Mary Wollstonecraft has long been in the forefront of supporting gender equity and social neutrality. Mary has long called for gender-neutral schooling and equal rights for all women in society. In her early lies, Mary was profoundly influenced by gender inequality, which is why she truly grasped the effects of gender disparity relative to her peers (Arnot, 2006). Her background understanding with gender inequality is a strong basis for her claims and will to campaign for social neutrality. Her experience with gender discrimination included her witnessing the beating of her mum, her sister in a very violent relationship. In addition her right to education was also denied to her. It is that point when she realized that education as well as financial stability were key as much important to women as it meant to men. In her book “A Vindication of Rights of Women” she clearly outline some of the problems associated with gender discrimination (Woolf, 2003). In one of her quotes from the book “Mind has no gender”, she further makes some remarks that imply that women have equal mental capacity and power as compared to any other human being on the earth irrespective of their gender status. Mary is seen to intelligently advocate for women rights according to the time, and the norms or the century (Neill, 2001).
Mary Wollstonecraft lived during the 18th century. Scientific revolution wave highly characterized the century (Arnot, 2006). Many people at the time heavily relied on logics and science for survival. It is at that time when Mary understood the demands and needs associated with that era and hence came up with a logical statement of “mind has no gender.” The statement could be categorized as scientifically true and plausible. Mary used her statement to vigorously advocate for women rights as well as equal educational opportunities. Through her statement, she advocated that women have the same capacity to think and learn if they are presented with similar opportunities as their male counterparts. She advocated that women were not presented with opportunities. Otherwise, they possess the ability to think and act just like any other person. She appealed to the logics of that time when people had already started valuing the need to thinking regarding power and logics. Her statement of mind has no gender fit well with the trend of her time. She provided people with a thought that could be considered as easy to believe. Moreover, on her statement, it is right to say that she understood what people would accept and oppose.
Mary’s approach could be categorized as less offensive to the norms of the time. Her approach to criticizing the norms was polite. Mary could not have simply advocated for gender equality because there were already defined roles in the society. The social norms that were defined at the time were unyielding, and any slight negation of the social norms would have resulted in serious backlash from the society. Therefore, as a way of trying to avoid negating the social norms but still trying to advocate for gender equality in the society, she emphasized on the fact that women have the same thinking ability as men even though they have different roles in the society. They can learn. To start with the statement might have alerted men, as they may have considered it as a threat to their status in the society. Secondly, it was against the norms men and women could have opposed. Therefore, it was the most effective and less offensive approach that could have been used to say that women have different roles in the society but have equal minds as any other gender in the society (Kelly, 1992).
The purpose of Mary Wollstonecraft is coming up with such as statement was probably to get more and advocate for equal educational opportunities for women for which brain is very important. The reason behind what Mary said and why she said is dependent on her purpose. Mary wanted educational opportunities for women, which at that time was possible through considering the thinking abilities for women equal to other genders. For that reason, she advocated for women’s mind. Through her statement, she presents equal power to female and male brains. She heavily criticized the social norms by arguing that women were not given similar opportunities as other genders. Otherwise, they have the same thinking abilities. By coming up with the statement of mind has no gender, Mary hinted out to the society on the social norms and constructions. Through her statement, she credited the environment for women’s backwardness. She further criticized the social norms which were a contributing factor to hindering women in the society from opportunities. She condemned on the women learning habit to treat guests or behave well. Mary was aware that one day women would get educated and they will either claim or fight for their rights and opportunities, for that reason she found the need for women to learn. The though having the same level of education would only be possible if men and women were sent to same schools and had same education opportunities. To avail, her objective of having equal and same educational opportunities for women, Mary, came up with the concept of equal abilities of learning and thinking. In her concept, she emphasized the importance of mind as compared to social or physical attributes (Kelly, 1992).
In summary, there are those that might oppose Mary’s approach and strategy to advocate for gender neutrality. Such arguments should not be considered because Mary, did not have to belittle anyone for the purpose of advocating for women’ rights. Her will and motive to advocate for gender neutrality were from her past experiences and discrimination that she witnessed in her life. Moreover, Mary was aware that she could not go against the mainstream patriarchy. Her approach was a brilliant one and according to the needs. Through her approach to the social problem, it reveals how well she understood the situation. Also it also reveals that she had a vision in mind and that she was working on the most effective way to actualize it. Her approach was meant to create a solution for the society as well as achieve her goal but not to create a social problem for people. All that Mary wanted was educational opportunities which she envisioned to be possible through advocating for equal minds and opportunities other than going against the set social norms. Her approach was appropriate and well-articulated on the context and purpose. She discouraged any forms of discrimination by gender. At long last, Mary did what she could to her purpose and context of time irrespective of the many disagreements with her approach today.
Arnot, M. (2006). Gender equality, pedagogy and citizenship Affirmative and transformative approaches in the UK. Theory and research in education, 4(2), 131-150.
Kelly, G. (1992). Revolutionary feminism: The mind and career of Mary Wollstonecraft. Springer.
Neill, A. (2001). Civilization and the rights of woman: liberty and captivity in the work of Mary Wollstonecraft. Women’s Writing, 8(1), 99-118.
Woolf, V. (2003). Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Critics, 1788-2001, 2(2), 320.