Chapter 4: Speaking as a Citoyennes: Olympe de Gouges's Female Civic Voice by Annie K. Smart
Call Number: ebook
Publication Date: 2011-12-16
Did women have a civic identity in eighteenth-century France? In Citoyennes: Women and the Ideal of Citizenship in Eighteenth-Century France, Annie Smart contends that they did. While previous scholarship has emphasized the ideal of domestic motherhood or the image of the republican mother, Smart argues persuasively that many pre-revolutionary and revolutionary texts created another ideal for women - the ideal of civic motherhood. Smart asserts that women were portrayed as possessing civic virtue, and as promoting the values and ideals of the public sphere. Contemporary critics have theorized that the eighteenth-century ideal of the Republic intentionally excluded women from the public sphere. According to this perspective, a discourse of "Rousseauean" domestic motherhood stripped women of an active civic identity, and limited their role to breastfeeding and childcare. Eighteenth-century France marked thus the division between a male public sphere of political action and a female private sphere of the home. Citoyennes challenges this position and offers an alternative model of female identity.