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Marie Antoinette was abbreviated OTD in 1793

October 16, 2021
File:Jacques-Louis David - Marie Antoinette on the Way to the  Guillotine.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Her husband had been done back in January.

Marie Antoinette was guilty of a great many things. She was culpably foolish, recklessly extravagant and lacking in any sense of social responsibility.

She was also, more specifically, guilty of one of the things that gets you executed for treason in time of war. She was undoubtedly conspiring with her Austrian relatives encouraging them to invade and overturn the constitution of the French state. This is exactly the sort of thing that has historically resulted in a death penalty in most countries in most eras.

But she was not executed for this specific crime. The French national assembly seemed to have very little interest in discovering evidence of this particular offense. It is, perhaps, characteristic of a totalising revolutionary state (a state with aspirations towards totalitarianism) that you are arrested and charged not for what you do but for what you are. When it it deemed unpatriotic to deny anything to the state, it is one’s very soul that stands under judgement.

The charge of incest with her own son was apparently needed in order to repel all possibility of sympathy – to destroy her as a woman. She was depicted time and time again in voluminous politicised pornography as a paradoxical exhibition of both the denial of as well as the excess of “femininity”. She was made to stand both for the negation of any “natural” womanly virtue – and yet as an exhibition of what happens when “womanhood” is released from all possible constraints. She was regarded as no woman and all woman at one and the same time – a traitor to her sex and yet its most terrifyingly unfettered representative.

She was arraigned and humiliated not as a citizen who had committed a crime but as the extremity of feminised passion – a passion that could only realise its transgressive logical telos in the form of incest.

Ever since the assassination of Marat at the hands of a woman, the National Assembly had unleashed the most anti-feminist aspect of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to define a very separate and circumscribed sphere for the female citizen in the new order.

Unsuprisingly, it was also around this time that Mary Wollstonecraft sort of gave up on the French Revolution, though she never gave up on the endless perfectibility of women and men alike.

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One Comment
  1. Rather Drastic way of losing weight.

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