A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollestonecraft
Since 18th century to date, Vindication of the Rights of Woman has been a vital book in the history of feminist theory. The activism also functioned as a remarkable intervention in the chauvinistic male-dominated society. In a bid to create awareness for gender equality, Mary Wollstonecraft utilized her writing skills to redefine the role of a woman in the society. During the ancient days, women had been demeaned as sexual creatures who served to provide sexual gratification to their male counterparts. Aside from this, women had no voice and were only required to be submissive to men. In order to perform their duties as expected, women were taught the techniques of maintaining an artificial image of beauty so as to please the men in the society (McAuley&Jenny, 22-25). It is for this profound reason that Wollestonecraft wrote her book to address the myriad of problems that women faced in a chauvinistic society.
For a long time, women have suffered in the hands of men who have been given personalized male dogmatic problem. However, this problem can be brought to a halt with new established laws that champion for women’s rights in a society where males are considered to be more equal than females. Women have been forced to live in hostile conditions after continuously being denied their liberty and moral dignity. Wollestonecraft’s sought to educate the society on women’s rights with the intent of alleviating women from the slavery of male who regarded females as sexual instruments. Amid today’s tremendous developments in the education sector, there still exists a large population of women who have been denied the opportunity to go to school (Kramer &Kaley, 275-277). In addition, women have been ridiculed and forced to encourage and support male empowerment. Mothers have been mandated the dubious task of supporting their sons to gain education whilst not encouraging their daughters motion of attending school. Instead, the mothers have been mandated the role of teaching their daughters on how to perform family duties and chores. Wollstonecraft punitively criticizes the extent to which female sexualization had been depicted by respectable writers such as; Dr. Gregory and Rousseau who clearly indicated their support for the continuation gross mistreatment to the female gender.
Wollstonecraft argument focuses on the society’s failure of undermined importance and roles of the female gender. This is because the society has created specific demeaning roles to the women thereby hindering women the right of living as autonomous individuals. Women have subjected themselves to poor treatment due to their obliviousness of common sense in favor of emotions and sentiment. Women have been compelled by the primitive society to live a life that is only conditioned to maternal and family responsibilities. Even though women can live as autonomous individuals, the society prevented this as it remains to view women as ornaments that can be traded off at any point in time. Wollstonecraft seeks to change this old narrative in a bid to promote women empowerment in a society where the female gender has been sidelined. Through Wollstonecraft initiative, women would get the opportunity to make a difference in the world by utilizing their abilities and talents.
“It is time for women to restore their lost dignity; It is time for women to be part of the human species,” said Wollstonecraft (Kramer 276).
According to Wollstonecraft, women need to make a revolution so as to fight for their own rights and freedom in a world where the male gender has been given an upper hand over the female gender.
According to McAuley, Wollstonecraft main motive was to promote education and empowerment towards the female gender (McAuley 25). Education would play an integral role in releasing women from the bondage of gender discrimination and oppression. Wollstonecraft wrote this book as a proposal for a just national education system that supported women’s right to education. Moreover, education would catalyze the process of gender equality that would ultimately revamp social stability. Education is certainly a fundamental tool that would allow people to develop a rational thinking that would also encourage the society to embrace moral practices. Furthermore, education provides hope for gender balance that would allow the society to develop a suitable social tone. However, Anne Barbauld and Dr. Gregory regard women as less rational persons who would use female education to disregard male education. Aside from Barbauld and Dr. Gregory, there were other writers who sought to completely demean the female gender (McAuley 23). Through their writings, these erudite writers worsened the problem of female gender discrimination. Also, the society dictated that a virtuous woman was one who was respectful and fully submissive to men. In an attempt to gain the title of a “virtuous woman”, most women failed to think critically on how their behavior and mentality limited them from attaining equal gender rights. Wollstonecraft in collaboration with other female reformists like Hannah Moore and Mary Hays was able to challenge the patriarchal supremacy, the confinement, and slavery of women to the domestic sphere urging a Reformed conception of the social role.
In an attempt to champion for women’s rights, Wollstonecraft also sought to establish the role of women in marriage and public spheres. In this case, women are encouraged to claim for equal rights and treatment within the institution of marriage (Kramer 276). According to Wollstonecraft, the wife and the husband are required to respect each other so as to enjoy the fruits of marriage. Marriage should also be based on the classical concept of friendship where choice, mutual-esteem, reason and reflective concern of everyone’s character were adhered to by both parties. In marriage, the couples are unified by pledges of affection and appreciation of other’s personality.
Notably, the Vindication of the Rights of Women by supports the extension of male idiosyncratic civil liberties to women in a bid to promote gender balance. Vindication of the Rights of Women serves to enlighten the society on the need to acknowledge and promote women’s freedom and rights. In addition, this book identifies the moral decay of a society that has degraded women as sex symbols and house wives (Kramer 277). Through Wollstonecraft’s initiative, women are advised to continue with the journey towards gaining equality where women would also get the privilege of gaining quality education and proper treatment from the society. Wollstonecraft effort of promoting women empowerment has significantly helped the current young female generation to continue with the brave fight for gender equality and women empowerment. According to research, the rate of illiteracy was extremely high during the traditional era. However, after several decades, literacy level in both female and male gender has significantly improved. Therefore, a vast majority of the learned people are today able to understand Wollstonecraft’s effort of establishing female rights. In addition, Wollstonecraft’s writing has influenced the current society to continue with her journey of promoting gender equality.
Kramer, Kaley. “Called to Civil Existence: Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” (2015): 275-277.
McAuley, Jenny. “From the Education of daughters to the Rights of woman: Mary Wollstonecraft in Ireland, 1786-7.” History Ireland 24.1 (2016): 22-25.