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Debunking Roussel's "Report" on the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women

John R. Cole
French Historical Studies
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter, 1998), pp. 181-191
Published by: Duke University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/286932
Page Count: 11
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Debunking Roussel's "Report" on the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women
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Abstract

A generation of feminist scholarship has made us all aware of the exceptional interest of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women (1793), which Levy and Applewhite call "the first exclusively female interest group in western politics." But were they themselves "feminists" in the sense of advocating leading roles for women in the government or the army? In Le Chateau des Tuileries (1802), Pierre-Joseph-Alexis Roussel provides us with a nominal report on one meeting of the society, in which the women, most spectacularly Olympe de Gouges, demanded just such roles in an apparently modern manner. Although Roussel's "report" has been taken seriously, it must be rejected as nothing more than a Napoleonic attempt to laugh off revolutionary equality.

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