Mary Wollstonecraft was no doubt a great feminist and deserved to be called grandmother of the feminist thought. Her early experiences of an unsuccessful family life as well as the prevailing notion of the philosophers at that time about women shaped her views to become authentic feminist grand mother. Wollstonecraft’s feminist ideas affected the first wave of feminism through her arguments against the prevailing views on women most notably that of Rousseau’s which categorized women as subservient to men. Rousseau held that women’s education should be designed entirely to make them pleasing to men.
Rousseau reflected “to please, to be useful to us, to make us love and esteem them, to educate us when young and take care of us when grown up, to advise, to console us, to render our lives easy and agreeable—these are duties of women at all times…”(Feminist Philosophy). Against this view, Wollstonecraft work hard to emphasize that the role of women in the society were not simply an ornaments and playthings of men as they are also capable of attaining masculine virtues of wisdom and rationality “if society would allow those value to be cultivated” (p.475-476).
Wollstonecraft pointed out that the prevailing views on women had bad implications not only on women but on society as well as they will only breed bitterness, jealousy, and folly. She affected the first wave of feminist by encouraging them “to restore women to their lost dignity by encouraging better ideas of woman hood” (p. 476). How did Simone de Beauvoirs writing shape the second wave?
The second wave of feminism was a resurgence of early feminism as a result of various works of feminists during the 1940s such as her works. De Beauvoir writings shaped the second wave of feminism by shedding light about what is a woman in the concept of being other, and how men views women during this period. In her writings de Beauvoir shed social understanding on womanhood. She pointed out that the fundamental social meaning of woman is Other.
She explained, “No group ever sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other over against itself” (p. 479). The thought that de Beauvoir was pointing out was that men do not view women as human being like them but as Others who are to be treated as stranger that do not deserve equal treatment. The implication of men’s treatment of women as Others according to de Beauvoir was that because women are others, they do not need to be given “equal weight to their preferences” simply because they are others (p. 480).
Debeauvoir’s writings shaped the second wave of feminism through her unique way of providing social understanding about how women were regarded by men during this period. How did the events of the first and second wave affect each other? Apparently, the event of the first and the second wave of feminism affect each other in a way that they connect the second wave to the first. The second wave feminist was inspired by the events during the first wave to tag along their path of pushing for the recognition of women’s rights.
Apparently, the events of the first wave feminist shaped the understanding of the second wave feminism about women’s rights, against the existing social and philosophical views on women. Thus, the events of the first wave serves as mirror for the second wave, and as inspiration for them to continue women’s struggle for the restoration of their lost dignity as women equal with men in many aspect, especially on human rights. Reference More-Bruder: Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (2008) Feminist Philosophy The McGraw-Hill Companies
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