Feminism: Quotes from 'A Vindication on the Rights of Women' by Mary Wollstonecraft

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A2 Government & Politics Feminism
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Mary Wollstonecraft
"The conduct and manners of women, in fact, evidently prove, that their minds are not in a
healthy state; for, like the flowers that are planted in too rich a soil, strength and usefulness
are sacrificed to beauty; and the flaunting leaves, after having pleased a fastidious eye,
fade, disregarded on the stalk, long before the season when they ought to have arrived at
maturity."
"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 I were in a state of perpetual
childhood, unable to stand alone"
"I wish to persuade women to endeavour 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 who are only the objects of pity and that kind of love, which has been termed its
sister, will soon become objects of contempt."
"I wish to show that elegance is inferior to virtue, that the first object of laudable ambition is
to obtain a character as a human being, regardless of the distinction of sex"
"Women are told from their infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little
knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, OUTWARD
obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain or them the
protection of man; and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for at least
twenty years of their lives."
"Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the
society they live in."
"Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience;
but, as blind obedience in 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 wants slaves,
and the latter a play-thing."
"Women are, therefore, to be considered either as moral beings, or so weak that must be
entirely subjected to the superior faculties of men."
"Besides, the woman who strengthens her body and exercises her mind will, by managing
her family and practicing various virtues, become the friend, and the not the humble
dependent of her husband."
""Educate women like men," says Rousseau, "and the more they resemble our sex, the less
power they will have over us." This is the very point I aim at. I do not wish to have power over
men; but over themselves."
Unit 4B: Other Ideological TraditionsPage 1

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