On the Subjection of Women (1860-1, published 1869)


by John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Possibly co-authored by his wife Harriet Taylor Mill, this is a boat-rocking attack on the socio-legal inequalities imposed on Victorian women. The argument aims not solely to benefit women but also to remove a hindrance to humanity’s overall self-improvement.

Mill calls for women’s education and emancipation, and analyses marriage as a form of slavery, though only in need of reform, not abolition. He mocks the ‘unnecessary solicitude’ of men prohibiting things they say women can’t do anyway, and understands that most female capabilities were too untested to be measurable. Penetrating and prescient, Mill is consistent in his utilitarian logic throughout.

Related recommendation: Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ (1792)

Origin: Britain

Themes: Emancipation and Justice

Genres: Tract or Treatise

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