Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminism

2 February 2017

‘…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. 3) 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.

Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminism Essay Example

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 women to take a part in common life shows that this can be possible with an equal education right and this will make the society more developed.

To explain the injustice and inequality, she uses the allusions of her own life and states that being a mistress or a wife whose life is based upon ‘pleasure’ begins as being a sister and dependent upon the brothers. “These brothers are good sort of men and give as a favour, what children of the same parents had an equal right to” (p. 135). She also suffers from the roles given by pseudo- egalitarian society to her. Unconsciousness and the norms created by patriarchy drag women to “choose to be short-lived queens rather than labour to obtain the sober pleasures that arise from equality” (p. 24). Taking it as her main allegation, Mary Wollstonecraft claims that the socialization period which is man centered makes women slaves who live illusions that their ultimate job to serve her masters. To obtain a place within society, they are rolled to use their sentiments. Wollstonecraft means by using the ‘place’ that marriage brings them the nobility and the chance to skip to upper class. While men of society as politician, scientist, thinker or even an aristocrat creates the immortal, women give birth to what is volatile since they are deprived from using the mind: the organ of athanasia.

Unlike the intellectuals of Enlightenment especially Rousseau, Wollstonecraft advocates that the mind has no sexes and it works same in woman like in man. The reason why women can not use what is ideational comes from the lack of education, so there is no tinsel power which interferes with. This shortness, says Wollstonecraft, brings women to a stage where” they can not see the forest while a tree is visible for them” (p. 151). This myopia confines them to a whimsical repetition; what they succeed is just reproduction of the system.

On the judgmental level, the book carries its rhetoric to keen lines when the marriage and its illusion over women is the issue. Wollstonecraft makes no bones of describing the marriage as legal prostitution and this creates a bomb-effect upon the society of time. Although she is criticized by radical feminists who claims that Wollstonecraft misapprehends the women’s place within patriarchal society and finds the men’s physical superiority not deniable and as “a noble prerogative” (p. 72), Wollstonecraft dares to make a statement within a society where men exists only for God and women just for the God settling in the endocardium of men!

We do not actually know whether she had a spark of revolution inside but we can be sure that she has made her best in favor of evolution. Opposing to stoic prejudice, Wollstonecraft also rejects to reproduce the women within the ‘irrational world’ in needs of being ruled by rationality which creates chauvinism of one sex. Like Frances Wright, she supports that subjugated woman can perforate this ‘glass ceiling’ only with her critical mind and she may foresee that woman embroiders herself more and more in common life, based on her critical view of education.

Thusly, we can see liberal feminist such as Frances Wright, Sarah Grimke, Elisabeth Cady Stanton and then other feminists from other waves carries this flag far away. Wollstonecraft advocates education as the key for women to achieve a sense of self-respect and a new self-image that can enable them to live to their full capabilities mentioned above. With  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,  “Mary Wollstonecraft’s reputation has suffered vicissitudes which, even in the history of genius, are unusual.

Her name, during her lifetime, was lauded to the skies by one half of the reading public, and — in exactly proportional measure — vituperated by the other half. Then, for more than half a century, it was wholly forgotten or remembered only as suggesting certain vague associations of a grotesque and not altogether decorous kind. Within the last forty years, the mists have been gradually lifting, and she stands revealed for what she was — a woman singularly original in thought and noble in character. Today it is regarded as one of the foundational texts of liberal feminism. When we study the text more detailed, it can be easier to say that Wollstonecraft deconstructs the rhetoric of the thinkers of age. She uses allegories of J. J. Rousseau, David Hume, and Edmund Burke and so on. Throughout the book, we come across those thinkers as Mr. Burke, Mr. Hume, which affords to bring their manhood in her rhetoric. In addition to the references for Rousseau used above, we can sum up that she judges his thought of ‘humans are essentially solitary’ and his negative characterization of women.

Furthermore, she challenges Burke also because she views him as having a mistaken conception of the nature of power. A great deal of her treatise attacks the educational restrictions and “mistaken notions of female excellence” that keep women in a state of “ignorance and slavish dependence. ” She argues that girls are forced into passivity, vanity, and credulity by lack of physical and mental stimulus and by a constant insistence on the need to please, and ridicules notions about women as helpless, charming adornments in the household.

She sees women as too often sentimental and foolish, gentle domestic “brutes” whose fondness for pleasure has been allowed to take the place of ambition. Wollstonecraft suggests that it is only by encouraging the moral development of every individual to success and independence that a true civilization will work. “Wollstonecraft was a born journalist and polemical writer, not waiting to perfect a system but eager to display the effects of experience on her excited thinking. ” Her rigid and amazonian statements of the feminist try not to effeminate the topic in order to be effective.

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