“On the Equality of the Sexes” and others by Judith Murray

I hear a lot of discussion about feminism and equal rights for men and women. It is hard to believe it is still a discussion given that most people like to think that we as a society have come a long way forward. It is easy to think that since women can work, aren’t ordered to only raise kids, cook, and sew all day long that we are progressive and superior to those who thought that way in the past. In this day and age there are some who still think that way, but they aren’t in the majority. It is important to look back in history, however, to find out what really is going on.

In Judith Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes” and a subsequent letter to a friend, written in 1780 and 1790 respectively, brings to light a lot of facts that may make the reader reconsider our so-called progressive society. In Murray’s essay, she makes a strong case on women needing education because that is the only thing that makes women inferior to men. It wasn’t anything biological. It was just an unfair advantage.

It is easy to read that and think: well yeah that was back then and now women go to school. But it isn’t that simple. Women go to school. They are encouraged to go to school even, but are the numbers equal to men? Are the amount of jobs women have equal to men? No and no. Now, I know it is easy to think that maybe women just don’t want those jobs, but that isn’t the case. This wonderful article here can explain it better than I could.

In Murray’s letter, she speaks of another subject constantly brought up in these discussions: The Bible. Namely: Adam and Eve. She has an interesting take on it that I haven’t heard before, and so I think I should share.

She states that if men weren’t so in love with themselves they would have noticed what she has long ago. She said that Eve was tricked, and Adam was not. Eve did what she did simply because she wanted knowledge and wisdom. Adam followed her footsteps after seeing that she did not gain knowledge, simply because he was attached to Eve.

These points, while simple, struck a chord with me. I had never heard anyone describe this well-told story this way. It fit so elegantly with her other writings, and, yet, it does not seem like she twisted it to back up her claims.


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