An Early Feminist: An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

An Early Feminist: An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

Length: 950 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, In Which are Inserted the Characters of a Pendant, a
Squire, a Beau, a Vertuoso, a Poetaster, a City-Critick, &C. by Judith Drake

Published in 1696, the authorship of An Essay in Defence of the Female sex has been a subject of debate for a long time. Initially the work had been attributed to the contemporary author of Judith Drake, Mary Astell. However this controversy has been cleared with Judith Drake as the decided author of this work. The controversy perhaps emanated from the fact that no author had been indicated on the letter. It was only stated, ‘Written by a lady’. This has been interpreted by some literary analysts as a having been done deliberately by the author to emphasize her message of feminism, the key theme in the work. (Hannah, 2006).

The main theme in Drake’s work is feminism, with the author seeking to disprove the male stereotypes that have painted women as being intellectually inferior. Written as a letter to a female friend, as is thus indicated: “In a letter to a lady”, the author is said to have been inspired to write the essay by some conversation between ladies and some gentleman. In vindicating the
intellectual strength of women and dismissing the belief by men that women are inferior, Drake employed the rationalist approach, similar to the approach used by John Lock in his work ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’. This framework followed only two other earlier works by female authors, Fancoise Poulain De La Barre’s analysis of cultural misconstruction of gender in her work ‘De l’egalite de deux sexes’ in 1673 and Mary Astell’s ‘A serious proposal
to the ladies’ in 1694 (Hannah, 2006). Using this rationalist approach, Drake successfully coun...


... middle of paper ...


...tions, are born
slaves, and live prisoners all their lives". Drake also joins other feminist writers in echoing their key concern for women, equal opportunity to education. (Jones ,1990).

Works Cited.
Smith, Hannah. "Abstract: English 'Feminist' Writings and Judith Drake's An Essay in Defence
of the Female Sex (1696)." The Historical Journal. Cambridge University Press, 2001. 18
December 2006 fromPage=online&aid=85583>.
Devereaux, Johanna “Affecting the Shade”: Attribution, Authorship, and Anonymity in An
Essay in Defence of the Female Se,Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature(Vol 27) Number 1,
Spring 2008, pp. 17-37
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tulsa_studies_in_womens_literature/summary/v027/27.1.devereaux.
html
Jones, Vivien Women in the eighteenth century: constructions of femininity, Routledge, 1990

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Sexism in the Church and Culture Essay

- Sexism is defined as “the system and practice of discriminating against a person on the basis of sex” (Purple Ribbon Campaign – What is Sexism. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador), but if one were to ask the average Canadian to define the same word, the results would vary enormously. In today’s modern society, people often think that sexism only applies to women in violent domestic cases because that is the type of sexism the media dominantly displays. However, this has been proved to be an incorrect assumption....   [tags: sex discrimination, maternity leave]

Better Essays
1595 words (4.6 pages)

Gender And Sex : The State Of Being Male Or Female Essay

- ... When you look at the two terms this way we can clearly see that these words are related as they are similar but they in fact do not mean the same thing. As Ryle puts it very clearly sex is biological and gender is social. To understand better the Merriam-Webster definitions we had before we will return to their dictionary to define the term dichotomy: “a difference between two opposite things : a division into two opposite groups”. This definition will help us understand sexual dichotomy which is the division of sexes although this division embodies a world in which there are only two sexes, male and female, a world that does not exist....   [tags: Sex, Male, Gender, Female]

Better Essays
873 words (2.5 pages)

The Second Coming a Poem by W.B. Yeats Essay

- 'Thing fall apart the centre cannot hold' is a line in W.B Yeats poem 'The Second Coming' because of its stunning, violent imagery and terrifying ritualistic language, "The Second Coming" is one of Yeats's most famous poems, its set in a world on the threshold of apocalypse must like the three texts. The texts 'Henry IV Part 2' by William Shakespeare, 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and the poem 'The Waste Land' by T.S Eliot deals with the topic of disintegration of and within civilisation....   [tags: The Waste Land' by T.S Eliot, sex, love]

Better Essays
1871 words (5.3 pages)

Gender, The Sense Of Being Male Or Female? Essay

- What is gender, and how is it represented in our society. Gender is defined as the sense of being male or female (Feldman, 2016). However, gender differs from sex in that, sex refers to the physical characteristics that differentiate males and females (Feldman, 2016). There are certain products that individuals are drawn to or automatically attached through societal norms. For instance, a woman may automatically go into a store and go directly to the clothing and shoe department. In contrast, a male may walk in to the same store and be drawn directly to the sporting goods section....   [tags: Gender, Female, Male, Sex]

Better Essays
971 words (2.8 pages)

Sex Selection Is Any Practice Essay

- ... Then one or more cells are removed from each embryo and tested for the presence of X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes. The embryos of the desired sex are transferred into the mother’s body. This technique is very reliable since the gender of the embryo is checked before implantation. Consequently, there cannot be any uncertainty in the child gender. However, the amount of embryos created by IVF could be limited, thereby there might not be an embryo of the desired sex. Moreover, the embryos created might not develop normally and become incapable of surviving in the mother’s body....   [tags: Gender, Female, Male, Sex]

Better Essays
1544 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on Gender Is Confused With Sex

- ... A vast majority of the time, these different views are often instilled upon us as we grow up, with or without realization--for instance gender norms. Gender norms have paved its way into today’s world becoming an abiding feature of everyday life. Since society has drawn a distinctive line in order to distinguish between males and females with gender norms, it has become more and more difficult for children to become who they really want to be. As children begin to apprehend that they are of a specific gender, they deem themselves into what they have learned from the rest of the society. According to Learning to Be Gendered by Penelope Eckert, learning to comply with one’s gender identit...   [tags: Gender, Female, Male, Sex]

Better Essays
785 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on A Time Comes When The Female Sex Is Honored

- ... Chorus hopes that Medea will “…drop this fierce resentful spirit,” believing that Medea’s temperament will only last a short while (22). Medea acknowledges her society’s view of feminism and declares, “Surely, of all creatures that have life and will, we women/Are the most wretched. When, for an extravagant sum, we have bought a husband, we must then accept him as/Possessor of our body” (24). In Medea’s statement she realizes that husbands are the controllers of the wives’ bodies; more importantly, they are given all decisive power and are praised for their rationality whereas women are “…useless for honest purposes” (29)....   [tags: Woman, Gender role, Female, Medea]

Better Essays
1274 words (3.6 pages)

Gender And Sex Are Socially Constructed Essay

- ... This story assumes a variety of factors such as the social behavior of gender, that a sexual choice is due to nature (biology), that there is a binary system of the sexes which consists of male and female, and that the two-sex system is universal since it is a fact of nature. The binary system which may apply in some parts of the world is not true in other societies and throughout history. In the eighteenth century, the general belief was that there was only one sex. This was due to the way in which the scientists of those medieval times defined the sexes....   [tags: Gender, Male, Sex, Female]

Better Essays
1353 words (3.9 pages)

Single Sex And Co Ed Schools Essay

- ... According to the National Coalition of Girls ' Schools, three times as many alumnae state they excel better in the field of math in science than girls in co-ed schools. Professor of law Rosemary Salomone from St. John 's University state that many students feel more comfortable participating and in a single sex classroom because they do not have the opposite gender there to tease them when they are embarrassed. A research conducted by Ursula Kessels and Bettina Hannover from the British Psychological study gives results on the participation of female students....   [tags: Gender, Female, Male, Sex]

Better Essays
915 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Women And Female Students Use Language Differently

- Men and women are not made equal. At least this is what Deborah Tannen believes in her article “How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently.” Tannen is a professor at Georgetown University, and is often highly revered for her work in linguistics. The article is meant to show the differences in communication learned at an early age by boys and girls. However, in the article, Tannen shows lack of direction with thought and evidence that should be apparent in the work of someone on the collegiate level....   [tags: Female, Male, Sex, Gender]

Better Essays
1007 words (2.9 pages)