Empowering Women’s Right in the Enlightenment
Traditional, political, and social theologies and ideals began to change during the Enlightenment movement. Men had always been the dominant race due to being educated, and being job working class citizens. Women were expected to take care of household responsibilities, child bear and finally be a mother. There were few women who were given the chance to be educated before the Enlightenment era. That all changed once feminism took off in the 18th century as well as individualism. “The questions raised by Enlightenment thinkers about human powers and limitations have left a legacy so lasting that it is hard to imagine our world without the Enlightenment.
” (Puchner 5) During the 18th century, individualism, and feminism became popular, women took these ideals and ran with them all the way through the Enlightenment period.
Individualism and rationality began to catch fire during the Enlightenment era. Women became tired of being unequal to men and started to challenge traditional ideals that had been upheld for centuries.
Many male thinkers during the Enlightenment period viewed women in a completely different manner, one of these influential people was Roussuau. Take for example Mary Wollstonecraft, she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men in 1791, women read it and started to support her ideals such as equality in education. It seems to me that her confidence level boosted and almost became a sign of arrogance. In 1792, she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Wollstonecraft argued that marriage was equal to prostitution and the right to be educated was unequal, that led to harsh conditions for women in the 18th century.
(Puchner 45) I have to say I agree on the part of education with her. Women deserved the right to get an education. I do not however agree with her statement when she said that marriage is like prostitution. I believe marriage is a relationship between two people of the opposite gender that love each other. Prostitution is very degrading to society. This was one of the first times where women started to stand up for themselves.
Revolution during the Enlightenment period gave women courage to stand up for themselves. Before the Enlightenment period, women’s roles were subject to submitting to their husbands, cleaning the house, prepping and cooking meals, and child bearing into motherhood. Women during the Enlightenment still took on these tasks, but also fought for their right to have a voice in society. Their voice was heard through women earning the right to be educated, have a voice in politics, and even writing literature. Women came together and formed Salons which were considered a safe place to discuss politics, literature, and science. During the 18th century women began to expand their horizon, regarding issues they were being discriminated against. Women began to use and inject their voices into society like they never had before.
I think in today’s society women don’t have to justify themselves as much as they did before and during the Enlightenment. I believe there are certain jobs meant for certain genders and vice versa. The perception has definitely changed from the 18th century to present day. Ideals have differed from then as well as now you see women being the hard job working citizens. Now in today’s society, sometimes men in the relationship will be a stay at home dad, doing the things women were told they had to do in the Enlightenment era. Some people in today’s society still believe in the traditional ideals that women should take care of the house while men are out in the workplace. Although, women have come a long way since the 18th century, women still have a long journey ahead.
In conclusion, the Enlightenment era was a time of great change. Modifications in science and women’s rights were made to give women more rights besides taking care of children and household duties. Women were given more opportunities through civil rights such as, education and responsibility. Although women came a long way during the Enlightenment, authors like Wollstonecraft had only laid down the foundation for what would happen in the future.