Mary Wollstonecraft: A Feminist Analysis

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The inequality of women has been a long-lasting issue since its existence, with the issue still persisting today. Women have gained more rights over time in great part to efforts made by feminists, however, much progress still needs to be made. Mary Wollstonecraft, often cited as one of the founding feminist philosophers, is a notable feminist whose advocacy and ideas on femininity have acted as a strong influence for the modern conception of feminism. One of Wollstonecraft’s most prominent works in regards to feminism is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In the piece, Wollstonecraft uses and critiques philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s work titled Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, in order to build a case in defense of a woman’s…show more content…
Similarly to with education, Wollstonecraft is a strong critic of Rousseau’s ideas in relation to socialization. It can be inferred from Rousseau’s work that he believes that women are innately subservient as he believes that their central purpose in life is to please men. Wollstonecraft uses Rousseau’s work titled Emilius and Sophia: Or, a New System of Education to exemplify this notion as she mentions two characters from the piece named Sophia and Emilius who abide by stereotypical gender norms (Wollstonecraft, 78). Using these characters, Rousseau attempted to prove that “woman ought to be weak and passive, because she has less bodily strength than man and hence infers, that she was formed to please and to be subject to him” (Wollstonecraft, 78). Although Wollstonecraft agrees with Rousseau that women are biologically not as strong as men, she does not believe that physical strength is a reason for women to be seen as subsidiary to men. According to Wollstonecraft, the systems of education in place perpetuate socialization among the sexes which results in a society in which women are not using their reason while men lack reason. This knowledge brings the importance of education to the forefront as the current educational system is perpetuating inequalities among women by educated youth to conform to the stereotypical gender norms that are brought on by socialization. To combat the negative aspects brought on through the educational system which perpetuates inequalities brought on by socialization, Wollstonecraft calls for an educational system that focuses on understanding rather than one that nurtures sensibility at the cost of understanding (Wollstonecraft, 82). She believes that the current educational system contributes to some women’s dependence on men as due to the amount of time that women have been dependent, “is it surprising that some
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