Mothers and independent citizens: making sense of Wollstonecraft's supposed essentialism
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Mary Wollstonecraft argues that women must be independent citizens, but that they cannot be that unless they fulfill certain duties as mothers. This is problematic in a number of ways, as argued by Laura Brace in a 2000 article. However, I argue that if we understand Wollstonecraft's concept of independence in a republican, rather than a liberal context, and at the same time pay close attention to her discussion of motherhood, a feminist reading of Wollstonecraft is not only possible but enriching. I will attempt to show, in particular, that the seeds of a feminist argument for co-parenting are to be found in the Vindication of the Rights of Woman.