Philosophy: the most dangerous subjects of study. With it, ideologies and cultural mentalities come to surface and spread.
I wrote an earlier article regarding this here. But what does this have to do with the feminist ideal? The philosophy of the 18th and 19th century known as the “Enlightenment” was one of the channels that led to the feminist mindset. The “natural rights” of men became popular and through this, the “natural rights” of women began to be explored. Natural rights led to idea of freedom which then led to toleration and equality. The French Revolution was a product of the Enlightenment as well as the United States Revolutionary War.
Today, Thomas Paine, is a well-known revolutionary during the War for Independence. His pamphlet title, Common Sense urged the public to become anti-authority and to revolt and it espoused views that were anti-religious in nature. Paine’s work was part of the foundation for the feminist movement. It has been said that because of the Revolutionary Way, feminism kicked off faster than it did in Europe which makes sense.
In the minds of colonists, tyranny and people being oppressed was an injustice. These people believed they had a God-given right to rebel against the authority that was placed in the lives. The feminists believed the same thing.
These feminists believed that they were being oppressed by tyrannical men and they believed there was a God-given right to rebel. During this time frame, the feminist took exact words and phrases of the Declaration of Independence like, “men and women are equal and share the inalienable rights endowed by their Creator.” These individuals pushed for equality of the sexes”even back in the late 1700s. Where the Evangelical feminism influence was mainly from the Quakers, the Enlightenment influence came from the Unitarians.
In 1848, there was a “Declaration of Independence” (pun intended, I believe) at Seneca Falls in New York where it is reported that the feminist movement began. While there were numerous men who were in favor of feminism, John Stuart Mill perhaps was a man who voiced a dangerous, bitter breeding phrase. He wrote that authority a man had over his wife was holding her under “domestic tyranny” like the power an absolute monarch had over his citizens and a slave master over his slaves. Many other feminists carried this treacherously charged language. Susan B. Anthony used words such as “tyranny” as well.
There were a few groups of feminists. Some who advocated for women’s higher education and some who were for the independence of women from men. These groups fought over “duties” vs. “rights.R