Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 11:19 am
Hi everyone,

I have been reading about John Stuart Mill and his views on equality in The Subjection of Women. It seems that an important part of his argument is that equal rights for women will benefit mankind/society as a whole. For example, it seems that he condemns sexual inequalities of opportunity by appeal to the social utility lost - so men are harmed by any inequality. Does this mean that he is not a feminist?


In general, does it matter for feminism that a major motive for equality is the benefits to society as a whole, rather than specifically being concerned about the oppressed sex?



Sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place!

Thanks,

Will
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,293 • Replies: 7
No top replies

 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 12:49 pm
@Will phil,
If you believe that it is beneficial for women to have greater, more equal rights and opportunities, then you are - in a sense and to some extent - a feminist.

Is the label important?
0 Replies
 
manored
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 01:00 pm
@Will phil,
Indeed, the label doesnt really matters, but I think the motives matter. One can be a feminist to benefit humanity, and one can be a feminist to benefit women. I think this is relevant because in the second case you may end up overdoing it and only changing who suffers the inequality.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 01:13 pm
@manored,
There is no escape from superior social utility as people have more access to social prestige, opportunity and capital. If what you said were indeed Mill's attitude, it is simply Mill recognizing the societal goal and not the individual goal. If it were not for increased access to equality one of my favorite things may never have come to pass. I love peanut butter.
0 Replies
 
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 01:52 pm
@Will phil,
Will;162167 wrote:
Hi everyone,

I have been reading about John Stuart Mill and his views on equality in The Subjection of Women. It seems that an important part of his argument is that equal rights for women will benefit mankind/society as a whole. For example, it seems that he condemns sexual inequalities of opportunity by appeal to the social utility lost - so men are harmed by any inequality. Does this mean that he is not a feminist?


In general, does it matter for feminism that a major motive for equality is the benefits to society as a whole, rather than specifically being concerned about the oppressed sex?


Thanks,

Will


I think that in light of the analysis you have given Mill and what you have taken away from The Subjugation of Women, it would only endorse the fact that he is a feminist. Keep in mind that feminism is above all a reaction to inequality where the goal is that women must attain equal legal and political rights, as well as address the relationship between the sexes, the inequality, the subordination, the oppression, etc. Feminism is in many respects is the medium through which we should identify those sources of inequality. John Stuart Mill is great in the respect that he is taking utilitarianism and applying a feministic lens through which we see the feminine disparity in our own social normative framework. I think that in Mill's case, utility holds the most appeal if all gears are working in tandem rather than having an inherent friction in the greater machine by means of sexism.

With all that said, it would matter a lot if feminism were geared towards equality in terms of the whole social framework. That seems to be (at least as far as I see it) a fundamental motive of feminism. If feminism is a reaction to disparity in rights, etc. and seeks to equate the sexes, then as an end goal, it would matter whether or not the sex in question were actually able to contribute equally to the social framework as a whole. In many ways though, this is concern for the oppressed sex, but only so far as it relates to equality in society. If you look through the writings of Betty Friedan or Simone de Beauvoir, you see a great deal of reactionary sentiment that turned into revolutionary sentiment. 3rd wave feminism is tricky like that because it gave rise to radical feminism and so on where the disparity and equality goal faded into a more drastic counter push, becoming more severe than the subtle male normative framework supplied for many years past. 1st and second wave feminism are more in line with the fundamental definition of feminism, as well as those principles extolled by Mills, Wollstonecraft, etc.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 08:38 am
@Will phil,
http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/jsmill/sub_wom.pdf

Mill's essay in .pdf format may be found at the link above.
0 Replies
 
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 04:30 pm
@Will phil,
Will;162167 wrote:
Hi everyone,

I have been reading about John Stuart Mill and his views on equality in The Subjection of Women. It seems that an important part of his argument is that equal rights for women will benefit mankind/society as a whole. For example, it seems that he condemns sexual inequalities of opportunity by appeal to the social utility lost - so men are harmed by any inequality. Does this mean that he is not a feminist?


In general, does it matter for feminism that a major motive for equality is the benefits to society as a whole, rather than specifically being concerned about the oppressed sex?



Sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place!

Thanks,

Will



As has already been stated, he was a feminist, regardless of his motives. But I think you are thinking about Mill in the wrong way. His arguments needed to appeal to the good of society as a whole, as the good of women was not going to be a concern for many of the people who he hoped to influence by his book. So in order to get the desired results, it was necessary to look for arguments regarding something that the people who read his book would care about. The people in power were much more likely to be influenced by such considerations than by what was good for women.
0 Replies
 
dust1n
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 May, 2010 02:43 pm
@Will phil,
Will;162167 wrote:

In general, does it matter for feminism that a major motive for equality is the benefits to society as a whole, rather than specifically being concerned about the oppressed sex?



Sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place!

Thanks,

Will


I do not know anything about Mill, so I cannot comment on that. However, I've wondered the same thing as far as Anarchism is concerned. Anarchism (without further specification) is against hierarchy in all forms, and patriarchy would be just one form of hierarchy. So is it fair to call Anarchism feminist? I think so. Like what I imagine Mill's situation is, the entire picture of social progress is reliant on equality for women as it for all other people.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
DOES NOTHING EXIST??? - Question by mark noble
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Feminism
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 12/06/2019 at 02:52:43