The Inequality of Women in the Enlightenment Essay

1536 Words Nov 10th, 2011 7 Pages
Battle of the Sexes: Inequality of Women During the Enlightenment The Enlightenment was a period when clusters of philosophers, writers, scholars, and aristocrats sharply debated standards and assumptions about women's rights in society. Issues that pertained to widening the women's sphere into more than just the household, questioning the ability of women to logic as men, and debating egalitarian co-educational opportunities for both boys and girls. This was a time when women started to come forth as intellectuals in response to the unbalanced status given to the “weaker” sex. Both male and female Enlightenment thinkers had opinions that spanned across each side of the issues. Jean-Jacque Rousseau, who in his novels, such as Emile, …show more content…
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
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