Monday, 29 June 2015

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.

“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.” 

Mary, Mary. 
   She was quite contrary. To her contemporaries, her thoughts, her actions, her words were shocking, were vulgar, were distasteful. 
   Which obviously makes her another part of the Vintage Twins Heroine Series. 

Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1729. She died aged 38, after the birth of her most famous child, the incredibly talented Mary Shelley. In her short life, Mary Wollstonecraft was dynamically controversial, unorthodox, dramatic, and sorrowful. 
But I don't think it's worth talking about her personal life, aside from this one statement: Mary Wollstonecraft was unshaken. She didn't care about what people said, what people wrote, or how horrific people may assume her ideas to be. Instead she FOUGHT
 A Vindication on the Rights of Woman is generally recognised as one of the first pieces of feminist philosophy, making Wollstonecraft fondly named as the first feminist. Wollstonecraft argued that women were not naturally unequal to men; that the difference in education allowed men to be raised above women. 
Wollstonecraft hated the idea of women being raised to be whimsical, and to rely on their beauty to progress and achieve: 
“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” 
Personally, I love this- I think it's still a valuable lesson to learn today. That's what is so amazing about A Vindication on the Rights of Woman. I read it, realising how much of it I take for granted today- going to school. Identifying as a geek. Using knowledge. Being buried in books- in proper books. Mary Wollstonecraft kickstarted the route to getting us these things. We have a lot to thank Mary for- for teaching us to stand up and be a bonkers is the best thing to do. To love our education- to cherish it, to savour it. To not rely on men identifying the pretty, the not so pretty, and ranking us thus. NOT OKAY.
 Working at the People's History Museum, I'm surrounded by ideas worth fighting for. But this portrait of Mary really stand out. She's still so relevant today- hence why the awesome graffiti artist Stewy (who also did a cracking design of the Bronte sisters!) recently immortalised her on the side of her old home at Newington Heath- AND at the People's History Museum. 
Portrait of Mary in the galleries of the People's History Museum, Manchester

(c) Stewy

We recently supported the #GetMary campaign, which aims to get Mary Wollstonecraft sponsored by the general public to become a Radical Hero. All donations go to upkeep of the museum's collections and galleries.
   It is more important than ever to keep the stories of people like Mary Wollstonecraft alive. I leave you with this: 
'Make them free, and they will quickly become wise and virtous, as men become more so; for the improvement must be mutual, or the injustice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to, retorting on their oppressors, the virtue of men will be worm-eaten by the insect whom he keeps under his feet.'
We at Vintage Twins HQ implore you to have a look at the #GetMary campaign. Full of passion, spirit and fight. Just like Mary. 

We'll back soon with the start of the Vintage Twins Book Club! 

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