Today, when anyone mentions the United Kingdom, one of the first aspects thought of about the culture is Queen Elizabeth II. She has been an important figure of the nation for decades, and the idea of there not being a woman as the crown regent seems unfathomable. However, the emergence of women being taken seriously in roles of power is a relatively new accepted concept and until recently women in power seemed to be unrealistic and baffling. In the beginnings of the development of London, A People’s History of London by Lindsey German and John Rees suggests that women were seen as inferior beings with little importance to society who should be willing to marry at a man’s whim. Yet, without women, it seems likely that many of the advances
Elusive Women Rights As widely cited the French Revolution served as the greatest war of liberation of the human race and decried as bloodthirsty lesson on the working of mob mentality. Women despite their extensive participation in the relatively legitimate and orderly legislative and political process, which characterized the first phase of the Revolution, as well as in the violence of the Terror were no better off in 1804 after the formulation of the Napoleonic Code. The question asked is plain. How did women after achieving hard-earned triumph, slip back to the controlling rule of men? The answer lies in the contemporary notions about women, and the image of the ideal revolutionary mother and wife propounded by philosophers, political leaders, and even women of the time.
The eighteenth-century British society was divided along social classes and gender roles. Males were considered to be better in exercising leadership,while women were believed to be better at nurturing and at managing domestic matters. During this period women were deprived from exercising their rights and had limited roles in society. Women were not allowed to vote, own property and most important were denied the right to receive an equal education as men did during this time. Women were deprived from the ability to acquire knowledge and exercise their reason. Marriage was the primary goal in their lives. Not everyone agreed how society had been underestimating the capabilities of women. Wollstonecraft, did not agree on how women were perceived and wanted to make change. she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women,where she stated the reasons why women have been perceived as objects. She felt parents and schools have contributed the neglection of education for women. As result, women were portrayed as weak. Mary Wollstonecraft had very unique opinions about the role that education played in the lives of women and argued powerfully how disadvantaged they were in society.
Thomas Paine was an activist for many causes throughout his lifetime including the abolition of slavery, government rule by democracy rather than a monarchy, and in later years about what he believed were falsehoods in the Bible. He was an advocate for freedom of the people and his writings were often controversial. He believed in democracy and leaned toward rule by the common man. After becoming a friend of Benjamin Franklin, he traveled to the colonies. While in the colonies his writings on the American Revolution caused him to become an enemy of the British Government. When he returned to Great Britain his writings as a proponent for the French Revolution caused him to have to flee to France to avoid arrest. His political stance in France eventually caused him to be imprisoned and he eventually had to flee again to the United States to escape long-term imprisonment. He traveled quite a bit and was able to see firsthand the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Thomas Paine was a gifted writer, and he was very devoted to his causes. He is extremely famous for his pamphlet Common Sense which he wrote about what he felt was the necessity for American independence and later had an input into the Constitution of the United States of America. There were a number of gifted male writers during this timeframe who wrote about the same issues, including Edmund Burke, so even though he was a revolutionary writer, he was not unique.
Indisputably, Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the most influential figures of Enlightenment, also considered the ‘first feminist’. It is certain that her works and writing has influenced the lives of many women and altered the outlook of some societies on women, evolving rights of women a great deal from what they used to be in her time. It is clear that Wollstonecraft’s arguments and writing will remain applicable and relevant to societies for many years to come, as although there has been progression, there has not been a complete resolution. Once women receive so easily the freedom, rights and opportunities that men inherently possess, may we be able to say that Wollstonecraft has succeeded in vindicating the rights of women entirely.
Throughout history, women have been oppressed and seen as subservient to men. Gender differences denied women the right to education, among many factors that men had. Women lived their lives to be wives and mothers while men went to school, held careers, interests passions and individual lives outside of the homes women so rarely left. Mary Wollstonecraft expressed her abhorrence for this injustice in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Later in the same year of 1792, Anna Barbauld responded by attacking Wollstonecraft with her “The Rights of Woman.” Both women present a clear, though opposing argument allowing the reader further insight of the oppression plaguing women in the late eighteenth century.
Chimamanda Ngozi describes a feminist as “A person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”During her Ted Talk from April 12th, 2013, She talks about how since she knew she was female she would have to try and prove her worth in school. She states that “I was worried that if I looked too feminine I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously.” Her words ring true especially
Throughout the history of the world, minorities and women have fought for equality, for equal opportunities as white protestant men. Women’s struggle can be seen from the beginning of civilization. It can been seen as early as the ancient Roman Empire, as the web-site, “The Roman Empire In the First Century” states that women received little, if no, education. They were subjects to the authority of man. As time went on, women’s rights did not improve at all. Throughout the entire world, women were treated as second class citizens to their superior male counterparts. This continued on through the ages; up until the Victorian Era in Britain did women try to denounce these thousand year old “rights of women.” Several brave women spoke out against the ways they were treated, these women included, Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen. Both of these women felt the need to write about this situation of equality for women so they may encourage others to take up arms with them and fight for equality. From the two different texts written by Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” is the more radical of the two texts of the day due to Wollstonecraft covering a broader range of subject that women dealt with in her day.
The Enlightenment was a period of time in the 17th and 18th centuries when intellectuals challenged the status quo. In the existing state of society before the enlightenment, people never questioned the church and the King's right to rule under god, especially since science was very underdeveloped. The enlightenment sparked a change in society once people realized the church was wrong in saying that the earth was the center of the universe rather than the sun. Mary Wollstonecraft challenged this status quo by advocating for her beliefs in equal rights for women in the patriarchal and absolutist society she lived in. I believe that Mary was the most inclusive in her beliefs of all the enlightenment thinkers, and that hers will actually benefit society.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the eighteenth century feminist philosopher, Mary Wollstonecraft. Specifically, it explores her vision and critique of the relationship between the genders by explaining her position and her prescription to remedy the deficiencies she identifies with regards to gender inequality. Additionally, this evaluation asserts that at present, we have partially achieved the realization of Wollstonecraft’s vision of women in society, which dates back two centuries. Finally, it emphasizes the importance of the continued of study of Wollstonecraft’s philosophical ideas in society today.