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Feminist America?

December 1, 2010

Reading chapters 1 and 2 of Mills The Subjection of Women raised an interesting question in our class discussion, how was Mills argument both feminist and liberal? I began to think of the role of feminism in our country’s history and in turn how this has affected both our [me being a female] education and career opportunities. Upon first reading the Mills essay I had easily persuaded myself that the bonds that he speaks of, the “legal subordination of one sex to another,” will in due time find its end in America. Women here have come so far from being enslaved to the male race, gaining ground since the days of Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton making their stand at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

However, where does liberalism fall into this equation. First, I think it is important to label  the term liberal to mean the ability to choose and act without the hold or restriction from someone else [rights], not the progressive liberalism now present in modern day America. In class it was hard for us to even separate the idea of liberalism and feminism, but as many political scientist and many people now (as I heard in my discussion) believe that this nation is more conservative than liberal than how will this affect the outcome of the issue. Is it impossible to untie the apparent hold that men have on women? Can we ever generate enough social change in politics, which in terms of Mill include both politicians and citizens, that can stir up a complacent people? We live in a nation that encourages ideas of liberalism such as the natural rights for everyone, fair elections, seperation of church and state, and even fair trade. But does this mean that we are in the right step towards a more feminist movement, one that  will forever break the bonds that women are held to? I think so, putting aside the idea that America will never fully be a liberal place it, I think it is fair to say that we are in for change. No definition of change includes the word “speedy” but what is that to us? We can continue the fight for change that started many years ago, educating and advocating for the equality of women with or without the liberal title.

Where do you stand?

America is in for a surprise if people believe that the rights of women are to remain subordinate to men, last time I checked women like this wouldn’t think so.

  1. Jorge Rodriguez-Larrain permalink
    December 1, 2010 11:05 AM

    I think that eventually, women will become equal to men, but this process will take time and effort, as there are still those who have the believe that women should be subordinate to men. But America for the most part seems to have advocated equality, therefore I believe that it will be a reality some day.

  2. spriel permalink
    December 1, 2010 11:56 AM

    I hope to say that women will someday become equal to men, and all scripts related to women (such as staying home to be a housewife) will eventually be wiped away. However, I think for that to occur, there will have to be significant changes in the way the media represents women. People use the media, whether it is conscious or not, to direct their morals and beliefs. Still, some people hold traditionalist views of women’s subjugation to men that will prove to be difficult to erase. Therefore, I think our country is far away from achieving true equality between men and women, but I do think it will happen.

  3. Will Butler permalink
    December 1, 2010 5:35 PM

    You can certainly see professions and other areas where women have attained true equality, where it is no longer considered taboo for a woman to pursue goals in that medium. However think about all those powerful women. While many are of course businesswomen, politicians, or journalists, how many more are models, performers, or something considered more appropriately feminine.

    I think the more interesting considerations would be what would Mill think of a government over extending its power to attain social equality for women. Since he is a liberal (a classical liberal), he is for a more limited government. But an attempt for equality or social justice always leads to an extension of government and many times a restriction of liberty. Would Mill approve of this?

    I also wonder what Mill would think of the rise of women in conservative politics. In the Republican Party, as well as conservative circles, women are becoming more and more prominent, despite the fact that this might be against their assumed self interest.

  4. lomalja permalink
    December 1, 2010 5:58 PM

    This post was so excellent! I absolutely loved it and the poll displayed was very effective and so was the slide show with all the dominant women making a difference in our world today. I definitely believe that women will become equal to men, they are just as talented and driven as men are. There is no reason to believe that men are more dominant than females because females have affected this world today for the better just as much as men have. Examples include the music industry, athletics, academically, etc. I hope that all the different stereotype about women belonging in the kitchen, them cleaning, etc will be eliminated because men can do those chores also; just as much as a woman can. And women today have come so far with working along side men in the top jobs such as lawyers, doctors, etc. It’s amazing to the numerous lives they have touched and will continue to touch!

  5. Sara Mitchell permalink
    December 1, 2010 6:36 PM

    This is a very insightful post. I do believe that women will eventually have equal rights, but it is difficult to say when that time will come. Women are very well on their way to being viewed as equal to men, but men have been viewed as superior to women for a long time now, and it will take an immense amount of change to completely change that view. Women are taking on more powerful roles, becoming CEOs of companies and such, but are men going to accept this without it bruising their ego? I’m not too sure. I do believe it is possible for women to be seen as completely equal, but it is going to be a long process.

  6. saralustberg permalink
    December 1, 2010 8:35 PM

    Society has come so far from where we used to be, and I think the libration of women from man’s hold will eventually disappear completely with time. After electing our first African-American president into office, it’s clear that the United States is willing to embrace change and progress. With all the intelligent women currently involved in politics, it’s inevitable that a woman will one day run our country. In order for women to gain this liberation however, I believe it is up to man to let go of this conception that they are more powerful and more capable beings. I really like the way this author connected Mill’s ideas of feminisms into current day feminist feelings towards women’s place in society.

  7. jldykes permalink
    December 1, 2010 10:18 PM

    I believe that one day there will be equal rights for women, but the journey to that point will not be swift and straightforward. We need to question the parts of our lives and up bring that have caused and continue to uplift men at the expense of women. In American society females from a young age are given baby dolls and Barbie’s, while males from a young age are given fire trucks and toy tool belts. Parents often discourage their little boys from playing with baby dolls saying, “Those are for girls.” Unconsciously, this makes the boy feel as though taking care of babies is for girls, and the little girl feels like that all they can do is take care of babies.

    Even the entertainment industry defines the role of females in society. Pretty much every princess Disney movie requires a male character to save a female character from some bad situation, and with this “savior” comes happiness and joy. He comes in and takes the dominate role in the relationship and the female character seems to just follow behind him. Every little girl has once dreamed of being a Disney princess, maybe Cinderella or even Jasmine from Aladdin. Movies such as these shape views in a young girls mind that men are more powerful than women, and that men are also needed to solve the problems in everyday life.

    Any person who has been immersed in American culture could find hundreds of ways in which society plays a role in keeping women oppressed starting from a young age. We must continue to combat discrimination but we must also combat the circumstances that allow such discrimination to be formulated. This begins with the empowerment of females in media and the other parts of American culture that have on influence on the lives of young children.

  8. jaclburr permalink
    December 2, 2010 4:24 PM

    Women have come a long way, to be sure. Upon observation of many of the women in the “100 most powerful women” you posted, I cannot help but think that so many of these women are literally unstoppable, and some of the most influential people I have heard of. There is always more ground to be covered, but America is a great place for the advancement of women, and there are many women with an incredible amount of power in this country and the world.

  9. reedmarcus permalink
    December 2, 2010 5:01 PM

    While it is certainly true that women have come a very long way over the past few decades, it cannot be dismissed whether society is ready to allow women to take the next step in moving up in society. Women certainly are equal to men throughout the means of society, however, the question of whether this country is ready to be led by a women is certainly arguable. I don’t think it is the fact the country isn’t ready for a change in leadership, I feel as though this intertwines with the discussion of tradition and whether this country is ready to break away from tradition. Every leader of this country has been male and while there is no doubt that gender segregation has not been relevant in this country for years, it still would break away from what this country has known for over 200 years. Women certainly are taking great strides in terms of attaining great power, it still is questionable whether this country is ready for the next step on the power trail.

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