french rev Essay

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The counterrevolutionary sans-culottes movement took of Paris in the years following the overthrow of the monarchy. It was the zeal of these crsaftsmen, shopkeepers, servants and merchants that ignited governmental, social and economic reform in the newly formed nation. Both men and women played unique and critical roles in this push for a more balanced and prosperous nation. Each group had different goals and different ways they achieved their objectives both in the Paris streets and in the assembly houses. The differing goals of men and women sans-culottes showed what they valued most and represented each group’s rise to higher level of social respectability and prosperity. The men of the sans-culottes movement definitely stressed economic and political reform most and would achieve these goals by negotiating with the Convention and maintaining unity among fellow sans-cullottes. Women, on the other hand, utilized this movement to fight for not only the simple bare necessities such as bread and fair wages but also their voice in the public sphere and their social legitimiacy. The counterrevolutionary events in Year I to Year III are very telling in that they adequately summarize the motivations and courses of actions that both the male and female sans-culottes took to reach a more prosperous life. “The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution” documents the life and times of the sans-culottes women in Paris and their struggle against the provisional government and the society that had mistreated them for so long. This book discusses the many hardships that women faced in late 18th century France that took a toll on their opportunuties and quality of life. The first chapter “Passerby” discusses the prevalence of prostitution and poverty in Paris. Godineau explains that the “women of La Halle”, a group of merchants from the outskirts of Paris, faced a number of hardships in this new Parisian society. In the spring of Year II, these women were forced to break ordinaces by going to collect their goods the night before to ensure their carts would be stocked in the morning. These merchant women also accused certain male merchants of hoarding certain products like fish, so they simply could not buy any to sell as retailers in the morning at the La Halle market. These women were also persecuted by authorities for selling their goods above the legal limit, which was not even high enough for them to make a profit which would buy bread for their hungry children. So, no matter how hard they tried, these women could not succeed in the marketplace because they were operating in a society that had set them up for failure. The women of La Halle serve as an example of how no matter how hard women worked to earn their keep, they were held back and persecuted by men. Prostitution in Paris was also a very common line of work for sans-cullottes women. Due to the work crisis in Paris, it was difficult for uneducated, destitute women to find work, so prostitution presented itself as a prime opportunity to make quick cash. While viewed as worthy of scorn, many women claimed that they resorted to prostitution because of “lack of work” and that they preferred streetwalking to stealing. Despite this, city hall issued a decree on October 4, 1793 that forbade “all prostitutes to gather in streets, promenades and public places and incite men to libertine behavior” (12). Prostitution, while not the most honorable profession, provided economic security to some women, but was criminalized by the Parisian city government. This is yet another occurrence in which the women of Paris were put down when trying to advance themselves in society. These are examples of obstacles that women faced in French society, which motivated them to find their collective voice during the counterrevolutionary movement. Women's roles in family and work life also help explain their roles and collective goals during the counterrevolutyionary sans-cullottes movement.