Utilitarian and Marxist Influence
The nineteenth century saw some continuation of Wollstonecrafts work in the early suffragette movement. John Stuart Mill, the most influential British philosopher of the century, urged equal legal rights for women, including the right to vote, own property, and divorce. By his own admission, his ideas were shaped and influenced by his long-time friend (and later wife) Harriet Taylor. The exact extent of Taylors contribution to Mills work is unknown but suspected to be great: "Their writings were always published under Mills name, partly because a mans name gave the work more legitimacy within a sexist culture." (Ellen Fox, in Moore and Bruder, 352)
Just as influential to contemporary feminism were the writings of Marx and Engels, especially Engels The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
Engels argues that women are second-class citizens because of the institution of private property. Men in all societies, taking advantage of their superior physical strength, restrict womens activities basically in order to restrict womens sexuality, to ensure that all a womans children really belong to her husband, so his property isnt inherited by a bastard. Simone de Beauvoir cites this argument with approval in The Second Sex. According to Engels, in the utopia of communism, when private property has ceased to exist, the oppression of women is guaranteed to cease, since there is no longer any economic reason for it.
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