The Rights of Woman
by Anna Laetitia Barbauld
The Rights of Woman Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!
Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest; (1-2)
The speaker says that women have been trampled on long enough, thank you very much. It's time for the ladies to assert themselves. But check out the language she's using here. The poem starts with an affirmation: "YES!" So the speaker seems to be agreeing with something that came before—it's like she's assuming that her readers and listeners are already going to be on her side. Did it work with you?
O born to rule in partial Law's despite,
Resume thy native empire o'er the breast! (3-4)
Women are "born to rule" in spite of the bias and prejudice against them. In fact, they have a natural, "native" place to rule—over emotions, or over "the breast," or heart. The speaker is claiming that women have a natural right to rule… at least over all of the feels. It's not something she's just making up, guys. This is something you can't fight. It's natural.
Soft melting tones thy thundering cannon's roar,
Blushes and fears thy magazine of war. (11-12)
Women, unlike men, don't need a lot of noisy, messy weapons to get what they want. According to the speaker, women use a soft tone of voice, blushes, and shy fears to make their points. Hmm. So even though women in this poem are born to rule and are finally standing up for themselves, they still have some of the traditional, 18th-century feminine ideals, like modesty, shyness, and softness.