By Mary Wollstonecraft
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I wish, Sir, to set some investigations of this kind aﬂoat in France; and should they lead to a conﬁrmation of my principles, when your constitution is revised the Rights of Woman may be respected, if it be fully proved that reason calls for this respect, and loudly demands justice for one half of the human race. I am, Sir, Yours respectfully, M. W. A D V E RT I S E M E N T . When I began to write this work, I divided it into three parts, supposing that one volume would contain a full discussion of the arguments which seemed to me to rise naturally from a few simple principles; but fresh illustrations ocurring as I advanced, I now present only the ﬁrst part to the public.
The woman who has only been taught to please will soon ﬁnd that her charms are oblique sunbeams, and that they cannot have much effect on her husband’s heart when they are seen every day, when the summer is passed and gone. Will she then have sufﬁcient native energy to look into herself for comfort, and cultivate her dormant faculties? or, is it not more rational to expect that she will try to please other men; and, in the 54 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman emotions raised by the expectation of new conquests, endeavour to forget the mortiﬁcation her love or pride has received?
The rights and duties of man thus simpliﬁed, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible; yet such 38 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations. Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they can scarcely trace how, rather than to root them out.