Yvania Muscadum: Declaration 2022

Was freedom for all or for some? 

The life of Pauline Leon

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Pauline Leon was one of six children of Mathrine Telohan, and Pierre-Paul Leon . Leon was born on September 28, 1768 in Paris. Leon’s  mother Telohan, and father Pierre-Paul Leon, were in the chocolate making business. After her father’s death in 1784, Leon supported her mother and provided for her siblings by working in the chocolate factory. Leon was known as a “Fille sans- culotte”  , a term used in France for the lower middle class. Due to Leon’s circumstances and the poor quality of life given by the Ancien Regime, she became a radical militant. In 1789, France’s economy was in crisis after the war which resulted in a bread riot. After witnessing the execution of  many leaders doing this riot, it sparked Leon’s interest in political advocacy. Leon wanted to fight for the revolution and bear arms regardless of how society views women. Her priority was to fight for the country regardless of gender. Leon understood that poverty knocks at everyone’s door and does not discriminate. Secondly, Leon became an advocate for women rights. She was an attendee at the Cordeliers club, established in 1790 accepted men and women and its role was to maintain human rights in France. In 1791, Leon addressed the legislative Assembly about female militia, demanding for Parisian women to be able to be part of it. Many saw Leon as a leader of the sans culottes. She was the co-founder of the Society of Revolutionary and Republican Women “Société des Citoyennes Républicaines Révolutionnaires” on May 10, 1793. She worked closely with Claire Lacombe and other women who shared the same values  to re-enforce gender equality. The Société only lasted about a year before it was shut down by the authorities. Her dedication and confidence showcase the similarity to the enragés known as “angry ones.” She married Théophile Leclerc, who himself was a radical and the founder of the enragés. Both Leon and her husband were accused of being too radical and going against the Jacobins and were arrested in April 1794 but were released three months later. 

Later, Leon focused on her marriage and devoted herself to her husband. With domestic care it causes her to step back from all radical activities. After she left political life, Leon became a school teacher. On october 5, 1838, Leon gave her last breath but her accomplish still breathing live to others.

The king is right, but your rights were taking away

France was a monarchy country ruled by a king. The king had power over both the government and the people. Before the revolution, France was divided into three social classes which were called “estates.” We had the clergy, who were the first estate. The clergy consisted of people who were religious leaders. They had control over some lands, churches, and establishments for the poor. The second estate was the nobles. Unlike the clergy, the nobles were not as popular but were exempted from tax just like the clergy. Both groups possessed lands and were appointed to higher positions. Last but not least, the third estate was the commoners. The largest of the three estates but hold little influence on the government. The third estate was categorized as the peasantry and the urban. Doing this era Louis XVI who took the throne. With the downfall of the economy due to the expenses during the American Revolution, the extravagant spending by the king. Out of all the three estates, the commoners were the one the most affected by the economic crisis. The country was on the brink of bankruptcy and King Louis XVI’s solution was not in the favor of the commoners. The commoners had to pay taxes, where the clergy and the nobles were exempt. Poverty started to eat the commoners where many were enjoying life. Their voices were taken away from the king and by the first, second estate. 

A brave woman open many eyes

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Pauline Leon who had a first class ticket to see and live through that poverty understood the people. She felt the pain not only because she could not fight for what she believed but her rights were being taken away from her. Women doing the French Revolution were shackled by society because of their perspective and how they see women. They had feelings but couldn’t express it. They were being attacked but could not fight back. They knew France was falling apart but could not talk since they had no voice. Leon was a brave woman who heard the country’s agony and the women’s sorrow. Her confidence and dedication strengthen her leadership and lead many to fight. Many would say she was violent but others saw a patriot fighting for her country. She saw what the king could not see and fought for what the authorities could not fight for. She knew what society holds against women. She was fearless and even bore arms for her country. At the Storming of Bastille, Leon marched and held a pike just like any other men. She was not belittling men, but she wanted to show women they could fight. 

Her actions was wrong but for a good cause

Léon participated in violent activities. She protested with others for human rights. As we usually hear “ it is not Ladylike,” women’s place is always in the kitchen and always follows the husband’s order . As women our husband became our mouth, ears, eyes, even thoughts. We were a living machine that the society can program however they can. Till today, many are still experiencing and living like these robots. I applaud her courage for taking actions for us women to give us a voice to fight. Many would disagree with action but few understand that action speaks louder than words. I would have described her actions as a mother protecting her children. Her passion was louder than a

 trumpet and greater than the mountains. Her dedication gave strength to many women and led them to victory. 

Women are human but not men

Reading human rights and seeing how women were excluded have angered me. I took the time to compare and contrast Leon’s and this time to see the difference. I haven’t seen any at all. Yes we have the right to vote, go to school, and do things we were not able to do. However, just like Leon knew women needed to bear arms to protect themself from the non revolutionaries. Women today need to be recognized for their works, effort and not taken for granted nor mistreated. I have encountered many stories where women complain about job, respect.  Jobs are abusing them and paying them less than men. As a woman I understand that some jobs will require men to work more and the income will be more. However, other jobs discriminate against women and their capacities. Women have encountered different issues and still leave with a burden. I have a hard time comprehending why society still puts a label on women. Is the little things unnoticed that will make a big difference. Why society has condemned us women for losing our so-called virginity, getting pregnant at an early age, and more. When in reality men are being honored for having two three girlfriends, impregnated multiple women. Ain’t we human? 

We need society to lock down 

She leads, she inspires, she is history  

I was born and raised in a country whom the French Revolution had a big impact on. Haiti, first black nation to abolish slavery. Leon not only inspired me as a woman but also inspired me to fight for my country. Doing my research, I was able to explore the major events in Leon’s life. From the famous march “the stormy of the Bastille,” and leader of the Société. However, she had no work published nor a deep focus on how she felt about the revolution. I was able to research how French society viewed her as a revolutionary. She was an activist with strong beliefs and fight for human rights. marched “the stormy of the Bastille,” and leader of the Société. However, she had no work published nor a deep focus on how she felt about the revolution. I was able to research how French society viewed her as a revolutionary. She was an activist with strong beliefs and fight for human rights. But what’s more beautiful is that she was a woman, a woman with no rights. She knew what inequality  meant. She could not protect herself because the society did not give it to them. She had to stand in front of the legislature assembly to say women should be able to protect themselves. Women should be able to fight for their country, not just sit. Doing the little time I spent studying her I feel strong and independent. She was a married woman and understood how to take care of her household. However, domestic duties should  not be the only thing Women are capable of. Her bravery is the beginning of my story. Haiti has fallen into a crisis and the people are desperate for a change. I may not be able to change the government itself; However, I can make little changes like gathering other youths to help a kid that can’t go to school, starting a charity for the people. Reach out to others that are willing to help. Leon believed she could have made a change and she did. I believe I will be able to make a difference in my country for my people. To take back our human rights that were taken without remorse. 

References 

Anderson, Marge. “The Clergy and the Nobility: The     French Revolution.” Big Site of History,

Big Site of History, 10 June 2008, 

“French Revolution.” Ducksters,

https://www.ducksters.com/history/french_revolution/causes_of_the_french_revolution.php.

https://www.history.com/topics/france/french-revolution

            History.com Editors. “French Revolution.”         

History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, 

“Leon.” Crozier On Stuff,  

https://crozieronstuff.com/leon.

“Pauline Leon-a Radical Ready to Die for Revolution.” Socialist Worker, 28 Mar. 2022,

Anderson, Marge. “The Clergy and the Nobility: The French Revolution.” Big Site of History,

Big Site of History, 10 June 2008, 

“Women in the French Revolution: A Resource Guide: Pauline Léon.” Research Guides,

https://guides.loc.gov/women-in-the-french-revolution/pauline-leon.

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