The French woman is . . . Olympe de Gouges

A great figure of feminism and the fight against slavery, she is a colorful character who put her life at the service of her ideas. Regularly cited to enter the Pantheon, I would like to talk about Olympe de Gouges.

Olympe de Gouges is . . . EMANCIPATED

Olympe de Gouges was born in Montauban in 1748. Married at 18, her husband died a year later. She never remarried: by becoming a widow, she acquired her financial freedom which she used to move to Paris. There, she became self-taught. She cultivated herself, read a lot, directed a theater company, and was very active politically. She wrote many pamphlets and bills in which she supported the cause of all the oppressed and forgotten categories. But her demands are not taken seriously. Her gender is an obstacle to her credibility.

Olympe de Gouges is . . . Modern

A figure of emancipation, she spent her life supporting ideas that were ahead of her time. First defender of slaves for whom she published many writings, she then attacked the status of women, notably through the Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens, a founding text of modern feminism that advocates political equality, the right to divorce by mutual consent or the recognition of children out of wedlock.

Olympe de Gouges is . . . Martyrdom of the revolution

Can one die for one’s ideas? For Olympe de Gouges, the answer is yes. Firmly opposed to the Terror regime that followed the French Revolution, she published violent bills in which she inveighed against Robespierre and Marat. Her writings led her to the scaffold on November 3, 1793 after a speedy trial without a lawyer.

“Woman has the right to climb the scaffold; she must also have the right to climb the rostrum.”

Fashion, a political expression :

The Revolution breaks with the absolute monarchy, then the monarchy all short. The clothing, far from any superficiality, allows to show clearly its political ideas. Luxury, symbol of a bygone era, is gradually replaced by a much more modest fashion, borrowed from the ancient era. The dress becomes fluid, light, only marked by a thin lace under the breasts and announces the premises of the Napoleonic empire dress. The shoes are also revolutionary, like these mules topped with a tricolor cockade.

To know more about Olympe (in French) : Read Casterman Read Libération