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 The Revolution and women 
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Hey girls, no-one's talking about the revolution and women here!

And the revolution was a very macho affair it seems to me...how many women figured on the Revolutionary committee that Robespierre presided? None! Look at the treatment that condemned pregnant women received. Given a reprieve and once they had had their baby, this was taken off them and they went the following day to the scaffold! Many have said that the situation of women under the ancien régîme was better than that under the Republic. After this the world slides into the horror of men's war, mass killing, mechanised slaughter, the Napoleonic wars.

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Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:54 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
I read in Vendee that....

( Don't read this if you're squeamish)




In Vendee they would take the expectant mother, cut the child out, and let the mother bleed to death. :crybaby:

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Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:01 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
:angry4: :angry4: :angry4:
And the Revolution was so noble!

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Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:21 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
If you consider ruthlessly slaying innocent people noble. :angryfire: :angry5:

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Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:47 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Hellou_Librorum wrote:
In Vendee they would take the expectant mother, cut the child out, and let the mother bleed to death. :crybaby:


Dear Lord, that’s horrible! :(

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Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:09 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
It gets even worse I'm afraid.

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Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:15 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
baron de batz wrote:
Hey girls, no-one's talking about the revolution and women here!

And the revolution was a very macho affair it seems to me...how many women figured on the Revolutionary committee that Robespierre presided? None! Look at the treatment that condemned pregnant women received. Given a reprieve and once they had had their baby, this was taken off them and they went the following day to the scaffold! Many have said that the situation of women under the ancien régîme was better than that under the Republic. After this the world slides into the horror of men's war, mass killing, mechanised slaughter, the Napoleonic wars.

Thank you for taking part in the discussion, baron! (You are the first man, I think :lol: )

Yes, it's true: women were not represented in the revolutionary governement and this is exactly what appears like a paradox to me: how can you say to be in favour of equality when you help perpetuating the most evident inequality? But the Revolution was full of contradiction, we have alredy noticed it. Moreover, I read the Jacobins considered the intervention of women in politics somehow dangerous.

And about what you said, Hellou...awful!!!!

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Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:22 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
In all societies, countries and times, there always has been and always will be a portion of males who think that women are inferior to men. No getting around it no matter how enlightened we want to think our world is. Misogyny will always exist just as the male mind will always exist. Goes all the way back to Eve - remember her - the first villified woman. And then we have Mary Magdalene, didn't she get a little too close to Christ for the comfort of his male disciples? She had to be a whore, right?! We could go on and on with centuries of this nonsense..............This is how women have been and continue to be treated to this day - anyone see any of the sexual garbage on the internet about Hillary Clinton while she was campaigning for President???
But, the revolution is the topic here... Marie Antoinette was treated in the same vein. There is no defense to sexual charges made against a person, and anyone who makes these accusations knows full well how damaging they are. It is easy to make uneducated people believe what you tell them. I think that during the Revolution, women were victimized mostly because the men could get away with it. Rape and pillage went unchecked to a large degree, and women were still second class citizens. I would have to find the source, but I did read that women and girls as young as 12-14 were commonly raped before they were executed. A woman's opinion during this period was still not taken seriously (There were a few exceptions).
Even today women in the Middle East have rigid roles in society and their opinions don't matter in the political arena. Women will always be brutalized by men whose mentality find no wrong in it.


Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:25 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Women in the French Revolution is an interesting topic because they were basically the one major oppressed social group (compared to the poor, actors, protestants, Jews, blacks, etc) that did not make much progress during the Revolution. It's particularly interesting given how important women were in the popular movements at the beginning of the Revolution and the importance of individual women throughout its course.

There were some gains made for women during the Revolution, most notably the legalization of divorce in 1792 after France became a republic. The Paris Commune declared spousal abuse a crime. Women were initially recognized as legitimate embodiments of the will of the people (particularly with the march to Versailles in Oct 89) and they formed political clubs, the most famous of which was the Revolutionary Republican Women. There were even a few people who truly tried to give women and men equal civic footing, such as Olympe de Gouges with The Declaration of the Rights of Women and Condorcet's attempts to extend full civic rights including the right to vote and to serve in public office to women. Obviously those people were few and far between. There were many women who played a significant role in the revolution on every side. The most famous one is obviously Marie Antoinette herself, but you also have Madame Roland, Olympe de Gouges, Etta d'Palme, Théroigne de Méricourt, Pauline Léon and Claire Lacombe, and of course Charlotte Corday. Urban women were deeply involved in the Revolution. They were the ones waiting in bread lines for their families and they were ready to riot. They were extremely active in the galleries of the National Assembly and the Convention. And of course there was the march to Versailles.

So despite all that (and because of it, to some extent), women's influence was progressively limited during the course of the Revolution so that by the time you get to the end of the Terror women's rights were a distant dream. A lot of it had to do with the influence of Rousseau on revolutionary thought and an image of the ancien régime as feminine. Those women who were fortunate to be born into a position of wealth and society wielded a significant amount of power during the ancien régime as the hostesses of salons and so forth. The image the revolutionaries had of the ancien régime was a weak and corrupt society controlled by women, as opposed to the strong, manly virtues of the Revolution and later the Republic (oi). Madame de Pompadour, du Barry, and Marie Antoinette herself were seen as examples of this; women controlling the country through behind-the-scenes manipulation. The other part of this is the philosophy of Rousseau, which was profoundly misogynistic. Rousseau's take on women was that they should stay home, be good mothers, and obey their husbands. While the revolutionaries were absorbing his other ideas, that often came as part of the world view. Thus was born the concept of the "Republican Mother" who stays home and raises her children to be good citizens.

But like I said, you had plenty of women during the Revolution who were doing much more than staying home and raising children. Madame Roland was married to one of the leading Girondin ministers, she ghost-wrote his speeches, she organized the Girondin party (such as it was) around her salon, she decided policy and advised her male colleagues. She, however, was certainly no feminist and she thought that women should not be allowed civic rights. She was of the opinion that women as a whole were rather stupid and should stick to home and babies- she was just an exception. Théroigne de Méricourt was a mob leader with Girondin sympathies. She led the march to Versailles, but eventually almost got beat to death by a mob of angry women while she was defending her political party. Ironically, it was Marat who rescued her. Pauline Léon and Claire Lacombe were the leaders of the Revolutionary Republican Women, an extremely radical political club that pressured the government during the summer and fall of 1793. The club focused on getting bread, but also expanding literacy and obtaining female suffrage and the right to bear arms. The club, however, was disbanded by order of the government in October, 1793. Olympe de Gouges spoke out for women's rights in the early part of the Revolution, but was later guillotined (though it didn't help that she was a constitutional monarchist.)

The repression of women during the Revolution seems to have been linked to a deep-seated fear in the revolutionary mindset which makes me agree with Lilly that misogyny is present in all societies and all times. They were radical enough to overturn the social order, but not to overturn traditional gender roles. The idea of powerful and influential women was frightening. Charlotte Corday proved that a single person, even a woman, could set out with a purpose and single-handedly influence politics. Following her assassination of Marat, the government began to crack down on women's political clubs and other realms of influence outside the home. The government made a show of the executions of some of the most famous female figures of the Revolution like Marie Antoinette, Madame Elisabeth, Charlotte Corday, Mme Roland and Lucile Desmoulins. On the whole a rather depressing conclusion.

Society women were once again influential during the Directory, but I'm hesitant to say it was in any way particularly feminist because many of the famous ladies of the era made greater use of their looks and sexuality than intelligence. Theresa Cabbarus was the number one society lady of the time, but she was mostly famous for not wearing very much clothing and got nicknamed "property of the government" due to how many officials she was sleeping with. Salons once again opened up under Madame de Stael and Madame Recamier. But the failure of women's rights was apparent in the words of the coming ruler, Napoleon, who, asked who the greatest woman in history was by Madame de Stael, answered, "The one who bore the most children." Under Napoleon, of course, women lost the rights they had gained during the Revolution. There were some inspirational feminist legacies that came out of the Revolution, but on the whole it had a rather depressing outcome for women. It revealed the potential for powerful and influential women, which freaked out a society that was not yet ready for a revolution in traditional gender roles and so it responded with repression. Sigh.


Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:57 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Very nicely put!!


Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:46 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Marija Vera wrote:
Hellou_Librorum wrote:
In Vendee they would take the expectant mother, cut the child out, and let the mother bleed to death. :crybaby:


Dear Lord, that’s horrible! :(



horrible doesn't seem the right word for this satanically behaviour

I could just cry :cry:

reine :angel6:


Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:34 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Thank you, dreamoutloud for information. I always like reading your posts- you are widely read and intelligent.
Could you tell us more about Madame Roland and Lucile Desmoulins? I'm interested in these women's lives. Their names do not sound as bloody as men's in the time of the revolution.

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Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:21 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Gladly. :)

Madame Roland, née Manon Phlipon, was a key figure in the Girondin party during the French Revolution. She was born in Paris in 1754. In 1781 she married Jean-Marie Roland, 20 years her senior, with whom she shared an interest in classical antiquity and political opinions rather than passionate love. In the early days of the Revolution she wrote articles for the Courrier of Lyon and when the couple moved to Paris in 1791 she became even more involved. She set up a political salon, which was originally frequented by all liberal figures of the Revolution, but which eventually narrowed down to the group most closely associated with the Girondin party. She fell out with members of the Mountain (which would become the rival, more radical, political party during the Republic) for assorted reasons; she didn't get along with Danton and his group of friends, Robespierre was against the foreign wars while her party supported them, and eventually overall party struggles. Her husband became Minister of the Interior from March 1792 to January 1793. While her party was in power, Madame Roland worked behind the scenes dictating party policy and possibly even writing her husband's speeches. The Girondins' policy was basically support for the foreign wars (probably their biggest weakness. They started the wars, then were incapable of fighting them) and a moderate Republic with a decentralized government. During the power struggles between the Girondins and the Mountain that lasted until June 1793 everyone knew she was a key player behind the scenes, but as she was a woman she was never able to intervene publicly. During the fall of the Girondins, when a mob stormed the Convention and demanded that the key Girondin politicians be removed, she wanted to go to the Convention and publicly support her party but she was not allowed to speak. That said, she was no feminist. Like I said, she believed women should keep to the domestic sphere, she was just an exception because she was that awesome. After her party fell, she was arrested in June 1793. She used her time in prison to write her memoirs. She was executed in November 1793, a week after the execution of the leaders of the Girondin Party. Her last words were, "Liberty, what crimes are committed are committed in thy name."

Lucile Desmoulins, née Duplessis, was born in Paris in 1770 or 1771 (she was 23 when she died, but her birth date is unknown). My avatar is her portrait. She was the younger daughter of Claude, a treasury official, and Annette Duplessis. She passed most of her early years in the sort of sheltered existence proper for a middle class girl of the period, but she was dreamy and romantic- definitely a product of Rousseau. Camille Desmoulins came into her life as a friend (possibly more?) of her mother's when she was 16, but they fell in love and in 1787 he asked to marry her. As he was poor, his law career was not taking off, a bit irresponsible, and all those things that fathers do not like, her father rejected him. He rose to fame in 1789 as the man who sparked the fall of the Bastille and essentially got credit for starting the French Revolution and became a successful journalist. Finally, Lucile and Camille got married at the end of 1790, with Robespierre (a childhood friend of Camille) standing as best man and later as godfather to their son. Although she certainly was not a political figure like Madame Roland, Lucile also became the feminine center-point of a group of political men. Her husband, Georges-Jacques Danton, Stanislas Fréron, Fabre d'Eglantine, Arthur Dillon, basically all the folks who were later labeled Dantonists. Lucile seems to have been quite a flirt and we know from her diary and correspondence that at least Danton and Fréron were very interested in her, though she tried to keep it from going too far. There were also rumors about her and Arthur Dillon. Camille never seemed particularly bothered by these rumors and he and Lucile clearly loved each other very much. One of the reasons why Lucile Desmoulins is well-known, even though she never did much of political importance, is because she was one half of the best love stories of the era. During the Terror Camille began to regret the direction the Revolution had taken and, encouraged by Danton, he began publishing a new journal calling for moderation. You see in Lucile's letters from this time a rapid transformation from a fun-loving party girl to a serious woman. The trial of the Dantonists is too contentious an issue to explain in a mini-bio of Lucile, but essentially Danton, Camille, and other people associated with them were arrested and put on trial. As Danton was a popular and powerful orator, the government needed to shut him up. To do so, "proof" was found of a prison conspiracy in which Lucile was supposedly scheming to fund a prison revolt to free her husband and overthrow the government. This was used to outlaw the Dantonists, who were executed. Camille went to his death weeping for his wife. Lucile, of course, was arrested and executed a few days after her husband. She wore all white to her execution and was described as looking like a bride. Camille and Lucile's son was raised by Lucile's mother and older sister. She was not at all a political figure, but she was an important person in the lives of many political figures and she became a symbol of the destructiveness of the Terror.


Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:33 am
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Thank you for these informations! I am shocked that Lucile died so young :shock:

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Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:13 pm
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Post Re: The Revolution and women
Her life is another one of the tragedies of the French Revolution. It's amazing how young most of the people involved with it were. Marie Antoinette was only 38 and yet she was one of the older figures when you look at the other famous people, particularly the revolutionaries, who were guillotined.


Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:24 pm
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