The French Revolution covers the period of social and political turmoil in France and its related colonies from 1789 to 1799. During ten years of such turning-point events in modern European history, French activists managed to destroy and re-establish the political landscape of their country by eradicating the age-old institutions, including the absolute monarchy and the feudal system. The revolution activists aimed to redefine the nature of political authority, address social reform, and fight the economic unrest and the wide disparity between the rich and poor classes.
Demands Variation by Gender
It is important to note that women engaged virtually in every aspect of the French Revolution; however, women faced controversial status within the society at that time. The question of women’s rights lagged in the agitation for human rights in the eighteenth century; however, it reached an extensive increase and support at the time of the French Revolution. During the revolution, women voiced their opinions and advocated for their rights as members of political clubs, audiences in assemblies, in writing, and on the street protests. With that said, the Petition of Women of the Third Estate to the King (France, 1789) is a critical document to analyze in terms of the French Revolution discourse. Women demanded the assets that would make the most of the talents with which nature endowed them, notwithstanding the barriers placed on women’s education. The main emphasis was on “a sound and reasonable education” to make the future female generation worthy of serving the King (Petition of Women of the Third Estate to the King). Women required identification in the make-oriented society they lived in by asking for work, being enlightened, and being better esteemed by men.
Furthermore, the demands during the French Revolution varied by gender, which implies that men have a different set of requests in contrast to women. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (France, 1789) serves as a fundamental statement of the values of the French Revolution. It considerably influenced the development of public notions of individual liberty and democracy on a global level. The political changes during the revolution operated in a contradictory way for the two sexes. In 1791, the French feminist activist, Olympe de Gouges, wrote the response to the 1789 declaration: Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Female Citizen. She encouraged women to oppose the “force of reason to the empty pretensions of superiority” and unite under the standards of philosophy to fight for quality. The document highlighted the French Revolution’s failure to address gender inequality and significantly impacted the aims of the revolution activists.
Caused by the general public disappointment with the French monarchy and poor economic situation, the French Revolution played a pivotal role in defining current nations by demonstrating the enormous power of the human will. Concerning critical gender inequalities, women did not succeed in getting what they asked for; however, their participation in the French Revolution left a distinctive mark on the development of feminism. In contrast, men took more advantage of the revolution since they received the natural rights and representation gained with the 1798 declaration’s adoption. Nevertheless, the progress in women’s rights took place during the French Revolution, which directly influenced feminism and the changed perception of women’s role in society.