CONTINUED CHANGE: SPOTLIGHT ON THE LATE/EARLY 1800 WOMAN
Mary Wollstonecraft: Context Category
Can one voice challenge the thoughts of a crowd and bring hope for change? For one thing, women have been wishing for rights way past the creation of Wollstonecraft’s publication of A Vindication of Rights of Woman, published almost closely 223 years ago. If Wollstonecraft had a chance to see how life has changed for women today, she’d be revealed with the fact that women are now seen in Government, Engineering, Education and in all fields of study. Yet, the world never ceases to hold people who seek dominance by imposing rules that restrict other’s from freedom and equality. Today, such situations exist for young girls around the world, in one familiar case, Malala Yousufzai a young girl who faced a dangerous reality as she was shot for threatening a system that wanted young girls without education (Malala’s,N/A). Her willingness to speak up for that specific cause and tell the world her story in 2013, revealed that women rights still needs to be worked on in places around the world. We may see change where we stand but that won’t prove that change exist everywhere else. How has education bothered anyone before? With Mary Wollstonecraft publication of A Vindications of The Rights of Woman, arguments for the freedom for every individual be it man or woman, to be educated individuals.
British literature captures the heart of persuasion from a woman’s perspective on the issue of equality in genders. The final years of the 1700’s, had Wollstonecraft using strong terms such as “slavery” to make sense of the reality of the environment women were being raised in. One article highlights that this was because women were put into “standards [that]male figure placed on them” (Tomaselli, 2013). Slavery, wasn’t physically being used on women but was psychologically felt since they essentially had no rights “In the eyes of the law, a married woman had no property, no vote, no money of her own, nor any rights to her children” (Anonymous, N/A). Furthermore, one particular idea that Wollstonecraft wanted to give emphasis about was the dying nature of beauty. Wollstonecraft, uses a flower to give special attention to the fact that beauty “fades” with time (Wolfson S., Manning P.,2013). It was her way of decreasing the importance of beauty and promoting the idea that woman were capable of much more. Stanford’s Encyclopedia examines how it could of been because, “She wanted women to be transformed into rational and independent beings whose sense of worth came, not from their appearance, but from their inner perception of self-command and knowledge”” (Tomaselli, 2013).
In Vindications of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft, emphasized primarily on the fact that woman should be viewed differently from vain, helpless, and weak human beings , to rational creature (Wolfson S., Manning P.,2013). Without equality of education for women, the situation was that women were fully controlled by the male figures in their lives, ” fathers, brothers and male relatives and finally by their husbands” (Smith, 2002). Some women like Wollstonecraft, were raised with a sense of independence since her own father really wasn’t there for her during her childhood years and she didn’t really believe in marriage until she actually “set aside her principle and decided to marry” William Godwin (Wolfson S., Manning P.,2013). However, the topic of marriage in her arguments “contains advice on how to make marriages last […]marriages ought to have friendship rather than physical attraction as their basis. Husbands and wives ought not, moreover, to be overly intimate and should maintain a degree of reserve towards each other” (Tomaselli, 2013). Marriage was like the only reason for existence, the young girls in the late and early 1800’s were being raise with the mentality that their goal in life was to find a husband, have children, and be faithful wives in their lifetime (Smith, 2002). Education was in no part an admired attribute in woman “socially reading alone was seen as selfish and antisocial, a sign of self-indulgence that bordered on moral danger of excess.”
Mary Wollstonecraft, proves how not being able to have accessed to education limited woman from being involved individuals in political and social rights. Wollstonecraft uses her writing to portray that for equality, women must be given political and civil rights or “natural rights of mankind” (Wolfson S., Manning P.,2013). Her own words did not portrayed in any sense the views of an extremist, but simply put in her way to clarify she does,” not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” (Wolfson S., Manning P.,2013). Moreover, something that does not seem surprising at all is the fact that not giving woman access to education, conflicted them from finding good working jobs. In this century, woman found themselves working in fields like ,” domestic service, agricultural laborers, seamstress, washer women, and serving the wealthy residents” (Smith, 2002). In one case, an Irish-born woman named Margaret Bulkley disguised herself as a man her whole life to study medicine in school in Edinburgh, she spent the rest of her educational years dressed as a boy to become a surgeon (Anonymous, n.d.).
Finally, the liberty to now be sitting here, writing an assignment for a University that gives me access to education no matter my gender, is alone a pretty awesome privilege. As a woman myself, I reflect on the meaning of this opportunity with new found respect for the author who brought me this realization I don’t really think of on a daily basis, for I know that getting here wasn’t something that was gained and given to me over-night. I think it’s interesting how an author born 256 years ago could gain one new admirer for her 1792 published work. Moreover, In today’s world Malala Yousufzai was a young girl who because she was born a female in a wrong place, was told she could no longer get education. Giving everyone education is a freedom no one should be ceased from. Mary Wollstonecraft words “Make them free, and they will quickly become wise and virtuous,” provides the reason for having such powerful tool such as, education.
Anonymous. (N/A). Taking Liberties:The Struggle for Britain’s Freedom and Rights. Retrieved 10 28, 2015, from British Library: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/takingliberties/staritems/65wollstonecraftrightsofwoman.html
Devito, D. (n.d.). Reading Evolution: intellectual History. Retrieved from Maine University: Wollstonecraft preferred privacy and her books. Societally, reading alone was seen as selfish and antisocial, a sign of self-indulgence that bordered on moral danger of excess.
Smith, K. (2002). Retrieved from Historical Brief-Lives of Women in early 1800’s: http://staff.washington.edu/cgiacomi/courses/english200/historicalbriefs/women.html
Susan Wolfson, &. P. (2013). The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Fifth Edition. In M. Wollstonecraft, A Vindicationof the Rights of Woman (pp. 302-27). Upper Saddle River,NJ: Pearson Education.
Tomaselli, S. (2013, 07 17). Wollstonecraft. Retrieved 10 28, 2015, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wollstonecraft/