A passionate advocate of human rights, Olympe de Gouges greeted the outbreak of the Revolution with hope and joy, but soon became disenchanted when égalité (equal rights) was not extended to women.Share
In 1791, she became part of the Society of the Friends of Truth, an association with the goal of equal political and legal rights for women. Also called the "Social Club", members sometimes gathered at the home of the well-known women's rights advocate, Sophie de Condorcet. Here, De Gouges expressed, for the first time, her famous statement, "A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker's platform."
That same year, in response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, she wrote the Déclaration des droits de la Femme et de la Citoyenne (Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen). This was followed by her Contrat Social (Social Contract, named after a famous work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau), proposing marriage based upon gender equality.
She became involved in almost any matter she believed to involve injustice. She opposed the execution of Louis XVI of France, partly out of opposition to capital punishment and partly because she preferred a relatively tame and living king to the possibility of a rebel regency in exile. This earned her the ire of many hard-line republicans, even into the next generation—such as the comment by the nineteenth century historian Jules Michelet, a fierce apologist for the Revolution, who wrote, "She allowed herself to act and write about more than one affair that her weak head did not understand."