John Stuart Mill, precursor of the British suffragette

The philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill (London, 1806-Avignon-France, 1873) is one of the key figures of empiricism in the nineteenth century and precursor of the formation of the British suffragette. Along with Harriet Taylor, he wrote in 1869, ” The female slavery ‘(‘ The subjection of women ‘), classic liberal feminism of the First Wave, however, generated a great controversy at the time and led to a confrontation with . his father, the historian and philosopher James Mill her feminism is based on a very simple premise: “the women’s suffrage is an act of justice.”

It is part of the group of philosophers and thinkers male, as Condorcet or Poulain de la Barre, defended the rights of women when formulating his theories about the progress of society and citizenship.

“We can say without fear of contradiction that the knowledge they can acquire the men over women, including how have been and how they are now, without any reference to what might be, it is terribly flawed and superficial, and always will be until women themselves have said all I have to say. ” (John Stuart Mill).

The thesis defended at ‘The subjection of women’ is that if freedom is good for man is also true for women and therefore the arguments so far to argue that men and women were different “nature” had their origin in superstition and not on experience.

For Stuart Mill, the analysis of the experience can only be considered if women have access to the same rights as men and any discriminatory legislation against it is removed. Their discussion focuses mainly on the right to vote, the right to education of women and the question of marriage, because it ends up turning women into “objects”.

“Men choose women to represent for them humility, submission and resignation of all individual will into the hands of a man, as an essential part of sexual attractiveness.” (Subjection of Women, chapter 1, page 272).

Education is their main demand: if women have access to education, he says, better educate their children, can provide knowledge to the business of their husbands, taking an active role in marriage, and be more free in their choices eliminating gender impositions and fully developing their personality.

His work is a pioneer in the analysis of gender roles and inspired the liberation movement of women.

The first request to vote for women in the British Parliament presented on August 3, 1832 by Henry Hunt on behalf of Mary Smith, a signer of it.

But in June 1866, three decades later, John Stuart Mill and Henry Fawcett in the British Parliament presented another amendment, signed by 1,500 women led by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garret Anderson, again rejected. It was driven by the Women’s Suffrage Committee, that same year he organized the first rally in London in favor of women’s suffrage.

A year later, in 1867, when a reform of the electoral law debate to increase the number of men eligible to vote, Mill proposes to replace in clause 4 the word “man” by “person”, so that women who fulfilled the requirements could exercise their right to vote.

In 1868 he born the first great suffragette movement in Britain: the National Woman’s Suffrage Society for who led Lydia Becker, where he would begin his political career Emmeline Pankhurst in 1874, with only 15 years.

The British would achieve the recognition of women’s suffrage in 1918, restricted to women over 30 years and, in 1928, and extended to all women over age.

Sources: Encyclopedia of Philosophy Stanford and The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy.