“War Between Brothers and Sisters”

For class we had to read the document titled “War Between Brothers and Sisters: Inheritance law and gender politics in revolutionary France” and the topic of inheritance law was an issue that I was never truly aware how big of an issue it was in the French Revolution. in 1793-1794, it was established that all property would be divided equally among offspring regardless of being illegitimate or not. It was no surprise however that even though this inheritance law was put into place there was still a divide on gender relations between families (as a result of sons being favored over daughters and marriage arrangements). One of the issues that was touched upon on page 220 and page 221 was the issue of tradition. Dezan stated that “Moreover, by offering equal inheritance rights to women as rights-bearing individuals, the reforms undermined family strategies and called into question traditional assumptions about the status and position of women (221).” With Dezan describing the issue that comes with offering equal inheritance rights, is there a point in time where one can truly abandon tradition for the sake of growing as a society? and in the case of this document, why describe such a difference between women and “rights-bearing” individuals?

2 Replies to ““War Between Brothers and Sisters””

  1. Tradition is capable of being overlooked in favor of progress as history has shown us various times. Women have been able to gain vast amounts of equality over the centuries because the traditional ideals of women were discarded. However, during the late 1700’s, women were still very much seen as housekeepers and incapable of handling property, primarily due to the ingrained misogynistic views in the French society. It was because of this misogyny that this inheritance law distinguished the men from the women by affirming that men were entitled to the full rights of a French citizen, while women were being assured that they would only be receiving a minor property rights concession. The government was essentially telling the people that they had no intentions of rupturing the traditional family dynamics for social change, despite them having the power to do so.

  2. I agree with jack especially on the fact that French society played a very misogynistic view towards women during this era. Since only those who went to local court got the right to get land and their fair share it was probably not enough and should have been widespread everywhere. Also, I would say that even though there were not as much wins for women’s rights, it was at least a beginning spark for women’s rights in France.

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