I have enjoyed A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Three Guineas and The Feminine Mystique because they tell the truth, they are based on historical facts (not fiction, no exaggerations). Mary Wollstonecraft’s work was a response to the Enlightenment men who stimulated the power of reason but forgetting women and banned it to them. On the other hand, Virgina Woolf, by her replaying to a letter and speaking in the name of  ‘the daughters of educated men’, declared publicly that patriarchy and Fascism are aspects of the same system and they broke all of women’s aspirations and ambitions. To carry out this work she had been looking for clear evidence:

‘Woolf had been reading widely and collecting materials, primarily newspaper cutings, throughout the 1930s for the book that became Three Guineas; she gathered ‘ammunition’ on the cultural and social history of women, male attitudes to women, the exclusion of women from public life, and on militarism, Fascism and war. The photographs of  ‘ruined houses and dead bodies’ from, presumably, the Madrid massacres, which became a central part of the argument of Three Guineas…were probably sent by the Republican Government in Spain. Woolf also turned to biography, autobiography, and ‘the daily paper, history in the raw’, which provided her with an ‘aid to the understanding of human motives’; specifically, the ‘motives’ of men who, like Julian, found ‘some glory, some necessity, some satisfaction in fighting which we women have never felt or enjoyed.’

Marcus, Laura (2004:167-168)

Finally, the American Betty Friedan based her work in lots of interviews, as well as in many previous feminist’s declarations during the 1960s where a re-emergence of a Women’s Liberation Movement in England and America was taking place.

The three of them did not write what was expected from their sex. Although being written from different political turmoils (being this the only difference which I have seen on doing this paper) they praise for an educated society.From my point of view they share the same arguments to promote education which I would sum up saying that the patriarchal system (referring to Church, educators in schools, fathers, husbands, Mass Media, politics) have dehumanized (as Friedan said) women turning them into ignorant creatures. The only education taught during many years has been that referred to the scope of marriage. Women have not been treated as reasonable creatures, they have been treated and trained for the ‘feminine mystique’; for attracting and keeping a husband and serving the needs of the house and children. So against this cruelty, Wollstonecraft, Woolf and Friedan defended the capacity of women’s reasoning as present as in men. Wollstonecraft proposed a ‘revolution in female manners’  and Friedan an overthrow of the ‘feminine mystique’ which consisted on a rational education which developed their own reason and their virtue (not their beauty, motherhood, their meek character, etc.) being women a first-class species as men. Moreover, they said that through an education to be used as full members of society, not only women can achieve knowledge, but also economic independence, political participation and autonomy. So this idea is the reason why I have ‘baptized’ this paper as:

“Education: the gateway to the world”.

‘New women’ and ‘new men’ needed Friedan at the beginning of her work and I think that even nowadays, in the 21st century, we are lacking in it. In my first paper I attempted to explain how women had been banned from a rational education and unfortunately my second paper is devoted to the expansion of the same topic with the only difference based on background (the first one was published in the 18th century and the others included in this second paper in the 20th century, the period of the World Wars). To my frustration the only evolution I can see during these three centuries is based only on the passage of time. It is true that many more women risked their lives to fight against patriarchy, demanding the right to vote and many essays, pamphlets and books were published but the evolution is minor.

Even nowadays, in the 21st century, the patriarchal system goes on because in politics there are more men than women and the Church is giving the same ‘obsolete sermon’ and there are hundreds of women who love it. I do not understand why there are some perpetrated traditions which are not removed from society and they prevail. I think that the ‘feminine mystique’ is in fashion, advertisements promote the beauty’s potential, house-wives and motherhood every day instead of praising women’s intelligence. What is more, if I would have to write a third paper based on the evolution of education from Betty Friedan to nowadays, unfortunately again, I could see that what we have achieved, in Spain for example after the Franco’s dictatorship, now we are losing it in the twinkling of an eye. But I do not want to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth, so let’s embrace these wise words:


Friedan, Betty“A new life plan for women. ” The Feminine Mystique. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1973:355.





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