Through her text, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft advances a woman’s right to education. In her testimony, she accepts the viewpoint that a woman’s sphere is at home, but she asserts that, unlike other writers, there is a slight distinction between home and public life. She believes there is no distinction between public and private life. The household setting is important to her because it serves as the foundation for the social life that is depicted in public. She goes on to say that both men and women are responsible for both the family and the state at the same time. To vindicate is to set free from blame; this definition is significant in providing direction on the view which I hold that the author justifies women through her text. Therefore, I agree with this notion by backing it with the following evidence.
First, I support Wollstonecraft’s postulation that woman deserves the right to education. The reason is that she is at the center-stage of knowledge of the young ones. She proceeds to say that training is essential as it strengthens the institution of marriage. Her view of marriage underpins this standpoint. A healthy marriage is collaboration between a wife and a husband- marriage is a social pact between two people in love (Wollstonecraft, pg. 39). Therefore, as she states, a woman deserves to have an equal insight to preserve the institution of marriage. She further goes on to state that a stable marriage offers a good foundation for children’s education.
Secondly, Mary Wollstonecraft appreciates that both men and women are sexual beings. In that respect, it is imperative that both men and women adhere to fidelity and integrity to build a healthy marriage Wollstonecraft, pg. 85) . Further, she holds that men need to be dutiful and responsible in addition to their keenness on sexual pleasure. Her experience with the father of her daughter who could not live to this expectation justifies this view. The point of having control on family size is applicable and relevant even to this day. The reason is that having a manageable family provides quality life to family members, thus serves a country better by raising better citizens. Nevertheless, the point that duty above pleasure does not mean that feelings are irrelevant and therefore not relevant; in her ethics, she wants to harmonize thought and feelings which she calls the voice of reason. Wollstonecraft being one of the philosophers of the enlightenment period, the reason is of great importance to her as it is to all members of the society especially women who she wants to vindicate and who are vital stakeholders in the family with an enormous duty of building a family and in extension the community at large.
Mary Wollstonecraft is against women immersion into feeling and sensing activities for example beauty and fashion because to her these activities reduces a woman’s power to reason correctly and reduces their capacity to fulfill their responsibilities in the marriage fully and lessens their efficiency as primary educators of children. In that regard, this makes them less responsible citizens. By harmonizing thoughts instead of separating them and putting them side by side for ones which affect both men and women, Wollstonecraft was critiquing the work of Rousseau, a campaigner for personal rights who however approve the fact that such liberties were suitable for women. According to Rousseau, a woman could not reason adequately, and as such, man is the only being who had the freedom to exercise reason and thought. Deducing Rousseau’s views, it is just men and not women who could be citizens.
Thirdly, Mary Wollstonecraft in woman vindication offers a precise view: she states that real freedom is achievable when man and woman are equally free and both show commitment in their duties to their families and state. To her, this equality is only possible when a woman has equal access to education as men. The type of training which acknowledges a woman’s responsibility to the knowledge of her kids, as an equal partner to her husband in their family which respects the notion that reason drives a woman in the same manner as a man: with thoughts and feelings. In the present era, it might appear naïve by holding the notion that providing quality education for a woman will advance through equality of women, but a century following Wollstonecraft’s writing offered many educational opportunities for women. Further, in this period education profoundly transformed the opportunities and lives of women in all spheres. With limited quality and equal education opportunities, women are prone to neglect to Rousseau’s view of inferiority and separate field (Wollstonecraft, pg. 69).
Fourthly, Wollstonecraft highlights the different types through which women engage in silly activities. These acts include reading of books with little insight, consultation, and visitations to healers, fortune tellers, and mediums; handling children like their idols, giving too much attention to dress and fashion; and competing with other women on issues of little importance (Wollstonecraft, pg. 155). The limitations of women do not emanate from their natural weaknesses but originate from the low status the society accords them and their exposure to limited educational opportunities.
Going through A vindication of the rights of woman in the contemporary world, one wonders the relevance of some sections of the book and how out-dated are some parts. This highlights the tremendous transformations in the value the society accords to woman’s reason in the present dispensation as opposed to the late years of the 18th century. Nevertheless, the book offers an essential reflection on how the contemporary society handles the issues of equality and responsibility.
At this point, the author challenges for an evolution of the character of women to restore the lost dignity of females and make them significant figures in the society. Wollstonecraft challenges women to stand up, change themselves and in effect transform the world (Wollstonecraft, pg. 45). She states that the community ignorantly render women foolish, and she postulates that it is the female revolution that can change this notion by evolving their character. By changing the perceptions that women are useless, foolish and only beautiful is when they can stand a chance of emancipating their position in the community as essential members. The transformation is achievable through attainment of quality education, developed reason, perfection of values and embrace of modesty which originates from rationality and sobriety of the mind. Besides, they must stop regarding themselves as just playing objects for men. Besides, autonomy, active participation in politics, attainment of education and financial freedom is imperative for justification of a woman. Nevertheless, the societal norms of her time were unfulfilling and dangerous for women and society at large.