Free Love And Feminism : John Humphrey Noyes And The Oneida Community Essay

Free Love And Feminism : John Humphrey Noyes And The Oneida Community Essay

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In the article Free Love and Feminism: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community, Lawrence Foster disputes two commonly held claims regarding John Humphrey Noyes and his values and ideologies about women. Foster’s overarching thesis is that, while John Humphrey Noyes was a proponent for women’s rights in some aspects, and the dynamics of the gender roles within the Onedia community reflected feminist values, John Humphrey Noyes was not, in fact, a feminist. This claim can be seen as Foster writes, “While it was true that Noyes was concerned to improve relations between the sexes, he was certainly no feminist” (167). Initially, Foster presents his thesis by providing two contrasting perceptions about Noyes’s views towards women and their niche in society. The first perspective was that Noyes was a “male chauvinist” and a disturbed individual not worthy of the feminist title due to the restrictive nature of the community, and the second proclaiming that he was a major feminist and liberator, as his idyllic society broke the chains of gender norms and allowed for equality between the sexes. As Foster’s article continues, he disputes both aforementioned claims and concludes that Noyes was not a feminist due to his contrasting ideas regarding the means to the end with militant feminists and his inner motivations for the implementation of liberating policies for women within the Oneida community. Foster explains that socio-cultural context must be considered when examining Noyes and his attitude towards women.
As this article implores Noyes’s underlying motivations regarding his gender equality policies, primary sources, written by Noyes himself, were the main source of information. These texts, including the “Free Church Circular”,...

... middle of paper ...

...e way of organizing relations between sexes was sacrosanct; the underlying spirit rather than any specific external forms was Noyes’s concern” (176) it can be seen that Noyes prioritized religious commitment over whatever social disparities may arise with gender. Foster’s claim suggests that Noyes believed that, without the individualistic societal bounds that differentiate and segregate people, communities can collectively transcend spiritually. This assertion relates to the seminar’s overarching theme of the removal of individualistic societal bounds for the effectiveness of the collective, and whether that method proves successful in creating a functioning utopian society.
Additionally, this article would be appropriate to assign to college students as it is written in the easily digestible vernacular, and is structured in a relatively clear and concise manner.

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