A Strong Case for Equal Rights for Women
The essay “from The Subjection of Women” by John Stuart Mill addresses the issue of the legality of equal rights of women, but is his argument presented in a way that convinces readers. Mill argues that inferiority of one sex to another should not be accepted as a natural state just because it is the widely accepted social practice of the day. Additionally, Mill contends that inequalities among the sexes are holding back society. The essay, although it has some fallacies, successfully argues for the equal and legal rights of women with its appeal to logic and emotion of the readers as well Mill’s respectful tone in addressing his audience. Mill’s use of logos presents a strong argument to the audience’s sense of reason. He presents several examples where previously accepted social ideas of inferiority are no longer accepted such as institution of slavery, medieval serfs, and England being ruled by a queen. Mill points out that “[t]here was a time when the division of mankind into two classes, a small one of masters and a numerous one of slaves, appeared, even to the most cultivated minds, to be a natural, and only the natural, condition of the human race”(261). England outlawed the institiution of slavery and did not accept it as a natural state almost a century before this essay was written. He is applying the state to why the legal subordination of women is thought of as a natural state. He also points to a similar system of medieval serfdom and how it is another system that was accepted at one time, but not today. Also Mill points out how to many, having a queen rule the country is unnatural, but “[t]o Englishmen this does not seem in the least degree unnatural because they are used to it. . .”(Mill 262). His overall logical reasoning for not accepting a societal state as a definite natural state can be summed up by his observation “that unnatural generally means uncustomary, and that everything which is usual appears...
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