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They met in a group called the Cercle Social (social circle), which launched a campaign for women's rights in 1790–91.
The Estates-General had not met since 1614, and its convocation heightened everyone's expectations for reform.
The King invited the three estates—the clergy, the nobility, and the Third Estate (made up of everyone who was not a noble or a cleric)—to elect deputies through an elaborate, multilayered electoral process and to draw up lists of their grievances.
Women should take an active role in the family, Rousseau insisted, by breast-feeding and educating their children, but they should not venture to take active positions outside the home.
Rousseau's writings on education electrified his audience, both male and female.
At every stage of the electoral process, participants (mainly men but with a few females here and there at the parish level meetings) devoted considerable time and political negotiation to the composition of these lists of grievances.
Since the King had not invited women to meet as women to draft their grievances or name delegates, a few took matters into their own hands and sent him petitions outlining their concerns.In part, this lack of interest followed from the fact that women were not considered a persecuted group like Calvinists, Jews, or slaves.Although women's property rights and financial independence met with many restrictions under French law and custom, most men and women agreed with Rousseau and other Enlightenment thinkers that women belonged in the private sphere of the home and therefore had no role to play in public affairs.They trudged the twelve miles from Paris in the rain, arriving soaked and tired.At the end of the day and during the night, the women were joined by thousands of men who had marched from Paris to join them.After the fall of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, politics became the order of the day.The attack on the Bastille showed how popular political intervention could change the course of events.When the people of Paris rose up, armed themselves, and assaulted the royal fortress-prison in the center of Paris, they scuttled any royal or aristocratic plans to stop the Revolution in its tracks by arresting the deputies or closing the new National Assembly.In October 1789 the Revolution seemed to hang in the balance once again.In the midst of a continuing shortage of bread, rumors circulated that the royal guards at Versailles, the palace where the King and his family resided, had trampled on the revolutionary colors (red, white, and blue) and plotted counterrevolution.In response, a crowd of women in Paris gathered to march to Versailles to demand an accounting from the King.