A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Book Summary - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Book explained in key points
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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman summary

Mary Wollstonecraft

A masterpiece of feminist philosophy

4.3 (70 ratings)
10 mins

Brief summary

"A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" by Mary Wollstonecraft argues that women should have the same education and social opportunities as men to be virtuous and useful members of society.

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    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
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    Women should not be looked down on as second-class citizens.

    Ever since the Bible said that Eve was made from a piece of Adam’s rib for his entertainment, women have been considered mere servants to men. But if we want a fair society, this notion has got to change.

    A first step would be for women to be better represented in society; for instance, by having a greater voice in literature. This may seem like a small step, but it’s quite profound. Men have always been able to express their views on women, perpetuating the idea that they’re lesser than men. Meanwhile, women have rarely been able to voice their disagreement. Such behavior is deemed unladylike. Plus, to prevent any kind of disagreement, women were often given mind-numbing stories to read and denied any educational materials that might help them think critically.

    Ensuring that women had more meaningful representation in government would be another step in the right direction. Governments composed solely of men often fail to even consider the rights of women.

    From there, we should enable women to become as virtuous as men. Women are deprived of this opportunity because real virtue can only be attained by understanding and doing – neither of which women are encouraged to do.

    Instead, women are merely taught to appear virtuous. That is, they’re taught to focus on their beauty and grace rather than on their ability to reason and the intellectual power that would command true respect.

    People do not come by such respect easily, they must earn it. Women are at a tremendous disadvantage here as they aren’t allowed access to the education needed to earn the type of respect that one man has for another. Women won’t be able to break down this barrier until they have access to the knowledge needed to develop virtuousness and make rational decisions that are beneficial to society.

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    What is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman about?

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is a historical text that details the gender disparities of the eighteenth century. These blinks explain the ways in which women were subservient to men at this time, why the author wanted a fairer world to take shape and how she suggested it could be done.

    Best quote from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    How can women be just and generous, when they are the slaves of injustice?

    —Mary Wollstonecraft
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    Who should read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman?

    • Feminists everywhere
    • History and sociology students
    • Men who want a historical look at women’s rights issues

    About the Author

    English writer Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the first to argue for equal rights for women. Among her other works, she wrote the pamphlet, “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters.”

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