Western Civilization Class

Mary Wollstonecraft And The Rights Of Women

In her writing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft put forth several ideas. One principle she advocated, was for men and women to both enjoy their God given rights. She speaks of men who “considering females rather as women than human creatures, have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers;”. Women are as much human beings as men, and God created them equal. Indeed, it is true that women and men have different abilities and duties, but their rights as human beings are not different.

Mary Wollstonecraft, Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Mary Wollstonecraft, Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Wollstonecraft also wanted girls to have the same opportunity to be educated as boys had. Women, she believed, should be educated so that they can perform their duties well. She often wondered how a mother was supposed to train her children if she herself was not trained? How can she give advice to her husband if she was so uneducated that she knew nothing of the matter? She believed that to be useful in society women needed to be educated, trained, and knowledgeable. If a woman wanted to start a business or get a job, she thought they ought to be able to do so. However, she did not say that women should not be wives and mothers, just that if they wished to do something else they ought to have the freedom to do so.


I think what Wollstonecraft wanted to see changed in society, was for women to be seen as human beings having the same rights as men and that women should be educated and allowed to exercise their God given rights. Personally, I believe that women should be able to exercise their rights, but I do not mean to say that they should shirk their duty. For example, if a woman has children at home and also has the ability to be a engineer, I think that her duty to her children must come before she entertains the thought of working as an engineer. I know that this is not a popular idea in our society, but I believe this is how God intended families to work. Exercising their rights doesn’t mean that they abrogate their God given responsibilities as a wife and mother. It simply means that women are given full liberty to exercise their rights along with their responsibilities, and that they will be treated as equals rather than as mere playthings.


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