The Representation of Women's Status in domestic and political Patriarchy in Mary Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft

Abstract : see women as reasoning creatures and claim that they should be treated as men are. Astell has attracted, as has Wollstonecraft, but for different motives, the label of ' " the first English feminist.' " 1 As Kolbrener observes, their feminisms are contrasted: 'Astell's feminism was still firmly rooted in conservative political commitments and the language of the High Church' 2 whereas Wollstonecraft's was 'based upon rights and natural liberty.' 3 Both writers were politically committed, denouncing women's status and submission, and criticizing many aspects of patriarchy which Fletcher defines as 'the institutionalised male dominance over women and children in the family and the subordination of women in society in general.' 4 There is an analogy between the family (microcosm) and the state (macrocosm) as Smith clearly explains: 'Monarchical theory, outlined most thoroughly by Robert Filmer [Patriarcha (1680)], stressed authority flowing from a natural, God-ordained patriarchal principle. As the father ruled his family and household at God's will, so the king held sway over his larger, national family.' 5 The patriarchal analogy between the family and the state implies a parallel between the domestic microcosm of the family (with the husband's authority over his wife, the father's over his children and the master's over his servants) and the political macrocosm of the state (the king's authority over his subjects). The analogy is complemented by the 'patriarchal opposition between the 'public' (economy/state) and the 'private' (domestic, conjugal and intimate life).' 6 Domestic patriarchy refers to the submission of women, the final aim of their education being marriage, sometimes for economic survival, but always as a means of domestic patriarchy to maintain a 'patrilineal system of property inheritance.' 7 Political patriarchy coupled with the social contract implies not only the absence of women's involvement in political life but also the absence of their civil existence.
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Guyonne Leduc. The Representation of Women's Status in domestic and political Patriarchy in Mary Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft . Revue française de civilisation britannique, CRECIB - Centre de recherche et d'études en civilisation britannique, 2010. ⟨hal-01714116⟩

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