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Vues legislatives pour les femmes 1790: a reformist-feminist vision ‘And we too are citizens’

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Marie Madeleine Jodin, actress, philosophe and feminist, published in 1790 her Vues legislatives pour les femmes, addressed to the National Assembly, one of the first signed, woman-authored, feminist works of the Revolutionary period, which has been largely neglected by scholars. This study analyses her treatise's arguments in detail, relating its two principal themes; the reform of prostitution and a plea for the Assembly to pass laws permitting divorce, to the context of Enlightenment thought, as well as to Jodin's own experience. The pivotal figure of Rousseau, figured by Jodin as an apostle of liberty and moral regeneration, is also viewed as a focus of contention, given his views on women's incapacity for public life. It will be argued that Jodin's proposal to set up a separate legislative body for women to deal with domestic issues (family violence etc.) and for the reform of prostitutes, whilst seemingly subscribing to Rousseau's separate spheres ideology, is in fact a repudiation of it. Though lauding the model of the bourgeois family and the maternal ideal, Jodin's treatise gravely undermines patriarchal authority in the private and the public spheres.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1 Latham Close, Cambridge, CB2 2EL.

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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