Mary Robinson’s Genius

Okay, how Mary Robinson argues in her A Letter to the Women of England is genius. The way that she questions that women are inferior to men due to being weaker to men is my favorite section. Robinson puts it so brilliantly when she says: “if woman be the weaker creature, why is she employed in laborious avocations?” (218). She points out that despite women being “weaker” than their male counterparts, women are performing jobs and tasks that take a lot of strength and energy to do. Robinson draws a direction comparison between the men’s work and the women’s work, suggesting that “men are employed in measuring lace and ribands; folding gauzes; composing artificial bouqets; fancying feathers, and mixing cosmetics for the preservation of beauty” (218). She is not pulling any punches at all. I love that section’s closing line as well: “are women thus compelled to labour, because they are of the weaker sex” (218).

Robinson is out to show a piece of the reason why women are not simply the weaker sex (and thus explaining why they are oppressed). If that was really the reason why, then she is right; why would women be allowed to do such hard labor? Why would they be allowed to do energy-draining, very demanding housework? Housework, especially concerning the time period in which Robinson lived, was not easy. Want a clean floor? Well, get on your knees and scrub it. Want to wash dirty laundry? Wash it allĀ by handĀ and hang it up to dry. And that’s not even including dusting, cleaning general clutter, the kitchen, and so on. I think it was quite brilliant on Robinson’s part to not only point to labor outside the home but the work that a wife would perform inside the home as well. Because that was the point; that was the work that was labelled as “acceptable” work for women, but that did not mean it was not hard labor. After all, if the women were “weak,” then how did they get all this stuff done?

So, yeah, Mary Robinson is a genius.

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