A Class Divided and Vindication of the Rights of Women: Othering in Artworks

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Othering is being classified as different or set apart from, by either an individual or group. When someone is being othered, he or she is given negative comments or looked down upon. Some examples of othering in today’s society are based on race, gender, wealth, and religion. In the video, “A Class Divided”, Jane Elliot teaches her class about the meaning of discrimination, by being othered for having blue or brown eyes and how it impacts people. In Mary Wollstonecraft’s, “Vindication of the Rights of Women”, women are being othered by men based on their gender.

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First, Mary Wollstonecraft argues that women should be allowed to have the same educational opportunities as men do. She implies that both men and women should be treated as human beings because they are both looked at in the eyes of God for all being equal. Wollstonecraft says that she agrees with John Locke’s theory on how human beings are shaped based on their environment and education. According to Wollstonecraft’s excerpt, she says that “Women are told from their infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain for them the protection of man; and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for, at least, twenty years of their lives.” This showed that women were treated as inferior by men which resulted as a social construction formed during the 18th century.

Secondly, in “A Class Divided”, Jane Elliot performed an experiment on her class. She taught her class a lesson on the meaning of discrimination. She wanted to show them how it feels like and how it impacted people. She divided her class based on their eye color; blue or brown eyes. She tells one group that they are smarter, nicer, neater, and better than those with the different eye color. She performed this experiment the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. During this time, there was discrimination going on against the people with different colored skin. This experiment has become very famous and widely used in different classrooms and workspaces.

Lastly, In “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, Mary writes that women were offended about her speaking out and that she apologized for writing about women being treated poorly. In “A Class Divided”, children who were being othered responded with anger and sadness. They felt loneliness and how it felt like to be discriminated against. 

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