The Paradoxes and Inconsistencies Created by Leading Women During the French Revolution: The “Feminist” Problems with Olympe de Gouges, Madame Roland, and Madame de Staël
Harmston, Jill A., 1999--
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In today’s world of strong feminist awareness, it is useful to look back on the history of this movement. When shallowly scraping the surface of history, the French Revolution presents itself as a period of rising feminine consciousness. However, trying to apply this description to three of the leading women of the era proves problematic. Olympe de Gouges, Madame Roland, and Madame de Staël—each a great woman in their own right—exemplify the inconsistencies and ambiguities of “feminism” in the upper echelons of French society. Individually, these women embodied a boldness and progressiveness that would be applauded today, yet they would contradict themselves on other stages. Circumstances such as this draw attention to the fact that the rise of women’s power and women’s rights has not been a continuous increase, but a jagged line prone to setback and discrepancies.