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.