Women during the Enlightenment and their contributions

December 4, 2013 | | Comments Off on Women during the Enlightenment and their contributions

The Enlightenment era was often viewed as the founder of individualism and rationality. Women at that time often challenge those ideas and started questioning their roles in society.

Many modern thinkers at the time like Rousseau often view women as separate identity and men separate identity. Often time women were perceived as the caretakers of the household and mothers of children in the family.  With Enlightenment thinking, women began to develop a new intellect. By combining the ideas that were created in the public sector to those more traditional domestic private affairs, such as hosting salons in their houses. Out of the salons, women were able to obtain knowledge and gain literary support. Because of these gatherings, women were able to think critically, participate and contribute in society in many ways rather than being becoming caretakers of the households.

The writer Mary Wollstonecraft is often credited as an early feminist of this era.  She is known for writing several novels, treatise and books that advocating women should received formal education. Wollstonecraft believed that educated women could strengthen society and could intellectually be equivalent to their husband in society. Wollstonecraft still believed that women should maintain traditional roles as mothers and wives in society. So she did not call upon equal rights for women, she simply believed that women should receive formal education in order to contribute in society along with their male counterparts.

Mary Wollstonecraft

At that time, women took a more radical approach for liberty and equal rights.  Based on the Lock’s principles of natural rights, women often view themselves as equivalent to men in receiving natural rights.  During the French revolution, one activist Marie Gouze who alias name is Olympe De Gouges who took a more passionate and militant approach for women’s rights during the French Revolution of the Enlightenment era.

Olympe De Gouges was known as a revolutionary for women’s rights in the French Revolution. Her ambition to fight sparked when she was unhappy about how women were treated in Pre revolution France. After a series of events that occur, she would establish a series of documents acknowledging women and their equal liberties. She is also know as writing a personal letter to the queen at that time Marie Antoinette stating about how womanhood mean to her. She also believed that women natural rights were lost and it was up to women to retrieved them. Her legacy created a discussion in women rights that had not been discussed prior to the revolution in France.

Olympe De Gouges


These Women help paved the way for natural rights and equality for women in society during the Enlightenment eras.

Modified and Rework Olympe De Gouges post: Karim Mian and Domingo Alvarez















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