A Review of A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft

When I started my journey of reading and trying to understand more about what I was passionate about I found myself holding a copy of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary being born in 1759 would be a great exploration into the life and demands of women during that time and look at how far we have come as a nation. With the age of technology at our fingertips I thought it was imperative to understand my journey in this life by looking at the journeys of other women to see how even though 200 years have passed we as a society still struggle.
Apon discussion with my Auntie on how it is she became the woman she was my Aunt was quick to determine that based on the facts that she could read and write that she must have come from a well off family. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her father was a vagrant and her mothers only purpose was to serve her father. Mary was basically an orphan left to fend for her devices. With a fire in her heart and a storey in her soul she was fortunate to come across Mr Clare and Miss Frances Blood. These two would form the basis of her character and Mary would go on to form a Day School in 1783 blazing a trail for women even way back then. Born in April 1759 she died in September 1797 after giving birth to Mary Shelley. “Lovely in her person, and in best and most engaging sense feminine in her manners.”
I couldn’t imagine the life that Mary lived. Passing away at 38 without ever going to see your child growing up. She was fierless for her time and stood up to the likes of any many as she tried to pave the way for a better furture for all of us. She saw the unjust nature in which women were treated and requested for change. It is no wonder A Vindication is written with scriptures and moral subjects as that is how moral conduct was all based. Knowledge was limited and we relied on those with social stature to keep us informed in all things current. It was rare for even women of status to be able to read and write as even they were only wed to serve the man.
The topic of the worthiness of a female companion sets the tone for the reading ahead. Arguments are made to support the value of having an educated female vs on one who is merely there to take up space. By keeping a women meek and weak it allows men to be the King of the Castle. No heated debates can ever be entered into if the party in question has nothing to debate. Keeping a women weak ensure that men always rises to the top. In time when the novelty of having such a doll wears off and looks begin to fade there is only one natural recourse. Just like in technology it seems the affairs of the heart when not stimulated also needs an upgrade. I was shocked to read the words written as they were coming from a period over 200 years ago. It was like she fore saw the epidemic that we would ahave on our hands if we didn’t properly shift the way we think accordingly. By allowing a women to become educated not only does that allow for more witty banter between the two it also establishes a connection that not even time can erase.
When we think of long lasting relationships (any kind) there is always one common connection between the two. A natural love and bond that nobody can penetrate. We have all had those friends we would lay down our lives for. What happened to that loyalty? It is true that we can only depend on each other but it supposed to be the u nion of two beings that allows us continuous success and growth in this journey we call life. In a time were growing old was an asset one has to consider the value of Mary’s opinion as she was living in a time before we knew the consequences of our actions.
With proper education women can bring more value to their value. They can more readily prepare their children in addition to the life skills that is expected of a mother to teach. She recognized the value that one on one teaching had when coming from the mother. It is in the earliest of years that the character of the child is forming so it is absolutely imperative that the mother be educated. Fast forward to now when we are unable to financial provide for our families. We over shot the goal of wanting to provide education for our children and was forced into a world where money over time has become more powerful. Maybe if we were to slow the understanding and implementation of Mary’s work we would have had a brighter, successful future for our children. Our school systems are overfilled and our teachers are over worked. It is still a tough time for our children to receive proper education even 200 years later.
During a time where a women was only as valuable as her looks Mary knew that it was imperative that we changed this outlook. In a time where a women’s expiry date matured at 20 years of age the only solution was to nurture the beauty from within. A women should desire to be more than the weaker of sexes. Desiring to be educated and to absorb the knowledge from the world around us opens up the possibility of truly living a happily ever after. There was very gender specific ideologies as far as the sexes. Men were supposed to be big and strong and serve as scholars or soldiers and women were meant to be kept soft and weak relying heavily on the men. Women seek the adoration of men and men look to women as a mean’s of gratification. When both parties are only consummed with the physical interactions that intimacy provides it is only a matter of time before this attraction fades. When the dust begins to settle the only thing that has progressed is time and a feeling of inadequacy begins to set in. Even in the 1700’s infidelity was on the rise and she saw the potential damange that pursuing a relationship based purely on sex would provide.
My favourite argument comes in defense based on this scripture Genesis 22-24:
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
How many of us can say we have attended a wedding where this has been the sermon? How many of those couples are still together today? We rush into these unions of marriage because of our desire for instant gratification. “Globally, in the nearly four decades between 1970 and 2008, the divorce rate has more than doubled, from 2.6 divorces for every 1,000 married people to 5.5. Those results are averaged across all the regions of the world that they studied.” (as taken from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/living-single/201902/divorce-rates-around-the-world-love-story). I was shocked in my readings of Mary’s work. It was like reading a foreshadow of what we were doing if we continued on the path that we were on. The tone of her book was the importance of women becoming a men’s equal. How is it that we came to the conclusion that although women was created from the rib of men that she wasn’t worthy of being his equal If women were only regarded as an equal player in the family dynamics I wonder how different the world would be. If the focus was on the dynamics of the family and no on social status how different would things have been. Giving the women’s rights back then instead of waiting for the movement of the 19th century would have opened so many more opportunities for our society to have evolved. The natural evolution of time would have happened and society as a whole would be in a far better place. With one parent fulfilling the role of educator and the other being the provider the natural family balance would be protected. Now we live in a world where both parents work out of necessity and our children are the one paying the price for this lack of fore shadowing.
When one becomes consummed with attracting the opposite sex all other aspects of that indviduals character becomes into question. All other character flaws are highlighted as the party in question only values themselves for what the outside world sees and not what they feel. With my expiry date long passed I have found comfort and balance in nurturing my soul. Becoming actively involved in the strengthening of character not only have I become a positive contributing factor in my role in my family I have found balance. Having the opportunity to explore who I am while developing my son into the human he will become has been the most rewarding experience. This has only been made possible by my husband’s commitment to our family. There is no such thing as gender specific roles. The level of gratification that ones receives is determined between who they are in the inside. In addition to the importance of everybody in society being educated Mary also explores what it means when the family dynamic is singing in harmony. That is the true key to success. Love is something that takes time and is built from mutual understanding and love for each other. The only way that a foundation like that can be made is in time. We are living in a world we are convinced we know what love is. There are many different types of love out there and all of them have it’s place. Yes we do live in an exciting time with ton of interesting and exciting people. Rather than the continuous exploration of each other maybe it is time to get to know ourselves. When one is in a truly committed relationship you have the safety of your union to explore who you are. You can grow in a relationship without sacrificing yourself. In fact being able to grow is a true sign that you have found your partner in this life. The feeling of peace that comes over you as you know your heart is safe is the most incredibly enlightened feeling. Our relationship hasn’t been the whirlwind, electric firestorm that one is used to seeing splattered over social media. He is however my best friend. He knows my deepest darkest secrets and still has decided to stay. He has looked at me with love and when I was unable to love myself. If Eve was created from Adam’s rib then it comes natural to feel like you are one and the same. Where one falters the other succeeds. You don’t have to share everything or nothing at all. The idea is that when together you both complement each other. Being able to stimulate your partner’s mind and being is far valuable then any whirlwind romance can provide. This is the tone and essence of Mary’s book. With proper education we all become capable of being able to engage in stimulating conversations and activities that will both nurture our soul and enhance our character. Isn’t that the true essence of life?To become something of ourselves that we never knew possible? To explore our passions and to live each day filled with positivity and hope? How can we do that if we live in fear of our family dynamic? The only true way to prosper is for us all to be living equally leaving nothing to chance but a level field in which to play.

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