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Women in the French Revolution - Essay Example

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The French Revolution was a movement that resulted irrevocable political and social change within France. It had a lasting impact not only for France but for England as a whole. Within a short period, the monarchy that had been the basis of France’s ruling system collapsed, and the principles of equality and rights became prominent…
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Women in the French Revolution
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Download file to see previous pages The French Revolution is commonly considered in the light of governmental changes and democracy; however another important aspect of this war was the women and the way that their rights were affected. There has been significant interest in the role of women during this time, particularly women writers who attempted to promote their opinions and desires through writing. Although women played a significant role in the French Revolution of 1789, this contribution was neither acknowledged nor rewarded. Instead, the concerns of women were relegated to the sidelines, and those that attempted to express or desire their own rights were suppressed1. Although the French Revolution brought about change for the country and resulted in the creation of a constitution, and a declaration detailing the rights of men, it was until 1944 that females were legally considered to be French citizens. Consequently, while the political environment of France was focused on the social change occurred as a result of the revolution, females were fighting for their rights, and striving for their voices to be heard2. The changing roles of women The French Revolution spurred many ideas about the role of women and significant debate about the way that women should be treated in society. Although many of these concepts were not new, but had been debated in the previous century, the change that accompanied the French Revolution increased passion and urgency in these ideas and brought them to the forefront3. The dominant culture in France prior to the Revolution as well as after it, considered females to be important in the domestic arena, and that it was not right for them to be involved in any public sphere4. However, the 17th century was the beginning of women gaining knowledge and seeking education for themselves. Women began to engage in discussion about subjects that had previously been beyond their reach, such as politics, science, literature and philosophy5. Because of this, women were beginning to form strong opinions of their own, and were gaining the strength to speak out against their male counterparts and against those in authority. A number of women played a significant political role during the French Revolution, despite the expectations of their society, which felt that females should be passive in terms of political expression6. All-female clubs In 1791, mid-way through the French Revolution, Etta Palm d’Aelders was responsible for the creation of the first club that was exclusively for females, known as the Society of Friends of the Truth7. Another club was formed in 1973 named the Society for Republican Revolutionary Women, which was created by Pauline Leon and Claire Lacombe. This club was strongly focused on the Revolution, and females who joined swore an oath of loyalty to the Republic and to the society. One argument that the co-founders of the society made was that women should have the right to bear arms and to govern. Less than five months after the society was first created a law was passed outlawing all women’s clubs8. Feminist movement During the French Revolution, the approaches that women took to their rights were significantly different, and can be broadly grouped into three categories. The first were theorists, such as Gouges, who focused on writing and on promoting the rights of women in general. The second group were female militants who believed that women should be heavily involved in fighting, and imagined armies of women battling against the enemies of the republic. The final group were ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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