★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this piece as part of my college curriculum in a Women’s Authors class. I loved it.
I’ve seriously thought about getting some of this books’ texts tattooed. They’re incredibly powerful and profound. This is a timeless essay that encounters a modern mind trapped in the past.
The contents are important as it speaks for women everywhere. It’s a handy dialogue to refer to and apply in life. She defends and encourages women to let go the social construct expected of them and to indeed chase their dreams, gain an education, find ways to earn mental strength and independence, and to generally explore their potential.
Wollstonecraft considers all of these social problems, ultimately, to be the result of ‘firmly rooted prejudices which sensualists have planted’; in other words, women are the way they are because it’s more gratifying to men’s sexual desires. She fights this as well, although her solution is to suppress free sexual exploration in everyone; and while I do not agree, there is something to be said for the way she writes and thinks regardless. She only wishes for women to have power over themselves — not even over men — just themselves and their potentials.
It’s an impressive read that helps put into perspective what women still deal with 230+ years after the initial feminine suffrages. And while there has been significant change and progress, we can note that we’re no where near finished. This book reminds you that the feminine struggle is not a historical footnote, but still an ongoing process.
This is an empoweringly bold and courageous novel worth its time.
“I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.” – Mary Wollstonecraft
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