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Is Mill's "liberal" feminism "masculinist"?

Stafford, William (2004) Is Mill's "liberal" feminism "masculinist"? Journal of political ideologies, 9 (2). pp. 159-179. ISSN 1356-9317

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    Abstract

    John Stuart Mill is examined as a test case of the charge levelled by some feminist critics that liberal ideology is essentially 'masculinist'. This charge is rejected on the grounds that it misinterprets Mill, fails to recognize the variety and flexibility of liberal ideology, and falsely assumes unchanging concepts of masculinity and femininity. An older tradition regards this representative liberal as a 'feminine philosopher', and it can be argued that Mill 'feminized' his radical heritage. His ideology sustains policy proposals that pay attention to women, his conception of subjectivity breaks with a neo-Hobbesian model which he would balance with 'feminine' qualities, and his concept of the citizen is neither explicitly nor implicitly 'masculine'. He does not assume a gendered public/private divide, nor rank the public above the private; and in the light of all his writings the charge that he consigns most women to the domestic is exaggerated.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: UoA 62 (History) Copyright 2004 Taylor & Francis
    Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
    References:

    M. Gatens, ‘Power, bodies and difference’, in M. Barrett and A. Phillips (Eds), Destabilizing Theory:
    Contemporary Feminist Debates (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992), p. 120.
    2. Dissenters include G. Tulloch, Mill and Sexual Equality (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf,
    1989); W. Donner, ‘John Stuart Mill’s Liberal Feminism’, Philosophical Studies, 69 (1993), pp. 155–166;
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    5. C. Pateman, ‘Feminist critiques of the public/private dichotomy’, The Disorder of Women (Cambridge:
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    6. Reference is made to the complete edition Collected Works of John Stuart Mill (hereafter CW), J. M.
    Robson and others (Eds), 33 Volumes (Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, 1962 – 1991).
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    7. Pateman, op. cit., Ref. 5, p. 123.
    8. Pateman, ibid., p. 130.
    9. Pateman, ibid., pp. 129, 135.
    10. Z. Eisenstein, ‘Equalizing privacy and specifying equality’, in Nancy J. Hirschmann and Christine di
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    Feldstein (Eds), Discontented Discourses. Feminism/Textual Intervention/Psychoanalysis (Urbana &
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    and Ideal Marriage’, Political Theory, 19:4 (1991), pp. 626–648.
    16. J. Morley, Recollections (London: Macmillan, 1917), p. 55.
    17. For the cartoons in Judy depicting him as a woman see J. Carlisle, John Stuart Mill and the Writing of
    Character (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1991).
    18. Fraser’s Magazine, 8, 18 (December, 1873) p. 673.
    19. Liberty: Contemporary Responses to John Stuart Mill, in A. Pyle (Ed) (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994),
    p. 324.
    20. Pyle, ibid., p. 299.
    21. A. Bain, John Stuart Mill (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1882), p. 149.
    22. E. Jones, Sigmund Freud: Life and Works, 2 Volumes (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), Volume I,
    pp. 191–192.
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    24. L. Stephen, The English Utilitarians, Volume 3, John Stuart Mill (1st edn., 1900), (London: Duckworth
    & Co., 1912), pp. 71–73.
    25. Morley, op. cit., Ref. 16, pp. 54–55.
    26. B. Willey, Nineteenth-Century Studies (1st edn., 1949), (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964), p. 151.
    27. J. F. Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, in R. J. White (Ed) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
    1967), p. 3.
    28. Carlisle, op. cit., Ref. 17, pp. 86–87, 112, 114.
    29. A. Ryan, ‘Sense and Sensibility in Mill’s Political Thought’, in Michael Laine (Ed), A Cultivated Mind:
    Essays on J.S. Mill presented to John M. Robson, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), pp. 126,
    128–129.
    176
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    IS MILL’S ‘LIBERAL’ FEMINISM ‘MASCULINIST’?
    30. James Mill, Political Writings, in T. Ball (Ed) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 27.
    31. J. Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, in J. H. Burns and H. L. A. Hart
    (Eds) (London: Athlone Press, 1970), pp. 64–65.
    32. James Mill, op. cit., Ref. 30, pp. 166–167.
    33. James Mill, ibid., pp. 181, 168.
    34. C. Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 22–23, 79, 90.
    35. W. Stafford, John Stuart Mill (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), pp. 34–35; Mill, ‘Remarks
    on Bentham’s Philosophy’, 1833, CW, 10, pp. 14–15.
    36. J. Hamburger, John Stuart Mill on Liberty and Control (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).
    37. Donner, op. cit., Ref. 2, p. 157.
    38. Mill, Considerations on Representative Government, 1861, CW, 19, pp. 377, 390, 469.
    39. D. Alderson, Mansex Fine. Religion, Manliness and Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century British Culture
    (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), pp. 116, 118; S. K. Kent, Gender and Power in
    Britain, 1640–1990 (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 214. A classic statement of Victorian cliche´s about
    race is Robert Knox, The Races of Men: A Fragment (London, Henry Renshaw, 1850).
    40. Mill, Letter to Auguste Comte, 30 August 1843, CW, 13, p. 594 (my translation); article in the Morning
    Chronicle on the condition of Ireland, 26 October 1846, CW, 24, p. 916.
    41. Mill, Review of Michelet’s History of France, 1844, CW, 20, p. 237; article in the Morning Chronicle
    on the condition of Ireland, 17 December 1846, CW, 24, p. 973; The Irish Character, 22 January 1832,
    CW, 23, p. 398.
    42. Mill, Review of Michelet’s History of France, 1844, CW, 20, pp. 235–236; Writings of Alfred de Vigny,
    1838, CW, 1, p. 466; The Irish Character CW, 23, p. 398.
    43. J. M. Robson, ‘Mill on Women and Other Poets’, Victorian Studies Association Newsletter, 12 (1973),
    pp. 13–17; Alderson, op. cit., Ref. 39, p. 38; H. Sussman, Victorian Masculinities. Manhood and
    Masculine Poetics in Early Victorian Literature and Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995),
    pp. 43–44; N. Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit. The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature
    and Religious Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 93.
    44. Mill, Autobiography, CW, 1, p. 61.
    45. Article in the Morning Chronicle on the condition of Ireland, 2 December 1846, CW, 24, p. 973.
    46. Mill, Letter to Gustave d’Eichthal, 15 May 1829, CW, 12, p. 31; see also his review of the writings of
    Alfred de Vigny, 1838, CW, 1, p. 466.
    47. Draft & final version of the Autobiography, CW, 1, pp. 195, 621.
    48. Mill, Letter to Auguste Comte, 30 August 1843, CW, 13, p. 593.
    49. Mill, Debating speech on Wordsworth and Byron, 30 January 1829, CW, 26, p. 441.
    50. Mill, Letter to Gustave d’Eichthal, 15 May 1829, p. 32.
    51. Mill, ‘On Marriage’, CW, 21, p. 44.
    52. Mill, Auguste Comte and Positivism, 1865, CW, 10, p. 310.
    53. Mill, ibid., p. 332.
    54. Quoted in Alderson, op. cit.,, Ref. 39, p. 38.
    55. Sussman, op. cit., Ref. 43, pp. 43–44; Vance, op. cit., Ref. 43, p. 93.
    56. Mill, ‘Bentham’, CW, 10, pp. 92–93.
    57. Stephen, op. cit., Ref. 24., p. 9.
    58. J. B. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell
    University Press, 1988), pp. 45–46, 147–148.
    59. Kant, Political Writings, in H. Reiss (Ed) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 139.
    60. K. McClelland, ‘England’s Greatness, the Working Man’, in C. Hall, K. McClelland and J. Rendall (Eds),
    Defining the Victorian Nation. Class, Race, Gender and the British Reform Acts of 1867 (Cambridge:
    Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 98–99; Kent, op. cit., Ref. 39, p. 157.
    61. Mill, Representative Government, CW, 19, p. 472.
    62. Mill, ibid., p. 464.
    63. Mill, ibid., p. 476.
    64. Mill, Autobiography, CW, 1, p. 262.
    65. Mill, Subjection of Women, CW, 21, pp. 302–310.
    66. Mill, Letter to Auguste Comte, 30 October 1843, CW, 13, p. 605 (my translation from Mill’s French).
    67. Annas, op. cit., Ref. 4, pp. 181, 184; Tulloch, op. cit., Ref. 2, pp. 121, 132; Morales, op. cit., Ref. 2,
    pp. 131–135.
    68. Mill, The Subjection of Women, CW, 21, p. 276.
    69. Hence Mill’s speculation—it is no more than that—in The Subjection of Women that the greater nervous
    susceptibility often attributed to women may be natural. But he also speculates that it may be
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    WILLIAM STAFFORD
    environmental, remarks that it is characteristic of some men and not all women, and insists that it is no
    disqualification for any citizenship role.
    70. See Mill’s discussion in his System of Logic, Book VI, Chapter 4.
    71. Mill, Parliamentary Speech on Electoral Franchise for Women, 17 July 1866, CW, 28, pp. 92–93.
    72. Mill, Letter to T. E. Cliffe Leslie, 5 October 1869, CW, 17, p. 1642.
    73. Mill, Three Essays on Religion, 1874, CW, 10, pp. 394–395.
    74. Mill, Letter to Gustave d’Eichthal, 15 May, 1829, CW, 12, pp. 31–32.
    75. Sussman, op. cit., Ref. 43, pp. 10–11.
    76. Mill, Letter to Auguste Comte, 30 October, 1843, CW, 13, p. 607.
    77. This thesis was anticipated in David Newsome’s neglected Godliness and Good Learning (London: John
    Murray, 1961).
    78. D. Rosen, ‘The volcano and the cathedral: muscular Christianity and the origins of primal manliness’, in
    D. E. Hall (Ed), Muscular Christianity: embodying the Victorian Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University
    Press, 1994), p. 39.
    79. A. Clark, ‘Gender, class and the constitution: franchise reform in England, 1832–1928’, in J. Vernon
    (Ed), Re-reading the Constitution. New Narratives in the Political History of England’s long Nineteenth
    Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 249–253; Alderson, op. cit., Ref. 39,
    pp. 56–58; Kent, op. cit., Ref. 39, p. 203; Vance, op. cit., Ref. 43, p. 109.
    80. Quoted in S. L. Robertson, ‘Degenerate effeminacy’ and the making of a masculine spirituality in the
    sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson’, in D. E. Hall (Ed), Muscular Christianity: embodying the Victorian
    Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 151; and in Rosen, op. cit., Ref. 78, pp. 24–25.
    81. Vance, op. cit., Ref. 43, pp. 11–15.
    82. Stephen, op. cit., Ref. 24, p. 65.
    83. J. Rendall, ‘Virtue and Commerce: Women in the Making of Adam Smith’s Political Economy’, in E.
    Kennedy and S. Mendus (Eds), Women in Western Political Philosophy, (Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1987),
    pp. 58–59.
    84. Mill, ‘Bentham’, CW, 10, p. 98.
    85. Mill, Autobiography, CW, 1, p. 195.
    86. Mill, Diary, 1854, CW, 27, p. 660.
    87. E. Spitz, ‘On Shanley, “Marital Slavery and Friendship” ’, Political Theory, 10:3 (1982), pp. 461–462;
    Morales, op. cit., Ref. 2, p. 132.
    88. Urbinati, op. cit., Ref. 15, pp. 626–648.
    89. B. Hilton, ‘Manliness, Masculinity and the mid-Victorian Temperament’, in Lawrence Goldman (Ed),
    The Blind Victorian. Henry Fawcett and British Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
    1989), p. 65.
    90. J. Hammerton, Cruelty and Companionship. Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Married Life (London:
    Routledge, 1992), p. 48.
    91. Mill, House of Commons Speech on the Admission of Women to the Electoral Suffrage, 20 May 1867,
    CW, 28, pp. 156, 157.
    92. Mill, Representative Government, CW, 19, pp. 415–416.
    93. Mill, The Subjection of Women, CW, 21, pp. 327–328.
    94. Mill, Representative Government, pp. 479–480.
    95. Mill, Article on Fontana and Prati’s St. Simonism in London, 2 February 1834, CW, 23, p. 680.
    96. As Nash has argued, op. cit., Ref. 2, p. 66.
    97. Mill, Letter to Dr. Emile Honore´ Cazelles, 30 May 1869, CW, 17, p. 1609.
    98. Mill, Letter to Charles Eliot Norton, 23 June 1869, CW, 17, p. 1618; Letter to John Nichol, 18 August
    1869, CW, 17, p. 1634; Letter to Henry Keylock Rusden, 22 July 1870, CW, 17, p. 1751.
    99. H. T. Dickinson, Liberty and Property. Political Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Britain (London:
    Methuen, 1979), pp. 149–150.
    100. Mill, Speech on Women’s Suffrage, 18 July 1869, CW, 29, pp. 376–377.
    101. Mill, Letter to Mrs. Charlotte Speir Manning, 14 January 1870, CW, 17, p. 1687.
    102. Mill, Speech on Women’s Suffrage, 26 March 1870, CW, 29, p. 387.
    103. Mill, Letter to Priscilla McLaren, 12 December 1868, CW, 16, pp. 1521–1522.
    104. J. B. Elshtain, Public Man, Private Woman (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981), pp. 4–5,
    131.
    105. Mill, Letter to George Grote, 22 August 1865, CW, 16, p. 1096.
    106. J. Tosh, A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England (New Haven:
    Yale University Press, 1999), pp. 29, 76–78, 138–139.
    107. Morales, op. cit., Ref. 2, p. 149.
    108. James Mill, op. cit., Ref. 30, p. 193.
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    IS MILL’S ‘LIBERAL’ FEMINISM ‘MASCULINIST’?
    109. Nash, op. cit., Ref. 2, p. 66.
    110. Tulloch, op. cit., Ref. 2, pp. 31–32.
    111. Hammerton, op. cit., Ref. 90, pp. 101, 131.
    112. Mill, On Marriage, CW, 21, p. 43; The Subjection of Women, CW, 21, pp. 297–298.
    113. Mill, article on Fontana and Prati’s St. Simonism in London, CW, 23, p. 680.
    114. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, CW, 3, pp. 952–953.
    115. Mill, ibid., p. 953.
    116. Pateman, op. cit., Ref. 8, p. 130.
    117. Mill, Principles of political Economy, CW, 3, p. 794.
    118. Mill, Letter to Charles Loring Brace, CW, 17, p. 1799; Speech on elections to School Boards, CW, 29,
    p. 401.
    119. Mill, Diary, 1854, CW, 27, p. 664.
    120. Hamburger, op. cit., Ref. 36. To discuss Hamburger’s thesis—a better-argued version of the charges
    levelled by Cowling—is beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say that Hamburger’s valid insights
    are elaborated into a strained and ultimately unconvincing interpretation based on highly selective
    reading; for discussion see e.g. the (not unfriendly) review by S. Yamashita in Utilitas, 13, 3 (2001),
    pp. 360–363.
    121. Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 197,
    200–201, 251.
    179

    Depositing User: Briony Heyhoe
    Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2007
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 19:19
    URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/191

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