Vol. 27, pp. 148-150 of The Harvard Classics
Lack of education, writes Defoe, makes a woman "turbulent, clamorous, noisy - " Defoe defied his generation and preached equal education for women. To-day we have co-education, but have we the benefits Defoe predicted?
(Defoe pilloried for defiance of public opinion, July 31, 1703.)
One would wonder, indeed, how it should happen that women are conversible at all; since they are only beholden to natural parts, for all their knowledge. Their youth is spent to teach them to stitch and sew or make baubles. They are taught to read, indeed, and perhaps to write their names, or so; and that is the height of a woman’s education. And I would but ask any who slight the sex for their understanding, what is a man (a gentleman, I mean) good for, that is taught no more? I need not give instances, or examine the character of a gentleman, with a good estate, or a good family, and with tolerable parts; and examine what figure he makes for want of education.