets the National Assembly of France created "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" (de Lafayette 2001, 1). This declaration was created for the working class in order for them to receive rights and freedoms. However, 2

the declaration was not applicable to all people; this document excluded women. Within the next two years Olympe de Gouges began creating her own version of a declaration. She called it "The Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Citizen" (de Gouges 2001, 1). This document was very similar to the declaration created by the National Assembly but it finally gave justice to the women of Paris (Ajaibu 2001, 2). "As many feminists have done since, de Gouges both asserted woman's capability to reason and make moral decisions, and pointed to the feminine virtues of emotion and feeling. Woman was not simply the same as man, but she was his equal partner" (Lewis 2001, 1). Not only did de Gouges emphasize that women were not the same as men and merely partners, but she also stated in her declaration the right to free speech, and the right to identify the fathers of their children. "She assumed a right of children born out of legitimate marriage to full equality to those born in marriage. This called into question the assumption that only men had the freedom to satisfy their sexual desire outside of marriage" (Lewis 2001, 1). These assumptions appear not only accurate but also seem unjust. To say that only one can really enjoy a sexual experience without being referred to in a bad way, meaning bad reputation does not fulfill the equality rule. The de Gouges declaration was important for this time period because the dilemma concerning equal rights towards women would project above other remaining concerns. The rights were not completely equal but comparably better in balancing the scales. " Both declarations were anti-monarchy, and were flooded with a fresh perspective for the era"(Ajaibu 2001, 2).

3
In the laws of Paris, the clergy were ranked before the nobles. The clergy "were the custodians of the communities spiritual welfare and its moral standard" (Doyle 1989, 33). The clergy "numbered about 130,000 but over half were in regular orders (2/3 of the women) and many of the sectors were canons without cure of souls as members of 496 cathedral or collegiate chapters" (Doyle 1989, 33). The outlook of women in the French revolution was still minimal, however, they...
tracking img