Everyone should be treated as equals. However, in Mary Wollstonecraft’s era, women did not have the same equal rights as men. It was a time period of sexism and double standards. In her work Vindication of the Rights of Women, she argues and defends for the equality of women. Wollstonecraft believed that everyone has the ability to reason and learn; therefore women should be able to receive the same amount of necessities involving proper education, support, attitude, respect, etc., that are needed in order to accomplish goals as any other person, in this case, men. As of today in the 21st century, Wollstonecraft would be disappointed due to the amount of disrespect society contributes on women, as well as some women who have no respect for their own self-worth. In order to improve, changes must start from within.
From obiendience to the father, to not subordinated to the husband, women are constantly chained with oppression. Rousseau stresses that feelings and passions are directed to the women, and that wit and rationale are for the men. Wollstonecraft, on the other hand, tries to bring together passion and rationale, rather than separating them and dividing one for women and one for men. Instead of trying to imply that women deserve the opportunity to take on the “man's roles,” Wollstonecraft tries to prove that by combinding both traits will better society as a whole. She provides a solution for men to, “generously snap our chains, and be content with rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience, they would find us more obervant daughters, more affectionate sisters, more faithful wives, more senseable mothers- in a word, better citizens” (Wollstoncraft, The Enlightenment Reader, Page 628). Wollstoncraft agrees with Rousseau's ideals of women needing to be good mothers and respectable wives, but she adds that men also need to take up more responsibilities in the household. She continues support the notion that men too need to be good fathers and decent husbands that meet an intellectual partnership with their wives; furthermore, both species can discuss rational thoughts as indistinguishable citizens in the household. It is only when there is gender symmetry in the
Wollstonecraft doesn’t only attack Rousseau, however. She goes as far to say "that all the writers who have written on the subject of female education and manners-have contributed to render women more artificial, weak characters, than they would otherwise have been; and, consequently, more useless members of society" (21). Although she appears to disagree strongly with Rousseau, I don’t believe that this is always the case. In her writing, Wollstonecraft is not necessarily breaking with Rousseau's central moral position; she is simply demanding that it be extended to women.
Due to their lack of educational opportunities during the Victorian era, women were more educated in domesticity, while men were taught in various subjects. Wollstonecraft describes the education that women receive to be “a disorderly kind of education” (161). If women were given equal educational opportunities as men, then it would allow them to become more empowered. Wollstonecraft states, “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience…” (163). Meaning that by providing women with a educational equivalent to men, then it would put an end to women having to be reliant on men and be able to independent. Therefore, women will not have to feel inferior to their male counterparts. She encourages women to become more empowered and challenge the gender constructs of society.
When writing “A Vindication of the Rights of Men”, Wollstonecraft was a woman in a “man’s world”. Her voice was a lone female amongst the opinions and politics of men and she “went up against two of the
In addition to education, Wollstonecraft brings the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the reader’s attention because he claims that women should not feel independent, and they should be a man’s companion. “…In 1792 the British writer Mary Wollstonecraft directly confronts Rousseau’s views of women and their education…” This “initiated a debate that echoed throughout the centuries followed.” Even today, this debate is still prevalent among both young and old people.
In Wollstonecraft’s work, she addresses the differences between men and women as being something that should be considered negligible, but instead is used to practically enslave one half of the population. The work details how women are akin to playthings when they lack an education, and that for her to truly be herself and practice her own free will, she must be knowledgeable. However, there are many different kinds of education, Wollstonecraft points out. Men received a formal education, consisting of a proper teaching of many subjects, while also aiding the young men in personal growth. Women, on the other hand, received a much less formal education. In their day to day lives, women observed, they leeched off
Wollstonecraft transcended the notion that she is simply expressing grievances over the unjust treatment of women establishing herself as an articulate, intellectual thinker with innovative ideas and solutions for progressing society. Through voicing her opinions, Wollstonecraft created a small revolution for women’s rights that would encourage others to begin seeking equal treatment from the men of society.
Both Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft agree that in society women and men are not equals. Rousseau’s idea that socialization brings inequality in his Discourse On the Origin of Inequality is manipulated by Wollstonecraft in her A Vindication of the Rights of Women. She uses his arguments to prove that the inequality between men and women is not natural, but it comes from Rousseau’s idea of socialized inequality. The inequality experienced by women is a product of society, which Wollstonecraft tries to prove by uses Rousseau’s arguments about language and dependency.
If one were to look at the argument that Wollstonecraft raises about identity, we will see that she would argue that it is largely formed by social dynamics. (Rights of woman, 57) She would say that a child could be born adventurous and outgoing. However, as they grow, society comes in to teach them through the parents and school. This can, depending on the community which they are raised, could have them to choose an identity to form a placid person. It is after all, society that often determines the roles of certain peoples are able to fill in that community. And how others should react to said role given. What each person’s gender, social level and careers that can be given effect the outcome and education each will receive. This then
Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, is another example in which an Enlightenment author exhibits their opinion on the education and purpose of women. Contradictory to Rousseau’s writing, Wollstonecraft believed that women have a greater purpose than to serve man, and that is to be independent and care for others while they also care for themselves. She stated that unlike in Emile, women should be seen as and act independently and take care of themselves. She believed that women are not on this Earth for the purpose of serving men, and that they can stray away from these duties if they wish. Education wise, Wollstonecraft believed that a woman should not be limited to caring for their families, but may choose to pursue a higher learning, such as nursing and healing. But, she also said that caring for their children and husbands is not to be seen as a lesser job that women take part in, and that it is to be respected. Although Wollstonecraft incorporated some
Wollstonecraft is not advocating for physical equality because in terms of nature, men are built in a more superior manner. However, one’s mind was not built to be superior or inferior depending on one’s sex. Wollstonecraft states that men have caused women’s minds to be, “rendered weak and wretched” due to the stereotypes that became embedded in minds and cultures for hundreds of years.
Rather than submitting a woman’s mind to men, Wollstonecraft suggests that pursuing interests of the head and heart, supplies them with a healthy temperament (p. 57). Applying their knowledge of right and wrong, would engage both a woman’s head and heart, in turn enhancing her temperament as well. Wollstonecraft “never knew a weak or ignorant person who had a good temperament”, which would suggest that liberating women from the restrain of men would be beneficial for both men and women (p. 57). Rousseau’s (1962a) assumption that men and women were naturally predetermined to have unlike temperaments, explains why he thought women were destined to be restrained by men (p. 217).
He stated that “I may be no better, but at least I’m different”. What he meant is that we are individuals and we all have different thoughts. For instance, I may be as unintelligent as the other students, however, I don’t bully anyone as the others do. In this school, “someone’s fault is everyone’s fault.” They treat all of us students as one, therefore, those that have nothing to do with the school harassment problem in the social media are involved as well. On the other hand, Rousseau’s philosophy contradicts that. If he would change this situation, he would have treated all of the students as individuals and if someone did something wrong, he won’t consider anyone except for that someone who did something
From a moral perspective, In the Vindication, Wollstonecraft argues that women are naturally inferior to men. Whereas, individuals like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in addition to most men believed women's virtues were different than men's. I think Wollstonecraft was trying to explain that while men were physically superior to women, their Creator gifted both sexes with souls. Both men and women are capable of logical reason and attempt to achieve a certain level of integrity. Virtue is not relative to sex but to individual differences, which means that everyone's conduct should result from the same moral principles and have the same kind of individual goals.