Essay on John Stuart Mill’s Justification of Equal Rights for Women

The reason why women’s inequality had survived slavery and political absolutist was not because it was justifiable, but because whereas only slave holders and despots had an interest in holding on to slavery and despotism, all men, Mill argued, had an interest in women’s subordination.

A second argument for women’s inequality was based on women’s nature women were said to be naturally inferior to men. Mill’s response was that one could not make arguments about women’s inequality based on natural differences because these differences were a result of socialisation. Mill was generally against using human nature as a ground for any claim, since he believed that human nature changed according to the social environment.

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At the same time, Mill also pointed out that in spite of being treated so differently from men, many women throughout history had shown an extraordinary aptitude for political leadership here Mill cited examples of European queens and Hindu princesses.

The third argument refuted by Mill was that there is nothing wrong with women’s subordination because women accept it voluntarily. Mill pointed out that this claim was empirically wrong many women had written tracts against women’s inequality and hundreds of women were already demonstrating in the streets of London for women’s suffrage.

Further, since women had 1-10 choice but to live with their husbands, they were afraid that their complaints about their position would only lead to worse treatment from them. Lastly, Mill also claimed that since all women were brought up from childhood to believe “that their ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men; not self-will, and government by self-control, but submission, and yielding to the control of others,” what was not to be remarked was that some women accepted this subordination willingly but that so many women resisted it.

The last point against which Mill argued was that for a family to function well, one decision maker is needed, and the husband is best suited to be this decision maker. Mill scoffed at this argument the husband and wife being both adults, there was no reason why the husband should take all the decisions.