World Civilization Essay, Research Paper
World Civilization II
January 14, 2000
The Lesser Half
When Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote about the inequalities of women it was acceptable for that time period. During the 1700’s a women’s role was primarily to bear and raise their children, which is emphasized by Rousseau in Emile. In all other aspects they were viewed to be inferior to men. Mary Wollstonecraft’s rebuttal to Emile appeared thirty years later, in which she refutes the traditional roles of women. Society has since changed; men and women are viewed more equally.
Rousseau’s statement “The female is female her whole life?” is his result of reason based on his views of women and their place in society. Family was made the essential part of a women’s life. Rousseau continues with, “Everything constantly recalls her sex to her?,” saying that it is the women’s job to be a constant caregiver. They will always have husbands or children that will require love and respect. Throughout their lives an emphasis was placed on caring and raising of children, especially the raising of boys into men. Because of this, women could be nothing more.
Rousseau believes that women should not be educated the same as men, but rather educated to a level suitable for raising men. In a man’s eyes there had to be some education present so women could raise young men the way their husbands intended. While raising boys into men, women instilled in them good values, morals, and tastes that are the very building blocks of life. He states, “Thus the whole education of women ought to relate to men,” which directly states his thoughts on the topic.
Wollstonecraft believes women are a product of the men that surround them. She states, “I firmly believe, that all writers,? have contributed to render women more artificial, weak characters?and, consequently, more useless members of society?,” referring specifically to Rousseau. She then goes on to call his work nonsense, wondering when a man will swallow his pride and give women the credit they deserve. Rousseau shows men to be more important than women, thus making the sons superior to the daughters. Wollstonecraft finally mentions daughters by telling women to take the opposite view of Rousseau and raise their daughters with the same love and respect.
Women have worked hard to get to the status they have reached in society today. They have broken down many barriers through time that have contributed to the greater equality we see today. Women are now holding many of the occupations limited to men in the past, such as; doctors, lawyers, even U.S. Senators. Life for women still is not perfect, but it has come a long way since Rousseau.