HIST 102 History Of Civilizations II

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Table of Contents

Analyze the main source excerpt from JeanJacques Rousseau’s Emile (1762) and link his arguments to Enlightenment thought.

Identify three major points in his writing. Then, discuss these ideas in relation with Enlightenment ideals/values in class discussion or from the textbook.

Analyze the primary sources excerpts from Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), both on page 648 of our textbook and in our handout.

Discuss the historical context and especially how revolutionary ideas led political revolutions.

Give three examples of Wollstonecraft’s challenge to Rousseau’s assertions about education and women’s rights in the Enlightenment.

Discuss how the gendered discussion helped you analyze primary source in historical context.

Discuss how your experience with the opposite gender role has influenced you.

Discuss how the experience has helped you to learn more about gender constructions culturally and historically.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a prominent enlightenment thinker of the eighteenth-century.

His novel Emile was regarded as one of the first books to explore the nature and purpose of education.

His work is a short excerpt that deals with equality among human beings.

But, Emile’s book is largely dominated by women as it is portrayed through Sophie, Emile’s wife.

He stated that women are more rational and less weak than men.

He stated that women don’t require men to be happy, while men need women.

He makes a distinction between education needs of men and women.

Rousseau says that the purpose for life is to be a mother or a wife.

Rousseau believed that women should receive a different education than men.

He was more inclined to the primitivism in his views on women’s education.

A minimum amount of vocational education should be provided to women who have an inferiority complex.

He said that women were created differently from men by nature, which is what gives rise to political inequality.

He believed that women naturally have weaker bodies than men so they also have weaker brains.

Where men have both power, and will, women are able to offer little resistance.

He explained that women are made because of “man’s delight” as well as “subjection to men”.

Rousseau believed that children were at the center education. Education should come from the inside and the mother is the most important.

Women are the ones who raise the child.

Rousseau is in favor of natural education. He believes happiness and spontaneity.

He was critical of mothers who send their children to other countries for development.

He said that mothers should nurture their children according to the natural rules.

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), is considered the foundational text of Western feministism.

The book declares equal rights of women in education and civil opportunities.

It is considered to be the first feminist book.

She addresses themes such as reason’s role over emotion and equality of the sexes.

She blamed the prevailing tendency for people to disregard equality and justify their decisions through reason. So she demanded that women’s rights are protected.

Jean Jacques Rousseau is criticized in her book for how he views women.

Wollstonecraft’s book serves a primary purpose. He presents women inappropriately in his book which reflects his egalitarian views.

His idea of the nature of power actually encouraged women to restrict their education.

Women became slavishly dependent due to ignorance and a mistaken belief.

She argued that women should be equal in political and social spheres.

Rousseau’s presentation showed that contemporary society held a degrading view of women’s abilities and strength.

Wollstonecraft’s arguments challenged readers’ preexisting views about women.

She said that the modern education system was more harmful and less helpful.

She demanded that women have access to a wider and more comprehensive education system in order for them to be better prepared to live in the domestic or social spheres.

She also raised concerns about the idea of women virtue being a sexual trait.

She maintained that human behavior must be judged by reason and intellect, and not emotion or passion.

The preconceived notions that women are emotionally and vulnerable in society need to be challenged.

It has been argued and discussed in detail about the politics of power and issues related to human rights, as well as women’s positions in society.

She said that to achieve the ultimate power, women don’t have to have power over other people, but must have control over their own lives.

Although initially the book was criticized for its radical political outlook, the 20th century saw the book become a key text in feminist thought.

Rousseau believed that women shouldn’t be educated the same as men.

He stated that women are mentally and physically inferior than men.

Men naturally have the power to control women.

Women will lose their control and power over men if they have equal education.

Wollstonecraft said that she did not want women to have more power than men, but rather that women should be empowered to make decisions for themselves.

Her power over herself is more important to her than power over men.

To her, women’s independence is what matters most.

A proper education would allow them to be independent.

Rousseau maintained that women should continue education until they reach a certain age.

Wollstonecraft however disagreed.

She wondered if women could educate their children to be responsible citizens if they did not receive proper education.

Rousseau claimed women were physically weaker than men and that they naturally have smaller brains.

Wollstonecraft claimed that women don’t need to rely on their husbands if they strengthen their bodies and engage in intellectual activities.

Women can increase their strength by practicing virtues, and managing their families well.

By doing this, women can become friends and companions instead of dependent on their husbands.

Wollstonecraft wrote about equal rights for women and Rousseau promoted it.

The thesis’ gendered debate helped me analyze the primary source materials in detail.

This analysis highlighted historical aspects of society’s gender construction and perception.

Gender identity can be described as the social behavior of a person based on their gender.

You can argue that gender roles do not come naturally. Gender roles are formed through experience and learning from childhood.

Social, cultural, and historical factors play the largest part in gender identity construction.

While I initially found the opposing views concerning women’s positions and power in society contradictory, a deeper analysis helped me see the flaws and help me gain broader perspectives on gender construction.

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