The Thinking 

A Vindication of the Sensibility of Woman

January 5, 2010

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her now famous treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she strenuously argued for the education of women. If the minds of women were cultivated, they would be less likely to be “blown about by every momentary gust of feeling.” They would care less about the trivialities of fashion and beauty. This would lead to happier marriages and improved child-rearing.

Though Wollstonecraft is often mistaken for a modern feminist, it is highly unlikely she would have been pleased at the state of education of women today. She did not advocate that woman be taught to venerate masculine achievement and thinking to the point of abandoning her sacred duties as mother and wife.

Presumably Wollstonecraft would have been appalled at the case of Emmie. No education is better than the mis-education of Emmie. Sensibility is better than this kind of sense.


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The Male with No Plumage

January 5, 2010


Here is a picture taken a few years ago of Bill Gates and other Microsoft executives. I chose it because it seemed to typify the dress of men today, the schleppy, non-descript, I-wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly look. The wealthiest man in the world exhibits not the slightest hint of male authority or masculine bravado. Now here is a picture of a Roman general.roman-general-t2998

The cloak, the scepter, the feathered helmet – all suggest stature, boldness, courage and refinement. Imagine this man smiling directly into the camera, the way Bill Gates always does. It’s unthinkable. He is preoccupied and looks to the side, burdened and sober.

It is sometimes said that feminism is the result of the female lust for power and envy of men. But it’s more complicated than that. I agree with Elizabeth Bisland, who argued that men shed the beautiful trappings and the substance of male authority in the nineteenth century, leaving women bereft of heroes. So women decided to become heroes themselves. No wonder it was rare for women to choose lesbianism as a way of life. The masculine mystique once fed the imagination of every woman, whether she married a general or not.

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Emmie’s Choice

January 5, 2010


Why would a healthy, affluent, college-educated 22-year-old woman decide to abort her child when there are thousands of infertile couples clamoring for newborns and adoption agencies offering to pay all expenses during pregnancy and birth?

There are three major reasons:

1. Childbirth, even when it entails no further responsibilities, awakens femininity. Two people are born at birth: the mother and the child. This awakening threatens the single-minded obsession with the masculine pursuit of career. 

2. Pregnancy and childbirth, even in an age of sexual freedom, are shameful for unmarried women of a certain class. They are low-status events when not surrounded by the trappings of marriage, baby showers, the painstakingly decorated nursery, comfortable living conditions, etc.

3. Childbirth is contrary to an ethic of self-fulfillment. This radical change means confusion and ostracism in a culture of youthful narcissists.

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