MarryWollstonecraft       “Wollstonecraft concentrated on describing the state of ignorance and servility to which women were condemned by social custom and training.  The passionate feeling with which her book is imbued give it wide social appeal and persuasive power.  […]  Wollstonecraft’s acute question – “how many generations may be necessary to give vigour to the virtue and talents of the freed posterity of abject slaves?’ – still has pertinence. “

Excerpts from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman –

“And if it be granted that women was not created merely to gratify the appetite of man, or to be the upper servant, who provides his meals and takes care of his linen, it must follow, that the first care of those mothers or fathers, who really attend to the education of females, should be, if not to strengthen the body, at least, not to destroy the constitution by mistaken notions of beauty and female excellence…

To preserve personal beauty, woman’s glory!  the limbs and faculties are cramped with worse than Chinese bands, and the sedentary life which they are condemned to live, whilst boys frolic in the open air, weakens the muscles and relaxes the nerves.  As for Rousseau’s remarks… that they have naturally, that is from their birth, independent of education, a fondness for dolls, dressing, and talking – they are so puerile as not to merit a serious refutation…

I have, probably, had an opportunity of observing more girls in their infancy that J.J. Rousseau – I can recollect my only feelings, and I have looked steadily around me; yet, so far with coinciding with him in opinion respecting the first dawn of the female character, I will venture to affirm, that a girl, whose spirits have not been damped by inactivity, or innocence tainted by false shame, will always be a romp, and the doll will never excite attention unless confinement allows her no alternative.  Girls and boys, in short, would play harmlessly together, if the distinction of sex was not inculcated long before nature makes any difference.  I will go further, and affirm, as an indisputable fact, that most of the women, in the circle of my observation, who have acted like rational creatures, or shown any vigour of intellection, have accidentally allowed to run wild…  ”

-Ed. Miriam Schneir. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. pp 13 – 14.

     Let it be known that in the 18th century the processes of female socialization were known to women.  Fast forward to the present and we are still presented with arguments about how biology plays an overarching role in determining female social status in society.  Of course, admitting that society and the socialization that goes along with it is inherently unjust to women, as opposed to calcified biological fact, would lead us to conclusion that society has been set up for the benefit of one sex, at the expense of the other.   Social norms are malleable, biology not so much.  I know which case I would rally around if I was trying to justify the inherent injustice that exists.

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