Liberal Feminism Essay

713 words - 3 pages

2.1 Liberal feminism
Most hegemonic societies are structured on the assumption that public can be classified as innately superior or inferior to each other. Differences were thus based upon biological functions, the colour of one’s skin, one’s geographical origins and even one’s professions and ways of livelihood. Such notions were challenged in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries when feudal traditions in the West began to be replaced with more liberal philosophy of rationalism. The spirit of liberal feminism may be traced back to the great social and political upheaval of the French Revolution. It may be identified in Mary Astell’s (1700) angry defense of women’s equality. “If ...view middle of the document...

Wollstonecraft challenged the argument about women’s natural inferiority and emotional with the argument that one became what one was trained to be. To Rousseau’s views the education of women should always be relative to me “please (men) …to make their lives pleasant and charming” she replied that if women were educated in “worse than Egyptian bondage,” it was unreasonable to blame them for faults that could be avoided. Since all persons deserved an equal chance to develop their rational faculties and moral, emotional strengths, it was important that girls and boys were given the same education.
Later Wollstonecraft’s arguments were side-lined because her personal life was relatively unconventional. But several decades later, another equally unconventional couple, John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor carried the feminist case forward. Though they did not always agree with each other, they corroborated on several essays and treatises on the women question. In Enfranchisement of Women (1851) Taylor spoke on women’s participation in work outside the home. She insisted that if women were to be liberated, they should share a “partnership in the labours and gains,...

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