International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Roots of Modern Feminism: Mary Wollstonecraft and the French Revolution
Dr. Fatih Duman

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), attributing a particular importance to “woman” -in the narrow sense- and to all oppressed groups -in the broad sense-, has a peculiar position in the history of political thoughts. Taking a position different from the modern male thinkers in her era, she expanded such ideas as “reason”, “natural rights”, “social contract” towards relations between genders and patriarchal authority of the family. These ideas of Wollstonecraft, who applied basic arguments of Enlightenment to the family, woman and private sphere, have constituted the foundation of modern feminism. Wollstonecraft produced classical writings that integrated political theory with gender roles and private relations. In this sense, relations that she made among freedom, equality, virtue, reason and genders and her criticism towards the societies of her era are important. The present study that has focused on Wollstonecraft’s perception about “woman” and her thoughts about the French Revolution will investigate the topic in three basic phases. The first phase will try to present her methodological point of view and her basic thoughts by moving from her book “A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)”. The second phase will investigate the concepts and analysis that cover basic arguments of the modern feminist thought by focusing on her book “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)”. The third and the final phase will discuss the results of Wollstonecraft’s basic concepts on political theory, especially in relation with the French Revolution where these concepts have been expressed.

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