Women in the French Revolution

Topics: French Revolution, American Revolutionary War, Human rights Pages: 5 (1787 words) Published: December 12, 2006
Women in the French Revolution

The French Revolution was a time of cast conflict that dramatically altered the political and social order of France. Women during the revolution period had many roles including they're political involvement, donation of time to revolutionaries, and contributions to ideologies. However, with all the contributions, women were still victimized by the changes that occurred. While these roles had a huge impact on the equality between mean and women this impact did not last. Individuals such as Olympe de Gouges and Marie-Jean Roland inspired women to become involved in the revolution because of their significant political achievements that are still discussed today. Without the service and intelligence women brought to France in this era, the revolution would not have progressed as it did.

During the French Revolution women demonstrated vast amounts of political participation. While doing their daily routines such as hauling water or shopping many women shared ideas and beliefs, which soon led them to participate in political and ceremonial functions. These social interactions led women to observe and often speak in many clubs, and as early as 1789 a few clubs exclusive to women began to appear. It was in these clubs that women learned to be vocal and became secretaries, made up part of delegations and commissions, and even aspired to the presidency. Women began to criticize societal attitudes and human institutions. Many felt that if they were given the same opportunities to be educated, they would have the same political positions in society as men. Their involvement in these clubs developed political visions, practices in the public sphere such as endorsements of the constitution of 1793, protests against women's political authority, and demands for the right to vote. The most prevalent of the clubs women participated in was "La Societe des Citoyennes Republiques Revolutionnaires" developed in 1793. They debated how to obtain food to sustain their families, as well as demanding the punishment of criminals, and the arrest of traitors. Through these political activities women demonstrated their patriotism, by requesting arms to fight the enemies, guarding the entrance of cities and implementing a larger tax on the wealthy in order to help the poor. It is with this patriotism that women demonstrated their wanted for the same rights as men and that they were willing to do extensive hard work to achieve these rights. Although women were chosen as passive citizens in 1791, excluded from universal suffrage in 1792, and forbidden the right to bear arms, they swore oaths to the nation, established their own clubs and took part in many revolutionary acts.

The main revolutionary acts women participated in contributed greatly to the overthrow of the absolute monarch. These acts also aided in the destruction of the old regime, making way for new constitutions. Many people blamed the king's collectors for raising prices and creating bread shortages in the markets. On July 14th, 1789 citizens including women conquered the Bastille and claimed it a triumph of liberty over despotism. In the aftermath of this event hundreds of women participated in daily marches concerned with the king's failure to improve the Declaration of Rights. Wages were low, famine was worsening and bread prices were high. This suffering led to the women's march to Versailles in October 1789, in which they obtained a written document sealed by the king promising provisions. These women also brought the king and the national assembly to live in Paris. Numerous feminists encouraged Parisians to vandalise statues of the king and signed petitions demanding their inclusion in deciding executive authority in the new constitution. These women knew immediate action needed to be taken to secure their survival and therefore seized what they needed with little assistance from the male population.

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Dalton, Susan. "Gender and the Shifting Ground of Revolutionary Politics: The case of Madame Roland." Canada Journal of History 36.2 (2001): 252
Landes, B, Joan. Women and the Public Sphere: In the Age of the French Revolutin. New York: Cornell University Press, 1988
Maza, Sarah, and Sarah E. Melzer. "Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution." The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 25.2 (1994): 303
Roessler, E.S. Out of the Shadows: Women and Politics in the French Revolution, 1789-95. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 1996
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