Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feminism in Declaration of the Rights of Woman, 1791

It is inspiring to read the “Declaration of the Rights of Woman” (1791) alongside the “Declaration of Human and Civic Rights” (1789), because it shows women fighting back against extreme sexism and oppression.  The original declaration completely overlooks women and gives them no rights.  Every article refers to men, and the words “women” or “female” are never used.  The women’s declaration is amazing to read, because it is essentially women equalizing themselves to men.  De Gouges takes what the men wrote in the original declaration, and edits all the articles to essentially say the same thing, but include women.  It is true feminism, because the women are not trying to put themselves above men or look for any special treatment (seen especially in articles 7 and 9); they just want to be considered equals.  De Gouges’ words are in no way saying that women should rule over men.  Some people believe that feminism is women fighting for power over men, when actually it is women fighting for equality with men.  De Gouges is emphasizing the importance of equality in this declaration.  She is saying that women are capable of holding social status and actively participating in government and public life.

1 comment:

  1. My attempt at a post-structuralist rebuttal: In order to achieve true “equality” it would be much better to stop making distinctions between man and woman all together. As David says above, De Gouges makes a point to constantly write women in before men, when true equality would likely be better achieved by using neither name. In fact, making an entire document devoted to the rights of women is sexist in its own way.

    Another opposing point to make is that, while I would argue that both men and women have the same basic rights as humans, I do not think that they are equal. This inequality is essential to a functioning society. Men and women are built differently, they think differently, and they act differently because they are meant to perform different functions in society. I will not specify where either belongs, but if men and women tend to gravitate towards certain jobs and responsibilities it is because those are things which they find most suitable according to their own abilities. There is a reason men don’t usually cook and women don’t usually tend the fields, and it has nothing to do with fairness. That said, there is an exception to every rule, and of course there will be men who raise families and women who lead armies, and I will welcome those exceptions as more examples of differences or inequalities that drive the world forward.


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