Robespierre insisted that women drove progress and that their presence was necessary for the Enlightenment to spread: “the lumiere of letters has begun to reappear [after the Middle Ages], and it is women who will accelerate the happy revolution that will be the result.” Far from insisting that women had a separate nature that necessitated their exclusion from such [academic] gatherings, Robespierre felt that the “travails of the human mind” would be perfected by bringing together men’s and women’s different qualities, and that the “way to do this is by adding women to literary societies.”
Here, Robespierre was taking the opposite position from that of Rousseau. …Prejudices against women, he proclaimed, were the “scandal of an enlightened century”; he urged other academies to follow Arras’s example [and allow women entry into Academic Societies]. Though Robespierre’s language did not proceed from the same premises as modern feminism, resting instead on the ideas of complementarity, his convictions were clear. It was nothing but prejudice that excluded women; they deserved the same rights as men to cultivate their intelligence; society would benefit from their inclusion.
“Robespierre, Old Regime Feminist? Gender, the Late Eighteenth Century, and the French Revolution Revisited." Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall.
It was the priest as an idler and destroyer of the household, who gained ascendancy over women through the confessional, that the soldiers and leaders attacked more than the priest as magician or upholder of the old order. The revolutionaire was no theologian. even if he talked of superstition, and the real reason for his prejudice against the confessional was the power he felt it gave the priest over his womenfolk. Such prejudices at times came near to misogyny and there are many examples of this in the expressions of the san-culottes, the commissairs and the representants en mission. This anti-feminism was fortified by the frequently furious opposition from the village women which they encountered on their iconoclastic missions-more than one revolutionaire had to take to their legs to escape their fury. But most of all the soldiers held a grudge against women because of the way they let themselves be seduced by the lying and lazy priests. At Bec du Tarn, Huegny, a Toulouse commissaire civil ‘thundered against fanaticism, and in particular against women, who were more easily seduced by it; he said that the Revolution had been made by men, and women should not be allowed to make it backtrack…” Dartigoeyte, representant en mission in the Gers, gave vent to similar feelings in his tirade against the devotes of Mirande: “And you, you bloody bitches, you are their whores [the priests’], particularly those who attend their bloody masses and listen to their mumbo jumbo,’ but he also had a word for the “jean-foutres of husbands who are naive enough to accompany them [and who] simply show what cuckolds they are by doing so.‘
» “At the time Louis XVI. was condemned to die, Robespierre had eighteen months longer to live; Danton, fifteen months; Vergniaud, nine months; Marat, five months and three weeks; Lepelletier-Saint-Fargeau, one day. Short and terrible breath from human mouths!” [Victor Hugo 1793] inspired by this [x]