25 November 2006

A lesson in herstory

Just a few days of NaBloPoMo remaining. Suddenly I have more than enough ideas to get me through. I'm still going to take the easy way out today, but at the same time, bring up an important historical fact. This brief biography of Olympe de Gouges was found in the book Europe: A History by Norman Davies. I wish I could say I've read all 1,365 pages of it, but that would be a lie. Instead I'll thank Mr. Q. for his suggestion and share this tidbit from historical France, found on page 716:
"Olympe de Gouges (1748-93), a butcher's daughter from Montauban, came to Paris as a young widow. Born Marie Gauzes, she refused to accept her married name, and invented her pen-name when she aspired to a literary career. She was writing plays and political pamphlets from the earliest days of the Revolution. Incensed by the exclusion of women from the Constitutional Assembly, she published Les Droits de la Femme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen - 1791) as a counterblast to the Rights of Man (text here)...This text, the founding charter of feminism, remained little more than a curiosity. After publicly daring to oppose Robespierre's Terror, its author met the guillotine."
Interesting - the text was little more than a curiosity, yet Olympe found herself without a head. But let's focus on the positives. What an inspiration Olympe should be to the rest of us! It's easy to avoid pursuing any particular goal - especially if its ideological - because we fear the reactions of those that surround us - family, friends, society, etc. But Olympe threw caution to the wind and lived her beliefs. We should all dare to be as brave.

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