Course Hero. "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Nov. 2017. Web. 19 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/>.
Course Hero. (2017, November 29). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide." November 29, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/.
Course Hero, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Study Guide," November 29, 2017, accessed July 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Vindication-of-the-Rights-of-Woman/.
Wollstonecraft was centuries ahead of her time by suggesting socialization could be responsible for common gender-specific behaviors. She again critiques Rousseau, who thinks girls instinctively gravitate toward dolls, citing her personal experience teaching young women, which Rousseau did not have. Wollstonecraft argues girls play with dolls because parents and caregivers teach them to do so, rather than because of some inherent desire. To this day parents and educators continue to debate the socialization of toy preferences in boys and girls and to what degree physiological, biological, and genetic factors play a role in this. Her argument about the physical opportunities available to women is also prescient, recognizing how the teaching and even the dressing of girls could discourage certain physical movements—think corsets and wearing dresses for gym class. Keeping her proposals reasonable, she acknowledges the physical superiority of men. Wollstonecraft does not suggest women can do everything just as well as men, nor does she think they should.
Wollstonecraft rejects "sensualism," a growing movement in philosophical and literary circles of the era that focused on the expression of the senses as truth. Sensualists rejected a purely rational approach to life. Wollstonecraft's writings in the early 1790s, including this one, were strongly rationalist and firmly opposed to sensualism's celebration of the emotional. Society in Wollstonecraft's day encouraged women to embrace their emotional sides, and people accepted this as natural behavior in females. Wollstonecraft argues women are emotional because no one has taught them to be rational, and the constant focus on women's physical beauty leads them to focus attention on their senses and appearance rather than on logical reasoning and the formulation of abstract ideas.