Synopses & Reviews
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. It was written in reaction to Rousseau's Emile (1762), which argued that the purpose of a girl's education was to make her useful to a man. Wollstonecraft offered a defence of woman's ability to reason, given appropriate education. She argued that the limited education given to women made them docile and empty-headed playthings whose supposed fragility and coquetry were constructions that damaged not only the individual but society as a whole. Her radical prescription was for girls to be educated alongside boys and to the same standard, so that they were not left dependent on marriage for financial security. The independence of mind displayed in this polemic has ensured its place as a foundational work in the canon of feminist thought. For more information on this author, see http://orlando.cambridge.org/public/svPeople?person_id=wollma
Wollstonecraft's passionate polemic on behalf of women's rights and education remains an essential text in the feminist canon.
In this passionate reaction to Rousseau's pedagogical work Emile (1762) Wollstonecraft powerfully defends woman's ability to reason, given appropriate education. Her radical prescription was for girls to be educated alongside boys and to the same standard. Originally published in 1792, this is a foundational work of feminist political thought.
Table of Contents
Dedication; Introduction; 1. The rights and involved duties of mankind considered; 2. The prevailing opinion of a sexual character discussed; 3. The same subject continued; 4. Observations on the state of degradation to which woman is reduced by various causes; 5. Animadversions on some of the writers who have rendered women objects of pity, bordering on contempt; 6. The effect which an early association of ideas has upon the character; 7. Modesty. Comprehensively considered, and not as a sexual virtue; 8. Morality undermined by sexual notions of the importance of a good reputation; 9. Of the pernicious effects which arise from the unnatural distinctions established in society; 10. Parental affection; 11. Duty to parents; 12. On national education; 13. Some instances of the folly which the ignorance of women generates; with concluding reflections on the moral improvement that a revolution in female manners may naturally be expected to produce.