by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph. D
At the moment there is a discussion about the choice of a famous French woman, who dedicated to the women cause, to enter Pantheon. The most representative of all is certainly Olympe de Gouges (1748 - 1793). A wide consensus seems to be shared by our representatives in Parliament, whatever they are men or women. Of course, another name is equalilly proposed, Louise Michel (1830 - 1905), revolutioneer during "La Commune", deported to New Caledonia (1871-1885), and famous for her fights for freedom of speech in France during the third Republic, notably : tired of deportation and jails, she finally emigrated to London in 1890 to be able to write and talk freely only five years after her return to the mainland.
Coming back to Olympe, she is at the origin ot the "Declaration of the rights of woman" (1791), sent personally to the King Louis XVI (1754 -1793), and also to his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755 - 1793).
Anyhow, a commission of academicians and historians is going to be created to examine the names' propositions of women entitled to rejoin Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) notably, in Pantheon. The idea is to make it the temple of Great Men...and Great Women of France also. Why not after all ?!
The restless soul of Olympe would certainly be pleased to discover she makes a certain unanimity nowadays.
At her time, she wasn't supported much or even understood by women, and she complained till the end about it. Men were more after her because of her natural beauty and mood, as she was quite astonishing in their sparkling eyes. But at least, they listened. Above them, she was in the heart of the King Louis XVI, who clearly stopped any censorship on her writings from the time he freed her from La Bastille (september 1785), where the annoying baron of Breteuil (1730 -1807) had sent her for a short while. It is very important to notice, because her ideas were terribly new for the time...or even for now.
The law making legitimate and natural children totally equal before the law (2001) is historically deriving from her. Another example is her support to divorce for bad unions (created originally in 1792, but finally enforced in 1884), or her free couple convention which could appear as the ancestor of French "PACS" ("Pacte Civil de Solidarité" or "Civil Pact of Solidarity") : the French creation of 1999 was quite timid in comparison with what she proposed, with the backing of the very Christian King. Of course, Louis XVI didn't share all her views, but he beloved her as her tender secret friend of the Black Cabinet of Versailles. And for that reason, she was allowed to write with a total freedom of expression after the episode of La Bastille. Even the Queen Marie-Antoinette was wandering the reason of his benevolence towards his "protégée" ?
Is it because of her influence he also gave quite a sum of money from his moneybox, to help workers on the dole and their family - which was totally misunderstood during his trial ? Nowadays, at a time of renewed economic and financial collapse in the country, nobody would do that. Times have partly changed.
Denounced by the printer's wife of her last placard, "The three urns or the salute of the patry by an air traveler named Toxicodindronn", Olympe was arrested (July 19th, 1793) and finally judged as a counter-revolutioneer when she was more a revolutioneer initially. She was then considered as a Girondine and even a crypto-Royalist.
In fact, she just proposed to let the people choose between three options (the three urns) to finish off the Terror period : a centralized republic (Jacobine), a federative republic (Girondine), or the return to a monarchy (Royal), after it had just been abolished from around 10 months.
Robespierre didn't like at all Olympe de Gouges, who was more and more regularly accusing him to be a tyrant. So her propositions were taken as a declaration of war. But he hesitated at the beginning to make her judged, as she was appearing in his mind as the soul of the French Revolution. Above that, he was afraid of the unknown consequences. Finally, it was done. But, what the bloody dictator was worried of happened. In her will, she sent him and his Jacobine acolytes a terrible malediction (a south-western "jettatura"), by giving them an appointment into the Sky. And around nine months later, the main ones fell down with their heads rolling down below the guillotine, following the made speechless Maximilian de Robespierre (1758 - 1794).
His jaw was exploded by the gun of Merdat, a gendarme, on July 27th, 1794 ("the Ninth Thermidor - Year II"). It was a bit as if God punished him of the damage caused to the jaw of Louis XVI during his awful execution, when he fought to survive in her weeping eyes of woman in love (January 21th, 1793).
If Olympe de Gouges was coming back now, she would be surprised that her ideas have partly been misunderstood. She would remember the last encounter with the King in the black cabinet of Versailles (september 1789), when they both dreamed of the castle of Thibermesnil in Normandy, and the nickname the guardian gave her as she was talking a lot, "Toxicodindronn".
"Toxicodindronn", the air traveler of her last attemtpt of placard in Paris (july 19th, 1793), might not understand much why females and males have so much difficulty to recognize - if not realize - they are coming from the same specie, "homo sapiens sapiens", and need each other. Could one "sapiens" be too much then ? !
To us, there is no need to oppose Olympe de Gouges and Louise Michel in the final choice of the French President. They both served the cause of women and children (and men also in a way).
Olympe was an actress and a playwright, and Louise a school mistress and head mistress. Their aim was to free mankind and make human beings better treated, and then happier. Both deserve to go to Pantheon in Paris.
So why not both of them together and during the same national ceremony ? !
Nowadays, apart from the unbalance between women and men (more and more often reverse way), the biggest problem France is facing is to ged rid of an Orwellian "Nova Lingua", worse than the usual political "langue de bois" (double talk).
In "Nova Lingua" ("Nov'langue" in French), words means their direct opposite, like "war" for "peace". So everybody at their level should enter this new combat not to fall in servitude for economic and financial pretexts, so artificially made up when you pay a little attention at them, the fight for the freedom of minds to be and stay really free individually !