ABSTRACT Mary Wollstonecraft is usually portrayed as an Enlightenment thinker. But in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) she denounced ““modern philosophers”” for purveying prejudicial images of women masked in a rhetoric of sexual compliment. This essay explores the relationship between Enlightenment attitudes to women and feminism in Britain, showing the gap that opened up between mainstream enlightened opinion (““modern gallantry””) and women's-rights egalitarianismin the 1790s.
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