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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
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But he also speculates that it may be 177 Downloaded By: [University of Huddersfield] At: 15:33 22 May 2007 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. 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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. 178 Downloaded By: [University of Huddersfield] At: 15:33 22 May 2007 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: 07 Apr 2018 10:00
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/191

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