In this paper, I will discuss on Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘’A Vindication of the Rights of Women’’ (1792). Mary Wollstonecraft is essentially considered as the mother of feminism as she was the first feminist. She portrays typical feminist thoughts and a pure history of feminism. She uses critical reasoning tools to analyze the womanhood social construction. Wollstonecraft views the plight of women as an odious act indicating manners of an immoral system where men dominate almost every aspect of life. In her view, women’s degradation roots are majorly caused by faulty education (Wollstonecraft). Traditional upbringing is also attributed to be one of the main sources of the bondage of women. The churches, education institutions and family at large play a vital role in giving room to gross gender inequalities to crop in to the society. Her revolution in female manners significantly contributes to a comprehensive democratization of gender, economic, political and social relations.
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She defends the French Revolution as it signifies a constructive move towards the civilizing process. She rewrites the whole manners history of the Scottish Enlightenment in such a way their connection to moral sentiments is denied. She thoroughly changes the political Scottish Enlightenment language to a democratic cover of the French Revolution (Gillis et al). She has a strong belief that the upward progress of technology and intellect is a great channel in reshaping of the public and private fields concerning equality.
As a feminist, Wollstonecraft challenges the common belief that more emotional and less rational than men and that they have greater sensibility and weaker ethical sense. She is against the belief that women’s place in the society is to serve men either through raisin of children, emotional support, seductive mistress or household management. She claims that the present oppression of women is as a result of social convention and defective education presented to women (Alanen et al). According to Mary Wollstonecraft, a woman should be given the opportunity to decide her own issues. She should be, in one way or the other independent but not fully dependent of her husband. Wollstonecraft argues that education is the best tool that women can use in order to participate equally in the society. She strongly advocates for equal opportunities of education to both men and women.
There are basically three minor arguments mentioned by Wollstonecraft in support of her major argument on the plight of women. The very first minor argument supports the view that reason is the basic element that positions individuals above brutes (Leslie et al). The second minor issue concerns virtue as it is in this case responsible for exalting one above others. The third and last minor principle put forward by Wollstonecraft relates to the fact that men are meant to struggle in all their endeavors, particularly n acquiring knowledge beyond animal’s reach. The perfection and ultimate happiness in life and in a society at large are thus achieved through the accomplishment of one having a good degree of reason, virtue and adequate knowledge that distinguishes individuals.
Wollstonecraft challenges Rousseau, Milton and Dr. Gregory’s wisdom which basically encourage notions of modesty and confinement that are false. It is more due to this that she strongly demands equal education for women. She refers to the courteous men as sensualists and portrays them as very harmful as they treat women only as objects of sex (Wollstonecraft). This feminist thus encourages the strengthening and enlargement of the mind of women to put an end to their blind obedience.
She has a very great task of criticizing Rousseau, Milton and Dr. Gregory who are academic giants of her time. They are male chauvinists who view women as artificial and weak. Rousseau for instance says that women are grossly unnatural. Wollstonecraft blames them as being responsible for women’s backwardness despite their high intellectual level. Her philosophy revolves around the fact that women similar to men and deserve equal rights. She is against Rousseau’s character of misogyny. Misogyny basically refers to individuals who strongly believe that women are naturally inferior to men in all aspects of life.
In this paper, I have discussed the overarching arguments put forward by Mary Wollstonecraft. It is clear that if women are given equal chances to education and there is proper cultivation of their natural reason, they would definitely make reasonable mothers, wives and citizens. Good women influence the men to be good and thus the society as a whole benefits with better citizens. This gives more reason as to why women should be properly educated as men and their natural reason cultivated.
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