I recently picked up The Essential Feminist Reader (which I’ll be shortening to TEFR) a collection of 64 essays and excerpts on feminist from the last six hundred years. Because they’re all delightfully short (an average of about seven pages each) it seems like an approachable way to dive into what I hope will be a much larger self-directed course of study around feminism. My goal is to read at least one essay a week from TEFR and respond to each one over the course of the coming months. I expect the responses to be varied a summary and commentary (like today), a free-writing process, a poem, whatever feels right at the time. All of these posts will be under the tag TEFR.
I know, it’s been months since my last TEFR posting. No excuses, just an acknowledgment that my original goal of one of these posts a week seems laughable now. But better late than never! #5 in TEFR is a selection from A Vindication on the Rights of Women (which I’ll shorten to Vindication) by Mary Wollstonecraft. Here’s the Wikipedia article on the essay and and here’s the essay itself.
Vindication is the first essay in TEFR that seems modern and relatable, with relatively few occasions where I was forced to stop and say, “Now, remember, she was just a product of her time.” In contrast to the first four essays, Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelly, of Frankenstein fame) speaks primarily to culture and society and less of God and religion:
…either nature has made a great difference between man and man [sic – at this point she’s talking broadly about everyone], or the civilization which has hitherto taken place in the world has been very partial… women, in particular, are rendered weak and wretched by a variety of concurring causes, originating from one hasty conclusion [that women are naturally lesser than men] Continue reading '5. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) – Essential Feminist Reader'»