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Role of Women in the French Revolution

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Role of Women in French Revolution: French women were confined to the private sphere at the beginning of the French Revolution. Family obligations and domestic duties dictated their behavior and man’s domain was the public sphere. However, the ideas of equality and freedom that sparked the French Revolution captivated the attention of women from all backgrounds. Women wanted to voice their political opinions and grievances. Working classes took to the streets with their own frustrations such as finding affordable bread.

Women in France Revolution

Salons and Societies

French Revolution was born from the ideas of Enlightenment. The philosophers of 18th-century philosophers such as Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau challenged the thinking of French society. Ideas about education, class, and individual rights were discussed in the evening gatherings in Paris high society called salons.

These gatherings were established before the Revolution and were often hosted not by distinguished men, but by their fashionable wives. They were known as “salonnieres” these ladies wielded a significant amount of indirect influence in world politics. Even though they didn’t have legal rights, in several instances they had intellectual equals to men in their lives. Salons provided a platform for the hosts to exert influence outside domestic households.

What was the role of Women in the French Revolution?

Women had been active participants from the beginning, which led to essential changes in France.

  • The most important demand of women during the French Revolution was the “Right to Vote” and equal wages.
  • In order to raise their voice for the important demands, they started many political clubs and newspapers, of which the most famous was ” the society of revolutionary” and “Republican Women were famous.
  • About 60 women’s clubs came up in different cities in France.
  • The early years of the revolutionary government did introduce laws that helped improve the lives of women. Like the state schools, schooling was made compulsory for all girls.
  • Marriage was made into a contract that was to be entered freely and registered under civil laws. Divorce was made legal, and applied by men and women. Women were now able to train for jobs, could become artists, or run small businesses.
  • Women’s struggle for voting rights and equal wages continued. During the Reign of Terror, the new government issued laws ordering the closure of women’s clubs and banning their political activities. Many women were arrested and also some were executed.
  • Women’s movements for voting rights and equal wages continued through the next two hundred years in many countries. Fight for the vote was carried out through the International suffrage movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Finally, in 1946 they got the rights.

Role of Women in the French Revolution: From the Salons to the Streets

Whenever the Revolution began, a few ladies struck strongly, utilizing the unpredictable political environment to affirm their dynamic qualities. In the hour of the Revolution, ladies couldn’t be kept out of the political circle. They swore promises of faithfulness, “grave statements of devoted loyalty, [and] attestations of the political obligations of citizenship.

De Corday d’Armont is a perfect representation of such a lady: thoughtful to the progressive political group of the Girondists, she killed the Jacobin chief, Jean-Paul Marat. All through the Revolution, different ladies, for example, Pauline Léon and her Society of Revolutionary Republican Women upheld the extreme Jacobins, organized shows in the National Assembly, and took part in the mobs, frequently utilizing equipped power.

Women’s participation was not confined to rioting and demonstrating only, but women began to attend political clubs, and both men and women soon agitated for the guarantee of women’s rights. In July 1790, a leading intellectual and aristocrat, Marie-Jean Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, published a newspaper article in support of full political rights for women.

Feminist Agitation

  • The Women’s March on Versailles is nevertheless one illustration of women’s activist aggressor activism during the French Revolution. While to a great extent avoided with regards to the push for expanding privileges of residents, as the inquiry was left vague in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, activists, for example, Pauline Léon and Théroigne de Méricourt upset for full citizenship for ladies. Ladies were, in any case, “denied political freedoms of ‘dynamic citizenship’ (1791) and popularity-based citizenship.
  • Pauline Léon, on 6 March 1792, presented an appeal endorsed by 319 ladies to the National Assembly mentioning consent to frame a garden public to shield Paris if there should be an occurrence of military attack.
  • Her solicitation was denied. Later in 1792, Théroigne de Méricourt settled on a decision for the making of “armies of amazons” to safeguard the insurgency.
  • On 20 June 1792, many outfitted ladies participated in a parade that “went through the lobbies of the Legislative Assembly, into the Tuileries Gardens, and afterward through the King’s home.
  • The most extreme assailant women’s activist activism was polished by the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women, which was established by Léon and her associate, Claire Lacombe on 10 May 1793.
  • The Society requested a regulation in 1793 that would force all ladies to wear the tricolored rosette symbol to exhibit their unwaveringness to the Republic.
  • After the Convention passed the knot regulation in September 1793, the Revolutionary Republican Women requested energetic authorization.
  • In the interim, the ones who controlled the Jacobins dismissed the Revolutionary Republican Women as perilous agitators.
  • Coordinated ladies were forever closed out of the French Revolution after October 30, 1793.
  • Large numbers of the Revolution ladies were even openly executed for “scheming against the solidarity and the inseparability of the Republic”

The life of a revolutionary woman – Olympe de Gouges(1748-1793) 

Boldest and strong statement for women’s political rights came from Marie Gouze, who wrote under the name of Olympe de Gouges. Olympe bitterly attacked slavery and in September 1791 published “The Declaration of the Rights of Woman”, modeled after “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen”. She showed through this, how women had been excluded from its promises. Although she couldn’t gain widespread support, it made her “notorious”.

Eventually, she had to suffer execution at the hands of the government and went to the guillotine in 1793. Public political activism came at a very high price.

FAQs on Women in the French Revolution

What was the role of women in French Revolution?

Women played a pivotal role in the popular uprisings which characterised the early years of the Revolution and they marched on Versailles on October 1789, demanded for bread and also calling for royal family for returning to Paris.

What were the rights of women in the French Revolution?

Women were not granted any political rights and were indeed refused citizenship, of rather full-fledged political citizenship.

How did women impact the French Revolution?

Women in the French Revolution demanded equality to men and then moved on to a demand for the end of the male domination. Their primary vehicle for agitation were pamphlets and women’s club.

How did women get the right to vote French Revolution?

The French Constitution of 1791 gave women the right to vote.

Who fought for women’s rights during the French Revolution?

The boldest statement for women’s political rights came from Marie Gouze, who wrote under the pen name of Marie Gouze.

Did women benefit from the French Revolution?

A number of rights were gained by women in the first years of the Revolution, between 1789 and 1793. Revolutionary legislators granted them proper civil status, civil rights and a legal identity of their own.

Last Updated : 06 Oct, 2023
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