The Fight for Women’s Freedom: John Stuart Mill’s Views on Women’s Subordination | Argumentative Essay Example

The Pioneering Feminist Views of John Stuart Mill
The Pioneering Feminist Views of John Stuart Mill

“Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments. All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in the woman most nearly connected with them, not a forced slave but a willing one, not a slave merely, but a favorite. They have therefore put everything in practice to enslave their minds. The masters of all other slaves rely, for maintaining obedience, on fear; either fear of themselves or religious fears.”

John Stuart Mill strategically argues that one of the key limitations to both human progress and development is one person’s subordination to another (1). Overcoming this dilemma will more likely than not be equality which is the opposite meaning to subordination. Mills while introducing his first chapter, states that there are three distinct hindrance factors which he emphasizes on, these are religion, power, as well as government (1). Given the fact that power abuse emerges in various forms including but not limited to government and religion, however in the particular cases of women, power also includes husband’s abuse.

Related Posts

According to John Stuart Mills observations and opinion, religion has stood as a source of oppression against women by fueling the suppression of their human rights throughout history (4). Mill further points out that religion has been exercising its power and capabilities to influence and motivate thousands of people towards their own deaths through wars and even through sacrifice (5). John Stuart Mill argues that religion successfully misdirects their faithful during their prime ages forcing them to live lives of fasting, poverty, and even prayers isolated in the convents (5). Mill indicates that religion holds significant power to influence husbands by forcing them to surrender their wives (5). Religion is defined as a form of conflict instrument which has limited power to effectively stop wars as well as prevent individuals from committing cruel acts to one another, particularly in this situation against women.
Mill argues that governments are involved as well, in the misuse of power against women (5).

According to Mills government is defined as a form of instrument which is intended and purposed to bring conflicts to a stop particularly conflicts that religion had no capability to stop (6). Mill’s definition of government refers to the case kings, upon which kings themselves are incapable of stopping conflicts as well (4). Mill explains that Kings lack the capability to effectively put an end the emerging conflicts due to both greed and thirst to gain more control as well as power; thus presenting as a similar case to that of the inability of religion. Mill presents a hypothesis which states that putting an end to constant power tug of war requires establishing complete equality; this refers to equality entrenched in the rights, power, as well as free national institutions (7).

Mill openly brings forth an attack on the individuals who strongly have their beliefs in the power of both superiority and force (7). Mill speaks in regards to women, by tying the southern United States slavery into his argument (8). Mill explains that the United States slave owners greatly believed that African slaves were provided to them by the earth together with the heavens(8). The arguments of the slave owners were that the slaves lacked the capabilities of having their own freedom and therefore have no reason to have it. Mill also states that this belief that was held by the slave owners is applicable to the individuals who are strong and brave when they hold a strong belief that is their right life to possess authority, power as well as master a status over what they perceive as the species that is weak (8). Therefore, Mill concludes that these related subjects collaborate and become the key root cause of women’s subjection by men. Nevertheless, men hold a strong belief that women do not need their freedom just because women do not need freedom; thus leading men to adopt the “master” status in relation to women.

Women are forced to adopt a consistent method of fighting against their oppressors through writing. Women works eventually culminated into them taking up the fight for their suffrage through initiating petitions in parliament. Mill’s explanation is that the fight for freedom is a gradual process as history has proven (6). The first complaints in the fight are rarely about power itself; instead, it is the grievances about oppression.

John Stuart Mill is in strong disagreement with the opposing methods in the manner children are brought up (11). As females are growing up they are socialized to think in the lines that they are responsible in doing everything opposite to what their male counterparts are doing; thus they were substantially given teachings on submission to the authority as well as males superiority. Mill explains that the level of a woman’s presentation determines the submission level and increase in their sexual appeal towards their men counterparts (11). Thus the theory that women have their sexual attraction increased particularly when they become submissive, meek and surrender their own freedom to the men.

The significant levels of power men tend to have over the women leads to women’s rights as well as their safety to decline. Thus resulting to governments establishing and implementing laws by having a clear definition of this power and then enforcing these form of laws over their women to ensure that that they are incapable of challenging the significant power of that their male masters, as well as overseers, hold. Moreover, in situations of absurdly extreme abuse and mistreatment, women are more likely to tolerate rather than escape the tortures they experience under the male masters. The Government laws that are placed over the women are therefore established to tactfully dissuade any form of the idea of a collaborated rebellion.

Mill gives a warning that in the progressing complacency society even with women slowing gaining equality, there is a minimal chance that women will achieve complete equality (8). John Stuart Mill argues that equality requires consistency in its endeavor as well as objective through those seeking its establishment and adaption in society (8). Mill further gives a warning to men about their significant level ignorance that has been illuminated throughout history as well as their error in a line of thought when making a claim that they have a knowledge and therefore know women’s thoughts due to their sexual relations (9). Men believe that just because they have sexual relations with women they automatically acquire knowledge about how women think, a thinking error that Mill strongly rejects. This is all due to the fact that affection, as well as subordination, does not give room for the men’s perfect understanding of women. For men to have a better understanding of women they need to make significant improvements in how they treat women through embracing total equality; and eliminating subordination and oppression completely.

According to Mill, men are greatly disturbed and disgusted by the initiative of women to grow, develop and enhance their literary skills; this is because men believe that a woman’s only vocation should remain to be that of a mother and wife (9). When women make a refusal to marriage it is a belief that it is then necessary to force them by compelling them through the laws. The force and the laws are derived from religion, government, and even the men. Both government and religion are under the control of men, and therefore men have the capability to exploit these institutions to make up rules, laws as well as commandments and further their individual interests by forcing women into their preferred marital servitude.


Mill throughout chapter one utilizes the textual as well as contextual analysis which involves literary, historical as well as personal aspects. A good number of the key criticisms in the article offer contemporary scholars a thorough review. Mills criticisms have been met by an in-depth re-examination of the entire text together with a deeper contextual analysis. My ultimate argument is that this article may be better comprehended not from a philosophical perspective but, rather from the perspective of a political act which is designed to win the fight for women’s suffrage rights.

All Mill’s strong arguments seem more often than not to state the very obvious of society today. Mill’s presents an eloquent essay has managed to ensure his language to be precise; thus presenting a logical penetration that limits opposition. However, Mill’s perspective at its initial emergence provoked an impassioned debate. John Stuart Mill stood as the first male philosopher who argued against women’s emancipation during the Victorian era as well as for the significance of recognizing their legal, personal, as well as political rights, which includes a woman’s right to work in an environment other than the domestic sphere, a woman’s right to attain higher education as well as a women’s right to suffrage.

In regards to Mill’s argument an individual cannot have knowledge of something which will not succeed unless they try it. According to Mill the opposition that exists to female emancipation is therefore driven through prejudice instead of rationality.

Mills expresses his passion throughout his work, writing about individuals rights to be free to do what they desire and wish in their lives only in consideration of whether their actions implicate harm against others. Thus presenting advocacy for citizens to adopt an autonomous life which is standard in Mill’s Utilitarian beliefs. Adapting utilitarianism means supporting every individual to have the capability to substantially maximize their own individual utility; which in this case refers to happiness; contingent on the fact that do not cause negative implications upon the people they may encounter on the individual path to happiness. However, a paradoxical issue which has often arisen with the opinion on liberty in concern to the absolute principle concept. Moreover, Mill’s assertion is that it is absolutely necessary for a society to adopt and embrace an autonomic perspective to achieve utility, however with this mandate it goes against other Mill’s assertion which states that coercion is given no grounds in the free society.

Mill gives a sceptical stand on democracies power towards liberation; he, therefore, takes a position of control over the people presents more danger than in the case of a tyrannical government. Mill contends that democracies stand as more subtle within their influence, however, are even more complete within their society infiltration. Whenever it happens that individuals are now making up their own rules, thus making it even easier for the people to follow in line, thus making a subscription to a certain falsehood in empowerment. According to Mill, he contends that with the truth, a democracy presents a great tyranny in its numbers, creating a situation where political members active in a society can create a dictatorship toward the best interests of the majority in society as the majority’s decision stands as the law.

Mill in this chapter presents a mind of a liberal thinker whose thoughts shook the world that has democratic governments seen as an ultimate political freedom. Mill himself as a powerful member within the British government holding a key position as the chief civil servant in the East India Company that had India in control as a British colony; spoke from his position of authority and at the same time supported a high laissez-faire government.
Lastly, the first chapter vividly shows Mill’s strong aversion towards conformity, thus playing a critical role throughout this essay. Mill is specifically averse to the society’s middle-class that he perceives as the society’s ultimate conformers. Mill holds a strong belief that embracing conformity is a society’s easiest, popular and default actions undertaken by the citizens.

Works Cited

Mill, John S. *The Subjection of Women*. Charlottesville, Va: University of Virginia Library, 1869.