What Was The Role of Women During French Revolution?


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Florent Lefortier Profile
To understand the role of women in the French Revolution, I'll need to give you a brief summary of what happened before they got involved.

What Started The French Revolution? The French Revolution arose in France against the clergy and the nobles who were exploiting the common man.

It was the "Third Estate" people (bankers, government officials, and the like) who spoke up against the tyrannical rule, and demanded that they be given a share in the wealth and privileges that had previously been limited to the clergy and the noblemen.

The Third Estate started this movement for the freedom and equality of men. They demanded that "all men be treated as equals," and the word "men" here referred only to males and not to females.

And This Is Where The Women Come In...

Women were not allowed to work outside the home and so they weren't a part of the rebellious, revolution-seeking class. They did, however, serve by looking after the wounded who took part in the wars, by feeding the male population and of course looking after the farming while the men were away taking part in war.

In time, however, women began to realize that they too had the right to voice their opinion in the running of the society - and it was women like Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe De Gouge who first raised their voices against the inferior treatment of women:
  • Olympe De Gouge demanded that men be bound to look after the women they have kids with by means of laws that should urge him to pay for their maintenance even if he decides to leave the wife and kids.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft focused more on the lack of educational opportunities for women. She demanded that women be allowed to get  good education and to work outside the home.
Thus, the women added a new dimension to this revolution which demanded equal rights for all 'men' by demanding equal treatment of women.

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