The Ancien Régime was arguably a more equal society when it came to the roles of men and women. The revolution gave men liberty and equality, but this was taken away from women with the end of the Ancien Régime. During the reign of the monarchy women could occupy the same political space as men in court and in salons (Rose 257). Noblewomen and widows had the most freedom and could be elected to sit in the Estates-General (Abray 237-238). Though their seats would be few, they were present for important decisions and represented the perspective of women. Through these venues, they had some influence over political opinions and could discuss their views with some integrity intact. In the Second Estate, particularly in the royal court, women could exercise influence over powerful men. Madame de Pompadour was the mistress of King Louis XV and wielded considerable influence in her position behind the scenes (Rose 257). Queen Marie Antoinette, and the queens that preceded her, had the power of regency should the king die and the Dauphin be too young (Hunt 270). With this authority, a woman had the potential to be the most powerful person in the country, which would never happen under the National Convention.
For a short period of time after the National Convention was created, it appeared as though women would be included i...
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... a two days. Despite this, the march to Versailles was very successful and showed women as formidable patriots. The counter-revolution was not so successful and needed the concurrent end of the Terror to help it succeed. This shows a disempowerment after the dissolution of the monarchy because the government would not take the interests and concerns of millions of women seriously.
The French Revolution advocated liberty, equality, and fraternity, but it is clear from the disempowerment of women that liberty and equality were dependent on the fraternity of man. Although women gained some rights they were disempowered as a group. Women had no ability to effect change by themselves aside from mass protest, which was not always effective. They were dependent on men to represent and advocate for their interests in the public sphere, which is the opposite of empowerment.
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