However the vassal's character may have been affected, for better and for worse, by his subordination, who can help seeing that the lord's was affected greatly for the worse? Again, in practical matters, the burthen of proof is supposed to be with those who are against liberty; who contend for any restriction or prohibition either any limitation of the general freedom of human action or any disqualification or disparity of privilege affecting one person or kind of persons, as compared with others. Why is the Roman literature, as critics proclaim to satiety, not original, but an imitation of the Greek? Mill presents the practical difficulty of arguing against the opinion men are presumed to be naturally superiority to women. Mill points out a better sense of superiority not found in birth but by hard work and personal achievement. What he is describing here is a true love, where you are friends and on the same level with one another. In all things of any difficulty and importance, those who can do them well are fewer than the need, even with the most unrestricted latitude of choice: and any limitation of the field of selection deprives society of some chances of being served by the competent, without ever saving it from the incompetent. Whenever, in former ages, any approach has been made to society in equality, Justice has asserted its claims as the foundation of virtue. In setting up the standard of resistance, a large number of the leaders, and still more of the followers, must make an almost complete sacrifice of the pleasures or the alleviations of their own individual lot.
For more desirable women, men and religion will compel her into marriage with the only escape being life in a convent. They are distinguished in their practical manifestations chiefly by this, that being susceptible of a higher degree of excitement than those of another physical constitution, their powers when excited differ more than in the case of other people, from those shown in their ordinary state: they are raised, as it were, above themselves, and do things with ease which they are wholly incapable of at other times. He is able to come home and have a family on his own. But, looking at women as they are known in experience, it may be said of them, with more truth than belongs to most other generalisations on the subject, that the general bent of their talents is towards the practical. Less than forty years ago, Englishmen might still by law hold human beings in bondage as saleable property: within the present century they might kidnap them and carry them off, and work them literally to death.
What matters is how we encourage them to advance further. Mill compares, the domination of men over women to the slavery, which is nothing more than the display or physical power. It is wholesomer for the moral nature to be restrained, even by arbitrary power, than to be allowed to exercise arbitrary power without restraint. By means of settlements, the rich usually contrive to withdraw the whole or part of the inherited property of the wife from the absolute control of the husband: but they do not succeed in keeping it under her own control; the utmost they can do only prevents the husband from squandering it, at the same time debarring the rightful owner from its use. For the apotheosis of Reason we have substituted that of Instinct; and we call everything instinct which we find in ourselves and for which we cannot trace any rational foundation. A married woman was not a separate legal entity from her husband, and any property or money she owned came under his governance.
Now this sensibility to the present, is the main quality on which the capacity for practice, as distinguished from theory, depends. We can't stop women from trying things because they might not be able to do them. What women by nature cannot do, it is quite superfluous to forbid them from doing. But this instrument of self-protection — which may be called the power of the scold, or the shrewish sanction — has the fatal defect, that it avails most against the least tyrannical superiors, and in favour of the least deserving dependents. Women, we are told, are not capable of resisting their personal partialities: their judgment in grave affairs is warped by their sympathies and antipathies.
To see the futurity of the species has always been the privilege of the intellectual élite, or of those who have learnt from them; to have the feelings of that futurity has been the distinction, and usually the martyrdom, of a still rarer élite. Their works have culminated in them fighting for suffrage through petitioning parliament. It is sure to be a sufficient one of everything else. It could not make them renounce either of the applications of force; force militant, or force triumphant. The capacity indeed which women show for doing their thinking in circumstances and at times which almost any man would make an excuse to himself for not attempting it, has often been noticed: and a woman's mind, though it may be occupied only with small things, can hardly ever permit its elf to be vacant, as a man's so often is when not engaged in what he chooses to consider the business of his life. She can do no act whatever but by his permission, at least tacit.
The matter is certainly not improved by laying down as an ordinance of law, that the superstructure of free government shall be raised upon a legal basis of despotism on one side and subjection on the other, and that every concession which the despot makes may, at his mere pleasure, and without any warning, be recalled. Even the laws which required that workmen should serve an apprenticeship, have in this country been repealed: there being ample assurance that in all cases in which an apprenticeship is necessary, its necessity will suffice to enforce it. It is the sole case, now that negro slavery has been abolished, in which a human being in the plenitude of every faculty is delivered up to the tender mercies of another human being, in the hope forsooth that this other will use the power solely for the good of the person subjected to it. However, the most recent researches deny all of these myths and prove that work provides benefits not only for those women but also for their families. Are we so certain of always finding a man made to our hands for any duty or function of social importance which falls vacant, that we lose nothing by putting a ban upon one half of mankind, and refusing beforehand to make their faculties available, however distinguished they may be? For more than a thousand years the Church kept up the contest, with hardly any perceptible success. I know this was a persuasive essay and at a time when abolitionism was still ripe a comparison to slavery would draw at the heart strings of many, but it does worry me. To have a voice in choosing those by whom one is to be governed, is a means of self-protection due to everyone, though he were to remain for ever excluded from the function of governing: and that women are considered fit to have such a choice, may be presumed from the fact, that the law already gives it to women in the most important of all cases to themselves: for the choice of the man who is to govern a woman to the end of life, is always supposed to be voluntarily made by herself.
If there is a difference of opinion about the reality of an alleged historical event, in which the feelings of men general are not much interested, as the Siege of Troy example, those who maintain that the event took place expected to produce their proofs, before those who take the other side can be required to say anything; and at no time these required to do more than show that the evidence produced by the others is of no value. The difficulty is that which exists in all cases in which there is a mass of feeling to be contended against. And even if we could do without them, would it be consistent with justice to refuse to them their fair share of honour and distinction, or to deny to them the equal moral right of all human beings to choose their occupation short of injury to others according to their own preferences, at their own risk? I doubt not that the same thing may be said, with the same truth, of negro slaves. The most frequent case of voluntary association, next to marriage, is partnership in business: and it is not found or thought necessary to enact that in every partnership, one partner shall have entire control over the concern, and the others shall be bound to obey his orders. He compares marriage to bondage and yes, slavery.
Though I did like his discussion about how women tend to be more enslaved to their masters men than serfs were to their lords, for instance, because whilst the serf could clock off at the end of the day and go home to his own family and escape the tyranny of his master for a while, the woman has a much more intimate relationship with her oppressor which makes her oppression more total. If married life were all that it might be expected to be, looking to the laws alone, society would be a hell upon earth. This fact is so undeniable, that someone, long ago, tried to retort the argument, and turned the admitted truth into an additional insult, by saying that queens are better than kings, because under kings women govern, but under queens, men. But even this natural gift, to be made available for great creations, requires study, and professional devotion to the pursuit. Mill continues in chapter 2 his discussion on marriage by talking about men and religion being a compelling factor for women in the marriage relationship. Mill is right, it is hard to know if differences are down to socialisation.