Chapter Two – Early Liberal Feminism

Notes on Olympe de Gouges

Painted portrait of Olympe de Gouges from head to chest starting at viewer. De Gouge is wrapped in a shawl and is against a plain background.
Olympe de Gouges 1748- 1793

Early Life

  • Born with the name Marie Gouze
  • Middle-class family. Her father was a butcher and her mother was the daughter of a cloth merchant.
  • Believed she was the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman
  • Forced into a marriage of convenience. Her husband died one year after the birth of her only son.
  • Moves to Paris, changes name and meets a wealthy lover. Other lovers followed
  • Very well connected with Paris’ intellectual revolutionary scene

Abolitionist- Feminist

  • In 1784, De Gouges wrote Zamore and Mirza against slavery and later “Black Market”
  • Wrote about and advocated for “free love”
  • Wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, in response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man

Jacobins and Girondins

  • Close with Girondins, opposed Jacobins
  • Against execution of Louis XVI
  • Her friends are guillotined
  • De Gouges calls for a plebiscite. She includes constitutional monarchy among options
  • She condemns “The Terror”
  • She is executed in 1793

“Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the Revolution?” – Olympe De Gouges


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