A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft

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Mary Wollstonecraft, not to be confused with her daughter (the author of Frankenstein,) was an 18th century writer who was known as the “mother of feminism” and an activist in the regards for women’s rights. As she observed political and social developments in France, Wollstonecraft realized that the revolution was giving inalienable rights to men and in the defense of her sex, she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In the second chapter of her writing, “The Prevailing Opinion of a Sexual Character Discussed”, Wollstonecraft says that women are told from the day that they are born that they are meant to be soft, beautiful, innocent, and obedient. Women grow up with the notion that they have to fit the script of this weak, lesser person who obeys and does what she is told. They have the idea that the most important thing is to have a man to protect them and to be physically beautiful for at least twenty years of their life. Wollstonecraft says that when a woman believes that her greatest strength is pleasing another person, she will be dissatisfied in the fact that eventually her strengths will fade and she will not be able to always make that other person happy. It is then that, it is most important that a woman can find comfort in her own self-esteem and intelligence. The problem is that if a woman goes her whole life trying to please another person and fit a certain standard, she does not necessarily have a self-esteem that will comfort her when another person cannot. Wollstonecraft writes that men are superior physically in most instances, while women are seen as weak and bound to a sedentary life on the sofa bound in “Chinese bands” (constrictive clothing) while the men run around outside. She says that girls and... ... middle of paper ... ...is drawn to modern feminist beliefs, I found Mary Wallstonecraft’s writing extremely interesting, especially as a piece from the 18th century. She clearly states that she does not believe in the power of women overruling anyone, but she states that she believes in women getting the education that they need to feel empowered. It is a powerful and inspiring thing to read the words of one of the very first women who believed in the rights of women. I do not necessarily agree with all of her words and I do think that she comes off as a bit of a prude, but that may just be an era thing. I would like to believe that maybe the modern Mary Wallstonecraft would be comfortable with her body and more laid-back. Her philosophy in terms of the rights of women and their education is so important, because many people today unfortunately still hold onto completely outdated ideals.
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