importance, subtle mechanisms of identification are established, which lead women to accept a domination whose strategies are not always easily detectable.
The erratic history of the right to divorce, once granted, then taken back and re-granted in 1884, offers an opportunity to analyse in depth the acts of liberation or consent it engendered within a few decades. These juridical hesitations reveal perhaps less a fear of women's independence (which would be understandable since they filed for divorce in much greater numbers than men) than anxiety about seeing private and public spheres blend--since the act of divorce makes what is private public. Here was a burning issue if ever there was one in the nineteenth century, an issue that has relevance far beyond the writing of a chapter in women's history. Finally, let us consider the right to vote granted to French women in 1944. Once we accept the fact that it was inevitable and that France lagged behind other countries in this matter, we can reflect upon women's intervention in politics. Although the consequences of this law are still debated, the way it came about may be even more interesting. Written as it were as an addendum to a legislative bill that bore no direct relation to women's lives, it appears on the surface to have little or no connection with the feminist struggles that contributed to obtaining it.
The act of researching what preceded and succeeded an event that caused a profound change makes one far more aware of what really happened. It also challenges the idea, which is still alive in the minds of historians both male and female, that women's history has been one of steady improvement. In short, we are calling for contrasting and contradictory historical perspectives.
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Publication information: Book title: Feminism and History. Contributors: Joan Wallach Scoff - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 593.
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