Mary Astell argued that women are men’s intellectual equals, encouraged women not to marry, and proposed that they go to an all-women’s school instead. And she defended this proto-feminism with some really cool arguments.
What Is It
Mary Astell (1666–1731) was an English philosopher and writer who advocated for equal rights for women. While she described marriage as a type of “slavery,” she was also a staunch conservative who claimed that women who did marry should accept subordination to their husbands. So what was Astell's vision for the education of women? How did she reconcile her seemingly conflicting views on marriage? And why did philosopher John Locke criticize her views on natural law? Josh and Ray explore her life and thought with Allauren Forbes from McMaster University, author of the Oxford Bibliography on Mary Astell.
Part of our series Wise Women, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Was Mary Astell England's first feminist?
What did she say about truth, education, and virtue?
Could she help us understand what it means to be a good friend?