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French and Francophone Language and Literature


Karen Erickson


Prior to the French Revolution of 1789, women were seen primarily as private and domestic individuals, whereas men were seen more as public and political. Women were oppressed in many ways, and girls had fewer opportunities to become educated than did boys at this time. During the Revolution, however, women came into a new existence and became politically involved in various manners, and it was in this way that women seized a non-traditional form of education. Women initiated politically motivated marches, such as the October Days (4-5 October 1789), during which thousands of women marched from Paris to the king's palace at Versailles. Other methods of their political involvement included the founding of women's political clubs in which women would write, sign and present to the national legislature petitions and demands concerning women's rights. Although women gained little from these activities proceeding the Revolution, this is a period during which women took matters into their own hands and received a non-traditional education through experience.