Study Guide

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Sex

By Mary Wollstonecraft

Sex

Wollstonecraft tends to use the word "love" in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman when what she really means is (heterosexual) sexual attraction. When she's talking about mutual respect and admiration, she tends to use the word "friendship."

That's why she constantly advises women not to marry for love, because she's certain that in the long run, physical attraction can never sustain a marriage. The only way for two people to spend their lives together is if they admire each other's minds and support each other morally. Sex just ain't going to cut it for very long.

Questions About Sex

  1. In Wollstonecraft's mind, why are women so susceptible to being tricked into having sex with charming young men? What would help the situation?
  2. What is Wollstonecraft's response to the claim that all women want is sex? Please use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.
  3. If a man seduces a woman and has sex with her, what should the law force him to do (in Wollstonecraft's opinion)? Why?

Chew on This

In Vindication, we learn that physical attraction can never be the basis for a good marriage.

In Vindication, Wollstonecraft shows us that a "prim and proper" female education actually makes women way more likely to have sex before marriage.

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