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Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft provided one of the first feminist philosophical writings with her authorship of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Mary WollstonecraftWritten in part as a response to the philosophical assertions of Rousseau and as a political and social manifesto on the condition of women, Wollstonecraft's work is an important work in defining the relationship of gender and early feminist thought in an era of grave suppression of the rights of women.

A Vindication was important in the realm of establishing feminist thought for three major reasons.  Wollstonecraft established the fact that not all women were pleased with their place in society.  Secondly, her writings gave credence to feminist demands that ran along the same lines as the fundamental principles of American democracy.  Therefore, her work helped provided philosophical consistency to the American feminist movement.  And finally, Wollstonecraft clearly illuminated the sociological concepts of gender roles and how popular views undermined the full potential that a woman could contribute to society.  She asserted that women who were given equal rights and opportunities would excel and contribute to society on an equal level with men.

As mentioned, Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication in response to Rousseau's teachings. While she respected Rousseau's sociological assertions, she did not, however, share Rousseau's admiration for primitive society, and took great exception to his views of women.

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