Mill In the Here and Now
Upon reading The Subjection of Women, some interesting thoughts began to arise in my mind in regards to it’s applicability to our modern day world. For instance, the dominant role of one sex over the other seemed to still be relevant:
All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in the woman most nearly connected with them, not a forced slave but a willing one, not a slave merely, but a favourite (Mill 659).
However, whether or not this could simply said just for men was really a recurring thought I had. In our world, would it not be possible for a woman to feel just the exact same way? To me at least, it seems like the roles of man and woman that Mill talks about could easily be reversed in modern society, with the woman wanting to have a man that was her ‘favorite slave’. The euphemism of ‘cougar’ for an older, successful woman who is on the prowl for relationships with attractive, less experienced men readily supports this.
Many aspects of Mill’s thought on the subjection of women seem to be just as readily applicable to men in today’s world. However, some do not. For instance:
All women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men; not self-will, and government by control, but submission, and yielding to the control of others (Mill 659).
It seems like this statement is outdated and really not relevant at all to society today. At least from my experience, I have never witnessed girls being raised in such a manner as this. Passages similar to this one really made me contemplate whether or not what Mill had to say about the subjection of women could be supported by modern life. Even if what most of what he has to say about the subjection of women is relevant to us, it still seems obvious to me that the roles of man and wife are merely contingent, and at least some of what he has to say about women being subjected is somewhat off with respect to our world today.