We’ve encountered many bizarre defenses for Ubisoft’s exclusion of female characters from some of their Assassin’s Creed games, including their latest about the French Revolution -Sarah Ditum at Kotaku highlights some of the most vexing– but one claim, echoed at various points by developers and fans, puzzles me most: women did not change history. My friends, women not only changed history, they did it with panache.
Case in point, Theroigne de Mericourt, pictured above, French revolutionary, chaffed by the restraints on her gender, debated with important French politicians, wore a male riding habit, and befriended the Austrian courtier who, convinced that she led the Revolution, captured and interrogated her. Eventually, she waded into battle. Long before she raised a pistol, however, Royalist journalists vilified her as the antithesis of “good” femininity, violent and promiscuous. She later delivered her fiercest condemner to a mob.
Attacked by women from the opposing Jacobin rebels, Mericourt was rescued by a famous Jacobin leader whom Charlotte Corday would later assassinate with a knife she pulled from her corset, blaming him for the grisly turn the Revolution had taken as dissenting revolutionaries with whom she sympathized were executed. She was once called “the angel of assassination” and at her trial famously said, “I killed one man to save one hundred thousand.”
There you have it, built-in diversity, one female revolutionary who wore men’s clothes and carried a pistol, another who accomplished her assassination in a traditional gown and corset. Are these stories not begging for a treatment in a book, film, or game? C’mon!