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Insurrectionary Heroines: The Possibilities and Limits of Women’s Radical Action During the French Revolution

By Sean M Wright


The article titled, Insurrectionary Heroines: The Possibilities and Limits of Women’s Radical Action During the French Revolution, gathers research materials from multiple primary and secondary sources to generate an analysis of women’s participation in the French Revolution. The focus of this analysis draws on how these women confronted the Early Modern European female status quo through the use of radical action during the Revolution, which ultimately led to the creation of new possibilities for women\u27s participation in society and revealed the limitations of this new found participation. Radical action is defined by four major events in the article: the female March on Versailles in 1789, the manifestation of bread riots in 1795, the formation of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women in 1793, and the writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman by Olympe de Gouges in 1791. By analyzing these four events, women\u27s involvement in the French Revolution becomes a large-scale and dynamic process that requires the reader to rethink how they originally viewed women during this time period and how they view the development of revolution. These women formulated massive populous bodies that confronted the French monarchy and asserted themselves as politically significant, rioted ferociously in the face of military oppression, formulated an extremely radical organization that called for the total engagement of women in politics and wrote a document that directly challenged the status quo of patriarchal society. While engaging is such behavior, these women also experienced certain limitations that affected the outcome of their radical actions such as, being dependent upon external factors to ensure political success. Ultimately, despite the raising of limitations, these women risked their lives in their radical efforts during the French Revolution, and in doing so raised new possibilities for women throughout history and new possibilities in revolution

Topics: insurrection, women\u27s radical action, French Revolution, defying gender roles, female revolution, European History, History of Gender, Social History, Women\u27s History, Women\u27s Studies
Publisher: ScholarWorks@GVSU
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Scholarworks@GVSU

Suggested articles


  1. (1992). A Woman Who Has Only Paradoxes to Offer: Olympia de Gouges Claims Rights for Women.” In Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution, edited by
  2. (1980). Account of a Session of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women.”
  3. (1980). Declaration of the Rights of Women.” In Women in Revolutionary Paris 1789-1795: Selected Documents Translated With Notes and
  4. (1980). Describes the Women’s March to Versailles, Oct 5, 1789.”
  5. (1980). The Military Establishment in Year III Offers Its Perspective on the Prairial Days.”
  6. (1995). The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women doi
  7. (1992). Women and Militant Citizenship in Revolutionary Paris.” In Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution, edited by

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