A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf(stonecraft)? College

Former African-American slave Frederick Douglass wrote his memoir My Bondage and My Freedom in 1855, sixty-three years after Englishwoman Mary Wollstonecraft released her Vindication on the Rights of Woman in 1792, and fourteen years before Englishman John Stuart Mill would publish his treatise The Subjection of Women. Douglass’ work describes the horrors endured by African slaves on the American plantations, and invites modern readers to consider the ways chattel slavery might still exist in societies today. Could subordination on the basis of gender be analogous to chattel slavery? If so, to what extent? Furthermore, what is so objectionable about marriage being legally similar to slavery? By looking at the institution of marriage in the aforementioned works, it is possible to interpret subordination on the basis of gender to be analogous to slavery insofar as the contemporary views are that a woman is to be bound to her husband, such that she cannot hold property and that she herself is technically property when she becomes legally one with him. The comparison of these two institutions then provides an understanding of marriage as something inherently wrong in its limiting the development of individual female potential....

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