Wollstonecraft on Education
According to Mary Wollstonecraft, it is the lack of education that forces women to fall prey to men. France, at the height of the revolutionary spirit in the nation, is more than ready for a revamping of the educational system. As stated by several philosophers of the day, the time has come for women to benefit from the increase in number of educational facilities that are emerging throughout France. The basis for this assertion is aptly argued by Wollstonecraft in her statement that women must be given the opportunity to become ethically responsible for their lives and the lives of others if they wish to obtain full citizenship. In order to be ethically responsible, women must be “capable of ethical thinking”. According to Wollstonecraft, the fact that women are capable of ethical thinking means that they have rational faculties. Thus these faculties should be exercised within the educational universities of France.
Equality is what makes education a true breeding ground for worthy citizens. A national education program for France must include all children, male and female, from all classes of society. Education in France at the time of the French Revolution was an elite institution that created only a more privileged class and a larger disparity between the classes. There must be a national norm for standards to insure that education does not remain a “caprice of the parents”. And most of all, girls must be educated with boys. According to Wollstonecraft,
If marriage be the cement of society, mankind should all be educated after the same model, or the intercourse of the sexes will never deserve the name of fellowship, nor will women ever fulfill the peculiar duties of their sex". Nay, marriage will never be held sacred till women, by being brought up with men, are prepared to be their companions rather than their mistresses.