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The Subjection of Women

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,816 ratings  ·  200 reviews
..".John Mill disagrees with the argument that women are naturally less good at some things than men, and should therefore be discouraged or forbidden from doing them. Mill Thought that men simply don't know what women are capable of, because we have never let them try - nobody can not make a statement without evidence. We can't stop women from trying things because they m ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published March 15th 2007 by Book Jungle (first published 1869)
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Petra X is feeling very sad
I skimmed through The Subjection of Women but when I got to the passage on women's inferiority being that they don't produce original thought or works, I decided not to read the rest. If it's written from that paternalistic point of view, I can see that I would need to practice deep-breathing and that only delays the inevitable reaction. To sum up the book, Mill thought women were equal but... But the standards he used did not take into account this was not a level playing field. Ultimately he t ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mil

The Subjection of Women is an essay by English philosopher, political economist and civil servant John Stuart Mill published in 1869, with ideas he developed jointly with his wife Harriet Taylor Mill.

John Stuart Mill says that we simply don't know what women are capable of, because we have never let them try – one cannot make an authoritative statement without evidence. We can't stop women from trying things because they might not be able to do them. An a
...more
Kevin Kelsey
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Written in 1861 and first published in 1869, though an arduous read, this was way ahead of it’s time. Although incredibly forward thinking, it is still a product of the 19th century, and it shows occasionally.

The author gets a lot of criticism for the few times that he does a disservice to the current women of his time, in an attempt to do a service to the potential women of the future. If you follow his train of thought long enough, he always has valid reasoning for his argument. Mainly, that w
...more
Wealhtheow
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: reading Mill for sociology
I need to reread this someday. But for now, a quote: "What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing — the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others....in the case of women, a hot-house and stove cultivation has always been carried on of some of the capabilities of their nature, for the benefit and pleasure of their masters. Then, because certain products of the general vital force sprout luxuriantly and reach a great development in ...more
Aaron Gertler
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this as soon as you can. You can finish in an hour or two, and every sentence is a jewel. It's nearly impossible to imagine this being written better in the year 1861 by any other person alive at the time. (Mill's wife was also a major contributor, and it's deeply sad that she didn't survive to see it published.)

The language isn't so archaic as to detract from readability, and the arguments are constructed with a care and precision I once associated only with the best philosophers of our e
...more
Ryan Hirst
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have never needed another person's arguments to know that there is no justification for inequality between the sexes. The capacities of the mind are independent of gender. I have always known. The arguments are self-evident; they reiterate an elementary fact.

So, I began to read Mill's "Subjection of Women," out of curiosity, not any social or philosophical quest.

By the end of the first page, I was weeping. Have I heard another person speak this way? Is it this scarce, then?

Have you have met a
...more
Mohammed
I read this for a new literary class about gender roles,power struggles through theories,literature.

It is not an easy read but it is written so impressively rhetorically, very intelligently. He expressed with great logic everything that is wrong with the male gender's power over women in his times. His arguments are very modern,bold but he was also realistic about the male powers not letting go their control of the other gender in his times.

The arguments are still used today and people use prett
...more
Veronica
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you need another reason to like John Stuart Mill. . .
Marts  (Thinker)
Mill's 'Subjection of Women' is an essay favouring equality of the sexes, written in 1869 in coordination with his wife Harriet Taylor, the essay presents arguments opposing the social and legal inequalities of that time... In some cultures, such still exists... ...more
Valerie
Charlotte Bronte commented that Mill was insufficiently concerned with the emotional aspects of life, though others pointed out that the parts she found most paternalistic often came not from Mill himself, but from his wife.

Mill and others tended to take for granted that the sphere of life designated as 'masculine' in the 19th century was the better and more valuable part of life. They raised important questions about the marginalization of 'minority' groups (women counted in this, though numeri
...more
Musa
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This feels like your boomer uncle going through a redemption arc and adopting "liberal" values.



Translation: the feminism of Mill is quite paternalistic by today's standards, but the undeniable historical importance it holds — and the doors it opened for future feminist writers — is applaudable.
...more
Claire
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: serial-reader
An interesting essay about the place of women in society- which is very progressive and liberal given the context of its writing. As such it’s best read keeping this context in mind. The style is somewhat dated and the structure was a bit repetitive. On the whole an interesting read.
Perry Whitford
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was John Stuart Mill the only Victorian male who had any sense?

I exaggerate, there must have been one or two others, who knows, maybe even as many as five. Chauvinism, xenophobia and hypocrisy were the order of the day back then; whereas now, in our enlightened times, with Trump, Brexit and the West's continued meddling in Middle Eastern affairs we are all...well, let's face it, we're not so very different.

We too could do with a John Stuart Mill to try and slap some sense into us. I was always d
...more
Malola
Good dissertion...

It was a really intersting essay. He makes good points, but I guess too "wordy" at times and a bit redundant.
It is "funny", though, that says he appreciates women's works yet didn't acknowledge his wife as co-author. Particularly because he even mentions how much she helped with the book, that sometimes women are not given authorship for their works and that he even says that has happened in his case. Oh, well... *shrugs*
...more
8314
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology, philosophy
Read this because Dostoyevsky displayed a good amount of discontent towards John Stuart Mill in his letters, despite the fact that I see myself as "graduated" from feminism ages ago. Pretty typical for Dostoyevsky: the guy didn't like British liberalism anyhow and he would sass it whenever he's given a chance, for example, in all of his novels.

Actually, in this case, I'm more inclined to agree with Mill. There's an episode in Dostoyevsky's letters that kind of irritated me: when his wife, Anna,
...more
Paul
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
The five stars I bestow on this book is pretty much due to Mill's primary thesis: de jure and de facto subjugation and indignity of women are seriously and supremely f**ked up! The book definitely feels dated. Its datedness is not only felt in Mill's dry English prose, which makes the reading experience pretty laborious. But it is also felt in Mill having to even make a case for the moral equality of women. One can sense a frustration in Mill in having to demonstrate how obviously boneheaded are ...more
Alice
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I HAVE to give it three stars because John Stuart Mill is so earnest about his 1869 support of women but GOOD LORD IT IS NOT WELL-WRITTEN. It took me 2 years to get through 101 pages. He has these occasional AMAZING insights, but they’re buried inside so many tortuous and torturous sentences it’s almost impossible to find them. If you can find quotes from Subjection of Women, read those. You don’t need to read the whole book. You just really really don’t.
Sofija T
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. I knew why there is gender inequality, but I've always wondered HOW? How is it possible that not just men, but lots of women think inequality is ok? I found the answer in this book. I would recommend this book to everyone. ...more
caroline
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
much better than what i was expecting. i don't recommend reading it on your lunch hour unless you want to spend your entire afternoon at work hating on the patriarchy. ...more
Illiterate
It’s hard to disagree, unless you like tyranny.
Ross
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
An active and energetic mind, if denied liberty, will seek for power: refused the command of itself, it will assert its personality by attempting to control others. To allow to any human beings no existence of their own but what depends on others, is giving far too high a premium on bending others to their purposes. Where liberty cannot be hoped for, and power can, power becomes the grand object of human desire; those to whom others will not leave the undisturbed management of their own affairs, ...more
Laura
Pretty interesting, although it does take some things for granted that I'd disagree with, especially Mill's portrayal of Christianity as having an inherent capacity for progressiveness that Brahminism and Islam lack - which along with, yet again, a misunderstanding of what harems are means this buys a lot more into Orientalist ideas of the brutal East than I'd like in a feminist tract. Still, I think there are some valuable points he makes alongside that. ...more
✩⋆ Victoria ⋆✩
DNF - it raises good points but it was just super repetitive
Misha
In a culture where feminism's new iterations get more and more of a bad rap - though sometimes deservedly - it is necessary to learn about why feminism originated in the first place. This is a perfect place to start. Especially for men that are feeling attracted to reactionary ideas about the natural differences between men and women.

Mill argues in wonderful prose why the subjection of women is detrimental to society as a whole, and why women's emancipation is needed. The only reason the subject
...more
Katie
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I think I want to marry John Stuart Mill. Oh, he's dead? Bummer. ...more
Flat
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mill seemed more concerned with rearing intellectual women for the purpose of making them suitably stimulating spouses, but it was probably still revolutionary for its time.
Roshneel Brar
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The essay under review is work of the first male philosopher and makes it first male feminist work. Mill wrote this essay in collaboration with his wife in 1861.In this essay mill talks about the plight of the women of victorian era, how they were subjected to discrimination at every facet of life and were considered weaker sex not only in body but in mind,Hence he advocates for the Equal rights for women in government, occupation, and marriage.Even though this work was written in the 17th centu ...more
Autumn Rybin
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read.


Some favorite quotes:

What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing—the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others.

I consider it presumption in anyone to pretend to decide what women are or are not, can or cannot be, by natural constitution. They have always hitherto been kept, as far as regards spontaneous development, in so unnatural a state, that their nature cannot but have been greatly disto
...more
Moss 慈映夢図
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Insightful for its time. A little dated by today's standards.

His broad principle is that the legal subordination of one sex to the other is morally wrong, regardless of which way around (though historically men have been the ones to dominate on such occasions). He understands that society won't progress if one gender is afforded privilege and another disability, and unlike the young activists of today, strongly implies that this encompasses both genders, ruling out revenge for perceived past wro
...more
Christian Schwoerke
I first read this book three years ago, and about three months ago I read for the first time Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written about 60 years before Mill’s essay. The arguments and the rhetorical manner of each of these early advocates of women’s equality are different. Wollstonecraft’s book is more polemical and more critical of women as being willing victims in a patriarchy that denies women equality and then uses their debased state as rationale to further be ...more
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John Stuart Mill, English philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's. ...more

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“Stupidity is much the same all the world over. A stupid person's notions and feelings may confidently be inferred from those which prevail in the circle by which the person is surrounded. Not so with those whose opinions and feelings are an emanation from their own nature and faculties.” 105 likes
“I consider it presumption in anyone to pretend to decide what women are or are not, can or cannot be, by natural constitution. They have always hitherto been kept, as far as regards spontaneous development, in so unnatural a state, that their nature cannot but have been greatly distorted and disguised; and no one can safely pronounce that if women’s nature were left to choose its direction as freely as men’s, and if no artificial bent were attempted to be given to it except that required by the conditions of human society, and given to both sexes alike, there would be any material difference, or perhaps any difference at all, in the character and capacities which would unfold themselves.” 43 likes
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