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De Gouges – Declaration of the Rights of Woman

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About the Book

(from Wikipedia)

The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen was published on 15 September 1791.[12] It is modeled on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789. Olympe de Gouges dedicated the text to Marie Antoinette, whom de Gouges described as “the most detested” of women. The Declaration states that “This revolution will only take effect when all women become fully aware of their deplorable condition, and of the rights they have lost in society”.

The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen follows the seventeen articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen point for point. Despite its serious intent, it has been described by one writer, Camille Naish, as “almost a parody… of the original document”.[6]

Gouges wrote her famous Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen shortly after the French Constitution of 1791 was ratified by King Louis XVI, and dedicated it to his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. The French Constitution marked the birth of the short-lived constitutional monarchy and implemented a status based citizenship. Citizens were defined as men over 25, were “independent” and had paid the poll tax. These citizens had the right to vote. Furthermore active citizenship was two-tiered, with those who could vote and those who were fit for public office. Women were by definition not afforded any rights of active citizenship. Like men who could not pay the poll tax, children, domestic servants, rural day-laborers and slaves, Jews, actors and hangmen, women had no political rights. In transferring sovereignty to the nation the constitution dismantled the old regime, but Gouges argued that it did not go far enough.[10] This was followed by her Contrat Social (“Social Contract,” named after a famous work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau), proposing marriage based upon gender equality.[11]

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About the Author

Olympe de Gouges was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached large audiences. She began her career as a playwright in the early 1780s, and as the political tensions of the French Revolution built, she became more involved in politics and law.

Born in southwestern France, de Gouges began her prolific career as a playwright in Paris in the 1780s. A passionate advocate of human rights, she was one of France’s earliest public opponents of slavery. Her plays and pamphlets spanned a wide variety of issues including divorce and marriage, children’s rights, unemployment and social security. De Gouges welcomed the outbreak of the French Revolution but soon became disenchanted when equal rights were not extended to women. In 1791, in response to the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, de Gouges published her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen, in which she challenged the practice of male authority and advocated for equal rights for women.

In 1788 she published Réflexions sur les hommes négres, which demanded compassion for the plight of slaves in the French colonies.[7] For Gouges there was a direct link between the autocratic monarchy in France and the institution of slavery, she argued that “Men everywhere are equal… Kings who are just do not want slaves; they know that they have submissive subjects”.[8] She came to the public’s attention with the play l’Esclavage des Noirs, which was staged at the famous Comédie-Française in 1785.[9]

De Gouges was associated with the moderate Girondins and opposed the execution of Louis XVI. Her increasingly vehement writings, which attacked Robespierre‘s radical Montagnards and the Revolutionary government during the Reign of Terror, led to her eventual arrest and execution by guillotine in 1793.

Product details

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Handcar Press (January 3, 2024)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1941892800
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 3.52 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.08 x 9 inches

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