Feminism In Olympe De Gouges

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Olympe de Gouges can be considered as the pioneer feminism advocate. Her famous work “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen” (DRWFC) in 1791 was highly controversial. Her work propagated to place women at the centre of politics and society alongside with men. This was highly contentious as women had been subservient to men for much of history. Her work was grounded in the Enlightenment ideas of thinkers such as Diderot, Voltaire, and Montesquieu who questioned the unequal treatment of women (Racz 1952, 151). The Declaration was a reactionary piece to the earlier “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (DRMC) in 1789. Both the DRMC and DRWFC were written in the period of the French Revolution. Her work has far-reaching…show more content…
De Gouges based her case on two fundamental issues – survival and security. She knew society perceives women as the responsibility of men and they belonged to the private sphere, but she wanted to make use of the Revolution climate to detract women from this conventional identity and role. Only then can women ensure its survival without depending on men or charity. For de Gouges, dependence causes oppression and subordination of women. Therefore, de Gouges calls for education for women which would liberate them from the conventional private domain of family, and hence, would ensure their survival (De Gouges 1791). Furthermore, de Gouges knew that true gender equality can only be achieved with the recognition of men. This is espoused in the social contract. The contract sought to bring two mature adults in a marriage to come into an agreement that equality should exist. De Gouges wrote on equal ownership and distribution of property as a means to provide security to women (De Gouges, 1791). De Gouges was practical in her approach to achieve true gender…show more content…
In The French Revolution and human rights: a brief documentary history, edited and translated by Lynn Hunt, 77-79. Boston, Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.
De Gouges, Olympe. 1791. “The Declaration of the Rights of Woman.” In The French Revolution and human rights: a brief documentary history, edited and translated by Lynn Hunt, 124-129. Boston, Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.
Racz, E. 1952. “The Women’s Rights Movement in the French Revolution.” Science & Society 16(2): 151-74. JSTOR
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