Rights of Women and the Female Citizen Essay

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Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen

French author, Olympe de Gouges (whose actual name was Marie Gouze, Olympe de Gouges being her nom de plume), was the self- educated daughter of a butcher hailing from southern France. De Gouges penned plays and pamphlets on diverse subjects, even slavery, which the author claimed was a malice grounded in blind bias and avarice. The author famously penned a declaration of female rights, addressing it to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France. This declaration paralleled that made for males, thereby censuring deputies for overlooking women’s rights. Furthermore, de Gouges, cautioned Marie Antoinette of the need to support the revolution, failing which she would risk a total destruction of the French monarchy (Smith, 1971). The postscript of the declaration censured the traditional treatment of females as mere objects that can be conveniently gotten rid of. She included, as an appendix to this address to the Queen, a sample of a wedding contract necessitating communal property- sharing. The French authorities accused her of being unnatural, found her guilty of counterrevolutionary activities, and executed her in the year 1793 (Smith, 1971).

According to de Gouges, some of the blame for women’s downtrodden status in society went to women themselves.

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De Gouges encouraged females to awaken and strive for their rights. For instance, she asserted: “Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion.” In addition, she claimed that “Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned to them; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them.” The above statements explicitly reveal the author’s opinion about women in her society. She believes women haven’t been adequately striving for what is rightfully theirs (Smith, 1971).

In addition, the author intends to ensure equal treatment of all humanity. She expresses her sorrow over the abuse of Black slaves and appeals to the privileged classes of society to consider all of….....

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Enterprise & Society, 15(2), 252-284.

Heemskerk, E. M., & Fennema, M. (2014). Women on board: female board membership as a form of elite democratization

Smith, J. L. Olympe de Gouges, The Declaration of the Rights of Woman (September 1791).

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