A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

What is the theme in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mark Wollstonecraft?

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Gender is an important theme in the book. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman dismisses the Eve of the Bible and of Milton's Paradise Lost as the kind of woman patriarchy longs for. (In a patriarchy, society is organized around male supremacy, the dependence of wives and children on fathers, and legal descent/inheritance through the male line. In such a setup, males control most social power.) According to Wollstonecraft, the myths and behaviors of males in Western societies (especially the rich) produce power relationships that squeeze women into a desired mold, preventing them from developing their full human potential. Men are able to establish patriarchies even in relatively liberal Western societies through laws and customs, lack of access for women to public spheres like politics and education, and female economic dependence.