Mary Wollstonecraft, feminism

Mary Wollstonecraft, founder of classical liberal feminism

“O, why was I born with a different face?
Why was I not born like this envious race?
Why did Heaven adorn me with bountiful hand,
And then set me down in an envious land?”

William Blake’s poem “Mary” (1803) could have been an epithet for Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) — a woman born with a “different face” in a society hostile to her modern-minded views.

Wollstonecraft is a founding mother of feminism and her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is widely viewed as the first great feminist treatise. She wrote in the classical liberal tradition, which promoted individual rights, especially against the restrictions of political power. Wollstonecraft’s primary concern was the rights and status of women against the claims of society and law. But the drama of her life, no less than her work, is responsible for Wollstonecraft’s enduring fame.

Wollstonecraft was born in London on April 27, 1759 into modest working-class circumstances. The tyrannical personality of her father left the young girl suspicious of marriage. The advantages her family showered on a far less talented brother made her burn with awareness of how deeply society valued men more than women. Her rejection of marriage and the privileges of men deepened when, in 1783, she helped her sister Eliza to flee from a brutal marriage and arrange a legal separation.

In 1784, she and Eliza founded a school in the village of Newington Green, where Wollstonecraft befriended the minister Richard Price. Price, along with the scientific genius Joseph Priestly, headed a group of intellectuals known as Rational Dissenters. The Dissenters sought to demystify religion and to improve the conditions of life through reason. Believing in the perfectibility of men, they were avid social reformers. Price’s extremely influential book Review of the Principal Questions of Morals (1758) argued that conscience and reason should determine an individual’s moral choices. He became Wollstonecraft’s mentor.


How did Mary Wollstonecraft affect first-wave feminism? | Yahoo Answers

The first wave hit the beaches at Normandy, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima. Feminism isn't first wave material.

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