Sunday, June 21, 2015

You're a good man, John Stuart Mill

The press mocked Mill for his crazy
radical ideas about women.
Today's installment of my blog series Hey Sweet Man, dedicated to men who have gone above and beyond to help women, is about the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who lived from 1806 - 1873, and who was about two centuries ahead of his time, as demonstrated by The Subjection of Women - he was not in favor of it, unlike most men of his time:
At the time of writing, Mill recognised that he was going against the common views of society and was aware that he would be forced to back up his claims persistently. Mill argued that the inequality of women was a relic from the past, when "might was right,"[5] but it had no place in the modern world.[6] Mill saw that having effectively half the human race unable to contribute to society outside of the home as a hindrance to human development.
"... [T]he legal subordination of one sex to another – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a system of perfect equality, admitting no power and privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other."[7]
Mill also worked with, and then married a brilliant woman:
In 1851, Mill married Harriet Taylor after 21 years of an intimate friendship. Taylor was married when they met, and their relationship was close but generally believed to be chaste during the years before her first husband died. Brilliant in her own right, Taylor was a significant influence on Mill's work and ideas during both friendship and marriage. His relationship with Harriet Taylor reinforced Mill's advocacy of women's rights. He cites her influence in his final revision of On Liberty, which was published shortly after her death...

In one draft of my play JULIA & BUDDY I included a reference to John Stuart Mill. One of Julia's lines in the play is: "if you ruled out all Great Men in History on the basis of misogyny you wouldn't have any left" but I felt bad about it. Not only because it didn't usually get a laugh, but also it was unfair to John Stuart Mill, who was definitely a Great Man of History but was not a misogynist. But in the end I took out the reference to JSM - it just broke up the flow of the dialog. Sorry JSM.