Study Guide

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Women and Femininity

By Mary Wollstonecraft

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Women and Femininity

You've been reading a book called A Vindication of the Rights of Woman , so you're correct if you assumed that women and femininity are major themes in this book. Gold star for you!

The issue at the heart of Wollstonecraft's writing is how society should treat women, and that women's minds are just as capable of reason and virtue as men's are.

Wollstonecraft states that women are less physically strong than men, but that strength isn't really all that important in a modern society. It's not like we're strangling one another for food or running away from predators that want to eat us (at least not when things are going well). What matters to Wollstonecraft is the quality of a person's mind, and there is no difference between the quality of men and women's minds.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Does Wollstonecraft think that women should engage in physical activity and sports as much as men? Why or why not?
  2. Why does Wollstonecraft think that women's minds are just as good as men's? Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.
  3. How do parents treat daughters differently from sons in Wollstonecraft's world? Does this difference in treatment continue today? Why or why not?
  4. In Wollstonecraft's mind, what is the best way for women to move forward and gain a more equal status in society? Use specific examples from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In Vindication, Wollstonecraft shows us that even though there might be a physical difference between men and women, modern civilization relies on intelligence and physical differences don't really mean anything.

In Vindication, Wollstonecraft essentially argues that gender is a societal construct.

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