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French Revolution Feminism

  • Date Submitted: 04/18/2011 01:16 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.9 
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It is often speculated as to what sort of role women played during the French Revolution. Whether it was staged demonstrations, food riots or petitions to the National Assembly, women fought endlessly for their political and civil rights. Although they may have not earned the right to vote, the women of 18th century France drew a map through uncharted grounds, paving the way for later movements in the future.

      Most males in 18th century France held on to the belief that women’s participation in government was redundant. It was assumed that women had similar views as the men who represented them. Males expected women to support the revolution through the act of sticking to her womanly duties, not through legions or social clubs that advocated equal rights. If she was an aristocrat, she was expected to live a life of luxury, donning French made clothing. Wives had to be faithful and fecund while girls were required to be virgins. The constitutions of 1791 and 1793 were written with these views of women in mind. In other words, women were not mentioned under the defined terms of citizenship. They were not considered to be autonomous human beings, instead being viewed as nature’s ‘passive’ citizens.

      One of the most influential male advocates of women’s rights was Condorcet. In July of 1790 he published his ‘Essai sur l’admissoin des femmes au droit de cite’ (Essay on the admissions of women to the rights of citizenship), arguing that there was a need to expand on the Declarations of the Rights of Man to include the fairer gender. Condorcet disagreed that women were incapable of properly implementing their rights to citizenship. He also claimed that it was absurd to exclude women from their rights based on ‘inferior intelligence’, since if the rule was applied to males many voters would be eliminated. Condorcet’s actions embodied with what women were striving for and his actions helped ensure a place for women in political societies and in...

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