Feminist, writer, visionary, Mary Wollstonecraft, “she was an enigma; stomping on eggshells that everyone tiptoed on.” -Kaitlin Foster
A revolutionary woman, one with charisma and resilience. Established as one of the first founding feminists, Mary channeled her fervent disbelief of gender norms into powerful literature. She wrote the established book, The Vindications of the Rights of Women (1792). Inside its pages, Mary argued that women were put on this earth with equal assets for success as men. In her time, women were merely household décor, so her book was quickly laughed upon. Centuries later, it became the handbook of feminism and herself, a mogul.
Born in 1759, Wollstonecraft grew up in a harmful household. Her father, the superior male, blew all their money on directionless projects and booze. He was an abuser and would drunkenly beat the women of the house. Instead of fuming and self-pitying in her room, Mary slept outside her mother’s door to protect her. As a child, she learnt a skill that others wouldn’t acquire until decades in the future; she learnt that men could and should be defied.
As she began to age, she endured more difficult experiences and oppression. Writing engrossed Mary, but all she saw were the endless closed doors and opportunities. On her path to seeking independency she came across fellow feminist, Frances Blood. Frances was the sole person who supported Mary, who shared the same rare perspective. Frances Blood died just a few years after they met, further fueling Mary’s fire.
Ahead of her time, Mary’s ideas and beliefs were diverse. Her first book, Mary: A Novel (1788) was about female sexuality; she was quickly labeled as an irrational radical as same-sex relationships were very taboo at the time, even more so than feminism. The name ‘Mary Wollstonecraft’ was associated with ridicule and contempt, which created a difficult platform for her revolutionary book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). This book was, once again, mocked by society. Mary’s opinions stayed firm, her stance summed up by this quote written by herself, “strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.” The only issue was society didn’t want an end to blind obedience.
Mary provided a voice for those who were too scared to speak, but it took centuries for the world to accept that voice. Now, A Vindication of the Rights of Women is one of the most referenced books for feminism. Mary truly was a revolutionary and sparked a movement that desperately needed to be lit on fire. She had a backbone while remaining empathetic and insightful. Despite the oppression in her time, she kept hope through it all.
“The beginning is always today.” -Mary Wollstonecraft
|Lower Class as Young Child
||Lower Class as Young Child
|Middle Class as Teenager
||Middle Class as Young Adult
The commonality between Mary and I is our passion. We both stand firm in our beliefs and want to fight for equality. Human rights and writing are very prominent interests in the both of us. Personally, writing is a mean of self-expression and healing, which is a quality I share with Mary. In Mary: A Novel she clearly says “[she writes] to relieve [her] wounded spirit.” Spiritually, Mary and I are very similar in that we are both creative and imaginative but tenacious in our beliefs. Mary and I are both motivated and driven learners, constantly wanting to test the waters and make a difference. I aspire to be as confidently strong headed as Mary was, standing up for my beliefs even when the world denies them. My goal for TALONs is to accept and embrace myself while standing up for what I believe in, unfazed by outside voices; Mary perfectly represents that. My goal is social-emotional based because I believe when you’re in a healthy mindset, you perform best academically. The largest barrier between Mary and I is our race. I am half-asian and she is caucasian, but compared to all the similarities that link us, race seems minor and irrelevant. Mary is an intriguing character and I hope to delve deeper into her relationships with her sisters and mother for my speech. Mary’s sisters, mother, and daughters seem to play a great role into Mary’s demeanor as they are often mentioned in Mary’s diaries. She is an inspiration and I am honored to have her as my eminent person.
“Mary Wollstonecraft in the Now.” Mary Wollstonecraft in the Now | Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, http://www.wstudies.pitt.edu/blogs/gmp20/mary-wollstonecraft-now.
“Mary Wollstonecraft.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 27 Feb. 2018, http://www.biography.com/people/mary-wollstonecraft-9535967.
“Mary Wollstonecraft: A Hyena in Petticoats, or Just Misunderstood?” HeadStuff, 29 Jan. 2015, http://www.headstuff.org/culture/literature/mary-wollstonecraft-hyena-petticoats-just-misunderstood/.
“Mary Wollstonecraft.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft.