Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminism

Topics: Feminism, Age of Enlightenment, Liberalism Pages: 4 (1571 words) Published: December 7, 2011
‘…And Life is More Than a Dream’
Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is an early feminist treatise which includes the footprints of liberalism and can be seen as a declaration of the rights of women to equality of education and to civil opportunities. With a simple and direct rhetoric, the book offers a public polemic which differs from the Enlightenment thinkers and intellectuals of the age (such as J.J. Rousseau, David Hume, John Locke), who describe the freedom of mind and virtue within the autonomy of men. Her bona fides to reconstruct the doctrine of natural rights is germane to “persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiments, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings who are only the objects of pity and that kind of love, which has been termed as its sister, will soon become objects of contempt” (p.73) Her book is based upon on the simple principle that if woman is prepared by education to become the companion of man whose “muscles are relaxed and powers of digestion destroyed, we see women with more dignified aspects” (p.132). Sparkling from Rousseau’s idea of education, Wollstonecraft wants women be in the same classes with men, not confined in close rooms, which concludes in such a way that “they have power not over women; but over themselves” (p.133). Since people have tended to use reason to justify injustice rather than promote equality, a vindication of the rights of women is needed. The ‘equality’ as a phenomenon includes men within common life, isolates private life and creates tyrannies which transform into cages women are trapped in like feathered races and they have no choices but to “procreate or rot” (p.133). She uses the segregation of common and private spheres melted within the treatise from a liberal feminist point of view. The book qua a call for...
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