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John Stuart Mill and Women’s Movement Essay

John Stuart Mill was born in London in 1806. He became renowned as an economist, a writer, a philosopher and senior personnel in the East India Company (EIC). John Stuart Mill rendered much of his life time to a prominent activist working for women’s rights and movements. The Beginning The history which links Mill to the feminist movement dates back to the year 1851 when he married to a widow named Harriet Taylor and got settled in Blackheath Park.

This place is said to be his spot from where a number of influential writings that advocated women’s right were written, which subsequently became popular worldwide. The Victorian Women’s Movement in England is also said to reach to this very place of Mill in the hope of counseling, headship and financial assistance (Sunshine for Women, 2003). Mill started working for the women’s cause after getting married to Taylor. As a matter of fact, he had to be subtle in participating in reform movements while being a member of the EIC.

This is the reason he had to use his pen to work for the purpose. Mill retired from the East India Company in 1858. The first popular writing that he have with his name was written in 1860 and 1861 entitled as The Subjection of Women, which he did not give to publish as yet (Sunshine for Women, 2003). The Breakthrough In the year 1865, Mill was asked to stand at one of the positions for the parliament, the offer which was readily accepted by him. The agreement was basically, on the basis of the platform’s top most agenda as to give women rights to vote along with other equality rights.

Following Mill’s enthusiasm for the cause and seeing his participation, different other women’s rights organizations approached him for his support. In due course, a Ladies Discussion Group carried out a poll asking its members if they thought it right for the women to participate in the public affairs. To their surprise, all the women members consented with this. Such an overwhelming response made Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, a leading early nineteenth century feminist and educationist, take a daring step. She suggested at par to build a suffrage society.

Unfortunately, this step could not be carried out at that point in time because other contemporary activists were also afraid of extremists’ actions against the idea. However, Mill was courageous enough to support this idea once it was made certain that a Reform Bill would be put forward to the Parliament. He asked Bodichon to get more than hundred signatures in support of the petition. The stride proved to be quite successful and Bodichon was able to bring around 1,500 signatures following the formation of the first ever Women’s Suffrage Committee.

Subsequently, when Mill put forth the petition after almost a eyear in 1866, the Bill was passed and the agenda of having women’s suffrage was incorporated in the parliament. Despite many hurdles, Mill’s one another daring step towards the cause was to make an amendment in the clause that dealt with property qualifications. He proposed to substitute the word ‘man’ with ‘person’ (Sunshine for Women, 2003). Nevertheless, at that point in time, the amendment was defeated with a larger number of votes against it.

Unfortunately, this committee did not live very long and was dissolved with the dissolution and reformation of the bill as well. But, the women and Mill’s support did not end here and Mill’s wife along with other women members of the committee succeeded in creating a whole new organization which they named as London National Women’s Suffrage Society (Sunshine for Women, 2003). Mill’s leadership led him to become the honorary president of this very organization. At this moment, this organization needed something in written to disseminate among their members and among the external public.

Mill felt a dire need to make his writings public and thus his The Subjection of Women got published and it saw gaining popularity worldwide being translated into a number of languages. Most importantly, this piece of writing was only of its kinds to be present on such a topic until World War 1 (Sunshine for Women, 2003). This step certainly, proved to be a milestone in women’s movement in that era. Subjection Mill’s Subjection remained a limelight for decades whenever women’s movement and feministic approach was talked about. What he wrote in it was women’s persistent low-leveled position which was in a constant struggle to rise.

His writings show his sensitivity towards the issue as he talked about the prevalent attitude of the society towards a patriarchal system while subjugating women’s very existence. Subjection also talks about how women’s existence could be kept on exploiting once the society does not follow the norms of equality and justices. The comprehensive book also gets the reputation of advocating how terrible domestic violence is and could prove to be. However, it voices that the right to vote granted to women is only the first step towards a series of obligations that should be followed to treat them as equal beings (Mill, 2003).

Conclusion All in all, analyzing John Stuart Mill’s life we can conclude that he got depression and physical ailment at a much younger age, but his intellect was far above those of his contemporary men. He thought and spoke high of women and worked for the feminist movement as much as his health granted him to. References Mill, J. S. (2003). On Liberty and Other Writings. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Sunshine for Women. (2003, February n. d. ). John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). August 2, 2010, from www. pinn. net


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