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My Understanding of Feminism

According to me, feminism refers to a diverse variety of beliefs, ideas, movements and agendas for actions that describe a culture in which women are treated differently because of their gender. Because of the difference in the way they are treated, they are at a disadvantage. Feminists assume that such treatments are cultural and, thus, possible to change noting that it is not the way the world is or must be.

There are many differences within the constellations of ideas, groups, and movements within feminism based on what amounts to such vices against women as unfairness, discrimination, and oppression. Equally, there is a disagreement regarding what in a culture produces the disadvantages women experience: whether the goal is an equal treatment of women and men or whether it is an unequal respect in different roles where women experience is taken as normative. This paper, therefore, seeks to assert whether or not the above definition fits with Mary Astell’s proposal to the ladies.

Mary Astell’s Proposal to Ladies

In her proposal to the ladies, Mary reacts to the oppressive nature of man which kept her and her sisters from developing their minds. She proposes an alternative to marriage and adds that a religious retirement was founded for women to devote themselves to education and religious matters. She continues to argue that women should not be forced into marriage out of duty or a situation of subjugation but should instead marry prudently. Basing on this argument, Mary stresses equality in marriage and endorses the spinsterhood as its alternative.


Mary’s proposal, therefore, fits with my definition of feminism as her proposal creates a movement based on ideas of oppression, discrimination, and fighting against male social dominance. By proposing a creation of religious retirement, which centers around women’s devotion to their education and religious matters, Mary emphasizes on the need for actions as she believes that the male social dominance is a mere cultural creation which is changeable.

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