Showing posts with label First wave of feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First wave of feminism. Show all posts

Women's Rights ARE Human Rights

Countless modern feminists are dedicated to the advancement of women's rights. 

Indeed, feminism is frequently connected with women's equality, with the struggle to achieve and protect reproductive rights frequently at the forefront. These rights provide women some control over when and if they get pregnant. 

With the title of her book, Are Women Human?, Catharine MacKinnon, on the other hand, urges us to return to the opening question. The essential argument here is whether women have human rights or are protected by them. Human rights are often seen as fundamental responsibilities that mankind owe to one another. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) by the United Nations is the most commonly acknowledged statement of human rights, with the first article asserting the freedom and equality of all human beings. 

Nonetheless, the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be criticized for its Western bias - even the word "rights" shows a uniquely Western perspective on human responsibility. Many nations disagree with certain of the document's contents because they are incompatible with their cultural beliefs or traditions. 

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is difficult for women since women are not yet recognized as fully human or deserving of human rights protection in all countries, and they do not yet have equal political position with men everywhere. Furthermore, it does not address challenges that are unique to women. 

Women's rights infractions, according to MacKinnon, are frequently disregarded because they are considered gender-specific concerns rather than violations of women's fundamental rights. 

The problem now is to persuade the UN and the rest of the international community that gender-based concerns like rape are deserving of human rights attention. 

The UN has published a number of following papers and agreements that aim to address gender specific concerns, at the insistence of feminists and women's activists all around the world. 

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) strives to extend to women the rights outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Global feminists advance the cause of women's human rights by forming cross-border coalitions of feminist organizations and pursuing shared aims for future alliances. 

The activism around female genital cutting, also known as female circumcision or female genital mutilation depending on one's point of view, is an example of feminist attempts to secure human rights while simultaneously acknowledging the gendered dimension of a violation. 

Female genital cutting (FGC) is a term that refers to a group of activities that the World Health Organization has divided into four categories. 

  1. The first is clitoris removal, often known as clitorodectomy. 
  2. The clitoris and labia minora are removed in the second procedure (and possibly the labia majora). 
  3. These excisions are included in the third version, which additionally sews up or plugs the vaginal orifice. Infibulation is a condition in which just a tiny hole allows urine and blood to flow through. 
  4. The fourth category, according to the WHO, is a catch-all for various types of ceremonial genital cutting, such as piercings, which may or may not involve the loss of flesh. 

Female genital cutting, in all forms, is a cultural practice that takes place on females from infancy to maturity, but most typically between the ages of five and thirteen. 

Those who contend that genital cutting is a human rights violation point out that it is frequently done without the girl's or woman's permission and in unclean settings. 

They portray it as a form of violence against women that is often accompanied by a general disregard for women's human dignity, hence the term "female genital mutilation," which distinguishes it from male circumcision. 

Activists who oppose FGC see it as a blatant infringement of women's rights. 

FGC, in particular, infringes on the rights to physical integrity, sexual expression or enjoyment, and personal security

In addition to physical scars, it is reported to leave a plethora of psychological scars. 

Nonetheless, FGC remains a contentious issue within feminism. 

Some societies maintain it as a traditional ritual with important meaning, with the help of women. Some feminists even support the practice, claiming that those who oppose it are imposing their own cultural norms or human rights notions. 

Those who advocate FGC point to religious and cultural freedoms as justifications, claiming that while some female genital cutting occurs in harmful settings, the majority does not. 

This argument exemplifies some of the challenges that many women face in obtaining full human rights protections. Because the issue or act is not considered a matter for human rights talk, because women are not the subjects of human rights, or because of conflicts between cultures, traditions, and approaches to justice – the very nature of human rights is, after all, rooted in a Western ethos – efforts to bring about change can become much more complicated. 

The French prohibition on religious attire and other symbols in schools is another recent instance that has drew the attention of feminists concerned with human rights problems. 

This restriction, which the European Court of Human Rights deemed to be in conformity with human rights, is intended to promote a form of secularism that is seen to contribute to a feeling of national community. However, the restriction places an excessive hardship on Muslim girls and women who prefer to wear the head scarf as a symbol of their faith or are required to do so. 

The scarf, worn at school, has been ruled to be in breach of the prohibition, despite the fact that little Christian crosses are permitted. The reasoning is based on the perception of conspicuous religious symbols as disrupting social cohesiveness or detracting from school lectures. 

This topic raises questions of sex and gender inequality, but it may also be viewed in the context of France's colonial past. 

Human rights activists and feminists underline the intersection of problems here. On the one hand, there is the freedom to openly express one's faith in public or private as long as it does not endanger others' rights. 

The ability to openly express one's religious views does not appear to be upheld by a clothing prohibition that looks to be focused especially at Muslim girls and women. 

It also doesn't appear to treat everyone equally, considering that the effects are most noticeable among schoolgirls. On the other side, there is the right to equal protection and security in one's person (particularly in educational settings), as well as the state's responsibility to provide it. 

If France perceives religious symbols as representing a possible threat to a person or a group, and believes that prohibiting them is the best way to safeguard those persons, it may be argued that the state has every right to implement the prohibition, even if it looks to be targeting Muslim females.

Furthermore, feminists disagree on whether the head scarf and other kinds of veiling constitute signs of sexual inequity or otherwise dehumanize women. Some say that wearing a head scarf or veil is liberating because it shields women from at least some of the objectifying gaze of men. Others believe that in some cultural and religious traditions, the veil is a sign of women's servitude and lack of autonomy. 

Regardless, despite the challenges in defining what that means, feminist attempts to achieve human rights worldwide are significant extensions of feminist efforts to achieve the legal, social, political, and economic rights of women inside their own country. 

Women have made significant progress around the world, but there is still much more to be done. 

Women continue to be more likely to be victims of abuse, to care for babies and children disproportionately, and to be underpaid in comparison to their male counterparts. 

Some legislative changes now need to be accompanied with cultural shifts that impact how laws are executed. Furthermore, not all forms of oppression can be addressed by changes in laws, economic structure, or even social and political shifts. 

Internalized oppression is when oppression is ingrained in one's thoughts about oneself and others. Beyond inequality, second-wave feminism examines some of the ways oppression is constituted. 

We still need to examine how oppression impacts agency, identity, and embodiment, as well as feminist recommendations for changing how we act, think about ourselves and others, and feel our bodies in the world.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.

First Wave of Feminism

The first wave of women's social, legal, and economic rights. All of the feminist schools as well as many more that I haven't named or that are still forming, start with the same premise: women are oppressed.

They disagree considerably in how they comprehend or explain oppression, what reform or revolution techniques they recommend to end oppression, and even who counts as a "woman" or if such a category exists at all. 

I examine several types of ongoing oppression of women in our global human society here, including social, legal, political, and intellectual inequality. 

The focus of feminism's first wave is oppression of these kinds. 

The first wave focuses on human rights, civic, social, economic, and intellectual/educational equality, as well as women's political and legal standing. 

It allows us to look at a variety of topics that are still relevant to women and men today, as well as part of the historical evolution of feminism in the Western world. 

Because of the cultural importance of rights found in Anglo-American feminism, this essay is centered around and devoted to it.

The first wave still prevails across several regions of our collective global society.

Along with the second and third waves, the first wave is a parallel struggle that is staggered and ongoing till every last Woman and Girl is accounted for.

Please click on the links below to learn more about the First Wave of Feminism in detail:

  1. Women are Rational, Autonomous and Equal
  2. Social and Political Rights for Women
  3. Legal Rights for Women
  4. Economic Rights for Women
  5. Women's Rights ARE Human Rights

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.

Women are Rational, Autonomous and Equal

What exactly does it mean to be a human being? This subject encompasses anything from whether or not a culture or society views women as completely human to whether or not women are thought to be logical. 

Although these concerns may appear silly, it was not long ago in our collective history that women were not considered completely human or rational, and in many parts of the world, women are still seen as inferior creatures in comparison to males. 

There is ample evidence that women are viewed as less than fully human even when a society purports to value equality. We may examine the educational options available to women once we have established that women are actually human and that they are and should be regarded complete moral beings (with all the rights that come with that status). 

For a long time, feminists have been concerned about the right to an equitable education. 

Some early feminists believed that females should be educated in the same way that males are, rather than at 'finishing schools,' which primarily taught females the skills they would need as bourgeois housewives. 

Furthermore, women have just lately gained access to higher education institutions. More recent feminist interpretations of equal intellectual and educational rights address issues like as classroom behavior, course content, and the predominance of positive role models. 

We may start with the most basic of questions: who is a human? 
Women are still battling to be accepted as fully human in various parts of the world and at various times in our own communities. 

There are clear statements to the opposite in the Western philosophical tradition. The philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BCE), whose philosophy pervades much of Western dogma, notably stated that the female is a malformed male. 

Despite the fact that his message was far more complex and subtle (and should not be divorced from his philosophical theory of reproduction), this single remark continues to carry disproportionate weight in many situations. 

Aristotle inspired Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274 CE), who understands this passage to signify that females are misbegotten in their particular nature rather than in their universal human nature. 

One interpretation is that women are essential to the species, but that as individual representations of the species, they are at best inadequate. Because he supplies semen in the process of reproduction, Aristotle and Aquinas believed that the male is the more perfect of the two. 

The ovum was not identified until the late nineteenth century, and it was assumed to be the catalyst and maybe the location of the soul. 

Aquinas could not have realized the degree of the female involvement to conception when he wrote over 700 years ago (though he did know about the female role to gestation). 

Throughout history, moral and political thinkers have neglected to incorporate women in their views of society. This was despite Plato's Republic (428/27–347 BCE) setting the tone. Plato maintained that women should train alongside males and that everyone should discover their position in society based on their own particular natures rather than preconceived notions about the nature of the sexes. Plato, on the other hand, makes a completely different assertion in a later book. 

Women are produced from the souls of the most vile and illogical males, according to the Timaeus. Regrettably, this later feeling fared better in political theory than the Republic's gender equality. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) was a Christian theologian who tried to combine Platonic philosophy with Christian religion. Augustine's opinions on women are a little hazy. 

On the one hand, he supports women's complete humanity, claiming that both men and women have the image of God (which separates humans from other creatures). 

The picture of God can only be found in the portion of the mind that is dedicated to God's contemplation, and both men and women have this potential. However, both women and men have temporal or worldly responsibilities that are prescribed, at least in part, by their God-given natures. 

Women appear to have greater temporal responsibilities (think of childbirth and nursing tasks), and hence are unable to dedicate as much time or intelligence to God contemplation. As a result, women are both equal and unequal. 

Each of these works explores the subject of whether or not women are human in their own unique way. Saying "yes" or "no" is a little too easy, but some early thinkers plainly did not believe that women are human in the same sense that males are. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), a more contemporary character, believed that women were human, but that they possessed a unique set of intrinsic virtues that required them to be trained and treated differently than males. This poses a comparable concern about women's moral personhood rather than their humanity. 

The focus of Rousseau's discussion of a woman's moral behavior is on her responsibility to be a decent wife and mother. He distinguishes between male and female virtues. Instead of being bold and intelligent, women were expected to be meek and lovely. Rousseau thinks that a woman has no responsibilities outside of the house, ignoring the experience of women who are forced to labor outside the house. 

To put it another way, Rousseau's virtuous woman is a lady from the middle to upper classes who has the time to give her entire attention to her husband and children. Rousseau isn't the only classical moral and political theorist who thinks this way. 

The notion of the person as a participant to a social contract is central to classical liberalism. Individuals who adhere to classical liberalism, on the other hand, are thought to be free of domestic responsibilities. 

Furthermore, the individual rights that governments are supposed to defend are nearly invariably mainly or largely the rights of male property owners. 

Women are supposed to be a part of the man's 'person,' who represents the family in all public and political concerns. 

Women of the working class were clearly considered as wage earners in socialist traditions, but the socialists of the nineteenth century had little interest in any contribution from women. 

To call someone a moral person, one must first recognize that they are a human being with particular abilities. These abilities usually involve the ability to create and act on independent judgments. 

In some political and legal circumstances, the condition of moral persons is extremely crucial. Children, for example, are frequently dismissed as moral beings because they are seen incapable of independently determining what is good and wrong and then acting on that determination. 

Whereas ‘human' is the metaphysical category (i.e., the category of creatures to which someone belongs), ‘moral person' is the normative category to which rights, privileges, and duties are often assigned. 

Women as sensible and self-reliant Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) was an eighteenth-century feminist who contended for women's moral individuality as well as their entire humanity. 

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), her magnum opus, pushed for gender equality and reacted to many who argued differently. Wollstonecraft was a passionate advocate for social justice and human rights, and she wrote a number of publications before her tragic death (and is also known for her famous daughter, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein). 

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft argues for women's rational humanity. Of course, she also advocated for women's civic and economic rights. 

Human beings, according to Wollstonecraft, are defined by reason, virtue, and knowledge. Humans are distinguished from other animals by their ability to reason. 

This was and still is a popular perception of humans: that we are rational animals, and that it is our ability to reason that makes us superior or more heavenly (think of Augustine and how the rational mind might be directed toward God). 

What separates one human being from another is virtue, moral goodness, or character. 

Wollstonecraft is obviously allowing for the idea of degrees of perfection — distinctions that distinguish some beings from others. Her argument, though, is that being born female does not define one's goodness in and of itself. 

Finally, knowledge is obtained by experience, but if one's experience is limited by societal mores, one's nature will never be perfected. 

Nature's completeness is required for happiness. As you can see, Wollstonecraft laid the ground for demonstrating that societal norms that prevent women from obtaining experience and knowledge also prevent them from being happy. 

Furthermore, she maintained that the so-called "feminine qualities" extolled by Rousseau and others at the time were just standards of decorum. 

Women were educated to be lovely rather than moral, and as a result, they were doomed to be second-class citizens. 

Women were prevented from acquiring reasoning abilities, and as a result, they lacked the virtue that society required for full citizenship involvement. 

Women were being regarded as less than human, Wollstonecraft reasoned, by excluding them from the formation and practice of logic. Her principal answer was to give women with actual education. She maintained that in order to be completely human, women must be able to act independently. 

She did, however, contend that wifely and motherly obligations were among the mandates of reason and should be properly carried out.

An equal education that provided women with abundant opportunities for intellectual and moral growth would result in marriages marked by camaraderie between equals.

Friendship, not social standing, would be the yardstick for marital success, since a woman might be a friend to her husband rather than merely a pretty decoration in his home. 

Nonetheless, despite the fact that men and women have similar intellectual skills, Wollstonecraft claims that they have certain disparities, the most obvious of which is in their domestic duties. 

One of the convincing points in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman compares women's existence under social propriety limits to soldiers' lives: "Like fair sex, the business of their lives is gallantry." They were raised to please others, and they only live to please others. They do not, however, lose their place in the gender hierarchy.' 

Some feminists eventually found fault with Wollstonecraft's seeming exaltation of reason. They claim Wollstonecraft was embracing a male personality model. Suggestions that women can match that paradigm and should be provided with the social and educational opportunities to do so appear to elevate males by making women more like them. At the very least, emotion appears to be pushed aside in favor of logic.

 But perhaps it is an oversimplification. Perhaps we shouldn't accept the idea that rationality and passion are mutually incompatible. Some recent feminist ethics and epistemology work attempts to reclaim the relevance of include emotion in personhood conceptions. 

Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), another important twentieth-century woman, championed first-wave ideas. A Room of One's Own (1929) by Virginia Woolf explores the obstacles a woman might encounter in pursuing an education at a famous institution on par with a man. 

Woolf urges her reader/listener to envision what it would be like to walk across the huge lawns and dine in the big halls of Oxford or Cambridge, originally offered as a series of lectures on women and fiction (referred to as Oxbridge). She asks us to imagine a female Shakespeare – his imaginary sister – and consider the obstacles that might have stopped her from realizing her writing potential. 

A woman in Shakespeare's day was excluded from lectures and libraries, publishers would reject her work, and societal expectations would prevent her from writing for lengthy periods of time. 

Woolf expresses his curiosity on what it would take for a woman to make a piece of art. 

In response, she sends her character to the British Museum, where she seeks to discover the truth about women. She is astounded at the large quantity of novels in every genre published about women, the majority of which are written by males. 

Men of all stripes have solutions to the question, "Why are women poor?" 

These texts claimed to explain why women lacked morality, knowledge, and physical strength. Woolf's amusing portrayal of this journey into women's literature emphasizes a lack of information – but not a lack of opinion – on the problem of women's lower social standing. 

Of course, they all failed because they started with the notion that women are inferior, and their works were full of rage. 

The fight to preserve supremacy is at least partly to blame for the rage. 

According to Woolf, males have exploited women as a kind of mirror in which to reflect themselves in greater terms. 

That is, guys believed they were better than they actually were because of women's adulation. 

Woolf foresees a period when women will no longer be the protected sex, even forecasting that within a century of her work, women will be soldiers and laborers alongside men. 

Her idea was that gender roles vary depending on societal ideals, and that gender stereotypes would shift or vanish if traditionally male social roles were offered to women. Woolf anticipated that women will participate in a wide range of activities, and that the "truth" regarding women's inferiority would crumble. 

The ‘protected sex' is effectively barred from exercising its rights. 

Woolf famously asserted that a woman needed a "place of her own" and enough money to sustain herself in order to write fiction – and indeed to engage in social life as men do. 

As we've seen, Mary Wollstonecraft believed that in order for women to develop their reasoning and moral virtue, they required freedom. Virginia Woolf, in a similar vein, emphasized the numerous barriers that women face in their intellectual pursuits. 

Both believed that humans were independent, and that women were viewed as less than human when they were prevented from acting freely by tradition or societal mores. 

To be self-legislating is to be independent. 

In a broad sense, this indicates that you set your own rules, but it's more usually understood to mean that you determine what you should do in all situations, big and small. 

Women's liberation theorists such as Wollstonecraft and Woolf show how societal expectations, regulations, and economic systems prevent women from exercising their liberty.

So, while Wollstonecraft, Woolf, and others argue that women should have the same education as men in order to prepare them for full involvement in social life, they also realize the need to modify other systems.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.

Social and Political Rights for Women

Social rights are another type of right that is rarely specified in law. This refers to the group of rights that contribute to society's overall structure. 

For the vast part of a person's life, the family is the most important social aspect. 

The organization of a family reveals a lot about who is valued, what is valued, and how society is or should be formed. 

The term "patriarchy" literally means "father's rule," but it has been used to characterize both familial and governmental control. 

The book Patriarcha (1680) by Robert Filmer (1588–1653) supported the divine right of monarchs and maintained that succession is through the fathers of families who have political power over their wives and children. While this is a typical illustration of patriarchy in political theory, the word is commonly used to refer to males having the last word in home life. 

The first of John Locke's (1632–1704) Two Treatises of Government (1689), a response to Filmer and an attempt to argue for all people's equality, is the first of his Two Treatises of Government (1689).

 Even in the family, Locke opposes the father's exclusive authority, advocating instead for "parental power." Although he has been chastised for maintaining this view inconsistently, Locke's work does force us to reconsider the traditional family structure. 

The relationship between the family and society is frequently defined by one of two broad models in political theory. 

  1. The first considers the family to be a microcosm of the larger society. 
    1. The duties in the family are represented in the greater political world as a microcosm of society.
    2. This reflection might be due to the fact that civilizations are built on extended family units. 
    3. The allocation of power in the family is used to mirror political power in the wider community (in its extreme form, this is patriarchy but there are much milder forms as well). 
  2. The second considers the family to be a separate society within a wider civilization. 
    1. The second model sees the family as a separate society with its own set of systems that it shares with the greater political society.  

These differing perspectives on the family-society relationship have huge repercussions for women. If the family is a microcosm of society, and the structure of the family is patriarchal, society will be patriarchal as well. 

In such a society, women's responsibilities would most likely be confined to those that involve mothering or need talents that a mother could possess, such as early childhood educator or nurse. 

Men are more likely to fill societal jobs that include political decision-making or rule in any kind. If, on the other hand, the family is a separate society inside a broader community, a woman may still be subject to patriarchal control (depending on how her family is constituted) or she may have some degree of relative freedom. 

That is, her position in the family and her position in society would be independent and different. When the family is considered as a distinct society, it has its own set of laws or norms, and the wider community or state is advised not to interfere.

Women are more vulnerable to abuse in such circumstances, when the family is held in high regard. 

Another important feature of first-wave feminism shown in this conversation is citizenship. Citizenship has been almost exclusively a male domain from ancient times. Certain women may have had the position of citizen or even ruler at various eras, but they are the outliers rather than the rule.

Citizenship in philosophy refers to being a member of a political community. Being a citizen entails having specific rights and obligations that are related to the community's good functioning. 

Different types of protection (such as protection of property, protection of one's person, and protection of privacy) are usually included, as well as liberties (such as the right to speak freely, the right to gather with others, and the right to practice one's religion) and the right to participate in government according to a set of principles (so, one may vote or run for public office in a democracy). 

Respecting others' rights and contributing to the community's upkeep and sustainability are among the obligations (like paying taxes and obeying the laws). 

To be a citizen, in short, is to be acknowledged by one's community as someone who matters - as someone deserving of protection and capable of shouldering obligations. The absence of women from the status of 'citizen' is instructive. 

Women were not always seen as completely human as we have seen, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons for their exclusion. Another explanation is because they were seen untrustworthy and unworthy of protection. The feminist movement has worked tirelessly to alter this. 

The major focus of the first wave is on arguments to equalize women's standing with males. 

Different tactics were used in following rounds. Patriarchal ideals are rooted in our conceptions of autonomy, rights, and citizenship, according to feminist social theorists and legal critics. 

To bring about the sort of social transformation that would free women, rights would have to be profoundly rewritten or the basic concept of rights abandoned and replaced with something else (possibly relational theories such as caring and solidarity). 

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) was a utilitarian philosopher, a member of the British Parliament, and the first person to advocate for women's voting rights in such an official role. Utilitarianism is a moral theory based on the premise that in every given scenario, the ideal thing to do is what would result in "the greatest amount of good and the least amount of misery for everybody concerned." 

According to Mill, granting women citizenship rights would maximize usefulness. Harriet Taylor (1807–1858), another notable nineteenth-century feminist, was a close friend of Mill's. They met in their early twenties and were intellectual companions for the rest of their lives. 

Mill fell in love with Harriet despite the fact that she was married to John Taylor at the time. Harriet Taylor kept at least the pretense of her marriage to John Taylor, despite the fact that the Taylors already had three children. He died in 1849, and she married Mill two years later. 

In his most famous feminist book, On the Subjection of Women (1869), Mill credits her with much of his reasoning, as well as part of what occurs elsewhere in his social and political philosophy. Some broad characteristics of Mill's views on women may be divided into three categories: intellectual, economic, and civic. 

Women have not attained the same level of success as males and hence appear to be less brilliant than males, not because women have a different moral or intellectual character than men, but because women have had less chances and had a lower level of education. 

Women have fewer experiences and have less time than males. 

Women would not be able to participate in the arts and sciences at the same level as males due to these limits alone. 

Women have little desire for the popularity and acclaim that comes with tremendous achievement. 

So, much as Woolf exploited the notion of Shakespeare's sister to indicate that women's possibilities, not their natures, rendered them inferior, Mill blames women's perceived inferiority in society on their limited educational chances. 

According to Mill, the only way to determine if men and women are naturally equal is to provide women with equal educational opportunities. 

In terms of economics, Mill believed that women should be treated equally in the public realm. That is, women must have equal access to all work opportunities. 

He also maintained that women should have a say in policy and lawmaking in the civic realm. Mill underlined the potential benefits of granting women equality in education, civic life, and economic opportunity, in keeping with his utilitarian theory. 

First, he proposed that social equality would result in a more equitable relationship between men and women. 

In other words, Mill believed that societal changes would alter men and women's courting and marital relationships, and that women would be less likely to be subjected to an unfair spouse's dictation. 

Second, Mill recognized that allowing women to participate in intellectual, economic, and civic responsibilities would essentially double the amount of talent available to serve humankind. 

The third significant benefit of gender equality is that women's pleasure would greatly improve. 

Women's liberation is consistent with the utilitarian goal of maximizing pleasure and reducing misery for everyone in society. Mill clearly believed in the ideal of marriage as a life shared by equals. 

Even if one of the couples took the lead when specific choices were to be made, it would not create any form of permanent rule in the house.

Children would be trained to value equality between men and women in the same way. 

Mill was a strong supporter for women's freedom, but while he wanted women to have the same chances as men, he also believed that spouses should not be required to work. It was enough for her to have the choice of working. 

Similarly, the decision to marry or not marry had to be a legitimate option; without the capacity to support oneself financially, marrying could only be a compelled choice based on financial need or social tradition. 

Mill was a vocal proponent of contraception and advocated for men and women to marry later in life, have children later in life, and live in communities with extended families. 

These steps were taken to reduce the chances of divorce and offer some stability for the children in the event of a divorce. Even if the parents divorced, the child's extended family would be a constant in his or her life. 

Harriet Taylor also wrote on women's issues and fought for policies that would achieve social and political equality. She, like Mill, believed that gender inequity stemmed from societal practices and traditions. But, unlike Mill, she believed that women needed to labor outside the house in order to have a financial partnership. 

Taylor also claimed that women should have the option of being single (and equal footing in the economic world is required for that to be a real possibility). 

Women would have a greater say in family matters if they contributed financially to the family. 

Taylor, however, revealed her class bias by arguing that the family should hire slaves to help with the household chores while the wife works outside the home. 

In the event of a divorce, the woman should be solely responsible for the children. 

Taylor claimed that women should have fewer children in order to lessen the potential load under such a strategy. 

Finally, Taylor acknowledged the need of women participating in the public realm on an equal footing with men in influencing legislation and policy. 

But, of course, in order to do so, women needed to have their voices heard, and in modern democracy, the opportunity to vote is the most visible manifestation of that power. 

These historical voices may still be heard in feminist movements throughout the world. Each in their own way, Mill, Taylor, Wollstonecraft, and Woolf sought societal acknowledgement that women are fully human and deserving of all the rights that come with that position.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.

Legal Rights for Women

The right to vote is one of the first legal rights granted to women. Legal change has been the focus of some of the most visible feminist initiatives. 

The right to vote and hold public office, the right to speak in public, the right to contract, the right to own property, and the right to personal protection are among the most well-known. 

Other legislation and legal reforms, on the other hand, are required to enable women's freedom. Laws that change society's expectations of a woman as a wife and mother are among the goals for feminist legal reform. 

Women needed to be protected, and laws governing the family had to be changed to allow them to own property and inherit riches, among other things. 

Some of these laws were suggested in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe and the United States, but it would not be until the twentieth century that women were really regarded legal individuals worthy of governmental protection against violence and the ability to possess and transfer property. 

Other legislative adjustments would be required to allow women to engage equally in political and economic life as men. 

For example, allowing women to seek and obtain divorce signals equal recognition of women in marital relationships; changing workplace laws to allow for maternity leave demonstrates at least some recognition that childbirth is a difficult process, but it also indicates a social recognition that women should not be penalized for giving birth (wh). 

The ability to vote, probably more than any other legislative change, has had the greatest impact on how women are seen and treated socially and politically. 

Women may more easily raise their issues to public and policy conversations and progress the liberation of women and other oppressed groups if they have the right to vote. 

However, women's ability to vote is greeted with a lot of criticism all across the world. Some believe that their husbands' votes already contain their wives' thoughts or ideas. It's pointless to provide women the right to vote. 

Furthermore, allowing women to vote implies that they may have differences with their spouses. 

Some anti-suffragists say that the family's very fabric is at jeopardy. 

In 1919, Pope Benedict XV endorsed allowing women the right to vote because he believed women would be a great religious conservative influence in public life. However, rather than being feminist, his motivation was political (he wanted to win back the balance of power in Italy). 

Another argument against allowing women to vote is that it would taint the image of womanhood. Voting is a filthy business, and when women – especially middle-class women – are held up as moral role models, it can only be perceived as a terrible thing. 

It appears that feminine appeal necessitates women staying at home and caring for household matters rather than being involved in politics. 

And, of course, drawing on the difficulties raised, if women are not viewed as completely human or do not have an education comparable to men's, they will not be eligible to vote. 

The women's suffrage movement in the United States came out of and alongside the abolitionist movement in the nineteenth century. Women made various reasons for why females should be allowed to vote, including that females have a right to participate in economic and political life on an equal footing with males, and that voting is the only state-recognized means to do so. 

Feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for example, utilized the Declaration of Independence to bolster the cause of women's suffrage. 

God endows all persons with intrinsic rights, according to Stanton, one of which is the ability to vote.

 However, the suffrage movement is not without flaws. 

Stanton has been chastised for opposing the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted the right to vote to blacks and freed slaves. This critique is valid, yet it only tells half of the tale. Stanton was enraged because the Fifteenth Amendment looked to legitimize women's subjugation, which many in the suffrage movement considered was discriminatory and dishonest to the abolitionist cause. 

She was more concerned with ensuring that women were included in the groups allowed the right to vote in the republic through suffrage than with denying blacks the right to vote. Many suffragists attempted to combine the cause of women with abolition by opposing policies that exclusively provided rights to a subset of the population. 

At least some white women equated their domestic work to slave labor in the sense that it was uncompensated labor when advocating for legal equality. Women were frequently thought to be part of the property of the male householder, but comparing their condition to that of slaves ignores slavery's sometimes brutal nature. 

The condition of the slave was fundamentally different from that of white, middle-class suffrage movement feminists. 

Slaves were frequently torn from their families, forced to have children against their choice, raped and abused by slave owners, and treated as chattel or property by their masters. 

Despite the fact that women in the United States gained the right to vote in 1920, and women in the United Kingdom gained some partial rights in 1918 and rights on par with males in 1928, there are still women fighting for their right to vote all over the world. 

The right to vote was recognized as a human right by the United Nations in 1948, but women were not always included in the interpretation or understanding of that universal human right. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, signed in 1979, was the first formal recognition of women's right to vote (CEDAW). 

However, there is no international body to enforce human rights within countries. 

Women's suffrage is still prohibited in certain nations, and global feminists understand that the right to vote should never be taken for granted — women have been physically blocked from voting in too many locations and at too many times, and their right to vote has been legally rejected.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.

Economic Rights for Women

Here, I examine and analyze some of the most pressing and ongoing challenges world wide concerning women's economic equality. 

Following feminists argued for the right to equal job opportunities, equitable remuneration and equivalent worth, and remuneration for housework. 

The majority of these concerns in the West fall into the second wave of feminism, according to a chronological analysis of the waves of feminism. 

However, because we're applying a thematic interpretation of the waves, these economic concerns belong in the first. Equal opportunity in the workplace simply implies that women should have the same chance as men to get a job and climb up the corporate ladder. 

Women were not allowed equal opportunity in many sectors until recently, and there are still instances of gender discrimination in the workplace. 

Equal opportunity may be thought of as a three-step procedure:

  1. The first step is to eliminate the overt obstacles that prevent women from obtaining decent employment. Employers used to be allowed to hire and promote people based on their gender. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful in the United States. 
  2. The second stage is to eliminate those subtle types of discrimination that may follow the text of the law but not the spirit. For example, employment that specify certain weight or height criteria may be designed to exclude the majority of women. 
  3. The final phase entails altering workplace attitudes or cultures. Employers and coworkers who are sexist or harassing women may limit their capacity to prosper or even seek for promotions. 

Similarly, if coworkers perceive one of their newly recruited colleagues as a "affirmative action hire," they may believe she or he is unqualified for the job. While this is an incorrect conclusion, it does indicate an oppressive corporate culture that must be altered before women can achieve complete equality at work. 

Both Marxist feminists and socialist feminists, see women's oppression as inherent in the material conditions of existence. 

This is in sharp contrast to liberal feminists' notion that women are oppressed because of legal inequity. Nonetheless, these many feminist schools of thought have certain similar aims. Just remuneration and equivalent worth are two of them. Just remuneration is that men and women should be compensated equally for doing the same job. 

Women and men should be compensated equally for completing same work, according to equivalent merit. Both Marxist and liberal feminists would add that we need to alter pay in historically gendered occupations in a systematic manner. 

In other words, positions historically performed by women (elementary school teacher, day care provider, nurse, to mention a few) are frequently undervalued since a 'woman's salary' was seen as a complement to her husband's/main provider's income. 

Even if we ignore the reality that not all women have providers, the wage gap between men and women practically implies that women labor for free for around a quarter of the year while men get paid throughout the year. 

The disparity can be significantly greater depending on the occupation, socioeconomic circumstances, and other cultural variables. 

In order for women to truly have equal opportunity in the workplace, Gloria Steinem, a well-known contemporary American feminist, points out that, in addition to having access to jobs and adequate pay for all jobs (including the bad ones), workers must also have some flexibility in their work schedules to allow for those times when family obligations pull one away from a nine-to-five job. 

Steinem also believes that married couples should share parental obligations equally. 

Another topic concerning women's economic rights, which also impacts on the family-society relationship, is whether or not women should be compensated for housework. 

Whereas most liberal feminists claim that sharing parenting and cleaning responsibilities will suffice to relieve women of their major domestic worker roles, Marxist feminists seek changes in how the capitalist system perceives and employs domestic workers. Margaret Benston argues, following Friedrich Engels, in ‘The Political Economy of Women's Liberation' (1969), that we must examine the position of women under capitalism. 

Women appear to be a distinct class, one that capitalism both requires and exploits. Women, according to Benston, are those who produce use-values in the house. 

The worth of things for immediate consumption that satisfy demands is referred to as usevalue. 

It is a product's worth to the owner. In the house, women produce a variety of ‘products' such as meals, clean laundry, healthy settings, and other luxuries. 

Homemakers also give essential emotional support, allowing the worker to return to work each day. 

Women, on the other hand, provide this use-value in the house without being compensated in any way. Housework, according to Benston, should be translated into public productive activity. 

To put it another way, she pushed for the industrialization of domestic labor. This plan has a community appeal in many ways, and we have already begun to industrialize or socialize housekeeping in many ways. 

The concept of increasing the unit of consumption has a community appeal. 

There are more chances for community interaction and maybe greater collective feeling and emotional support if neighborhoods or communities, rather than single households, enjoy meals together or construct living quarters around a shared kitchen. 

Daycares and schools, take-out dinners, cleaning teams, and even maintenance or construction workers are just a few instances of how we now share home responsibilities that used to be completely the duty of the individual family. 

The majority of them are not socialized in the economic sense; in other words, they are not government-sponsored services. 

Some, though, may be. In the United States, the state provides free education as well as transportation to that school for children aged five to eighteen. Other countries' social services, such as healthcare and elder care, are much more extensive. 

The argument is that, though Benston's suggestion may appear to be unachievable or at least overly extreme at first, it is not purely science fiction. Benston further notes that the conventional family structure, which includes female homemakers, converts those women into customers for the capitalist economy. 

Women become consumers in quest of an identity when they don't have one at home.

The fact that so many people are unemployed creates an army of reserve labor, which is possibly the most crucial part of capitalism's reliance on housewives. 

According to a Marxist understanding of capitalism, this keeps worker wages low and generates a pressure on workers to care for all members of the home who do not provide for themselves via wage labor. Benston, like many feminists, believes that women's independence is predicated on their ability to work outside the home and the socializing of housework. Childrearing, too, should be shared by all members of society and not only the duty of parents. Juliet Mitchell, in a similar spirit, claims that the distinction between job and family is false. 

Work and family life are inextricably interwoven, especially for women and children. In the family, children learn what it means to be a part of society. 

Gender roles and class roles are all taught there initially. Unlike Benston, who believed that capitalism exploited women's use-value, Mitchell emphasizes on women's lack of time to engage in capitalism's exchange-value. In other words, Mitchell is more concerned with women as employees than with the tasks women undertake to support workers at home. 

Her case for equal opportunity for women is based on this knowledge of women's labor market exclusion. Mitchell makes the bold claim that women's emancipation must be achieved in tandem with the emancipation of the working class, and vice versa. Mariarosa Dalla Costa offers a third perspective on women's domestic work. Dalla Costa argues in her article "Women and the Subversion of the Community" (1971) that women's domestic work is the fundamental focus of women's role in society. 

She examines housekeeping to demonstrate that, according to Marx and traditional Marxism, it is socially valuable activity. Dalla Costa claims that women at home are secluded, but that all women, including those who work outside the home, are housewives. 

Women are expected to fill household responsibilities, nurture relationships, and clean up mistakes in the public domain of production.

Dalla Costa, unlike many of the feminist thinkers we've covered so far, concentrates on the working-class housewife. This focus exposes how capitalism produces and exploits the position of the housewife outside of the home. 

The work that women perform outside the home is related to the work that they undertake at home (as we saw with the jobs labeled as traditional women's labor above). 

Nonetheless, the labor that women undertake in the home is invisible to society and is not counted as part of social output (or a country's GDP). 

The visible results of domestic labor are the children and/or the employee. However, Dalla Costa does not believe that labor is a way to women's freedom because labour is still exploited in the capitalist system. 

Instead, she contends that liberation for women must take place within the home. Dalla Costa believes that the entire structure of housekeeping should be rejected. She claims that women require a new identity separate from their home responsibilities. She believes that paying women to perform housework will simply serve to reinforce domestic labor's "institutionalized servitude." 

As one might assume, Dalla Costa anticipates a more comprehensive battle alongside the working class to destroy capitalism systems; "wages for housekeeping" would not offer the essential changes. 

Employment is insufficient to alleviate women's oppression because labor is part of capitalism; one would be substituting one type of exploitation for another. 

Instead, Dalla Costa advises that the housewife position be abolished and that a revolutionary war for emancipation alongside the working class be waged. 

These three approaches to the proposed pay for housekeeping proposal highlight some of the challenges in achieving true societal change. 

The difficulties are all intertwined, and they frequently impact not just our community relationships, but also our own identities. 

That explains at least some of the discrepancies across feminist theories: feminists take diverse approaches to the same issue. Despite the fact that all feminists want to see women liberated, they typically see different pathways to get there. 


The glass ceiling is an impenetrable barrier that prevents women from reaching the highest levels of business, academia, politics, and other professions. The metaphor from the 1970s depicts the ongoing battle for women's rights. 

Overt regulations that keep women out of positions or tracks where progress is feasible, as well as subtle, hidden beliefs about women's talents, contribute to the ceiling. 

  • A liberal feminist could suggest legislation to guarantee that all women have equal access to decent occupations and opportunities for growth within those occupations. 
  • A Marxist feminist would argue that the capitalist class system that relies on women being underpaid or jobless should be challenged. 
  • A socialist feminist would argue that the links between race, class, and gender are all based on destructive dualisms, which serve as a form of oppressive unifier. 

Other feminists would explore for more reasons of injustice and propose new ways to liberate women. Despite their disagreements, feminists have the same aim of freedom in mind.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.