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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  8,956 ratings  ·  257 reviews
First published in 1792, this book was written in a spirit of outrage and enthusiasm. In an age of ferment, following the American and French revolutions, Mary Wollstonecraft took prevailing egalitarian principles and dared to apply them to women. Her book is both a sustained argument for emancipation and an attack on a social and economic system. As Miriam Brody points ou ...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1792)
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This was simultaneously brilliant and saddening. I didn’t expect these words to resonate quite as much as they did. I didn’t expect to be able to immediately apply them to my life. I was looking for a historical perspective, some sign that we are headed in the right direction.

We are. At least, I think so. Unfortunately, those steps we have taken don’t seem as dramatic anymore. I mean, women can vote. They can run for office. They have been liberated from traditional sexual confines. They can tak
Cassandra Lê
OH MY GOD , this uncoventional, feminist woman is mother of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, who was one of my favorite author only after Rowling, Wilde, Plath...etc.?

SHELLEY, you never tell me how cool your mother was!!! . I thought we were best friends.
Ce livre est un pamphlet politique britannique paru en 1792, en réaction aux débats de l'Assemblée Constituante en France quant à l'établissement de l'instruction publique, plus particulièrement un rapport de Talleyrand(view spoiler) de l'année précédente invitant à écarter les femmes à l'accès aux fonctions publiques. Par là on néglige de les instruire, puisque cela serait parfaitement inutile et dispendieux. Mary Wollstonecraft(view spoiler) s'est emparé de ce ...more
As convenient as it can sometimes be, a disadvantage of reading from anthologies is that one can graduate from college with the vague notion that one has read a work in its entirety, only to discover later that in fact one has read only a page and a half of it in a long-forgotten Eighteenth-Century British Literature class. Which, as you may have guessed, is exactly what happened to me with Mary Wollstonecraft's seminal 1792 treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. I'm happy to have rectif ...more
What a perceptive and courageous watershed work of feminism--especially for 1792! Mary Wollstonecraft, journalist, novelist, and wife of political philosopher William Godwin, eventually had three children, and died giving birth to the last, Mary Godwin Shelley, who would grow up to marry a famous, radical poet, and herself write Frankenstein and several other novels a generation later. Wollstonecraft, writing in the middle of the French Revolution, albeit in relative safety across the English C ...more
The eloquence of early feminists like Wollstonecraft simply delights me! To make her case for the proper education of women, Wollstonecraft asserts that the present state of women derives from acquired habit and learned associations — not from a fault of the innate nature of females — and censures both Milton's inconsistent discussions on the female sex in Paradise Lost as well as Rousseau's condescension of women in his work Émile. There are many instances when she appeals to the propounded val ...more
Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

A brief introduction to a feminist classic.

What is the Vindication?

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (hence the Vindication) is the classic feminist text. It was written in 1792, and it has its roots in the Enlightenment. Broadly, its aim is to apply the ideas of rights and equality to women and not just to men. This article will briefly explore the origins of the work of Wollstonecraft by looking at John Locke and Jean Jacques Roussea
I imagine Mary ruffled a few feathers when this book was published in 1792, but she only said what needed to be said. Examples of the suppression of women were many, but Wollstonecraft chronicles the ones that were most important to her and provides an intelligent, common sense analysis of what needed to be done in each instance. One of the most important was education, and her belief that young girls needed and deserved the same type of education that was made available to young men. Progress h ...more
I've read a few feminist texts in the past, but none quite compare to this, which is often deemed as the classic feminist text. Unlike others which can be on the painfully dry and weary side of things, Wollstonecraft's attitude just jumps out at you with every page that you turn of this book. Reading it is like listening to her perform a speech in front of millions, it's so strong and passionate. It really is incredible when you remember that this was published in 1792, I don't think I've read a ...more
I particularly liked the bit where she said if women didn't get a proper education, they might find themselves "dependent on the novelist for amusement."

It has been 221 years since A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was published. In that time women have come along way in a fast time, it could be said as much...Women's suffrage movement in the UK began in 1872; the first woman to vote in Britian was 1867;in Ireland the Dublin Women's Suffrage Association was established in 1874; Women in Britian were given the vote in 1918 for women over the age of 30 and had property (which means wives of householders or wives who lived in a rent of over 5 po ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Juanita rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: College students, feminists
Recommended to Juanita by: School
Shelves: older-books
Mary Wollstonecraft was a 16th century mother, teacher, writer, philosopher, feminist, and journalist. She wrote several books and stood out as a rebel in her day. I HAD to read this book because of a college project. But after just the first page I understood why Mary stood out.

She was a brilliant and fearless author. For my class I had to research the ways that women were treated in the 16th century as it related to the bravery of Wollstonecraft. Women HAD to be married in order to entertain
Julie Suzanne
I read this during my last quarter as an undergraduate English major. The class was on revolutionary women writers and it was AWESOME. I was more interested and involved in that class than most of my other classes--I kept up a double-entry journal for all of the reading so that I was constantly analyzing and writing down my thoughts. I had a great relationship with the professor and other girls in my class. It was during this class that the big protest in Seattle was going on, and we were all mo ...more
At its core Vindication is a response to 18th century theorists (mostly men) who made some very disturbing comments regarding the education, use, and ideal of women. Wollstonecraft writes back to these theorists, both directly addressing their words and positing her own theories. The work is intellectually challenging, thought-provoking, and revolutionary (but best served in small bites).

Vindication, at least in the translation I have, is not an easy read. The diction is downright imposing, gran
The introductory letter and first couple chapters of A Vindication are practically perfect. Wollstonecraft formulates an argument that has enough fire and logic to take on the misogyny of the time. There is certainly reason that Wollstonecraft is considered one of the great mothers of feminism. And whether this is evidence of Wollstonecraft's brillance or some of the failures of the women's movement, much of what she says is still incredibly relevant. Seriously, I applaud this woman, and I admir ...more
Jonathan-David Jackson
In 1792, this was probably a great book. Today, the writing style is almost unreadable. Paragraphs go on forever, with a comma every three words, so that by the time you're at the end of a sentence you've forgotten what it was about at the beginning - it's like reading German. (The author was the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, so that explains some of it.) But if you can struggle through it, it's an interesting perspective on a subject which people still debate today, and things ...more
Mika Harjula
There's Something About Mary writing a critical book aiming her discouragement towards the unacceptable consequences, the French revolution brought concerning rights of women. The outcome of the revolution was something that concerned the British government and propagated the matter of human rights issues and democracy for the people. It was clear that women were not to participate due to their lower rank in gender. This was something Wollstonecraft objected to and wrote the Vindication of the R ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
To my knowledge this is the first substantial articulation of the principles of gender equality. A must read for its historical value alone. However it's well-argued and entertaining in its wit and observation as well.
Cris Cambianica
CW racism, white feminism, classism
don't bother
 SaЯRah Muhammad
In both the Preface and the Introduction, Wollstonecraft emphasizes what she sees as the root cause of the failure of men to treat women as equals. Men discourage women from achieving the same education that men routinely are given, and as long as women are denied this education, then they can never hope to achieve social and economic parity with men. In her opening remarks to Talleyrand, she is gently optimistic that her powers of persuasion will be sufficient such that he "will not throw my w ...more
Thank you, Wollstonecraft for your courage and voice. Her speech turned essay left me considering how some of the issues she calls humanity to task on are still prescient today. Also, how does one honor her forward thinking? I left the text asking myself, "In what ways do my actions pull at the roots of historic misogyny?"

I believe to truly understand feminism and the early feminist movement this groundbreaking speech/essay is a must read. It gives insight into the structures that continue to tr
Lovey d'Orlaque
I enjoyed this read. Her writing style reminds me of Shakespeare with all its poetic potency. She speaks of the miseducation of women, but warns against the harmful societal consequence of allowing the miseducation of man or woman. While dated in that women are far more educated now that at the time of writing, there are few barefoot and pregnant...stay at home mothers. Only 14% of women with children under 18 stay at home according to a recent Gallup poll (April 2012). The majority of these pol ...more
Robert Sheppard

Individual freedom, male or female, has in reality always been the exception rather than the rule, and in the early days of the
This is a clear and articulate essay on the benefits of providing women with the same education and rights as men at a time when such thoughts were unheard of and bordering on blasphemous. Wollstonecraft gives logical and rational arguments as for treating men and women equally, not just treating women as equals to men but also treating men as equals to women, which at the time of writing had huge implications for marriage practices and modesty in both personal and public lives. This is well tho ...more
More of a 3.5 than a 3, mostly for style. MW is spot on with a lot of her arguments and complete deconstruction of her contemporaries and their poor treatment and opinions of women in general. I just forgot how, at times, her style can be hard to follow because she really tries to go for the jugular in almost every sentence.
Tara Lynn
It's hard to believe that this is the woman who came up with something as macabre as Frankenstein. Having heard so much about this tract, I figured I'd give it a read. It's mentioned as a side note in several of the historical novels that I've read, and I was more than a little surprised by the vehement tome of the piece. It's amazing to see how far feminist ideals have come in such a short span of time, especially when you relate the drop of water that 200 years is in a bucket of millenia. I fo ...more
Juliet Waldron
Here it is, the Mother document of feminism! Get through the 18th Century prose and circumlocutions as she states and restates her arguments, going carefully so that slower minds can follow, and you will see the same challenges and discussions about "the sex" that women endure today, in every corner of the world. She was a brave woman and far, far ahead of her time. She was paid out, predictably, by being called "a hyena" and with laughter when she died in childbed. Nothing much has really chang ...more
This book is absolutely brilliant, and there is a reason why it was more or less ignored for 200 years. It is as current today as it was in 1792, which is astounding given the fact that so much has changed in the lives of women... but Mary Wollstonecraft's greatest contribution is to expose the deeply rooted conditioning of weakness, triviality, and lack of independent thought that is the sad by-product of thousands of years of patriarchy - which in spite of the great advances made in the last 2 ...more
Cotanta madre, cotanta figlia? Ma come le venivano in mente tali argomentazione nel '700?
Apr 18, 2015 Grace rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminist historians
Shelves: feminism
it's tempting to say this was good "for its time" but i'm not really going to say that. for example, on the first or second page wollstonecraft says, "those 'instructive' works regard woman (in true [Muslim] fashion) as beings of a subordinate kind and not as a part of the human species." this is the first of a few times wollstonecraft makes orientalist statements about the status of women outside of europe. which was inexcusable then just as it is now.

wollstonecraft does say some interesting t
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Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. Among the general public and specifically among feminists, Wollstonecraft's life has received much more attention than her writing because of her unconventional, and often tumultuous, personal relationships. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft married the philosophe ...more
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“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” 735 likes
“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” 627 likes
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