John stuart mill the subjection of women analysis. Thoughts on The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill & Harriet Taylor Mill 2019-01-09

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The Subjection of Women by J S Mill

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

It is not because a man is not known to have broken any of the Ten Commandments, or because he maintains a respectable character in his dealings with those whom he cannot compel to have intercourse with him, or because he does not fly out into violent bursts of ill-temper against those who are not obliged to bear with him, that it is possible to surmise of what sort his conduct will be in the unrestraint of home. If it is inferred merely because a woman's bodily frame generally is of less dimensions than a man's, this criterion would lead to strange consequences. It is an exact parallel to the feeling of a hereditary king that he is excellent above others by being born a king, or a noble by being born a noble. Contrary to the popular belief of the time, where the man should be the head of the house in all the things and woman subordinate, Mill felt marriage should be entered into as a business partnership. In the present age, men of anything like similar calibre find something more-important to do, for their own fame and the uses of the modern world, than painting: and it is only now and then that a Reynolds or a Turner of whose relative rank among eminent men I do not pretend to an opinion applies himself to that art.


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The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

He explains women are self-educated and learn independently as they are often forced to do as a result of discrimination in education. But this dependence, as it exists at present, is not an original institution, taking a fresh start from considerations of justice and social expediency β€” it is the primitive state of slavery lasting on, through successive mitigations and modifications occasioned by the same causes which have softened the general manners, and brought all human relations more under the control of justice and the influence of humanity. This may seem a paradox; it is an undoubted social fact. In regard, however, to the larger question, the removal of women's disabilities β€” their recognition as the equals of men in all that belongs to citizenship β€” the opening to them of all honourable employments, and of the training and education which qualifies for those employments β€” there are many persons for whom it is not enough that the inequality has no just or legitimate defence; they require to be told what express advantage would be obtained by abolishing it. Of intuition usually shine in this department, unless, indeed, the experience necessary is such as they can acquire by themselves.

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The Subjection of Women Summary

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

Strong feeling is the instrument and element of strong self-control: but it requires to be cultivated in that direction. She could invoke no law against him; he was her sole tribunal and law. It was thus in the free republics of antiquity. Yet in all the great nations of Europe except England it either still exists, or has only just ceased to exist, and has even now a strong party favourable to it in all ranks of the people, especially among persons of station and consequence. This includes society and especially marriage. But they have not yet produced any of those great and luminous new ideas which form an era in thought, nor those fundamentally new conceptions in art, which open a vista of possible effects not before thought of, and found a new school. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bond servant of her husband: no less so, as far as legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called.

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The Subjection of Women by J S Mill

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

Law and government do not undertake to prescribe by whom any social or industrial operation shall or shall not be conducted, or what modes of conducting them shall be lawful. For the purposes, at all events, of practice, from its highest to its humblest departments, the capacity of passing promptly from one subject of consideration to another, without letting the active spring of the intellect run down between the two, is a power far more valuable; and this power women pre-eminently possess, by virtue of the very mobility of which they are accused. Yet command and obedience are but unfortunate necessities of human life: society in equality is its normal state. And in those countries the men who are acquainted with the principles of musical composition must be counted by hundreds, or more probably by thousands, the women barely by scores: so that here again, on the doctrine of averages, we cannot reasonably expect to see more than one eminent woman to fifty eminent men; and the last three centuries have not produced fifty eminent male composers either in Germany or in Italy. It was not for want of power over men's minds. He also argues for the need for reforms of marriage legislation whereby it is reduced to a business agreement, placing no restrictions on either party.

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Literature Summary: β€œThe Subjection of Women.”

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

In the various arts and intellectual occupations, there is a degree of proficiency sufficient for living by it, and there is a higher degree on which depend the great productions which immortalise a name. They would neither be so prompt as women in thinking, nor so quick to feel. And in the case of public offices, if the political system of the country is such as to exclude unfit men, it will equally exclude unfit women: while if it is not, there is no additional evil in the fact that the unfit persons whom it admits may be either women or men. Individuals can only form the most intelligent, educated opinions that they are capable. It would then be an excercise of those virtues which each requires to fit them for all other association, and a model to the children of the feelings and conduct which their temporary training by means of obedience is designed to render habitual, and therefore natural, to them. I have one question, there will probably be section where you have to explain why you came up with.


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Extracts from John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

When we further consider that to understand one woman is not necessarily to understand any other woman; that even if he could study many women of one rank, or of one country, he would not thereby understand women of other ranks or countries; and even if he did, they are still only the women of a single period of history; we may safely assert that the knowledge which men can acquire of women, even as they have been and are, without reference to what they might be, is wretchedly imperfect and superficial, and always will be so, until women themselves have told all that they have to tell. No one, after Christianity became ascendant, could ever again have been a stranger to this belief, in theory; nor, after the rise of the Catholic Church, was it ever without persons to stand up for it. That would simply mean that fewer women would get jobs than men, and that will happen anyway since many women will choose to be mothers rather than have careers. Not a word can be said for despotism in the family which cannot be said for political despotism. Before I could hope to make any impression, I should be expected not only to answer all that has ever been said bye who take the other side of the question, but to imagine that could be said by them β€” to find them in reasons, as I as answer all I find: and besides refuting all arguments for the affirmative, I shall be called upon for invincible positive arguments to prove a negative. Objection: Women's obedience and subservience to men is voluntary, unlike a slave's obedience to his master. I mean their actually existing thoughts and feelings.

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The Subjection of Women Summary

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

The moral education of mankind has hitherto emanated chiefly from the law of force, and is adapted almost solely to the relations which force creates. The capacity indeed which women show for doing their thinking in circumstances and at times which almost any man would make an excuse to himself for not attempting it, has often been noticed: and a woman's mind, though it may be occupied only with small things, can hardly ever permit its elf to be vacant, as a man's so often is when not engaged in what he chooses to consider the business of his life. Now it is in this that women, and the men who are most like women, confessedly excel. In the first few pages of chapter one, Mill points out three factors in the hindrance that he spoke on previously that of power, religion, and government. Somerville, alone perhaps of women, knows as much of mathematics as is now needful for making any considerable mathematical discovery: is it any proof of inferiority in women, that she has not happened to be one of the two or three persons who in her lifetime have associated their names with some striking advancement of the science?.

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The Subjection of Women by J S Mill

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

They have more difficulty in obtaining a trial, than any other litigants have in getting a verdict. Now it is a curious consideration, that the only things which the existing law excludes women from doing, are the things which they have proved that they are able to do. Who doubts that there may be great goodness, and great happiness, and great affection, under the absolute government of a good man? Both in a good and a bad sense, the English are farther from a state of nature than any other modern people. It is the same in all other cases of servitude, at least in the commencement of the emancipatory movement. It means, a rapid and correct insight into present fact. Those only could be inferred to be natural which could not possibly be artificial β€” the residuum, after deducting every characteristic of either sex which can admit of being explained from education or external circumstances.

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The Subjection of Women Summary

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

A man who is morose or violent to his equals, is sure to be one who has lived among inferiors, whom he could frighten or worry into submission. It is certain that some women have as large a brain as any man. Read it with the eyes of your mind open. Who can tell how many of the most original thoughts put forth by male writers, belong to a woman by suggestion, to themselves only by verifying and working out? In every respect the burthen is hard on those who attack an almost universal opinion. I felt when he wrote this last passage, he must have known what he was talking about and had found this kind of marriage and love himself. The real mitigating causes are, the personal affection which is the growth of time in so far as the man's nature is susceptible of it and the woman's character sufficiently congenial with his to excite it; their common interests as regards the children, and their general community of interest as concerns third persons to which however there are very great limitations ; the real importance of the wife to his daily comforts and enjoyments, and the value he consequently attaches to her on his personal account, which, in a man capable of feeling for others, lays the foundation of caring for her on her own; and lastly, the influence naturally acquired over almost all human beings by those near to their persons if not actually disagreeable to them : who, both by their direct entreaties, and by the insensible contagion of their feelings and dispositions, are often able, unless counteracted by some equally strong personal influence, to obtain a degree of command over the conduct of the superior, altogether excessive and unreasonable. Chapter 2: In this chapter Mill argues that the legal subordination of women makes wives in a legal sense occupy a lower situation than slaves.

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The Subjection of Women Quotes by John Stuart Mill

john stuart mill the subjection of women analysis

Moreover, when people are brought up, like many women of the higher classes though less so in our own country than any other , a kind of hot-house plants, shielded from the wholesome vicissitudes of air and temperature, and untrained in any of the occupations and exercises which give stimulus and development to the circulatory and muscular system, while their nervous system, especially in its emotional department, is kept in unnaturally active play; it is no wonder if those of them who do not die of consumption, grow up with constitutions liable to derangement from slight causes, both internal and external, and without stamina to support any task, physical or mental, requiring continuity of effort. Now, the most determined depreciator of women will not venture to deny, that when we add the experience of recent times to that of ages past, women, and not a few merely, but many women, have proved themselves capable of everything, perhaps without a single exception, which is done by men, and of doing it successfully and creditably. The most frequent case of voluntary association, next to marriage, is partnership in business: and it is not found or thought necessary to enact that in every partnership, one partner shall have entire control over the concern, and the others shall be bound to obey his orders. Is there any reason in the nature of things, that the wives and sisters of princes should, whenever called on, be found as competent as the princes themselves to their business, but that the wives and sisters of statesmen, and administrators, and directors of companies, and managers of public institutions, should be unable to do what is done by their brothers and husbands? Through hard work, and enduring the death of her close husband, she showed the country that she was up to the challenge of exerting influence throughout the realm. Democracy is a form of self-dependence. These things are left to the unfettered choice of individuals.

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