The Subjection of Women: In Today’s Context

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In the year 1869, John Stuart Mill published a controversial essay, “The Subjection of Women”, that advocated equality between sexes in a male-dominant society. In this essay, I will demonstrate that Mill’s analysis regarding the systematic subjection of women, by an education system producing conventional “womanly” characters favorable to men, is correct. However, I will argue that this analysis does not apply to today due to the advancement of the political rights and powers, progression of social equality, and improved economic conditions of women in countries with high education indexes. The education index is referring to the statistics on literacy rate, gross enrollment ratios, and other factors compiled by the UN that determine which countries have exemplary education.

In Mill’s analysis, he likens the subjection of women to the relationship between a master and a slave. Whereas the master commands the slave’s obedience through fear and force, according to Mill, men subject women through an institutionalized form of education. This system of education instills the idea that “all women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of character is the very opposite of that of men; not self-will, and government by self-control, but submission and yielding to the control of others” (Mill 22). Furthermore, Mill mentions this method fulfills man’s desire to acquire the obedience of women through their willing disposition unlike the obedience found in a master-slave relationship. Mill’s analysis is further fueled from citations of examples of similar relationships throughout history such as plebian to patrician and serf to seigneur that solidifies the argument that men had subtly enslaved women’s min...

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