Mary Wollstonecraft: The Pioneer of Revolution in Women’s Education and Womanhood

“I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and happiness consists, I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body…and to show that elegance is inferior to virtue, that the first object of laudable ambition is to obtain a character as a human being regardless of the distinction of sex……”

Wollstonecraft belonged to an era which was tempered by seventeenth century English Philosopher John Locke’s revolutionary ideas and fervour. The spirit of radicalism was further empowered by French revolution which had as its stated ideals as liberty, equality, and fraternity. This phase of social and political turmoil pushed Wollstonecraft to come out with her political thinking and ideas regarding Women’s education and rights which were documented as “ Thoughts on the education of Daughters” followed by “ A Vindication of the Rights of Man” and “ A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” . Her works were more analytical which deals with the melancholy of social status of women, marked by debilitated education, no economic independence, and no career choice.  According to her, Women’s rights were to be seen not in the closet of their own but as a part of an ongoing movement for human upliftment and development. This should be seen in the context of the issue of human rights in general and for both men and women’s part of the revolution. She said that education is integral to the development of individual identity, to let the mind work freely irrespective of external impressions and associations. And this is essential in case of women when they had always been subjugated and hence more bound in an irrational way to first impressions. Their mind had always been tutored to please others, far from seeing the world in clear light of reasoning and understanding. She wrote: “Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison”. Instead of being the slaves of domination and enforced opinions, women should develop their own thought process. They should have subsequent access to a career and business. Defective education of women is the cause of social and personal ills. She believed that educated and well-versed women are essential to our society since they nurture the future generation of the country. They can be seen as companions to their husbands rather than attractive docile figures meant for pleasure. To further nourish the concept of equality of education, she argued that schooling should be co-educational where education and knowledge should be imparted to children irrespective of their gender and demand of work in future. This approach will help to cultivate the general human thinking towards broader perspectives of life, be it granting the equal status to women in society. She also laid emphasis on educating children to reason rather than accepting the facts as presented. In fact, the groundwork for her revolution for women’s rights was prepared on the basis of reasoning and observation of ordinary life.

Through her works, Wollstonecraft became the pioneer of feminism.  She challenged the existing social norms and refused to accept it. Instead, she became the political voice for women’s right whose legacy crossed the borders of England and travelled across the globe that is live 200 years after her premature death.

Advertisements

” IF GANDHI WAS ALIVE TODAY”

Mahatma Gandhi is one such name that will remain alive, not only on Indian soil
but all over the world whenever the history, culture and roots and foundation of
Independent India will be discussed. We often imagine situations if Bapu were
alive today, then how would he react to the current scenario of independent
India. And considering Mahatma Gandhi just as a mere spectator, it’s difficult to
predict whether he would be proud or ashamed of the existing Indian scenario.
No doubt our country has travelled far ahead, since independence and certainly
there are several milestones achieved during this journey, for which we declare
ourselves as proud Indians. And if Bapu would have seen the commitment and
attitude of those Indians to achieve such milestones, he certainly would have
been delighted and found himself blessed. The martyrdom of soldiers for free
motherland may seem worthy in lieu of achievements of free India. These
achievements are none other than the leap of 70 years young country in the field
of science & technology, economy, defense, entertainment, education and art &
literature. But there are several other issues which are so disgraceful that tarnish
the pride of the nation and these are none other than the old and rotten issues
like corruption, malnutrition, poor status of women, rural ignorance, illiteracy and
many others which lose their significance in this list. But instead if our country
would have been in the guidance of the man himself, perhaps the scenario would
be something else, definitely influenced by his ideologies.
The attitude of dealing with the problems and issues in India would have been
different, perhaps touched by the force of non-violence and truth. Although it’s
quite intriguing to imagine that how Mahatma would have dealt with the
massacre and political upheavals created after the independence as well as the
partition of India. Kashmir unrest might have taken a different approach. As per
the rulebook of truth and non-violence, had this brutal bloodshed in the name of
land of Kashmir would have been accepted? What would have been done to
prevent this, had we surrendered to prevent the violence and massacre or
continued the battle for the pride and the right of the nation? Well, this is only
one aspect; there are multiple affairs which might have been dealt differently.
Mahatma Gandhi’s principles can be derived from non-cooperation movement,
Satyagraha, Swaraj and Swadeshi movement. The man who always stood against
the rapid industrialization under colonial rule and advocated the growth of Indian
economy through revival of Indian domestic products and production processes;
perhaps in the current scenario the impact of globalization and a craze of
multinationals among youth would have been moderate. In current scenario
when the world is shrinking under the power of globally interdependent economy
and technological advancement, we couldn’t have been left untouched by the
impact of such trends. But probably, under the influence of powerful political
leader like Mahatma Gandhi, the acceptance and impact of this trend in our
country would have been different. Domestic products and processes would have
been safeguarded to prevent its downfall because Mahatma Gandhi always
believed in the power of self-sufficiency. His vision of independent India always
travelled through the path of Indian villages, where the majority of the population
is surviving under extreme poverty and lack of basic needs. The upliftment of
Indian villages definitely would have been the priority of government.
Atrocities on Dalits, Castesism, poverty, poor status of women, drug addiction
would have gained some valid and fruitful voice in our Parliament rather than
being subjects of mere political propaganda.
The magic and the influence of Gandhi which was so impactful and dominant
during the pre-independence era, if would have continued, then our nation would
have a powerful and subtle face on the global platform. The man who took the
world by storm, would have presented a powerful and independent face of India
on the international platform. It is quite intriguing to imagine the same Bapu,
prominent and distinguished among the world’s most powerful leaders, sharing
the International platform on global subjects.
The voice of a strong leader is very important to drive the folk. And if Gandhi were
alive today, then no matter which political party claims the throne under
democratic rule, that man could never be left unnoticed and unheard. It does not
mean that we could claim that India would be the finest nation in the world with
Bapu’s presence. The Future is not predictable and our nation was struggling
against the evil during his presence also, the only difference is the presence of
strong driving force of change. And if Gandhi were alive today, the struggle
against the national threats would have gained a stronger and firmer voice which
would have certainly helped Indians towards building India of their own dreams,
rather than loosing faith in the system.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
-Mahatma Gandhi