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 The Revolution and women 
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Post The Revolution and women
I've read in various places about a mysoginistic tendency of the Revolution, which, by the way, was one of the reasons why popular hatred was directed especially toward MA. Doeas anyone know more about this? Which were the roots of this conception, and how did it manifest itself?
I'm very interested in this topic.

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Fri May 02, 2008 8:53 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
That certainly wasn’t characteristic only for the French revolution and M.A. but her example is really good. Catharine the Great who had been very powerful and good ruler also had those “problems”. Later in her life she was affected by many stories and rumors of her perversity and so on – only the story of her death make me sick. I think that there were two major reasons for this mistreatment of women during the history – fear that their influence may rise to some new level and attitude that religion had towards women for ages.

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Sat May 03, 2008 1:53 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
I recommend reading 'Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France' by Lucy Moore.

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Sat May 03, 2008 5:38 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Well, probably the reason why women were mistreated for long is basically that human society has been based for the most part on the predominance of the stronger ones...and stronger (in a physical sense) is the man. Obviously the privileged ones have almost always the tendency to keep the status quo, hence the fear of women gaining indipendence. I think that also religion has never been masculinist in itself: it's just that it reflected the way of thinking of the dominant part of society.
This is a sad truth :cry: Luckily, something has changed during the last century (even if still too little, according to my opinion).
But I read that in the French Revolution this hostility toward women was particularly strong, and it would be interesting to understand why.

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Sat May 03, 2008 1:50 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
I've found this interesting article.
It seems that during the Revolution the first attempts were made to introduce the principle of equality between sexes, but in the end these were not successful and during the Terror all the womens' clubs that had taken part in the Revolution were abolished.

http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/whm2003/fr_rev_wmn.html

And this is also very interesting, even if long. It explains the different ideas of the intellectuals (above all Rouseeau and Condorcet) about the role of women in society.
http://www.tcr.org/tcr/essays/CB_Women-French_Rev.pdf

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Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:33 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Interesting. The second text reminded me on something that one woman had said to me –
“In general women only lost with their emancipation. Men still expect that they be first wives and mothers with all their responsibilities but then to work for food also. We have only doubled our obligations.” :lol:

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Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:24 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Unluckily, I find it quite true :roll:
The result of the struggle for emancipation has been that women have been granted formal rights and can now work and look for a carreer as man; but the problem is that there has not been, in many cases, a real change in people's way of thinking (at least, this is the case in Italy), so that men, as you said, still expect women to make them find ready meals, to look after the children and the house. It's obvious that a person can't do all that alone, and if you are faced with a choice, in many case you choose family over carreer (as I would also do). The result is that, in my country, feminine employment is quite low, and in many cases it's still the man the one who "brings the money home". I really hope that a change will take place in the next years, and men will understand that it's not shameful to cook, do the shopping of take children to school :wink:
(Obviously, I don't mean to generalyze: I'm just referring to a kind of situation that I could witness many times).

I'm insisting in talking about this topic on this forum, because I think that, in the case of the Revolution, the development of stereotypes toward Marie Antoinette, which ultimately led to hatred and then to her death, was partly due to an misogyne attitude. If the execution of the King was, in substance, a political act (killing the King meant killing the monarchy), the Queen's death was above all caused by the hatred people felt toward her, and which had been fueled during the years by propaganda; and I think that a similar kind of hatred could be developed also because a woman was much easier to attack.
If you think of it, to gossip about a woman, and even to destroy the reputation of a woman, is simple (even today, at least in a conservative environment): you just have to find something which has to do with her sexual behaviour. So, as the Queen was young, beautiful and extravagant, as she didn't correspond to the ideal of the reserved queen who lived in the shadow of the king, why not deduce her decadence and amorality? from here to imagining every kind of depraved and dissolute behaviour the step is easy. And, infact, most of the attack of pamphleteers insisted on this presumed depravity. The queen could so appeared as somehow dishumanized, as something to hate and kill, not to respect.

On the other side, I find MA very interesting as a woman. Of course I don't want to see her as feminist ante-litteram (which she wasn't: she was convinced that her role was essentially in her family and behind the king); but, for example, I admire her for having established her position as wife and mother in spite of the rules of Versailles, where the queen was usually a woman of no importance; she had the support of the king in this, but anyway she really cared about it. She wanted to appear as THE woman at court, in her right of queen and wife.
And also her determination to find a personal space, which led in many cases to miscomprehension of court rules and to distance between her and the people, appears to me as a claim to freedom, that couldn't be easily forgiven in a woman (it would have been difficult even in a king, but I thought for a queen the matter was worse).

Obviously these are only personal reflections, but I liked the idea of sharing them with you. If anyone has extra information, or wants to correct/discuss about something I said, he/she is very welcome!

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Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:58 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
I agree with you. I don’t have time now but I will certainly discuss about it more and try to find more information.

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Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:50 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Now I have more time to analyze your respond.:wink:
Rosalie wrote:
Unluckily, I find it quite true
The result of the struggle for emancipation has been that women have been granted formal rights and can now work and look for a carreer as man; but the problem is that there has not been, in many cases, a real change in people's way of thinking (at least, this is the case in Italy), so that men, as you said, still expect women to make them find ready meals, to look after the children and the house. It's obvious that a person can't do all that alone, and if you are faced with a choice, in many case you choose family over carreer (as I would also do). The result is that, in my country, feminine employment is quite low, and in many cases it's still the man the one who "brings the money home". I really hope that a change will take place in the next years, and men will understand that it's not shameful to cook, do the shopping of take children to school
(Obviously, I don't mean to generalyze: I'm just referring to a kind of situation that I could witness many times).

Yes. When you first look at it you get impression that women won the battle for their rights and equality, that they are emancipated and that society is far more developed than it used to be. That is only partly true because in the real life things don’t always go this way. There are still societies and families that don’t look at the male and female child the same, because a woman is living the house when she gets marry but the man stays to look at the parents and family house. You have mentioned conservative environments where some rules have never changed. I am surprised but I’ve witnessed it many times, that some women easily except to be suppressed, to please their partner in every way and neglect their personal development.
Rosalie wrote:
I'm insisting in talking about this topic on this forum, because I think that, in the case of the Revolution, the development of stereotypes toward Marie Antoinette, which ultimately led to hatred and then to her death, was partly due to an misogyne attitude. If the execution of the King was, in substance, a political act (killing the King meant killing the monarchy), the Queen's death was above all caused by the hatred people felt toward her, and which had been fueled during the years by propaganda; and I think that a similar kind of hatred could be developed also because a woman was much easier to attack.

Here I agree also that the hate towards M.A. was that strong partly because the misogynic attitude. She always had strong personality and she was more dominant than her husband - that was found outrageous, humiliating. While learning about the revolution I found this sentence connected to the fall of Bastille which happened on the 14 of July 1789 – “…mob attacked the fortress Bastille that represented the strong symbol of tyranny and absolutism and everything hated during the old regime.” I think that Bastille didn’t represent that symbol as strong as Marie Antoinette had represented. Marie Antoinette was a symbol of everything hated by the mob in the old regime; she was a prototype of an arrogant, vicious, perverse, lazy, suppressing aristocrat and being a women didn’t much helped. I don’t think that Marie Antoinette should be blamed for that but she should have paid more attention.

Extra information would be that women had always led protests like Women March (05. 10. 1789) during the periods when there hadn’t been food on the table. Also in conservative environments, in old times, men weren’t ones always responsible for ruining a girl’s reputation by spreading some stories that could hurt her and her family honor. No, more often that was a women job, to represent a public justice and punish the unmoral behavior. And the same women were loudest while watching how pretty, noble ladies are going to the guillotine.

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Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:17 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Thanks for your answer, Marja Vera; I'm also in a rush now, but I'll reply to some points that I find very interesting as soon as possible. I strongly agree, anyway

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Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:14 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.

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Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:32 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
[quote="Marija Vera"]Interesting. The second text reminded me on something that one woman had said to me –
“In general women only lost with their emancipation. Men still expect that they be first wives and mothers with all their responsibilities but then to work for food also. We have only doubled our obligations.”

That is so true. I find it irritating how in todays society we have to have all of the responsibility and then we get ridiculed if we ask for help. Yes women can do everything, but regardless of gender we all need help. I'd better stop before I continue to rant. :oops:

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Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:57 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Marija Vera wrote:
Now I have more time to analyze your respond.:wink:
Here I agree also that the hate towards M.A. was that strong partly because the misogynic attitude. She always had strong personality and she was more dominant than her husband - that was found outrageous, humiliating. While learning about the revolution I found this sentence connected to the fall of Bastille which happened on the 14 of July 1789 – “…mob attacked the fortress Bastille that represented the strong symbol of tyranny and absolutism and everything hated during the old regime.” I think that Bastille didn’t represent that symbol as strong as Marie Antoinette had represented. Marie Antoinette was a symbol of everything hated by the mob in the old regime; she was a prototype of an arrogant, vicious, perverse, lazy, suppressing aristocrat and being a women didn’t much helped. I don’t think that Marie Antoinette should be blamed for that but she should have paid more attention.

Extra information would be that women had always led protests like Women March (05. 10. 1789) during the periods when there hadn’t been food on the table. Also in conservative environments, in old times, men weren’t ones always responsible for ruining a girl’s reputation by spreading some stories that could hurt her and her family honor. No, more often that was a women job, to represent a public justice and punish the unmoral behavior. And the same women were loudest while watching how pretty, noble ladies are going to the guillotine.


I found your obervation about how women themselves are often responsible of ruining other women's reputation. It is sadly true, and I think it's true even now. It's the main aspect of what you said in your previous post, I mean that a lot of women accept their situation and help perpetrate that situation. I think it always happens like this: women adapt to the role that society imposes on them, and they can't stand when opther women defy that role, because, in a way, they come to identify wth that role even more that men. So it happened with the Revolution: it was the women who attacked the palaced and tried to kill Ma in the end, and they watched the ladies brought to the guillotine as a sort of revenge, I think.
This attitude is one of the worst things in alla this matter, according to me. If women don't acquie consciousness of their rights, the struggles of the few women who try to improve their situation will be useless. Unluckily, often ignorance and poor education do a lot in this sense.

Hellou_Librorum wrote:
Marija Vera wrote:
Interesting. The second text reminded me on something that one woman had said to me –
“In general women only lost with their emancipation. Men still expect that they be first wives and mothers with all their responsibilities but then to work for food also. We have only doubled our obligations.”

That is so true. I find it irritating how in todays society we have to have all of the responsibility and then we get ridiculed if we ask for help. Yes women can do everything, but regardless of gender we all need help. I'd better stop before I continue to rant. :oops:


This is true, Hellou: and what I find sad today is how even feminist activists seem (at least to me) to struggle often for useless and petty things instead of seeing the real problems.

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Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:17 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Womens' brains are wired to mulitask. The reason why women ask for help from men is :

a) a woman is reaching for something and she can't reach, she needs someone taller.
b) A woman is trying to life something ridiculously heavy and she will tip over, the man whose center of gravity is around the upper body lifts the box with more ease.
c) A man's brain is not wired to multitask and is usually sitting watching television and really should get up anyway.

Such as burning bras! What a complete waste of clothing! Donate it to someone who wants one! Ok, so bras can be uncomfortable. However, when women get older, the breast tissue deteriorates and the breasts begin to sag. A good bra resists gravity. And especially well endowed women! I can't imagine how uncomfortable it would be without a bra, let alone with one. Sorry about the rant.

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Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:17 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Rosalie wrote:
I found your obervation about how women themselves are often responsible of ruining other women's reputation. It is sadly true, and I think it's true even now. It's the main aspect of what you said in your previous post, I mean that a lot of women accept their situation and help perpetrate that situation. I think it always happens like this: women adapt to the role that society imposes on them, and they can't stand when opther women defy that role, because, in a way, they come to identify wth that role even more that men. So it happened with the Revolution: it was the women who attacked the palaced and tried to kill Ma in the end, and they watched the ladies brought to the guillotine as a sort of revenge, I think.
This attitude is one of the worst things in alla this matter, according to me. If women don't acquie consciousness of their rights, the struggles of the few women who try to improve their situation will be useless. Unluckily, often ignorance and poor education do a lot in this sense.



We share the same attitude but I think that often women themselves define their role. Even women today mostly have a chance to educate properly, many girls that I know are too lazy or uninterested to study or develop themselves by learning a language or some skill that may help them for the future employment and independence.

* I know so many examples.

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Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:09 pm
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