A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman will help you make the world a more fair place by teaching some of the gender inequalities of the eighteenth century.

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A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman Summary

Today we hear about feminism and women’s rights on a regular basis. But have you ever wondered where it all began? 

Many consider the first great work of feminist literature to be A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. Surprisingly, she wrote this revolutionary novel all the way back in 1792, when the term “feminism” didn’t even exist. Her work has been an inspiration for feminists all over for hundreds of years.

She delves into subjects still applicable in today’s world, such as why we have male and female traits, differences in education and treatment of boys and girls, and the importance of females being involved in the democratic process.

Wollstonecraft makes a point to say that she does not believe women are superior, but rather that it would benefit both sexes if they became more educated and involved in politics. Her work was important then, and remarkably still remains very relevant to this day. 

Here are the 3 most useful lessons that can help us all be more equitable:

  1. Women deserve to be seen as having equal value as men.
  2. We should give young girls the same chance at education and other opportunities as boys. 
  3. Improving women’s rights would help men and women have healthier relationships and make society as a whole better. 

Let’s dive right into these ways that we can make the world a better place!

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Lesson 1: Women are just as valuable as men in society and shouldn’t be seen as second-class.

Even from the start of the Bible with Adam and Eve, we get an idea that women exist for men’s entertainment. And for most of human history, they have existed as the second sex. Wollstonecraft says that in order to have a fair society, this notion needs to change.  

Her first proposal on how to do this is for women to have better representation. One way to do this would be for women to have a bigger voice in literature. She argues that because men have always been able to show their view on women, this enabled them to perpetuate the idea that women are inferior to men.

Women on the other hand, have not been able to have this freedom of expression and voice their disagreement. And if they did, it would be considered unladylike. Furthermore, she says women should have more access to materials that help them think critically rather than mind-numbing stories. 

Women also need better representation within the government. When the government is comprised of just men, they tend to fail to even think of women’s rights. Rather than a focus on appearance and grace, they should be able to reason and show their intellectual power. Without these things, women are put at a disadvantage because they can’t achieve the respect that men can have for each other.

Lesson 2: Girls and boys should have equal educational and other opportunities.

What is the reason that girls aren’t able to do the same things as boys? Is it because of some sort of inferiority? Or is it because they are taught they aren’t equal, and this lesson is perpetuated their whole lives? 

Wollstonecraft says that in order to combat this, girls should be allowed to go to a public school with the boys and participate in all the same subjects. Not only that, but girls should stop being discouraged from exercises of physical strength.

Girls are told to play with dolls indoors, while boys are encouraged to play outside, helping them build physique from a young age. She says this division only serves to increase the physical advantage that boys already have over girls. The difference would be much less marked if they could also play in physical ways. 

A society that exaggerates the strength difference between men and women does this to ensure girls are dependent on boys. The emphasis on little girls dressing up dolls to look pretty as play seems to further the idea that looks are the most important pursuit for a woman. 

Lesson 3: Equality between men and women will improve relationships and society as a whole.

The whole point of Wollstonecraft’s plea for women’s rights is not a call for women to overpower men. Rather, she teaches that when society gives women more rights, it is fairer and women can equally contribute to the world alongside men.

Together as equals, marriages would improve. Men and women could be better able to bring up good children. If women were educated well, they could help children with school work. 

Women would, in turn, will be kinder to each other and their servants in front of their children, as they wouldn’t feel a need to exert power over someone else in desperation. This better behavior would be particularly beneficial for young women to watch. 

Women could spend less time worrying about what to wear and more time contributing to things of more importance in the world. They could potentially cure diseases and prevent deaths.

Better education would help women know breastfeeding is best for them and their child. Breastfeeding would help stop the issue of too many babies born in succession as it does help prevent pregnancy. This would help ensure each child could get more individualized love and attention. These are just a few of the ways that giving women more rights would not just benefit women, but everyone.

A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman Review

Although old, A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman brings up some important equality issues. However, I also see that in the time since this books publishing, we’ve made great advances in this realm. We’re still not done making the improvements we ought to though, so these principles are valuable for all of us.

Who would I recommend the A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman summary to?

The 54-year-old man who thinks that his wife and the women in his office are inferior to him, the 24-year-old sociology major who wants to learn more about gender equality, and anyone who wants to help the way we treat and view women become more fair.

Last Updated on August 24, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.