Front Page Titles (by Subject) Locke, Women, Freedom, and Individualism - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3
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Locke, Women, Freedom, and Individualism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Locke, Women, Freedom, and Individualism
“Mere Auxiliaries to the Commonwealth': Women and the Origins of Liberalism.” Political Studies 27 July 1979): 183–200.
An aspect of freedom neglected by political theorists concerns the place of married women. Individualist political theory, as exemplified in the work of Hobbes and Locke, developed along with the rise of capitalism. Since the position of women worsened during this period, it was relatively easy for Locke (and to a lesser extent Hobbes) to reconcile their individualist premises with a denial of married women's rights.
The problem posed for individualism by the status of married women is clear. Individualist political theory assumes that everyone is free and equal in the state of nature. There is no reason why we should restrict this principle to men. Hobbes, indeed, seems at first sight to accept this consequence. He asserts that the family is an artificial, not a natural, institution, and denies that men are so much more powerful than women in the state of nature that they could automatically dominate them. He goes so far as to declare that mothers, not fathers, are the natural lords over babies to whom they have given birth. As Hobbes's theory develops, however, we notice “the problem of the disappearing women.” Hobbes takes for granted that men will be in charge and says almost nothing more about women.
Locke treats the issue much more explicitly. Some have taken him to be an anti-patriarchalist not only toward governmental authority but also toward the husband's authority but also toward the husband's authority in marriage. He states that marriage is founded on consent and at one place grants the wife the right to leave her husband. These appearances are deceiving, because Locke assumed that virtually all women would consent to marriages in which they were subjugated to their husbands. When one considers Locke's very extended notion of tacit consent, it is apparent that his political theory is in practice not very far from the patriarchalist doctrine he is generally taken to be combating.
This aspect of individualism accompanied, and is partially explained by, the worsened position of women under capitalism. Before the 1650s, women had frequently exercised real economic independence and participated in occupations such as brewing on equal terms to men. As capitalist industry grew, it is argued, women fell under the domination of men and their legal position worsened. Although political theory cannot be completely explained by economic trends, it is to a large extent a response to them.