HCJ Revision, Wollstonecraft

May 24, 2010

Wollstonecraft asserts that the social subjection of women was partly due to nature and partly due to the system of education given to men and women. Why might she have thought this?

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was a Romantic and Utilitarian, and a great fan of Rousseau. She agreed with his ideas on freedom, but disagreed with his views on women - which were that a woman’s role is to please a man, be humble and submissive (A love/hate relationship).

Nature: (Romantic idea that humankind is determined by nature - Rousseau and Hobbes)

· Wollstonecraft believed that women are considered the weaker sex as women are physically weaker than men.

· She also believed Natural phenomena’s such as pregnancy make women subjective.

· She disagreed with Aristotle’s idea of human nature. He believed that some people (women) are naturally slaves, and that it would be ‘cruel’ to free them as they have no initiative.

Nurture: (environmental impacts)


· Some underpinning to Wollstonecraft’s thoughts was from Locke. She agreed with Locke that everyone starts off with a blank slate, and therefore it is not a woman’s nature to be submissive. It was the fact women were taught to be submissive due to their poor education.

· Education was based on Aristotle’s doctrine and the Bible.

· Aristotle believed that women were in fact a different (inferior) species to men, and that they had no role in reproduction.

· Wollstonecraft argues that the education women were given was all about superficial obsession.

· No independent thought or judgement was included in the curriculum, which she resented.

When Wollstonecraft returned to London she set up a school called Stock Newington.

Wollstonecraft believed that men and women should just be human, asexual or non-sexual beings, until they fall in love and then assume a general identity –She was trying to limit the areas in life where men are men, and women are women.

Her most famous book is the Vindication of the rights of women. The book is, surprisingly, very critical towards women. She blames women for their role in society, as they have allowed men to rule over them and give them a lower status. She hoped that with this book, people would come to realise that gender only limits a woman’s potential.

For more information click: http://charlotteaclarke.blogspot.com/2010/02/liberalism-and-liberty.html

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