Front Page Titles (by Subject) 3.: The Rights of Women to the Elective Franchise and Its Advantages - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education
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3.: The Rights of Women to the Elective Franchise and Its Advantages - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Stefan Collini (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984).
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The Rights of Women to the Elective Franchise and Its Advantages
statement of the principle—perfect equality.
Although this requires no proof, necessary to consider the subject as usually treated and reply categorically to objections either to it as a principle or as a matter of practice.
Prevailing opinion is that some change is needed but not fundamental, only of degree—above all that the change shall not alter the principle of inequality, foundation of present condition.
Present state of opinion divided into the following:
Largest class, both men and women, composed of those who take things for granted because they are so and have always been so—have a natural fear of making any alteration in the relations on which they are accustomed to think the best things in life depend. We would prove to them that tho’ the best things in life did depend on those relations as they are, the relation under its present conditions is worn out and no longer affords to either party a life either well or sufficiently filled for the spirit of the present time which requires more developement of the spiritual and less of the physical instead of the contrary. True, education is the great want of the time, but people have scarce begun to perceive in what sense of education—that which modern developement requires should be the desire, power and habit of using the person’s own mind, instead of (as almost all educationists seem to think) filling the mind with an undigested mass from the minds of others, in consequence of which process the most educated people now are among the most ignorant—witness not only the (absurdly) called educated classes but preeminently the collegiate, legal, clerical, professional men. Placeman, clergyman, barrister, doctor, has each something to say on one subject—in the majority of cases this something is what he has heard from others and therefore comes from him deadborn—if an active minded person, he is found to talk interestingly on his one subject, but let conversation be anything worthy the name of general, and the profound ignorance and inactivity of intellect presented by the educated classes in England is the only thing capable of exciting the mind in intercourse with them.
After all the objections that are made both by men and women have been considered, one may perhaps put it down as a fact that they are all based on the supposition that conceding equal political rights to women would be contrary to the interests of men. Some think it would be contrary to their real interests, some to their selfish interests. We think they would be not only in accordance with, but greatly advantageous to, the interests of men with perhaps the exception of interests if such they can be called, as no man in the present day would venture to &c. It would probably put a stop to the sort of license of indulgence which everybody is now agreed in discountenancing:—
A great part of the feeling which resists the political equality of women is a feeling of the contrast it would make with their domestic servitude.
The evils of women’s present condition all lie in the necessity of dependence, the just cause of complaint lies here and not elsewhere.
Historical parallel between men and women sovereigns.
The expression “Rights of Women,” it is the fashion among women and among a certain vulgar class of men to affect to receive with a sneer and to endeavour to drown with ridicule. In neither case does this appear to be because they really regard it as meaningless, for if the same people are asked why they receive it so, they invariably grow angry and this mode of reception perpetuates itself because the intense constitutional shyness of Englishmen makes them of all things fear ridicule and this phrase as well as the idea it includes has always hitherto been put down by ridicule. Commonplace women’s aversion to it has more meaning—it contains the everlasting dread of the givers of the loaves and fishes[*] —their lively imagination exaggerates the disagreeables of having to work instead of being worked for, which their education having precluded all notions of public spirit or personal dignity, far from being revolted at the idea of dependence, elevates submission into a virtue per se. They enormously exaggerate both the talent and the labour required for the external details of life, unaware that they give as much labour and fritter away as much talent in executing badly those domestic details which they enlarge upon as arguments against women’s emancipation, as would be sufficient to conduct both the public and private affairs of either an individual or a family. Is it not true that half the time of half the women in existence is passed in worthless and trashy work, of no benefit to any human being?
Objection. Well bred people never exercise the power which the law gives them. But all their conduct takes the bent which has been given to the two characters by the relation which the law establishes. The woman’s whole talent goes into the inducing, persuading, coaxing, caressing, in reality the seducing, capacity. In whatever class in life, the woman gains her object by seducing the man. This makes her character quite unconsciously to herself, petty and paltry.
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[[*] ]See Luke, 9:11-15.