She was a mother, a moral and political philosopher, a writer, and a feminist. Mary Wollstonecraft was the ideal image of what represented the push towards modern feminism. Some may even consider her as the founding mother of modern feminism itself. Much of Wollstonecraft’s literature is influenced by her own life experiences. In 1785, Wollstonecraft took on an employment opportunity as a governess. While spending most of her time there, she had a moment of epiphany where she realized that she was not suited for domestic work. Soon after, she returned to London and became a translator and wrote for a well-known publisher and discovered her love of writing. Eventually, years later she was then able to publish her most notable work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is still a very popular book which can be seen as a guide to becoming a better citizen and understanding feminism in a critical context. This essay will argue that Mary Wollstonecraft is still relevant to the feminist cause today as her views portrayed in her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman are still relatable to many of the feminist issues that currently exist around the world. This essay will do so by comparing how her views in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman can still be used as guiding principles to tackle feminist matters.
During the Age of Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft presented a radical essay, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, that shed light on the largest, underrepresented groups of the time, women. The essay voiced the inequalities women at the time faced and called upon Wollstonecraft’s audience to invoke a revolution for the rights of women. Through her writing, she presented a compelling argument that slowly allowed women to question their “place” in society and demand change to the British social order. While these changes did not happen quickly, her work sparked the feminist movements through its unique message and called upon women to demand equality through the Match Girls Strike and Women’s Suffrage
In 1845, the Godey’s Lady’s Book published an article titled “maternal instruction”. The article purpose was to make the American public aware of the need for equal education to women. The role of mother did not only meant to bear children, but also to educate them to a symbol of society.During the start of the 19th century, American males want the newly freed states to increase the citizen patriotism and intelligence to their country. Since women were child’s fist teacher, woman’s education needed to be more proficient. Mary Wollstonecraft’s novel was a role model for American education and family life. In her novel, Wollstonecraft explains how aside from a woman’s duty as a female, she also has the job to educate her child. However, the female sex has limits for the amount of knowledge passed, and the lack of knowledge restricts a mother ability to educate her child. However, mothers are nit the only females that need to be well educated. Daughters have to get a proper education not only to become a good mother but also good
Both women embarked on a search for equality. But, discrimination against Truth’s race deprives her of chivalry in the first place, isolating her experience from Wollstonecraft’s writing. Through her impassioned tone, Truth comments on the separation between the women’s rights movement when it involves white women versus black women, she argues the movement as Wollstonecraft recognises it as a fight against that which she already does not have the privilege to receive. Because, as a well-off white woman, Wollstonecraft reaps the respect and social status that follows her race and economic status, whereas Truth does not receive the same respect. She explicates: “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?” (Truth) The context of her statements represents similar content to Wollstonecraft's argument against chivalry, because she declares her rights as a human being to cement her own identity. Wollstonecraft’s critique against chivalry reveals the divide between the two women because it serves as a key construct for the definition of a woman in Wollstonecraft world, yet Truth never had the luxury to experience these social constructs, stemming from discrimination against her race. Where Wollstonecraft fights against the fact society forces her into chivalry, Truth fights against the fact she never obtained it. She must fight to define herself as a woman in a different manner: as worth the same dignity in her experience as
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.
Wollstonecraft’s use of nonfiction prose for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman sets her apart
Mary Wollstonecraft was a pioneer in feminist thinking and writing. She was influenced by Thomas Paine that all women should have equal rights. When Wollstonecraft was younger she witnessed her mom being verbally and physically abused by her father. Her father referred to her mother as a piece of property who cannot have the same future as him due to her sex. After her mother’s death, Wollstonecraft decided to make her own livelihood with her sister Eliza and her best friend Fanny.
Women in Wollstonecraft’s time were only valued for their attractiveness, were only useful for their role as a mother, and were not given the right to an education nor the right to jobs. Wollstonecraft observes that “when a women is admired for her beauty, she suffers herself to be...intoxicated by the admiration she receives as to neglect...the indispensable duty of a mother, she sins against herself by neglecting to cultivate an affection that would equally tend to make her useful and happy” (Wollstonecraft 6). In other words, women getting so wrapped up in presenting themselves as beautiful in order to meet society’s standards then completely neglect their natural role as a mother that would make them “useful” by society’s standards by fulfilling the only role they really could at the time: a mother. Instead of being praised for being a virtuous mother, women were valued solely for their sexual attractiveness. Once their beauty fades and they have already birthed and raised their children, as Wollstonecraft states, “let them not expect to be valued” (32). During Wollstonecraft’s time, a typical woman was “dependent on her husband’s bounty for her subsistence during his life or support after his death” (19). A woman did not have any other job than to be impregnated and raise her husband’s offspring, meaning she had to be financially dependent on her husband. Women could not “study the art of healing” nor “be physicians [or] nurses”—jobs Wollstonecraft argued “women might certainly study” given the opportunity
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 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
Firstly, Wollstonecraft argues that women lack the worthy object that “sufficient serious employment” (The Rights of Men and The Rights of Woman, 194) furnishes. Accordingly, the premise of Vindication, suggests the duties of the female, are influenced by
In introduction, Mary Wollstonecraft wastes no time to illustrate and sadness and disappointment with their education system and their educators. Wollstonecraft believes that men see women as wives and mistresses and not “human creatures” and that the government observes the female as inferior to male. To Wollstonecraft, the instruction of women to be beautiful and yielding to men in search for marriage leaves their minds and usefulness sacrificed. Wollstonecraft’s writings are a clear and direct cry to women to have and explore their desires as well as curiosity, and in that regards, intelligence and human character. Wollstonecraft contends that a more educated woman would bring about a happier husband, child, and society. A quote that summarizes
Mary Wollstonecraft, who was born during the age of enlightenment in the 18th century, is one of the most prominent feminists in women’s history. Her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman led her to become one of the first feminists, advocating for the rights of women. Born in a time where women’s education was neither prominent nor important, Wollstonecraft was raised with very little education. However, events in her life influenced her to begin writing, such as the way her father, Edward John Wollstonecraft treated her mother, “into a state of wearied servitude” (Kries,Steven)1. In 1792, she published Vindication on the Rights of Woman, which is one of the most prominent feminist pieces to date. This book is considered a reply to
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.
Wollstonecraft’s early life was, by modern standards, quite miserable. She was born as the second child on April 27, 1759 into a relatively poor family, and her father was an abusive alcoholic who often beat her mother. Her mother favored her older brother Edward over her- Wollstonecraft was never praised for anything that she did, even though she often protected her mother from her father’s attacks. These blatant injustices helped her to learn from an early age to be independent and to not depend on anyone, and this want for independence would follow her into adulthood (Ferguson and Todd 1). After seeing her mother’s unhappy state, she began to hate that marriage was unequal and unbalanced in power, which led her to avoid marriage until she was 38. Most of the male figures in her early life were unreliable and unjust, and she realized that she would have to rely on herself.