Wollstonecraft In The Feminist Movement

Good Essays
To ascertain the importance of the role Wollstonecraft played in the feminism movement, you must first understand the state of the movement before her arrival, the growth of the movement during her campaigning and ultimately the state of feminism after she had died. Only then can you truly understand her impact, her significance and her legacy in the movement. There can be few who would disagree with her importance, her book Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) was a wholly significant event, and started the step change in the debate about equality. In fact Duman (2012) suggested that Wollstonecraft constituted the foundation of modern feminism, as she applied basic arguments of Enlightenment to the family, woman and private sphere. The…show more content…
Wollstonecraft believed that women’s inequality only existed as a result of social foundations, she believed that by giving women an education equal to that of men and in allowing them the same job prospects this issue of inequality could be erased.Taking a position different from the modern male thinkers in her era, she expanded such ideas as “reason”, “natural rights”, “social contract” towards relations between genders and patriarchal authority of the family. (duman, 2012). Her work made a symbolic contribution to political thought and views and in educational theory, not to mention her work on women 's rights, her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and is deemed to be one of the great writings of feminist ideology. British feminists were very much divided in their positions towards Wollstonecraft’s ideals, the most extremist praised them whilst others disagreed in disgust. Wollstonecraft’s compelling message, that with a change in the ‘character’ of women social form would be revolutionized for everyone, did however inspire the majority of the nineteenth century feminists. For example, those Socialist and Chartist feminists saw her to be a heroic figure for women’s suffrage, yet still a large part of the Victorian female activists…show more content…
Her reputation grew, her words finding a new audience, but crucially the movement had traction. It would take generations for her dream to be achieved but it is clear that without her, the movement might not have begun at all. In the 1840’s education began to reform, as beliefs came into place that mothers needed to have a substantial education, as they were the first educator of the child, this was also due to the stress that the developing feminist movement placed upon education, along with a number of other factors. One of the only jobs available to women in the early half of the nineteenth century was the position of governess, however those who were seen respectable enough to hold such position were more often than not poorly educated and so were not prepared to take on such a job. Furthermore, those middle-class women who required a job also did not have the appropriate education to fill this post, and so colleges were set up in which to train women to become teachers. In fact even a century after her death, she was still used as a spark in the movement. Wollstonecraft 's reputation was reestablished by Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the British suffrage movement (National Union of Women 's Suffrage Societies) who wrote a very sympathetic preface for Wollstonecraft’s book when it was re-published in 1891. It
Get Access