Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill

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At the very beginning of this work of his, "The subjection of Women", Mill sets forth the objective of the essay. He explains in clear terms that the legal subordination of one sex to the other is wrong in itself. This principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality. This principle should admit no power or privileges on the one side or disabilities on the other. Mill rejects society’s claim that the subordination of women is ‘natural’. According to him, this is a product of custom and however universal they may be, they afford presumptions. He says that they ought not create any prejudice in favour of the very arrangement which places women in social and political subordination to men. He gives a clear argument for the wrong basis on which this subordination is founded. This raises the question, "Who says it is the nature of women to be subjects of subordination? " Human society of old was constituted on a very different principle from those of modern society. On this analogy, these old principles point out that the subordination of females to males is a universal custom and is quite in accordance with the laws of nature. Consequently, the relic of the past is discordant with the future and must necessarily disappear. It is then as a follow up that the social subordination of women stands out as an isolated fact in modern institutions. Mill says that the people living in distant parts of the world feel astonished to learn that England is being ruled by a queen, but to the Englishmen it is in the least degree unnatural, because they are used to it, but they do feel it unnatural that women should be soldiers or members of parliament. He says that the rule of men over women is not a rule of force. It is accepted voluntarily and they never complain against the rule of women. They consent and acquiesce. Arguing from the male point of view he says that men not only want the...
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