Penn State

Barbara A. Sims - professor of criminal justice and chair, Criminal Justice Programs,, Penn State Harrisburg

Book Title: Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman

Author: Mary Wollstonecraft

Book Description:

Although many of the issues introduced by Wollstonecraft in this book are not at all controversial in today's society, this certainly was not the case in the late 18th century. Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman, was published posthumously in 1797 and was viewed as a brave critique of how women faired in a male-dominated society. She spoke of the injustices endured by women, but she also juxtaposed those injustices against a backdrop of inflictions placed upon women at the hands of themselves. Wollstonecraft's somewhat harsh call to action on both fronts resonated strongly with me when I first read her work. I had often thought about and encountered both covert and overt sexist attitudes on the part of males, but had not thought as deeply about the self-inflicted wounds that women sometimes impose on themselves, such as allowing one's self-worth to be determined by having a male companion and his approval. Wollstonecraft encouraged women of her generation to seek satisfaction in other relationships as well, such as with one’s children, female companions, and other family members. She also encouraged women to seek some manner of independence and not to get too caught up in emotional and sometimes crippling sentimentality. The author certainly left a mark on the women of her generation and on future generations; to this I can fully attest.


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