A Serious Proposal To The Ladies By Mary Astell

Decent Essays

Notoriously regarded as England’s first feminist, Mary Astell was one of the first women to “theorize about the politics of gender”(Black 355). Astell examined the societal subjection of women through the monarchical hierarchy of the conventional family, with the man at the head of the household. Her observations led Astell to advocate for the coequality of both sexes, for woman were not made to serve man, but rather it is a duty that becomes of the wife once she is married. Her feminist views, although conservative in comparison to the current liberal feminist, continue to be relevant in ongoing conversation, due to the continuing inferiority experienced by women in predominantly patriarchal society. Although Astell’s reflections are primitive …show more content…

She encourages women to consider other alternatives to marriage. Heavily influenced by her commitment to the Anglican Church, Astell notably believed, specifically found in her 1964 proposition, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, that women, through the pursuit of education can improve their mind and soul by devoting themselves to God in an exclusive, secluded female community. Astell suggested erecting a “Protestant Monastery” where women could abstain from marriage and choose to withdraw from the world as they pursue higher education. Through her fundamental religious ideologies Mary Astell uses biblical allusions to eradicate the social construction that women are naturally inferior to men. Using the Fall of Adam and Eve as a crucial factor in the subjection of women, Astell argues that basing inferiority off of one particular instance is nonsensical, for numerous biblical references can account for equality between the sexes, and that intellectually and spiritually women are equal to …show more content…

She wrote numerous books and pamphlets, most of them according to Patricia Springborg were, “informed by an unswerving commitment to the High Church Anglican and conservative Tory cause in early eighteenth-century England” (Broad 573). Her conservative approach to literature is important to acknowledge because as suggested by Anne Ferry, “the Bible is a record of divinely inspired truth which it is the Christian's duty to interpret and follow, not to contradict or ignore”(Ferry 113). Christians read the bible as if it were fact. To Astell, and many other theists during the long eighteenth century, working with the bible meant it was not open for argumentation, but rather what was presented was an undeniable truth. In Some Reflections upon Marriage, instead of ignoring particular verses such as, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”(Genesis 3.16), Astell acknowledges that Adam and Eve are a divinely ordained couple, and that through the bonds of marriage men are superior to women, for marriage is a Christian institution and in “Mary Astell and the Conservative Contribution to English Feminism.” Joan K. Kinnaird states that, “God had ordained marriage. And further he had willed that man should rule the family”(Kinnaird 67). Therefore

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