Ancient political philosophers Rousseau views on women
Rousseau was born in Geneva, in the year 1712, in a middle class French family. His mother died while giving him birth and the burden of rearing the child fell on his father. His father being unbalanced man he could not give appropriate devotion to the education of Rousseau. At the age of sixteen he left his home and took to life of wanderer. Thus, unlike Hobbes and Locke he could neither receive proper education nor find a supporter. He led a life of poverty and deprivation.
Rousseau made his mark in political thought in 1749, when he wrote an essay “Has the Progress of Sciences and the Arts helped to Purify corrupt morals” for the Dijon Academy which not only won him the first prize, but also made him well known in the literary circles of Paris. After five years he wrote “Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality”, in which he relentlessly criticized the institution of private property and held it accountable for the inequality in the society, on political economy which he contributed to the French Encyclopaedia in 1755; The social contract in 1762, La Nouvelle Heloise published in 1761; the Emile (a treatise on education) published in 1762. His writings has great mass appeal because he stood for the abolition of rights for the privileged classes and favoured their extension to the middle and lower middle classes.
Influences on Rousseau, reflects the influence of prevalent surroundings as well as the innumerable political philosophers who had headed him because of the hard life he had led he could well raise the value of the problems and difficulties of ordinary men and developed a philosophy to suit them. Among the political philosophies, he was intensely influenced by Plato, Locke, Montesquieu, Hobbes etc. He was appreciative to Plato for basic ideas, like political subjection, basically ethical and that the community is itself the chief moralizing intervention and hence embodies the uppermost moral order and value.
The Philosophical and Political Thought of Rousseau on Women:
Rousseau is one of the most prominent writers of 17th century, he made the differentiation very clearly, if civic equality is compared with that of natural order, it is observed that there is a lot of sexual differentiation which identifies women as unable to take the act in the public life. Rousseau followed the traditions of Aristotle, and he suggested that the women must be given training which must be totally different from men. It is important to note that, the gender neutrality can be seen in Social Contract, the character given by him to the women in Emile, vital aspect in the social renaissance. In the book Discourse, Rousseau said that the evolution of disparity lies with the differentiation of two kind of variation among the human beings, such as, moral and natural along with political inequalities would be seen in the society. The natural salvage proposed by Rousseau, is in fact pre-social order. It talks about the loneliness and independent women who go around the forest to achieve the requirements of the unspoiled or unchanged.
In the long run people got inspired to become autonomous that led to the new inventions in the field of occupation with different skills, by such developments a divergent area of fields evolved and it gives rise to the new type of division of labour and created the need for passion. Rousseau, mentions that rationality and benefits due to this improvement are not accepted universally, but it gave the scope to the rich to develop their organisations for own welfares. This led to the establishment political organisations carried novel restraints on the poor which in result gave authority to rich. The perfect explanation to the state of matters on a combined level can be observed in his writings of Social Contract, if the contract is a good one then it gives an actual civil freedom and moral equalities which surpasses all the natural drawbacks. He also mentions that, the victory of rich will not bring such equalities but it comes only by the universal citizenship of the individuals, it can be seen in the General Will.
The General Will, the manifestation is sporadic and defective in the beginning, but it enhanced as the political involvement increased and they brought the education for the sake of the people. The origin of General Will altered the nature of the people in the society. By the general will the citizen must get the self-master by himself in driving the needs and his own personal desires. The problem observed in the Social Contract is that, the person who charged with corruption must experience the transformation and express the General Will. Rousseau has given the explanation to this, in his Book Emile, he proposes that such persons who are corrupt might be saved from, by providing proper education. Emile, teaches the individual to become a good man confines his passions.
Rousseau, states that, the women can take part as the citizens of the country but the will must come by themselves, if it is not from them, then it would be the interest of men in the society. Even though, one can see in Emile, the participatory citizenship is that of male privilege. About the state of nature, Rousseau is more neutral in his thoughts of sexuality, not like his predecessors of 17th century, he stressed the need of individuals in families, and they are the components of the family. About the sexual copulation he says that, it is for a small amount of time, it is unprompted and unselective. He further mentions that, the father of the child is unknown about the identity of his child, discloses no fondness for child or for child’s mother. But on the other hand women remains self-reliant, bring her child rearing the child along with her. The child could not brought up unless the mother plays an important role in doing so to her child. In such a development the sexuality has had an impact as a nature’s come across. With such connotations the first revolution came into existence which recognised and differentiates the families, and familiarises a type of property. Rousseau stated about it as, “The first expansion of human heart were the effects of novel situation, which united husbands and wives, fathers and children, under one roof. The habit of living together soon gave rise to the finest feeling known to humanity, conjugal love and parental affection. Every family became a little society, the more united because liberty and reciprocal attachment were the only bonds of its union. The sexes, whose manner of life had hitherto been the same, began now to adopt different ways of living. The women became more sedentary, and accustomed themselves to mind the hut and their children, while the men went abroad in search of their common subsistence”.
Rousseau, says about the natural women and the improvement in prehistoric state has divergent phases and it is obvious that the stages like, monogamy, patriarchy, division of sex, sexual identity are noticeable developments in the state. Rousseau mentions in his Book, Emile, “bids the women obey the man”, as an alternative to the status, given in the primary stage, the self-sufficient phase, now we have naturally reliant on wife and child. From the monogamous, the people are now categorized. He stated that, “male shares the care of the little ones”, this statement is accidental and subsequently, mother and children could not give out the father’s affection, and the care of the father in such cases. About the natural society, Rousseau, remains in his Social Contract, the family would develop and the father has all the authority to govern the family. In other terms, we can say that, man has unnecessarily taken his model of what is natural for women, from this the patriarchal family evolved and it can be seen as a change because it was replaced by another revolution.
Rousseau, mentions, prolong the relation of natural authority in the family has stated as the away from the parent, and the connection between them is considers as marital relation, which means the result of martial link the child would come into existence. He also separates the relations of domestic and political relations, because, his thought are similar to Aristotle, he also recognises the connection between male and female and it can never be condensed to the contract who can be observed as two similar and equal human beings. He condemned the political disparity while permitting marital hierarchy. The important feature of his argument in his Discourse on Political Economy, he did not suggest about the sexual equality, and by that he avoids further argument. Rousseau, on the other hand, asserts that the family which consists of patriarchy is natural one at the aforementioned probabilities with the history which is stated in the Second Discourse.
It is assumed that the first revolution is the natural one, and division of sex which is said, but there is clarification about it though, the suggestions are shocking for the women who was self-sufficient or autonomous, and she was made compulsory to live with her husband and entirely reliant on him. This notion of Rousseau is very upsetting to the women in nature. He afterwards permit the division as natural one: he says, “Nature teaches us that they should work together, but that each has its own share of the work”. He did not give any recommendation about the inequality which came into existence. In his second revolution he stated about the dependence, servitude and inequality are destined because they are predictable consequences. He mentions that in order to leak out from such dependency he asked men to restrict their needs, and women will merely assign the submissive abilities which are suitable to a dependent to strengthen them.
With the help of other concurrent improvements the occurrence of the patriarchal families are connected, if the man have stable association with women, which means that they must need to have constant sexual life then only one can have the paternity. It would safeguard the each component in women’s life. Okin, opines, as, “women’s economy dependents on man is introduced simultaneously with his sexual dependence on a particular women”. It means that the women must be made dependent so that identical or equal authority can continue between them. He further stated that, family would relish only when there is love, romance and womankind display, and its civic antithesis where men only are vigorous.
Rousseau, suggests that women must have proper education which he mentioned in the Chapter 5 of Emile, he described about the sex of women in his previous works as, “a women is a man”; he means that women also has the same organs and faculties which men possess. However, the function of her sex is revealed to saturate the presence of women; rather than her humanity, defines her. However, he says, “male is a male now and again, the female is always a female, or at least all her youth; everything reminds her of sex; the performance of her function requires a special constitution”. The fulfilment of the women’s life is due to the facts, which happen in her life, such as, pregnancy, child bearing, nursing etc. gives her satisfaction and at the same time all these things bond the family so that it can unite for long.
About the kind of qualities a women possess he documented as, she is for man’s happiness, she has to do service and attract him and give birth to his legitimate children by doing so she would win his love as well and this is the main function of her. In other words her functions are very clear, that she has to delight or satisfy her husband, charm, counsel and console him whenever necessary, so that his husband’s life is enjoyable and cheerful. He says that women has the equalities such as, attractiveness, cunningness, humour, tricks and she has other qualities which are more important, she is very tender, sympathetic and diplomatic, she touch tears. The act of women he assigns as, he assumes the entire variety of her natural abilities, from the little girl to feminine tastes, the women has no right to have freedom and she is equal, if she has to get love and respect then she must play a subordinate and loyal role in the society. She is give rights because she can do better work.
The dream of Rousseau, about the socio-political renaissance and compared with his ideal women is merely adverse to the political representation. Rousseau’s suggestion to women was really an ethical requirement for civic virtue in the male dominated state. Okin claims that the dreams of Rousseau on women, says that he intrude upon all the values of his ethics and social theory. Rousseau, claims parity and self-sufficiency between men but at the same time he says, the power and heteronomy in the family. He stress the need of dependency of women on her husband but at the same time he did not assign same thing to men. By this we can say that Rousseau’s political thought was motivated by Locke and his thinking of sexuality is nearer to Aristotle. The characteristics assigned by him as, she does not have the right sort of reason, she does not have self-sufficiency, she cannot judge, she cannot do the justice.