In tribute and in the celebration of the International Women's Day, I will take the time to express my admiration and respect to one of the first feminists: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). Her most influential work in this field is beyond a doubt A Vindication of the Rights of Woman from 1792. This should be on the reading list of everyone, not just women, and I particularly like her emphasis on the importance of equal education for men and women.
Sadly, many of her points in her work are still being fought over today. Women still experience objectification and undervalue. The same thing goes for the stereotypical areas connected to women, even if they are produced or evoked by men.
I do believe in equal value and worth, and whatever the individual should want to do, the individual should be regarded on the work, not gender (or race for that matter, because so many of her sentiments on gender can also be applied to race). And especially not looks and appearances! It is also about time that the traditional misunderstanding that beauty equals goodness is lost. We can never make a tabula rasa, but let's stop the nonsense about such clearly distinguished and divided sections of the world. No one should be forced to account for them wanting to have children, their desire to be the CEO, not wanting children, getting married or not, or any other personal and individual way to set up their lives and then be met with stereotypes of traditional and outdated gender roles. This is what I fight for and mark on this day, and continue to do any other day.
Mary Wollstonecraft was a remarkable woman and I really recommend reading up about her, even just at Wikipedia. She has influeced such a vast number of people with her writings and her life, despite also falling for some of the things she advocated against, and other people's contempt and prejudice. Nevertheless, she tried. And we all should at least try to educate ourselves and inspire the people around us.
And so, to inspire for today I give you some of her quotes from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with the hope and the faith that people will one day be respected and admired for their individuality and not their success in stereotypical conformity.
“It is time to effect a revolution in female manners - time to restore to them their lost dignity - and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.”
“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists - I wish to persuade women to endeavour to acquire strength, both mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings who are only objects of pity and that kind of love, which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.”
“Weakness may excite tenderness, and gratify the arrogant pride of man; but the lordly caresses of a protector will not gratify a noble mind that pants for, and deserves to be respected. Fondness is a poor substitute for friendship.”
“But women are very differently situated with respect to eachother - for they are all rivals (...) Is it then surprising that when the sole ambition of woman centres in beauty, and interest gives vanity additional force, perpetual rivalships should ensue? They are all running the same race, and would rise above the virtue of morals, if they did not view each other with a suspicious and even envious eye.”
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
“The beginning is always today.”