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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  17,362 ratings  ·  673 reviews
Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal educa ...more
Paperback, 269 pages
Published October 28th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1792)
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Sean Barrs
Wollstonecraft is not passionate; she does not offer any inspiring words or flowery language. Wollstonecraft writes with no embellishment or artistry; yet, her words are commanding and exceedingly persuasive because what she does have is cold, hard, logic. And she knows it.

“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.”

description

She ref
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Warwick
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading this messy, brilliant book gave me that strange impression you sometimes get with essayists – of encountering a perfectly modern mind that is trapped in the past, looking around with modern sensibilities and baffled by what it sees. The effect now is not one of genius, but merely of contemporary common sense, applied somehow, magically, anachronistically. At one point, during a close reading of Rousseau, Wollstonecraft adds an asterisk, and comments simply in a footnote: ‘What nonsense!’ ...more
Minh
Sep 29, 2014 is currently reading it
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.
Jan-Maat
Idly I wondered if to "kiss the rod" in the context of women's behaviour after being chastised by her husband was meant to be a double entendre - but probably not as she is high minded, but luckily I made my idle observation in a dejected off- hand way because later she says Respect for man, as man, is the foundation of every noble sentiment. How much more modest is the libertine who obeys the call of appetite or fancy than the lewd joker who sets the table in a roar! (p232), so shame on you if ...more
PattyMacDotComma
3.5-4★
“. . . as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavour to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a play-thing.”


I saw reference several times to Mary Wollstonecraft around International Women’s Day recently and thought I should find this book. I read and enjoyed about a third of it, but I eventually got bogged down in the repletition and the language. The English literary style of the late 1700
...more
Clif Hostetler
This work of literature is particularly significant because of when it was written. Published in 1792, it is often referenced as being the founding text or manifesto of Western feminism. The author was writing in reaction to contemporary Enlightenment philosophers who had extolled the use of reason for determining proper political and social reforms, but had failed to properly consider the role of women.

Mary Wollstonecraft in her writing was concerned that some of these age-of-reason writers ha
...more
Jasmine
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY TO EVERYBODY!

"Make them free, and they will quickly become wise and virtuous, as men become more so; for the improvement must be mutual, or the injustice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to, retorting on their oppressors, the virtue of man will be worm-eaten by the insect whom he keeps under his feet."
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
description

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797)
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Emily
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
Gabrielle Dubois
« … the Rights of Woman must be respected, … I loudly demands JUSTICE for one half of the human race. »
Mary Wollstonecraft

While I read a book, I always have take some notes about beautiful words, interesting thoughts… I underline, not on the book pages, I hate this ! But on my red spiral notepad next to me, the quotes to remember or to use for my review. This time, I should have noticed nearly everything because each paragraph is important, each chapter is interesting.
I learned more about the h
...more
Duane
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Fiona
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."

Awkward.
Jo
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
For me, I found this to be an inspiring and persuasive read, and the way in which Wollstonecraft writes has very much to do with that. She does not write in a fancy, graceful manner, but instead, she writes in a no-frills kind of manner, and with this she shows her wondrous intellect, and therefore produces an efficacious result.

"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
...more
Aubrey
3.5/5
Women, I allow, may have different duties to fulfil; but they are human duties, and the principles that should regulate the discharge of them, I sturdily maintain, must be the same.
Sound familiar? The quote I started my review of Beauvoir's The Second Sex with runs in a similarly powerful vein, and is why I am, for the first time, rounding my half star up instead of down. When it comes to this work, one must mercilessly separate the wheat from the chaff if the aim is Wollstonecraft's sp
...more
Veronica
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 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 values of the male intelligentsia of the late eighteenth century to emphasize the ...more
Kathleen
“Make them free, and they will quickly become wise and virtuous, as men become more so; for the improvement must be mutual, or the injustice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to, retorting on their oppressors, the virtue of men will be worm-eaten by the insect whom he keeps under his feet.”

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft had the guts and awareness to write a common sense response to the prevailing mentality of her day--that women did not share the same rights as men. Sadly, in
...more
Below
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Below by: Laura
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
...more
Lex
Jan 10, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I mean, how do you properly review this? Very interesting radical new ideas, a tendency to ramble and lean towards being too unstructured, and yknow ... one of the most important feminists of all time
Jess
I only exclaim against the sexual desire of conquest when the heart is out of the question.

Radical, witty, courageous, ‘a hyena in petticoats’ (!!!), Mary was a pretty darn cool lady.

Wollstonecraft is a startlingly modern voice. A Vindication itself is startlingly modern, despite the fact that it’s the first dedicated articulation of gender equality. Who would have thought that two centuries later, we would still be fighting against static images of femininity and the infantilization of women?
...more
Giss Golabetoon
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The language might be a little hard but i love this first piece of feminist literature, if only Rousseau didn't talk too much
Helynne
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Evelyn
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
Roman Clodia
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mary-shelley
'A revolution in female manners [would] reform the world'

Passionate, forceful, forthright, sharp, irritable, rigorous and oh so rational, what would Wollstonecraft think that over 200 years after her 1791 polemic we still have to argue about equal pay, body image, female aspiration, authorised social constructions of 'femininity' and 'masculinity' and other forms of politicised social and cultural inequality?

Forging links between female subjugation and class oppression, between government tyran
...more
Sarah Garner
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminism
I've had to give up on this one, the language isn't doing my dyslexic brain any good.
I understand her intentions but by chapter 2 I was struggling to understand what she was saying with all the old way of speaking.
Bon
I have to say, I didn't think this would be so dry and heavy. Then again, being written so long ago... it isn't often I delve into the 1700s so the language was the major roadblock.

A lot of Wollstonecraft's ideas (those I could comprehend, the prose was dense and seemed awful rambling for most of the book, I ended up skimming sooo much) unfortunately have to work within the confines of acceptable social ways of the time - highly religious, heterosexual, domestic arrangements of what seemed like
...more
Holly
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finishing this is like coming up for air. I'm not going to pretend like I didn't find the writing extremely difficult to parse at times, and was often forced to let it go and move on to the next sentence. This is the grandmother of Western feminist treatises, and though Mary Wollstonecraft can't possibly be expected to be woke (classism is her main cardinal sin here), it's a fascinating artifact of things that were never true and things that remain true. Wollstonecraft wants us to treat ...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
At the beginning of what we call feminism, there is this book. Beyond the date of writing, we understand this because it starts from the very basic: that men and women are mentally equal. Of course, this idea at that time was revolutionary as the view of the inferiority of women was widespread. The author partly recognizes this fact but attributes this inferiority to the lack of education. She, therefore, takes the view that women's education should be strengthened so that they can develop moral ...more
Tanima
I stumbled upon A Vindication of the Rights of Woman for a classics challenge read, but I was also curious to read about the views of women’s rights long before it was even a movement.

Mary Wollstonecraft was undoubtedly ahead of her time. Although she grew up in an unstable household and was denied education from an early age, she was an intellectual who loved to read and was interested in writing about political and philosophical issues. She decided to support herself by pursuing a career as a
...more
Kirsty
I read Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as part of my thesis research. Whilst I'm unsure if I will quote directly from it, it is an important and solid foundation of early feminism. The book was as I expected it would be; it is interesting in part, and makes some good points, but it became quite dry on occasion, and the prose was repetitive. Whilst clearly well informed and well written, the proofreader in me became a little frustrated with the sheer quantity of commas ...more
Ana
I love man as my fellow; but his sceptre real or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.


Mary Wollstonecraft's classic feminist work touches upon all reasons why women are treated like slaves - and almost all of them have to do with their education. The teaching of decorum, ladyship, the proper way of wearing a dress, the beauty of oneself and the denial of access to books of all kinds and physi
...more
Lea
Nov 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
couldn't get through it. sooooo boring. hated mary's writing style. sorry sis. thanks for campaigning for women's education though
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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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