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Men as individuals, women as mothers : women's delayed achievement of individualism Dubeski, Norman Darcy

Abstract

Both the philosophy and practice of individualism as developed in Western Society since the end of feudalism to present day has largely been reserved as a luxury for men at the expense of women. Equality between men was created for a large part by the equal position that all men shared over women with men having state-enforced domination within marriage. As new freedoms arose successively from the defeudalization of society, spiritual freedom, legal freedom, political freedom, economic freedom, sexual freedom, these freedoms were intended mainly for men and only much later did women attain the same freedoms that men took for granted. Only slowly did women achieve the freedoms and moral and political equality that are necessary for living as true individuals, that is as people who live for themselves first and foremost, and not solely for the collective good or for their families. Often the philosophers who espoused equality for all mankind were themselves sexist and did not believe women were meant to be equal to men and to have their interests as individuals put before the roles men had created for them. As women fought to expand the definitions of individualism and intrinsic human rights to include women, they have been handicapped by women's association with nature and reproduction, men's superior economic power, and men's physical violence and misogyny. Women have made many gains but women and minority groups still face the obstacles created by the fact that individualism is a late luxury in human development which depends on an universally equitable high material standard of living, a standard that is rarely available to all members of any modern country, however prosperous due to inequalities within society.

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