Although most modern day feminist credit the 1920’s and the suffragists as the original first wave feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft can be credited as the original founding mother of feminism. The vindications of the rights of women essentially lays the foundation of what feminism would ultimately become. This was in 1794! More than a century later! Wollstonecraft lays down yhe fundamental rights that all women deserve such as free education, equal job opportunities, equal representation, as well as encouraging the ambitions of women. Her ideals are obviously still relevant in this day and age, many we currently benefit due to the leaps and bounds we have made as far as progression. Yet we still remain stunted by patriarchy. The most relevant issues were free public education, slut shaming, and grooming of gender roles.
Wollstonecraf’s primary concern is the education of women and how it ultimately affects the lives and wellbeing of women. She briefly mentions our inferiority in terms of body stature and strength, but deterring education further oppresses women. Without proper education it’s impossible for women to even provide proper care to their children. The education of children begins at home, typically with the primary caregiver(their mother). A family with two educated and equally yoked parents is more likely to be well balanced and adjusted. Wollstonecraft proposed that boys and girls be educated together and receive the same education, for free.
In an era where men and women were both constrained by strict gender roles and expectations, being a sexual being was not one of the limited roles that women held. It was considered sexual deviance for women to enjoy and look forward to sex with their husbands, sex was meant reproduction alone and that’s it. Men were excused from their sexual indescretions, it was almost expected of them. Men had desires that needed to fulfilled whether it was with their wife or not. Women only had worth if they maintained their virginity and chastity. Premarital sex diminished their value and worth. Women were shamed while men were congratulated much like slut shaming today. This is obviously a very relevant double standard.
Unfortunately patriarchy will continue to play a role in the upbringing of our children because we groom them to adhere to specific gender roles. These gender roles were established so long ago that they are addressed in the text! We are sabotaging our children we are encouraging a vicious cycle which does nothing for women and their progression. Little girls are taught to be oblivious and adorable while little boys are ambitious and knowledge seeking. This ultimately makes them incompatible and creates a power struggle in households.
Wollstonecraft is obviously very relevant today; all the topics she touched on are highly debatable in this day and age. With all the progression we are still fighting for equality in classrooms, in the home, and the work place. Unhealthy gender roles further enforce patriarchy and continue the cycle of unhealthy relationships. We teach our children these double standards and reinforce the slut shaming, instead of derailing the cycle.these cycles further stunt the progression of women. As much credit as we would like the give the suffragettes of the 20’s, their work was paved by Wollstonecraft.