War Between Brothers and Sisters

Desan’s piece on inheritance law and gender politics during the revolutionary period presents an interesting argument that the liberal actions of the National Assembly did include some rights for women, even if voting and political participation was still excluded. While I definitely understand the points Desan is communicating about these great new reforms that help women, one question still remains for me. If the reforms were so great, why were they largely reversed by the Directory? Desan mentions that “the Directory revised only the most extreme features of revolutionary civil law” (p 242). Is the issue of inheritance really so radical that the Directory had to reverse other similar reforms? I’m personally not sure I even buy this argument that revolutionary France was actually not that bad for women. What does everyone else think about all of this?

One Reply to “War Between Brothers and Sisters”

  1. I think I agree with your stance that revolutionary France was not doing a lot for women. In the included case study, I found the transactions not that Enlightened [insert trademark icon]. I know that as a good historian, I should have an elaborate change over time argument that marks these brief few years as a gender rights “spring,” but I cannot make myself type that argument. I think the French Government could not bring themselves to force real equality because their privileges were based on a gendered system.

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