This Day in History: 1745-10-07
On 7th October 1745, Lady Sophia Fermor, the second daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Pontefract died of fever aged twenty-four a few weeks after the birth of her daughter. Sophia was reputedly the author of ‘Woman Not Inferior to Man’, a radical text proclaiming the rights of women including quotes:
‘I think it evidently appears, that there is no science, office, or dignity, which Women have not an equal right to share in with the Men: Since there can be no superiority, but that of brutal strength, shewn in the latter, to entitle them to engross all power and prerogative to themselves: nor any incapacity proved in the former, to disqualify them of their right, but what is owing to the unjust oppression of the Men, and might be easily removed………….
We must be at least as well qualified as [Men] to teach the sciences; and if we are not seen in university chairs, it cannot be attributed to our want of capacity to fill them, but to that violence with which the Men support their unjust intrusion into our places……….
And as our sex, when it applies to learning, may be said at least to keep pace with the Men, so are they more to be esteem’d for their learning than the latter: Since they are under a necessity of surmounting the softness they were educated in (…) to which cruel custom seem’d to condemn them; to overcome the external impediments in their way to study; and to conquer the disadvantageous notions, which the vulgar of both sexes entertain of learning in Women. (…) it is self-evident, that many of our sex have far outstript the Men. Why then are we not as fit to learn and teach the sciences, at least to our own sex, as they fancy themselves to be?’