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Liberalism and Feminism

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1 Liberalism and Feminism
Chapter 15 – Thought and Culture in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: Realism and Social Criticism Liberalism and Feminism

2 Liberalism in the Late Nineteenth Century
Liberalism experienced a dramatic shift in the late nineteenth century towards the modern definition of liberal as we use it today In the early part of the century, liberals advocated extreme individualism in response to the highly controlling aspects of the Old Regime state and the dictates of traditional religion With industrialization liberals slowly began to accept the need for a greater role for government to protect rights and remedy abuses Liberalism evolved into liberal democracy; laissez faire gave way to the need for government management of the economy and society

3 John Stuart Mill ( ) British philosopher and statesman; wife Harriet Taylor was a prominent feminist, influencing her husband’s The Subjection of Women (1869) On Liberty (1859) … classic defense of individual and minority rights Work focused on the civilized citizen … state coercion is a barrier to personal development To insure morality, however, he came to recognize that the state needed, at times, to intervene to promote self-development For example: requiring children to attend school, regulating work hours and conditions, promoting health, public insurance, etc.

4 British Liberals and the “managed state”
Thomas Hill Green ( ) D. G. Ritchie ( ) J. A. Hobson ( ) L. T. Hobhouse ( )

5 Liberals into Progressives
Over the course of the nineteenth century a series of British thinkers developed the concept of the liberal managed state The state must do more than insure individual liberty – it must secure the public and common good Moreover, a truly liberal society gives people the opportunity to reach their moral potential and develop their human capacities The state, therefore, should promote public health, ensure decent housing, provide public education, etc. … the reasoning being that the uneducated and extreme poor cannot be good citizens because of their conditions Still advocates of free enterprise, but with a state that oversaw and regulated the ethical aspects of social progress

6 Feminism – an extension of liberal thought
Building on the ideas within the major liberal political documents – the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, women began to fight for their rights Olympe de Gouges built on these ideas directly in her Declaration of the Rights of Women (1791) Other feminists such as Harriet Martineau used the same tactic, arguing that women were part of the social contract as well

7 European Feminists Harriet Martineau Olymmpe de Gouges

8 Feminism in the USA In the USA, a variety of social movements, including feminism, surged to prominence during the mid-nineteenth century (abolition being the other major one) Women such as Angelina and Sarah Grimke spoke in public and published (Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women, 1838)

9 USA … The American Woman’s Suffrage Movement held its first convention in Seneca Falls, NY and published a Declaration of Statements and Principles to build upon the liberal ideas of the American tradition Many of the famous activists of the day attended including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, J. S. Mill and Harriet Taylor, Frederick Douglas, etc.

10 Men and Feminism Many men fought for the liberal rights of women including J. S. Mill, social theorist Jeremy Bentham, and political economist William Thompson who wrote Appeal of One Half of the Human Race (1825) in support of equal rights for women

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