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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

by Mary Wollstonecraft

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,932303,057 (3.88)136
In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft tackles the wasted potential she sees in women, refusing to see them as inferior to men; she decries their limitations and suggests that they are worthy of an equal standard of education, and that they should be taught to develop their own reason, not simply how to gain a man. Written in 1792, at the height of the French Revolution, A Vindication is an eloquent and persuasive response to the prevailing attitudes of the time. It is the original feminist manifesto.… (more)
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English (29)  Italian (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
One of those books I was mildly embarrassed not to have read, so here I am finally getting around to it. Reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman at a remove of more than two centuries from when it was first published, it was striking to me how much Mary Wollstonecraft's ideas seemed both very relevant (nepo babies! abolish the British monarchy! educate kids equally and let women have careers!) and very dated (classism, racism, and xenophobia, oh my! the Enlightenment Cult of Reason everywhere!) all at once.

For all that she has blinkers on when it comes to issues of class and race, Wollstonecraft is surprisingly acute at making the connection between broader issues of hierarchy and oppression and discrimination against women. Her flaying of Rousseau was also super satisfying ("'Educate women like men,' says Rousseau, 'and the more they resemble our sex the less power will they have over us.' This is the very point I aim at. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves."), and I appreciated throughout Wollstonecraft's willingness to call bullshit, even if I didn't always agree with the points she was making.

Wollstonecraft probably has made all of her main points by halfway through A Vindication, and the internal structure of the book could have used some refining to make it less repetitive, but it still retains enough of its power that you can see why it was such a landmark manifesto. ( )
  siriaeve | Jan 29, 2023 |
Wollstonecraft's main thesis, which was quite radical for the time, was that women should be educated towards ends other than catching a husband. Quite a good idea, I think. She argued that for women to be good wives and mothers they needed to have their reason trained and their body healthy; apparently simpering delicate women are not terribly useful, as much as the men may have liked them. This book was very difficult to read; sometimes Wollstonecraft seems to wander away from her point, and I am not sure that she always makes it back. However, it is an interesting book if you are interested in the history of feminism. It is also interesting if you are interested in Victorian literature since the period about which Wollstonecraft is writing is round about then.
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
يُعتبر من أوائل النصوص النسوية وملهم الحركات النسوية الحديثة. فرغم أنه كُتب قبل أكثر من 200 عام، إلا أن الجدالات المطروحة مازالت تُثار اليوم. كما أنه قراءة أساسية للمهتمين بفهم تاريخ وتطور الأفكار النسوية.
تناقش ولستونكرافت مثلاً كيف أنّ هوس النساء وصب جلّ اهتمامهن على جمالهن يحرمهنّ من الاحترام الذي يلقاه الرجال، وأنّ تثبيط الفتيات وثنيهم عن ممارسة الرياضات الجسدية التي يقوم بها الصبيان يزيد الهوة بين الجنسين من ناحية القوة البدنية مما يسهّل استعباد المرأة واضطهادها. بالإضافة إلى التركيز على أن عدم المساواة في فرص التعليم والعمل هو السبب الأساسي في فشل معظم الزيجات إن لم يكن كلها. ولضمان إقامة زواج ناجح لا بدّ أن تنال المرأة الاحترام الذي تستحقه، وهذا لا يتحقق إلا بإعطائها فرصاً لإثبات ذاتها مساوية للتي تُعطى للرجل.

لا يسعني هنا إلا تذكر قول الأستاذ علي الوردي
“المرأة هي المدرسة الأولى التي تتكون فيها شخصية الإنسان، والمجتمع الذي يترك أطفاله في أحضان امرأة جاهلة لا يمكنه أن ينتظر من أفراده خدمة صحيحة أو نظراً سديداً” ( )
  TonyDib | Jan 28, 2022 |
3.5 stars
I read this for a class but I did enjoy it. I found some of the ideas within this book really interesting. The reason I didn't rate this higher is that I personally found some of the writing to be a bit repetitive and clearly some of the ideas in this book are outdated. There is still some expectation that women and men are inherently different while I think the modern idea is more that there may be some physical differences between men and women but most differences we see is more the result of societal influence rather than inherent differences.

Wollstonecraft proposes education and education of boys and girls together as being the solution to a lot of problems with inequality. While I don't disagree with education being very helpful with promoting equality and probably at the time, fighting for girls to have access to education was very important and novel, I do think that now that we, at least in the U.S., have an education system that does educate girls and boys together, it is clear that it takes more than integration to promote equality between men and women.

I did really enjoy reading some early theory on this topic but I definitely can get a little frustrated when I'm reading theory that is so clearly outdated, especially when I am not super familiar with the theory expanding on a topic that came later. I would recommend this book. It has a lot of influential and interesting ideas. Just know that feminist political theory has advanced after this book was written. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
This book changed everything, and opened my eyes to a whole world ( )
  alsocass | Jun 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wollstonecraft, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brody, MiriamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Labille-Guiard, AdélaïdeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rowbotham, SheilaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, Fionasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the present state of society it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground.
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"Educate women like men," says Rousseau, "and the more they resemble our sex the less power will they have over us." This is the very point I aim at. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft tackles the wasted potential she sees in women, refusing to see them as inferior to men; she decries their limitations and suggests that they are worthy of an equal standard of education, and that they should be taught to develop their own reason, not simply how to gain a man. Written in 1792, at the height of the French Revolution, A Vindication is an eloquent and persuasive response to the prevailing attitudes of the time. It is the original feminist manifesto.

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Book description
Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal education for girls and boys, an end to prejudice, and for women to become defined by their profession, not their partner. Mary Wollstonecraft's work was received with a mixture of admiration and outrage - Walpole called her 'a hyena in petticoats' - yet it established her as the mother of modern feminism.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Haiku summary
Irrational men.
Embroidery is a waste.
Educate women.
(alsoCass)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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