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Mary Wollstonecraft

43 Podcast Episodes

Latest 7 Nov 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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351 Mary Wollstonecraft (with Samantha Silva)

The History of Literature

The writer, philosopher, and trailblazing feminist Mary Wollstonecraft is perhaps best known as the mother of the author of Frankenstein, but this amazing figure deserves more attention than a line in Mary Shelley's biography. As the author of classic works like Thoughts on the Education of Daughters and A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Wollstonecraft advanced arguments hundreds of years ahead of her time.In this episode, Jacke talks with screenwriter and novelist Samantha Silva (Mr. Dickens and His Carol) about her approach to writing novels, her immersion in the world of Wollstonecraft, and the pleasures and insights that her new work Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft can give to the rest of us. ***This show is a part of the Podglomerate network, a company that produces, distributes, and monetizes podcasts. We encourage you to visit the website and sign up for our newsletter for more information about our shows, launches, and events. For more information on how The Podglomerate treats data, please see our Privacy Policy. Since you're listening to The History of Literature, we'd like to suggest you also try other Podglomerate shows surrounding literature, history, and storytelling like Storybound, Micheaux Mission, and The History of Standup. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 6mins

18 Oct 2021

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Meet a Rare Book - Mary Wollstonecraft

Ngā Pātaka Kōrero - Auckland Libraries

Listen to learn about Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking book of feminist philosophy, her brave and unconventional lifestyle, her political writing on the French Revolution, and her imaginatively written travel book. After Wollstonecraft's death, her grief-stricken widower, William Godwin, published Memoirs of Her Life, a revolutionary biography, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. Learn more about these rare books:https://www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/Pages/meet-a-rare-book-ep7-wollstonecraft.aspxEnjoy other Meet a Rare Book episodes from the series playlist:www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/Pages/meet…-book.aspxSound Archive: Originally recorded on 11 February 2021 for the Meet a Rare Book Collection SA_0078_22Image: Mary Wollstonecraft. A vindication of the rights of woman, 1792.b1973396_02Music: Afternoon Tea by Mona Wonderlick - https://soundcloud.com/search?q=Mona%20WonderlickAShamaluevMusic - https://soundcloud.com/search?q=AShamaluevMusicProduction Credits:Edited and presented for podcast by Mark Gosper, 2021.Staff talks presented by Georgia Prince recorded by Sue Berman [2019-2021].Executive producer - Sue BermanResearch and copywriting - Renée Orr, Zoë Colling, Georgia Prince and Jane Wild.Thanks to the Digital Assets, Web Design and Content and Development Teams.Supported by Auckland Council Libraries.

34mins

17 Oct 2021

Similar People

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SIM 512 Chops 210: charting Mary Wollstonecraft's love and fury

Standard Issue Podcast

Mary Wollstonecraft is the subject of Samantha Silva’s latest book, Love And Fury, an historical fiction reanimating the life and legacy of arguably the world’s first feminist. And what a life. Samantha chats to Mickey about being an 18th Century radfem, why Wollstonecraft is still all-too relevant today, the importance of women – obvs! – and *that* Newington Green statue. Support this show http://supporter.acast.com/standardissuespodcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

37mins

13 Jun 2021

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Mary Wollstonecraft: WARRIOR WORDSMITH

Fatal Fortunes

In the final episode of season one of Fatal Fortunes, Al and Nathan discuss writer Mary MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797) one of the original advocates for women's liberation and Mother of famed Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. Thank you so much for listening to this season! We will drop random minisodes as the season progresses.   WEBSITE: fatalfortunes.com PATREON: patreon.com/fatalfortunespodcast INSTAGRAM: @fatalfortunes TWITTER: @fatalfortunes TIKTOK: @fatal_fortunes FACEBOOK: facebook.com/fatalfortunespodcast The Four Seasons (Vivaldi) by John Harrison with the Wichita State University Chamber Players (http://www.johnharrisonviolin.com/) is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...).--- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

23mins

8 Jun 2021

Most Popular

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Mary Wollstonecraft and the Vindication of Human Rights

LSE: Public lectures and events

Contributor(s): Professor Amartya Sen, Bee Rowlatt | Join two great minds in exploring the themes of justice and equality: Amartya Sen and Enlightenment hero Mary Wollstonecraft, as Amartya Sen gives the inaugural Wollstonecraft Society Lecture.Mary Wollstonecraft claimed human rights for all. She overcame limited education and a background of domestic violence to become an educational and political pioneer, and one of the greatest thinkers of the eighteenth century. As well as her intellectual audacity, it is Wollstonecraft’s love for humanity, her self-proclaimed “ardent affection for the human race” that continues to inspire. This event explores how, despite a savage pandemic, economic downturn, and increasing isolation in both political and individual life, there is a counter-story of community building and education, of optimism and hope.Meet our speakers and chairBee Rowlatt (@BeeRowlatt) is a writer and public speaker, and a programmer of events at the British Library. Her most recent book In Search of Mary retraced Wollstonecraft’s 1795 treasure hunt over the Skagerrak sea. She led the campaign for the Wollstonecraft memorial sculpture and is chair of the Wollstonecraft Society.Amartya Sen is Thomas W Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and an LSE Honorary Fellow. His research has ranged over social choice theory, economic theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, theory of measurement, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies. Amartya Sen’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages and his awards include the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was Professor of economics at LSE from 1971 to 1977, and he taught part-time at the School from 1978 to 1982. His memoir, Home In The World, will be published in July by Penguin. LSE announced the Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies in 2019.Alpa Shah (@alpashah001) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at LSE and leads the International Inequalities Institute research theme on Global Economies of Care. Her most recent book is the award winning ‘Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas’.More about this eventThe International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead cutting-edge research focused on understanding why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.The Wollstonecraft Society (@TheWollSoc) is a registered charity carrying Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy of human rights, equality and justice into young people’s lives. It delivers learning materials and experiences, inspired by Wollstonecraft’s work, for young people who might not have heard of her. The annual WS lecture features an outstanding speaker on themes related to her work, and each year it awards a state-educated student the Wollstonecraft Prize for Political Engagement. This lecture is also part of a week-long celebration of events around Mary Wollstonecraft organised by the Newington Green Meeting House.This event forms part of LSE’s Shaping the Post-COVID World initiative, a series of debates about the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis.This event will have live captioning and BSL interpreters.Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSECOVID19Featured image (used in thumbnail): Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797), National Portrait Gallery, London is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

1hr 19mins

28 Apr 2021

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Mary Wollstonecraft and the Vindication of Human Rights

Shaping the Post-COVID World

Contributor(s): Professor Amartya Sen, Bee Rowlatt | Join two great minds in exploring the themes of justice and equality: Amartya Sen and Enlightenment hero Mary Wollstonecraft, as Amartya Sen gives the inaugural Wollstonecraft Society Lecture.Mary Wollstonecraft claimed human rights for all. She overcame limited education and a background of domestic violence to become an educational and political pioneer, and one of the greatest thinkers of the eighteenth century. As well as her intellectual audacity, it is Wollstonecraft’s love for humanity, her self-proclaimed “ardent affection for the human race” that continues to inspire. This event explores how, despite a savage pandemic, economic downturn, and increasing isolation in both political and individual life, there is a counter-story of community building and education, of optimism and hope.Meet our speakers and chairBee Rowlatt (@BeeRowlatt) is a writer and public speaker, and a programmer of events at the British Library. Her most recent book In Search of Mary retraced Wollstonecraft’s 1795 treasure hunt over the Skagerrak sea. She led the campaign for the Wollstonecraft memorial sculpture and is chair of the Wollstonecraft Society.Amartya Sen is Thomas W Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and an LSE Honorary Fellow. His research has ranged over social choice theory, economic theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, theory of measurement, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies. Amartya Sen’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages and his awards include the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was Professor of economics at LSE from 1971 to 1977, and he taught part-time at the School from 1978 to 1982. His memoir, Home In The World, will be published in July by Penguin. LSE announced the Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies in 2019.Alpa Shah (@alpashah001) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at LSE and leads the International Inequalities Institute research theme on Global Economies of Care. Her most recent book is the award winning ‘Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas’.More about this eventThe International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead cutting-edge research focused on understanding why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.The Wollstonecraft Society (@TheWollSoc) is a registered charity carrying Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy of human rights, equality and justice into young people’s lives. It delivers learning materials and experiences, inspired by Wollstonecraft’s work, for young people who might not have heard of her. The annual WS lecture features an outstanding speaker on themes related to her work, and each year it awards a state-educated student the Wollstonecraft Prize for Political Engagement. This lecture is also part of a week-long celebration of events around Mary Wollstonecraft organised by the Newington Green Meeting House.This event forms part of LSE’s Shaping the Post-COVID World initiative, a series of debates about the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis.This event will have live captioning and BSL interpreters.Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSECOVID19Featured image (used in thumbnail): Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797), National Portrait Gallery, London is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

1hr 19mins

28 Apr 2021

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Get Lit Episode 103: Mary Wollstonecraft

Get Lit Podcast

This week, we bring you: Mary Wollstonecraft. A feminist icon from England, and the mother of Mary Shelley, Wollstonecraft brought a new meaning to 'Independent Woman', throwing out society's rule book and writing her own (among many other novels, essays, translations, and stories!) 

44mins

24 Mar 2021

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The Mortal Immortal by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Diane Reads You To Sleep - Stories To Help You Fall Asleep

Tonight I will be reading to you from "Tales and stories" by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Please enjoy listening to "The Mortal Immortal" and sleep well my friend.

47mins

23 Feb 2021

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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 2

Breaking Down Patriarchy

Education: The next theme that really stands out to me is her vision for the education of women. Women are not the inferior sex, maybe physically but not intellectually. They have not been given the chance to prove themselves otherwise. Women are not inferior by nature but by consequence of miseducation. Women have been relegated to the realm of sensibility or emotion. To the frivolous and shallow, but then are mocked or scorned for it. Yet, she argues, what do we expect of them if that is the only education they are receiving. We cannot expect more from them if this is all they’re given. Like let’s cut women some slack and stop mocking them, since it’s society’s fault that they are “like this”. She also argued for women to be educated so that they were not left destitute if a man decides he no longer wants to take care of her. “Girls who have been thus weakly educated, are often cruelly left by their parents without provision; and, of course, are dependent on, not only the reason, but the bounty of their brothers. In this equivocal humiliating situation, a docile female may remain some time, with a tolerable degree of comfort. But, when the brother marries, a probable circumstance, from being considered as the mistress of the family, she is viewed with averted looks as an intruder, an unnecessary burden on the benevolence of the master of the house, and his new partner”Basically she not only has to be dependent on the kindness of her brother or other family members that might take pity on her, but she is not equipped in the slightest to deal with what life has dealt her. This message to women that their role in life is to be a wife and then a mother definitely was the message that my mom was given. She dropped out of college, after one semester, when my dad proposed, got married, had my sister pretty quickly and 3 years later, there she was 23, divorced with a toddler and one on the way--that was me. No education. No real job training. This was the early 70’s during second wave feminism so it wasn’t like there was no counter-messaging happening in the greater world about getting an education or training so you can support yourself. But in her world, in the Mormon world, there seemed to be a doubling down on a woman’s place and one that, because she had great faith in the Mormon church, she believed whole-heartedly. There was always a tension between growing up with a single mom and the idealized version of what a family was supposed to look like in the Mormon church--namely father at the head, mother at the hearth and the children kneeling at their feet. Not quite how I grew up living with my single working mom, but then I would visit my dad twice a year from California to Utah and see it play out that way with my dad and stepmom and siblings and it was mostly confusing and painful for me. It wasn’t that I wanted my parents to be married and thought that would make everything better for us. All I had ever known was life with my mom. It was more that my siblings had what appeared to be financial stability that we did not have. I know now that my dad and stepmom scrimped and took extra jobs to meet all of their financial obligations but as a kid, it was not lost on me that my dad had an education, a better paying job, and more income than my mom. It was a struggle for my mom. However,  because of her experience as a young bride with no education and then finding herself as a single mother, I grew up with the message that a college education is not an option. Not necessarily because I’m worth being educated, but more because “what if something happens to your husband” you will be left alone and struggling. She didn’t want that for me. I certainly did not want that for myself. But the “in case something happens to your husband” part was lost on me. I was going to college because I had a vision for what I wanted for myself. I wanted a career and I wanted to help people. I really had to grow into those other parts of myself as wife and mother. I did not see myself in those roles. This is so important, Meagan. Actually my daughter Lindsay just wrote a paper in college on Mormon Women in the 1970’s, and how they responded to the Women’s Lib movement. Most of the women she interviewed - now in their 60’s and 70’s - didn’t even know it was happening. It was like they had a big force field bubble over them. And of those who were aware of it most of the women she interviewed believed the church’s message that the Women’s movement was dangerous, so they dug in even harder on the ideology of female dependence and self-sacrifice.That is so fascinating! I would love to read her paper! I’ve talked to my mom about this time period in her life and definitely feminism was a dirty four letter word. So yeah, it was going on “out there” but definitely not soaking in to her daily life in any meaningful way that impacted her choices. So, Wollstonecraft’s view was pretty out there for the time and was out there for many women in the 70’s! Educate women because they will make better wives, mothers, and citizens. Here she kind of takes a turn and starts talking about how motherhood, a very natural thing, and the unnatural preoccupation with being beautiful and admired get pitted against each other when education is so limited. She says: “...When a woman is admired for her beauty, and suffers herself to be so far intoxicated by the admiration she receives, as to neglect to discharge the indispensable duty of a mother…Men are not aware of the misery they cause, and the vicious weakness they cherish, by only inciting women to render themselves pleasing; they do not consider that they thus make natural and artificial duties clash…”She makes several of these arguments of the natural predisposition for women to become mothers and she even argues in several places that women who do not breastfeed are neglecting their natural bond and failing in a severe way. I believe she is mindful of placing the woman in context of the patriarchy and acknowledging that the expectation is going to be low when women are not taught to be thinking more philosophically or rationally. They will tend towards the silly and frivolous. And neglecting their duties as a mother. But she does get a little judgy about motherhood and breastfeeding. This does sting in some ways knowing that motherhood is not available to everyone who wants it, it sometimes happens to those who are not yet ready for it, and for others still, they will thoughtfully make the choice to not have children. There’s such a huge spectrum of a woman’s experience when it comes to motherhood. And it’s so complicated, right? But in Mary’s world, it’s a forgone conclusion that women will become mothers. And breastfeeding as well. So much pain for those for whom it doesn’t work, or the judgement that is passed for those that choose not to. I think one thing is for sure: When we take the time to get to know the person, there is usually a really good reason for the choice that they have made, and if there isn’t, it still isn’t really our place to judge. So let’s try and support each other. :) Yes! So often these arguments about men’s and women’s roles assume that every woman is a mother. And that’s not true. So we should be careful not to assume, not to conflate motherhood with other things, and then as you said, so importantly, not judge each other.There are a lot of places where she is pretty harsh to women who are preoccupied with beauty and the vain things of the world. I have to admit that I was pretty judgey like her about girly girl stuff. This started when I was really young and lasted until after we got back from Chile. I definitely had a chip on my shoulder when it came to femininity and things that were considered shallow and flashy and what seemed designed just to get men’s attention. I wanted to be taken seriously. For my ideas. For what I brought to the table intellectually. I did not want to be noticed for what I was wearing or what I looked like.  I think that is what Mary is trying to say here is that when a woman is told that her only way of being valued is through her attractiveness or sexuality, then it stands to reason these parts of herself will be focused on and developed. Is there anything wrong with liking to look attractive and feeling sexual. No. And also, they are not the only parts of us that exist and not the only parts of us that have value.However, for me, I had to really grow into those parts of myself because a rejection of them meant that I was playing by my own rules. In reality, I was still playing by the patriarchy’s rules, just in a slightly different way. Downplay those parts of myself to achieve a different goal. Denigrate what I saw as the obvious rules of the patriarchy: Women be sexy so you can get a man, please him, and be fulfilled by his attention. No instead, I was playing by the equally insidious rules of the patriarchy that equate femininity with inferiority. My internal monologue was: If you want to be successful, downplay anything feminine, do not dress to be noticed, and reject the idea that it’s your role to be a wife and a mother. Now I can see the patriarchal system that was not obvious to me before and I can be harsh on the system and soft on the person within the system.Yes, exactly, that’s exactly what I was doing during that period of my life in college. Thinking I was rebelling, I was actually denigrating what the patriarchy had determined was “feminine.” So I was just playing into the narrative that the “feminine” was inferior.And I do have to throw in one of my favorites of her quotes on this topic:“Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilded cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. Men have various employments and pursuits which engage their attention, and give character to the opening mind; but women, confined to one, and having their thoughts constantly directed to the most insignificant part of themselves, seldom extend their views.” (56)“The mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming around its gilded cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” I think we do have to be mindful of this issue. Later in the podcast we will be covering the book The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, that talks about how this very same phenomenon is still plaguing women in the 20th/21st Century. Women are still spending inordinate amounts of time and thought and money on “adornment,” and in some cases it truly is because women are in a mental prison and they’re wasting their “one wild and precious life” on trivial, ephemeral beauty and worrying about how they are perceived every waking moment of their lives. And I think social media is only making that worse. But on the other hand, as you and I both talked about, it’s not healthy either to pretend we don’t care how we look at all or to reject any interest in our appearance because we associate that with “weakness” or femininity.” So it’s super complicated.Actually, I have to share one more thing: In our house we have a quote on the wall from Little Women, where Marmee says:“If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you.”I love this quote. But. Apparently I have been doing too good of a job inculcating that message that “adornment” is not a worthy way to spend our time and attention, because recently my teenage daughter Sophie came to me and said “Mom, sometimes I feel worried that you’re judging me because I care about clothes and makeup more than you do.” Sophie is an artist and she loves doing makeup and hair and experimenting with clothes… and there’s nothing wrong with that! And I’m so grateful she told me so that I could apologize for making her feel that way, and do some course-correction so she feels free to be herself.The fact that she was able to come to you and express her worry or fear speaks volumes about the safety and trust you have created with her. That kind of honesty can feel so very risky and yet she trusted that you would handle her fears gently. And allowed you the opportunity to offer reassurance. That is so beautiful. And side note: our youngest sounds very similar to Sophie and both Jon and I have to be very mindful that we honor those parts of her that we don’t fully get on an experiential level. That’s so interesting! And that makes me wonder if I’m projecting some of my issues onto my girls. There’s that phrase “girls are praised for how they look; boys are praised for what they do.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/22/girls-looks-teach-children-appearance-stereotypes)That was definitely true as I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, and once that was pointed out to me I really started noticing how true that still is. And I observed sooooo many women around me who derived their value from their looks and their dress. But my girls have grown up in a totally different environment, at least in our family, and so when she’s experimenting with hairstyles and eyeliner and clothes, she’s doing that as an artist and as a teenager who’s experimenting with how she wants to express herself, which is a completely healthy part of growing up. [And by the way, I never ever say anything to Sophie about her clothes and makeup - it’s just that she notices my simple style… and the quotes I put on the wall. And the fact that the word “Kardashian” is a swear word in our family. But anyway… I want to be careful that I don’t project my own issues onto my kids.Oh yes! I have found out more about myself through having kids than I did by being in therapy or being a therapist--which requires you understand yourself pretty well...but somehow our kids hold up mirrors for us to see all our rough edges, all the things that maybe we didn’t see before and once we see all that--boy it takes work to not put all our stuff onto them. Such a delicate balance and feels like we have to walk through fire to find it sometimes. Speaking of walking through fire, it brings me to my next point that Wollstonecraft makes aboutWomen’s Role & GodRousseau’s whole premise that women are created for man and that man tries to obtain her consent that he is the strongest...which she labeled as nonsense. You quoted some of his delightful ideas about the purpose of women and Mary directly responds to him with bold declarations. This one I spoke to me in particular:“And though the cry of irreligion, or even atheism, be raised against me, I will simply declare, that were an angel from heaven to tell me that Moses’s beautiful, poeticial cosmogony, and the account of the fall of man, were literally true, I could not believe what my reason told me was derogatory to the character of the Supreme Being: and having no fear of the devil before mine eyes, I venture to call this suggestion of reason, instead of resting my weakness on the broad shoulders of the first seducer of my frail sex.” This is a radical stance then and would be radical to many now. But I appreciate that she is separating her own experience of a Supreme Being, of God, and taking God out of that very small box and saying, this does not resonate with me and what I understand of God. Her reasoning tells her that this is not the character of God and therefore she can reject it. That God would not create women solely as pleasers of men and inferior to men. That goes against God’s character.Benevolent Patriarchy screams its way throughout this whole chapter when she’s quoting her contemporaries. Like all those quotes we read at the beginning and how they attempt to keep women subordinate by telling them how marvelous they are, that they need to be cared for, that their innocence, that like of children, needs to be safeguarded and protected by using flattery and compliments. She says “This is not the language of the heart, nor will it ever reach it, though the ear may be tickled.” (p.168). So it might feel good for a bit to be put on the pedestal. It may make you feel cared for, valued, and important. But she calls it out as a farce and nonsense. She bores into the heart of the matter by saying, do away with all that flattery and pretending. Allow women to fully come into themselves and know all the different parts of themselves, not just the parts they’re told they have to have to be acceptable. Let them learn like anybody else learns. Through experience. Not through borrowed reason that may get doled out here and there but through real lived experience to fully exercise their mental capacity. “Why are girls to be told that they resemble angels; but to sink them below women? Or, that a gentle innocent female is an object that comes nearer to the idea which we have formed of angels than any other. Yet they are told, at the same time, that they are only angels when they are young and beautiful; consequently, it is their person, not their virtues, that procure them this homage. Idle empty words! What can such delusive flattery lead to, but vanity and folly?”This is all highly challenging for me as a Mormon woman. Mormon doctrine is steeped in the patriarchy and her arguments here are arguments that Mormon feminists have been making for decades. What is probably the most difficult aspect of this for me is that she was saying these things nearly 230 years ago. That’s a really long time to be having the same arguments. I would imagine for people not growing up in a church like the Mormon church and having a bit more freedom in how gender roles are conceptualized, the arguments of her contemporaries sound really outdated and kind of nuts. But they all ring so true to my experience within the Mormon church and the way women are lauded and placed divinely up on the pedestal. And my gut telling me, if we really were equal, we would not be having to make such a big deal about how special we are. We would understand it on a different level through representation, through women leaders guiding us in matters of doctrine and not just leading women and children, but leading men as well. That is certainly not the case, so on it goes as the men try to tell us women, and then women leaders also telling us, that no, in fact, that gut feeling you’re having that there’s something amiss? That something isn’t quite right? Ignore that and listen to my flattering words that say...

1hr 3mins

20 Jan 2021

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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft, Part 1

Breaking Down Patriarchy

Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. During our last episode we discussed Olympe de Gouges, and her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. We learned how de Gouges was accused of treason and beheaded, and her work never really took off in France or elsewhere, as evidenced by the fact that if you say the name Olympe de Gouges, most people will not have heard of her. However, there was a woman in England writing at the very same time on the very same subject. This was the famous Mary Wollstonecraft, and her book,  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects is one of the most famous and influential works on this subject in history. Like some of our other texts, this book is so densely packed with material that we’ve decided to break it into two parts. So today we will introduce Wollstonecraft and talk about the historical context in which she wrote, we’ll talk about the Enlightenment and some of the contemporary authors with whom Wollstonecraft was arguing, and we’ll talk about the balance of Reason and Emotion.  But before we start, I want to introduce my reading partner, Meagan Cahoon Alder. Hi, Meagan!Meagan: Hi, Amy!Amy: Meagan and I met in Santiago, Chile when we were 21 years old. We were kindred spirits right from the very first moment, and even though we haven’t lived near each other in many years, every time we reconnect I am amazed at both how much we are still alike, and how much I admire you, Meagan.  I feel like you’re a trailblazer and a role model for me, and I’m so grateful for your example as we’ve gone through all these years of life. So thank you sooo much for being here. and could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?Meagan:Sure, thank you Amy. I am really honored to be a part of your project. Thank you for having me.A little about me. I come from a large blended family. My oldest sister and I come from my mom and dad, and 6 siblings from my dad and step mom. 8 altogether, 7 girls and 1 boy. We are all pretty close and I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything. I grew up mostly in Northern California with just my mom and visited my dad twice a year for summers and Christmas. Around 16, after having an incredible experience in therapy myself, I decided I wanted to be a therapist when I grew up. At 16 I wasn’t totally sure what *kind* of therapist, but I knew that I wanted to help people the way that I had been helped. I’m also a 7th generation Mormon, which is pretty relevant to this podcast as its entire structure is based on a patriarchal foundation and definitely has a huge part to play in how I view and experience the world. And it is through my service in the Mormon church that I met you in Chile at the ripe ol’ age of 21 like you said. And while I have so many things to say about that experience, it is probably best left for another podcast. Fast forward to coming back from Chile, I got married, graduated from the University of Utah and we headed out to Maryland for graduate school. I went to Virginia Tech in Northern Virginia for a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. I worked for a couple of years with adolescents and their families before we had our first daughter in 2007. Our son came just 18 months after that and then three years later, our third. We struggled to get and stay pregnant so while I had some pretty complicated feelings about quitting my job as a therapist, I looked forward to being at home with them. As time passed though, I felt like a very important part of me was put on ice. As the ice started to melt, that part of me became pretty restless and I realized that staying home without attending to the therapist aspect of myself was not going to be sustainable. I began a little life coaching practice on the side and it was great at the time. But didn’t quite quench that thirst to be back in the therapy room.In 2014, Jon was offered a job at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and one of the perks was free education for spouses. We both had some serious reservations about going back to Utah after being away for 12 years, but decided to go for it. And I was going to go back to school for a PhD in MFT. The same week I received my acceptance letter to the PhD program, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had also recently moved to Utah to take care of my grandfather. So we had her come live with us while she had surgery and went through chemo for the first time. Her cancer grew back about 16 months later just as Jon was recruited for a job at the University of Pittsburgh. Turns out BYU was a terrible fit for Jon and he was miserable in his professional life. I had one more year left that could all be done remotely, so we packed up our four generation household and moved to Pittsburgh. We had my grandpa with us for those last years of his life and it was a gift to be with him when he passed last year. Currently, my mom’s cancer is back and we’ve all decided that cancer is the worst and we are trying to make the best of a really crummy situation. I finished my PhD about 2 years ago and started a private practice. I have a great little office downtown Pittsburgh that has been sitting empty because of the COVID global pandemic for about 8 months and that is killing me, but I’m very hopeful that I will return to it someday in the not too distant future. Amy: Thanks so much, Meagan. Again, you are such an example to me. And best wishes from the bottom of my heart for your mom. I can’t even imagine how hard that is for your whole family, but your mom is so very lucky to have you. Next, if you don’t mind, I usually ask my reading partners what interested them in the project.Meagan: A couple things come to mind. First, because it was you asking and I knew it would be high quality. My experience with you around issues of patriarchy and feminism have been so important because you have a way of expressing what is deepest in your heart in a way that matches what is in my heart. I knew I could trust how you would handle this topic with such care and thoughtfulness. Second, because a year or so ago we were chatting about feminism, our experiences in the patriarchy and you mentioned the book Creation of the Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner. I think I went and bought a used copy that same day. Then as I was reading it, I would text rant to you about how maddening it all was and how can it be that after all of these centuries we are still in this place? And you said something to the effect of, we should start a book club so we can discuss all of this and understand it better. I said, sign me up! And this turned out to be a bigger project than a book club but I really am honored to be a part of it. Amy: Thank you so much for those kind words and for that reminder of this process together! I do remember both of us saying that we had to take breaks from The Creation of Patriarchy because it brought up so many feelings of frustration and anger… but it was therapeutic for us personally and really important for us to understand. You told me earlier that reading this text was a similar experience - it was hard to keep reading sometimes, right?Meagan: Yes, I had a really hard time with Vindications of the Rights of Woman. I would get through a chapter and just have to set it down and walk away for a while. I think we’ll discuss some of the main reasons why later on, but the arguments she has to make to just be taken seriously were often painful to read and hit close to home. And that same feeling that here we are so many years later still having to argue for our value and worth. Amy: Yeah, this education is not for the faint of heart, but in the spirit of the Enlightenment, when Wollstonecraft was writing, we can quote Immanuel Kant, who said “Sapare Aude,” Dare to Know. (file:///Users/amy/Downloads/Kant-Enlightenment.pdf)  Sometimes knowing hurts, so it requires courage. But it’s worth it. So I want to start with a couple of background topics as we launch our discussion.If you look up A Vindication of the Rights of Woman on Wikipedia, the first sentence describes Mary Wollstonecraft as an 18th Century British proto-feminist. The second sentence describes her book as one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. So by now listeners know that word definitions are important to me, and we’re going to pause here and talk briefly about the word “feminist.” We also could have covered this during the episode on The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, but it’s appropriate here as well.First of all, using the terms “feminism” or “feminist” can be controversial among historians, when applied to people before the term was used. The Oxford English Dictionary lists 1852 as the year of the first appearance of "feminist" and 1895 for "feminism,” and it was first introduced in France. The word “feminism” didn’t appear in the United States until 1910.Second, the word “feminist” can be controversial in the general discourse, because some people interpret it (in my view, they misunderstand it) to mean an effort to elevate women above men and subjugate men. That idea doesn’t come out of thin air - some feminists in the 1970’s Women’s Lib movement did advocate for female supremacy.However, I know a whole lot of self-described feminists, and I don’t know a single one who thinks that. Every single feminist that I know subscribes to the definition that is in the Oxford dictionary, which is this:“Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”And if you look up Oxford Reference, there’s an expansion of the term, a portion of which reads:“The approach to social life, philosophy, and ethics that commits itself to correcting biases leading to the subordination of women.”This is the definition we will be working with when that word comes up anywhere on this podcast. So I think it’s interesting that Wollstonecraft is described in retrospect as a “protofeminist,” meaning of course “the earliest,” or “a precursor to” a feminist. And we’ll see why she’s described this way as we discuss her work. Ok, and one last thing before we dive into the book: let’s talk about who Mary Wollstonecraft was and what led her to produce the work that made her famous. We’re going to take turns talking about her, so Meagan, do you want to take the first part? MeaganMary Wollstonecraft was born in London on April 27, 1759, the second of seven children. Her father was a violent alcoholic who mismanaged the family fortune and would sometimes beat his wife in drunken rages. As a teenager, Mary used to lie outside the door of her mother's bedroom to protect her. She played a similar maternal role for her sisters, Everina and Eliza, throughout her life. Mary's education was somewhat haphazard, which was not entirely unusual for someone of her sex and position. Mary read a lot, and her mind was shaped by relationships with families who mentored her, and by her friendship with Fanny (Frances) Blood. The two were best friends, and after Mary’s mother died in 1780 (when Mary was 21), Mary moved in with the Bloods.In the winter of 1783, Mary left the Bloods in order to attend to her sister Eliza, who had just given birth to a daughter. When she arrived she found her sister in a terrible state of depression (scholars now wonder if it was postpartum depression), and Mary’s solution was for Eliza to leave her family. So Mary and Eliza left Eliza’s husband and baby and went into hiding for a time.  The baby died the following August, and Eliza, unable to remarry, lived the rest of her life in poverty.This was a terrible time for Mary. Prior to Mary’s visit to Eliza, Mary, her other sisters, and Fanny Blood had set up a school together. But Fanny soon became engaged and moved to Lisbon, Portugal with her husband, in hopes that it would improve her health, which had always been poor. Despite the change of surroundings, Blood's health further deteriorated when she became pregnant, and in 1785 Mary left the school and went to Portugal to help Fanny after the birth of her baby. Tragically, Mary’s abandonment of the school led to its failure, and even more tragically, after giving birth, both Fanny and her baby died. Fanny's death devastated Mary and was part of the inspiration for her first novel, Mary: A Fiction (1788).After Fanny’s death, Mary got a job as a governess. Frustrated by the limited career options open to respectable yet poor women - which is a topic she would write about a lot in her life - she decided to quit her job as a governess and embark upon a career as an author. This was a radical choice, since, at the time, few women could support themselves by writing (let’s be honest, it’s still a risky choice). As she wrote to her sister Everina in 1787, she was trying to become 'the first of a new genus'. She moved to London and, assisted by the liberal publisher Joseph Johnson, found a place to live and work to support herself. She learned French and German and translated texts.She also wrote reviews for Joseph Johnson's periodical, the Analytical Review. Wollstonecraft's intellectual universe expanded during this time, not only from the reading that she did for her reviews but also from the company she kept: she attended Johnson's famous dinners and met such luminaries as the radical pamphleteer Thomas Paine and the philosopher William Godwin. Godwin and Wollstonecraft did not like each other at first - they met at a dinner party and Godwin said Wollstonecraft followed him around all night, disagreeing with everything he said. (But keep Godwin in mind, because he’ll come back into the story later!)In 1787 Mary started to write her own work, in the form of essays and books, one of which, Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness, was illustrated by the famous artist and poet William Blake. The French Revolution was underway, and the English were watching it with careful attention. In 1790 a conservative member of the English parliament named Edmund Burke had written a critique of the French Revolution called Reflections on the Revolution in France, and it so angered Mary that she spent a month writing a rebuttal called A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, which supported the values of the revolutionaries. It was originally published anonymously, but a second edition revealed her as the author, and she became famous overnight.  Wollstonecraft called the French Revolution a 'glorious chance to obtain more virtue and happiness than hitherto blessed our globe'. About the events of 5–6 October 1789, when the royal family was marched from Versailles to Paris by a group of angry housewives, Burke praised Queen Marie Antoinette as a symbol of the refined elegance of the old regime, and he called the women who captured her 'furies from hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of women'. Wollstonecraft by contrast wrote of the same event: 'Probably you [Burke] mean women who gained a livelihood by selling vegetables or fish, who never had any advantages of education.’ AmyIt was around this time that Olympe de Gouge published her Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen, in 1791. Mary began a work of her own in agreement with de Gouge’s declaration, and also in disagreement with an address to the French National Assembly, which stated that women’s education should consist only of domestic training. Wollstonecraft wrote the Rights of Woman to launch a broad attack against sexual double standards. She published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792, and it was relatively well received.On December 26, 1792, Wollstonecraft saw the former king, Louis XVI, being taken to be tried before the National Assembly, and much to her own surprise, found 'the tears flow[ing] insensibly from my eyes, when I saw Louis sitting, with more dignity than I expected from his character, in a hackney coach going to meet death.”France declared war on Britain in February 1793, and Mary was stranded in France. Despite her sympathy for the revolution, life became very uncomfortable and as an English citizen and she was in frequent danger. Some of Wollstonecraft's French friends lost their heads to the guillotine. Having just written the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft met and fell passionately in love with Gilbert Imlay, an American adventurer. She put her own principles in practice by sleeping with Imlay even though they were not married, which was unacceptable behavior from a 'respectable' British woman. Wollstonecraft soon became pregnant by Imlay, and on May 14, 1794 she gave birth to her first child, Fanny. Wollstonecraft was overjoyed; she wrote to a friend, 'My little Girl begins to suck so MANFULLY that her father reckons saucily on her writing the second part of the R[igh]ts of Woman' (emphasis hers). She continued to write avidly, despite the burdens of being a new mother in a foreign country, and the growing tumult of the French Revolution. Imlay, unhappy with the domestic-minded and maternal Wollstonecraft, eventually left her. He promised that he would return to her and Fanny, but his delays in writing to her and his long absences convinced Wollstonecraft that he had found another woman. Her letters to him are anguished and depressed - she was a foreign woman alone with an infant in the middle

59mins

20 Jan 2021

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