Women’s Fight for Equality
The French Revolution and the Russian Revolution served as a turning point in altering the prestige of women; these two events gave women the opportunity to try and level themselves with the male population. Comparatively, the women of these revolutions put forth their best effort to change their role. Women during these revolutions didn’t have significant rights. As time progressed, women achieved more rights and privileges, which served as a step towards changing their role in society. Even though many of the rights gained in the Russian Revolution were taken away, they still served a step in the direction of equality for women. Also, women of the French Revolution made some progress in their desires to be more than a housewife and the property of the man. In contrast, the Bolsheviks or “majority” of the Russian Revolution were more active in their effort to gain women’s right than in the French Revolution. Also, women’s roles in the Russian Revolution increased as the revolution radicalized. Despite the differences, women’s courage through these revolutions led people to inquire whether the previously known gender roles were to be looked upon anew and then to act on this new outlook.
How revolutionaries viewed women in both the French and Russian revolutions played a role in their ability to succeed in gaining rights. A majority of deputies viewed women as feeble; they said that women were inordinately emotional (Wilson 13). As a result when women activists demanded universal suffrage, Sieyès, spoke for the deputies in saying that women should have no direct influence on government and should rather stick to their maternal roles. Revolutionary leaders believed that a woman’s position in society was not equivalent to the position of the male; they believed this due to the idea of domesticity. This view on women was what was accepted until 1944, when women gained the right to vote. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was endorsed by the Constituent Assembly on August 26,1789, which deprived the rights of the majority of the population of 18th century France. It was written within the declaration that women weren’t acknowledged as citizens but rather the property of their husbands (Anderson 155-156). The Jacobins came into power at the end of the 18th century; they believed that the role of women was domestic. They thought women should serve as a mother, an educator for their children, and a wife. Jean-Jacque Rousseau, a philosophe of the Enlightenment, supported women as educators as well as caregivers of their children; In Emile, Rousseau wrote that boys were to be educated academically while girls were to be educated to live a domestic lifestyle and to be subservient to males. Unlike the French Revolution, Russian revolutionaries tried to institute political as well as legal equality for women. Ten to fifteen percent of the Social-Democratic and Social Revolutionary parties were women. In contrast to the beliefs of the French revolutionaries, the Russian revolutionaries wished to reform the idea that women were to always be at home with the child and preform all of the housework (Rosenberg 595). The new regime wished to establish economic equality in terms of civil service, armed forces, and industry; this was due to the fact that Marxist leader, Lenin, believed that the proletarians would bring revolution. Prostitution, pornography, and discrimination were banned to bring forth the power of the Proletarian society of both men and women. In instituting equality, women would serve as a powerful tool for Russia in becoming a Communist nation. The Socialist Revolutionary Party was in favor of the peasantry and wished for a structured government as well as agricultural benefits. They believed in acts of violence as a tactic to achieve gains. . Emmeline Pankhurst, a British suffragist and the founder of WSPU, worked to achieve suffrage for women. She participated in parades, the...
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