Kinship or the Family is a major social institution if not one of the primary structural forces, which shape subject formation and societal views. Kinship relations play a significant role in the constitution of societal roles, cultural values and identity. In Western culture, Kinship places a strong emphasis on marriage and reproduction and, moreover, makes assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality classifications and reinforces gender roles. For example, In their Anthropological piece titled, Is There a Family?, Jane Collier, Michelle Z. Rosaldo, and Sylvia Yanagisako proposes that because of their biological capabilities of childbirth and reproduction, women are confined to the home and viewed as “peace-loving” and “nurturing” homemakers (Is There A Family? 75). Their roles are to maintain a home; reproduce and raise children; and love and nurture their spouse and children. While the man, a public and active figure, resided in the workplace where his role is to work and maintain the economic exchanges of capitalism. These views reinforce gender roles and have been in place far beyond the age of industrialization and capitalism. Writers like Rousseau and Dr. Gregory desire that women remain servile, confined to the home, and concerned with matters most concerned with rendering themselves pleasing to men. However, Mary Wollstonecraft challenges these societal views and argues for the liberty and gender equality denied to women.
According to Wollstonecraft, Dr. Gregory and Rousseau have contributed to “render women more artificial, weaker characters…and consequently, more useless members of society” (23). These ideas are degrading and diminish societal potential for women. Wollstonecraft focuses on the claim made by Rousseau that a woman “should never, for a moment feel herself independent, that she should be governed by fear to exercise her natural cunning, and made a coquettish slave in order to render her a more alluring object, a sweet companion to man” (25). Here Rousseau not only casts away that notion that women can be independent of man, but he also objectifies women in saying that they should seek nothing more than to make themselves more desirable and attractive to men. This reinforces the notion that women are nothing more that objects to men. Dr. Gregory reiterates a similar point as he advises his daughters to “cultivate a fondness for dress…because it is natural to them” (26). He also goes on to suggest to his daughters that they not educate themselves if they are looking to find a husband. However, these ideas of women presented by both Rousseau and Dr. Gregory categorize women as noting more than objects to men—salves to men.
Writers like Rousseau and Dr. Gregory not only suggests that women should sacrifice herself entirely to render herself more agreeable and servile to man but they also suggest that women should be mentally inferior as well.
Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist of her time...