Wollstonecraft's Arguments for Women's Rights

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Wollstonecraft’s Arguments for Women’s Rights

Mary Wollstonecraft was an 18th century writer and philosopher who is most recognized as an early advocate of women’s rights.


While all her work contains the underlining element of feminism, perhaps her most notable arguments for women’s rights emerge in the texts of Vindications of the Rights of Men and Vindications of the Rights of Woman. This essay considers Mary Wollstonecraft’s arguments for women’s rights and considers the extent of their persuasiveness. Through a number of treatises and texts Mary Wollstonecraft argued for women’s rights. One of the early appearances of Wollstonecraft’s arguments for women’s rights appears in Vindication of the Rights of Men. In this treatise Wollstonecraft argued that “women have unalienable rights given to them from God” (Wollstonecraft). This is a concept she in large part adopts from John Locke. She believed that these rights were determined by reason, and that it was in the interference of these rights by man that they become warped. Still, perhaps Wollstonecraft’s most powerful argument for women’s rights emerges in Vindications of the Rights of Woman. In this text Wollstonecraft attempts to restructure the very nature in which society views women’s roles. While 18th century woman was situated as simply a wife to a husband, Wollstonecraft argued for a more egalitarian approach to marriage; in this conception women would act more as partners than simply wives. ...
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