Women Rights and Feminism
A Review of “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” written by Mary Wollstonecraft
by Bianca C. Tate
June 2, 2011
When I reviewed “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” written by Mary Wollstonecraft, I was saddened yet thankful for the women before me who fought for my independence. The essay is about woman rights and women education (Lewis, np). During the time the “feminism’s founding document” was written, society was struggling with the true meaning of Natural Law- unwritten inalienable rights shared by all human beings with the knowledge of right and wrong (morality) (Fiero, 98). Although natural rights echo in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, it did not consider and/or include the rights of slaves, women or children (Fiero, 103). Quite the contrary, the Declaration of Independence referred to white males.
I have noticed throughout history that the reason for not allowing the proper education to women or black people is not because white men think they are not capable of learning. White males are afraid. Throughout history white males have been dominate and superior over blacks and women and did not want them to learn because it will threaten their power and superior role in society. White males ruled the country.
In the document, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,”Wollstonecraft states that the only way a woman can make it in the world is to get married (Fiero, 112). Women of the middle class who were often very educated like Wollstonecraft were deemed as too have no value or purpose in life other than to get married. “The minds of women, she [Wollstonecraft] insisted, were enfeebled by ‘false refinement,’ sweet docility,’ and ‘slavish dependence.’”(Fiero, 111). This is ridiculous because women can do anything a man can do if not better.
Although sexismisn’t as strong as it was back in the 1700’s, it still exists in our society today. It makes me furious when I hear statements like “women are supposed to cook, clean, and take care of the children,” or something as simple as “women aren’t supposed to whistle.” As a woman I have experienced sexist comments every now-and-then.
For an example, I’m a single 21 year old woman who is pregnant with a boy. I was recently told that a mother can’t teach her son how to be a man. I did a poll on Facebook.com and many people, even some women, agreed with that statement. I then noticed that men still think of themselves as superior and women still view themselves less than a man. Men think they can do things better than a woman can. In my opinion, there is nothing a man can do that a woman can’t. Why can’t a woman teach her son how to be a man? What is the difference between a man and a woman? A father can teach his son how to fish, play sports, mow the lawn, and fix things around the house better than a woman can (for the most part). But does that make him a man? Does teaching a daughter how to cook, clean, and sew make her a woman? If I raise my son by myself, it does not make him less of a man. What makes a good man is determined by whether or not he is a good person and vice versa for a woman. Therefore, I can teach my son how to be a good man just as well, if not better, than a man.
Today woman do have the right to vote, speak, run for president, work, etc. But there is still a fight for equality. I don’t want to be viewed as a smart, intelligent woman. I want to be viewed as a smart intelligent person. I’m more than just a woman. I’m a human-being. I praise Mary Wollstonecraftfor her bravery of exposing the stereotypes of woman for what they are, ridiculous and a violation to the natural law and women’s natural rights. We do have rights. We do have a voice. And we are more than just “alluring mistresses” (Fiero, 111). But woman need more than rights. We need respect. We have gotten far but there is still work to be done.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition: Faith, Reason, and Power in the Early Modern World.Sixth ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. 98-112. Print.
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Mary Wollstonecraft Legacy - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Mary Wollstonecraft's Life and Work." Women's History - Comprehensive Women's History Research Guide. The New York Times Company. Web. 23 May 2011.
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