“A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by “Mary Wollstonecraft’ was written in ‘1791’ and published in ‘1792’. In her work she shows how women in her time are confined to the household work and denied their potential in society. She strongly argues about women’s education and should be given the same opportunity of education as of men.
Wollstonecraft criticizes women’s education thus”:
“I attribute these problems to a false system of education, gathered from the books written on this subject by men, who, considering females rather as ladies than human creatures, are additional anxious to form them enticing mistresses than tender wives and rational mothers … the civilised ladies of this gift century, with a couple of exceptions, area unit solely anxious to inspire love, once they have to be compelled to treasure a nobler ambition, and by their talents and virtues precise respect.”
She goes on to mention, revolutionarily, that ”I shall 1st take into account ladies within the grand lightweight of human creatures, who, in common with men, area unit placed on this earth to unfold their schools .
A Vindication of the Rights of Women focused mainly on female equality and on the area of their education. She through her work argued that a woman can not be a good wife, a good mother or a good household manager unless and until she is not educated. A woman should first focus on her appearance rather than being confined to household work. She must become a ‘flower-like playthings’ for men. Main focus of Wollstonecraft is on :- women’s education, treating women with dignity, and providing them a proper training of how to be goog wife, mother and intelligent companions for their husbands.
A Vindication of the Rights of woman is credited as being “the founding text of Anglo-American feminism”(Taylor 197). A vendication is critcizes men and women as a key factor in which women are kept in a state of oppression. She does argue that men and women are always equal in the eyes of God and should be subject to the same moral values and laws and focus on the women denial of voice in public and education for girls which is related to the current situation of adult women.
‘Wollstonecraft draws on Adams expostulation to God in Milton’s Paradise Lost when he claims’:-
“Hast thou not made me here they substitute,
And these inferior far beneath me set?
Among unequals what society
Can sort, what harmony or true delight?
Which must be mutual, in proportion due
Giv’n and receiv’d; but in disparity
The one intense, the other still remiss
Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove
Tedious alike: of fellowship I speak
Such as I seek, fit to participate
All rational delight” (Wollstonecraft p.122)
In her argument idea follows that if God has made men and women then who are we beings to make a discrimination, women should also have the same rights and capacity as that of men. If education for women are denied then men are placing women on the same level with brute animals. She here calls:-
“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience; but, as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualist are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a play-thing. The sensualist, indeed, has been the most dangerous of tyrants, and women have been duped by their lovers, as princes by their ministers, whilst dreaming they reigned over them.” (Wollstonecraft p.126)
Wollstonecraft focus on middle class women. She wants them to be a part of a society and want women to search for knowledge, to read and become interested in political and public spheres. “Rather than politicizing class and family in a way that challenges the separation of public and private spheres, her programme for female emancipation assumes these institutions are necessary, good and, indeed, natural”. (Ferguson 432). In doing so her arguments are becoming more class based for education and feminism rather than for the liberation of working class women.
“The rhetorical use of religion for the purpose of mystification and bullying.”(Ellison 207)
She in her arguments excludes middle-class women and place the poor in a better condition although again the main focus is on education only. Wollstonecraft recognized that at her time women main priority is family responsibility and she also said that if man and woman are tie up a bond together than responsibility should be on both the hands not on one whether it is for educating a child or handling a house. Girl and boy both should give equal opportunities to get educated to ruin their life on their own.
She wrote:- “Indoctrinated from childhood to believe that beauty is woman’s scepter, spirit takes the form of their bodies, locked in the gilded cage, only seeks to adorn it’s prison.” She argues that women are considered to be silly and superficial, treated as ‘toys’ as denial of education has been imposed on them by men. She rightly said that if women want they can be more fruitful than men in spite of their beauty and appearance. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was written during the time of French Revolution and Wollstonecraft employs several aspects of romanticism. She at frequent intervals challenges gender roles, and claims that women have the same power, same potential as men. Although men are superior in physical strength but the masculinity of mind is something which every women should strive to achieve. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ought to be understood among the context of the Enlightenment as a movement containing advanced and sometimes contradictory political, religious, and philosophical implications. the foremost renowned definition of the Enlightenment, although terribly late within the movement, comes in Immanuel Kant’s essay, “What is Enlightenment?””Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immatureness, immatureness is that the inability to use one’s own understanding while not the steerage of another”(Kant, 54).The Enlightenment’s stress on reason created successively an active spoken communication regarding its apparent opposite: feeling. By the time Wollstonecraft wrote, the thought that feeling belonged to the personal sphere of ladies and reason to the general public realm of men had become fairly common.
Wollstonecraft writing is about female equality and feminism.On the other hand there are critique like Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s who thinks rhat men are more superior than women. For Rousseau their is only one good woman who is not try to intrude btween men works or the areas related to men. According to him women should only be capable of fulfilling men desire and raising her children.In Emile he states that “a homely girl, simply brought up, (rather) than a learned lady” (Rousseau, (1791) p. 305).
Rousseau writes, “The men depend on the women only on account of their desires; the women on the men both on account of their desires and their necessities: we could subsist better without them than they without us” (5.9).
Wollstonecraft quotes him as saying, “It being once demonstrated … that man and woman are not, nor ought to be, constituted alike in temperament and character, it follows of course that they should not be educated in the same manner” (5.8).
Rousseau said that women need men in a different prospective as women are weak so they need support of men and it’s a man wish how he wanted to treat his wife or he can treat her in any way.Wollstonecraft is against her in this point of view as she dosn’t take women a weak section of the society and never wanted women to be treated badly by men.
He even didn’t give any preference to women education. He believes that women did not need to be educated as that of men and states that “Her education is neither showy nor neglected; she has taste without deep study, talent without art, judgment without learning. Her mind knows little, but it is trained to learn; it is well-tilled soil ready for the sower.” Rousseau,(1791). He feels that an educated woman is somewhere a big threat to her husband and for a whole society.Wollstonecraft on the one hand admires his work and quoted in her letters “he rambles into the chimerical world in which I too have often wandered” (Wardle (1979) p. 145) in many respects Wollstonecraft is an attempt at a feminist revision of Rousseau’s theories.’ (Jump, (1994) p. 11) but on the other hand she also argues against him about women education and states that “The woman who has only been taught to please, will soon find that her charms are oblique sun-beams, and that they cannot have much effect on her husband’s heart when they are seen every day”. (Wollstonecraft, (1796) p.68). She feels that he claims women as a weaker sex who are not capable of reasoning.Wollstonecraft writes;
“The most perfect education, in my opinion, is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart; in other words, to enable the individual to attain such habits of virtue as will render it independent and to exercise its own reason. This was Rousseau’s opinion respecting men: I extend it to women.” (Wollstonecraft, (1796) p.37)
She somewhat believes that women naturally are weaker sex but socially they are more stronger than men.She mentioned that if girls are given the opportunity to develop themselves form an early age than she can do it and stand by herself and don’t need men superficial power. She always believes in women power in their strength and especially in their education as she always believes that women power is not for men but for herself.
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives;-that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.”(Wollstonecraft (2017) p.110)