Saturday, 22 October 2016

Book Notes: "The Subjection of Women" by John Stuart Mill

The Subjection of WomenThe Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


If it were not for archaic words such as "burthen" (burden) and "rainment (clothing)"; the necessity to counteract arguments from phrenology; and the use of the figurative "Mrs Grundy" (an archaic Mrs Bucket); one might be reading a contemporary argument for diversity and greater opportunities for women. Mill exerts his authority by challenging then-dominant ideas (such as phrenology and assumptions about biology then-untested) and then reconciles this absurdity for the modern reader by suggesting that while such things are unknown, and he has little time for these, he can still argue away their objections to his central thesis. Mill was far ahead of his time and his arguments took some time to materialise in universal suffrage and equality of opportunity for women, but the central message, then radical, is now part of political discourse. I intend to focus on James Fitzjames Stephen now to see how Stephen deals with Mill's authoritative works on liberty.



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