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Mary Wollstonecraft
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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
English freethinking Deist; early advocate of equality of the sexes

Mary WollstonecraftThe being cannot be termed rational or virtuous, who obeys any authority, but that of reason.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), ch. xiii, p. 291, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 17

How can a rational being be ennobled by any thing that is not obtained by its own exertions?
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

In fact, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of i edulity of women.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, "Some Instances of the Folly Which the Ignorance of Women Generates," in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), p. 217, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 18

Slavery to monarchs and ministers, which the world will be long freeing itself from, and whose deadly grasp stops the progress of the human mind, is not yet abolished.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), ch. ii, 89-90, quoted from Dr. Mynga Futrell, "The Ladies Clamor for Change"

What, but the rapacity of the only men who exercised their reason, the priests, secured such vast property to the church, when a man gave his perishable substance to save himself from the dark torments of purgatory; and found it more convenient to indulge his depraved appetites, and pay an exorbitant price for absolution, than listen to the suggestions of reason, and work out his own salvation: in a word, was not the separation of religion from morality the work of the priests...?
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), p. 40, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 21

Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, "Dedication," (1792)

Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose -- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, quoted from Words of Women Quotations for Success (1997)

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft (attributed: source unknown)

Mary WollstonecraftProbably the prevailing opinion, that woman was created for man, may have taken its rise from Moses's poetical story; yet, as very few, it is presumed, who have bestowed any serious thought on the subject, ever supposed that Eve was, literally speaking one of Adam's ribs, the deduction must be allowed to fall to the ground; or, only so far admitted as it proves that, from the remotest antiquity, found it convenient to exert his strength to subjugate his companion, and his invention to shew that she ought to have her neck bent under the yoke, because the whole creation was only created for his convenience or pleasure.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), p. 40, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 20-21

Men neglect the duties incumbent on man, yet are treated like demi-gods; religion is also separated from morality by a ceremonial veil, yet men wonder that the world is almost, literally speaking, a den of sharpers or oppressors.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), ch. ii, p. 107, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 22

Let not men then in the pride of power, use the same arguments that tyrannic kings and venal ministers have used, and fallaciously assert that women ought to be subjected because she has always been so.... It is time to effect a revolution in female manners -- time to restore to them their lost dignity.... It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

I love my man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), ch. ii, p. 107, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 21

Man preys on man; and you mourn for the idle tapestry that decorated a gothic pillar, and the dronish bell that summoned the fat priest to prayer. You mourn for the empty pageant of a name, when slavery flaps her wing, ... Why is our fancy to be appalled by terrific perspectives of a hell beyond the grave? -- Hell stalks abroad; -- the lash resounds on the slave's naked sides; and the sick wretch, who can no longer earn the sour bread of unremitting labour, steals to a ditch to bid the world a long good night.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), p. 62, excerpted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, p. 22

Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, quoted from Words of Women Quotations for Success (1997)

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ch. iii (1792)

Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.
-- Mary Wollstonecraft (attributed: source unknown)

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