Gender Equality During Enlightenment

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The Age of Enlightenment (Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries. I do not believe there was gender equality, during the Enlightenment. Intellectuals such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Astell published writings based on their beliefs in the lack of women’s rights in their society. Both, Wollstonecraft and Astell, prove that gender equality did not exist in England during pre and post Revolution. Also Enlightenment thinker Jean Jacques Rousseau from Switzerland concludes in his writings that men’s statuses are morally superior. His beliefs support gender inequality during the Enlightenment.  The fact is that during the Enlightenment women were not the only ones with the lack of rights. Men also believed their rights were not justified. John Locke was an English philosopher who believed in natural rights. These were rights to life, liberty, and property. However, if we examine his theory of natural rights he only addresses men. The natural rights state “every Man has the right to..” denying these rights to women. John Locke justifies women inequality through his natural rights theory. Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist in England during the Enlightenment. She published A Vindication to Rights of Women in 1791, post Revolution. In her writing she explains women in her time are denied their potential in society. For example she states the neglect of girls’ education. She believes women should have equal education to men. Wollstonecraft also details the various ways in which women are subordinate. To support this she states they are taught that their looks are of supreme concern, and they tend to cultivate weakness. She goes on explaining how women are “helpless adornments” in their society. Wollstonecraft theorizes women’s lack of rights stem from their low status in society and insufficient education. Like Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Astell was a feminist during the Enlightenment in England. To support her beliefs in...
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