Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections

Jeb Kinnison

Suffragettes - jebkinnison.com Suffragettes – jebkinnison.com

Peter Wright at AVFM pointed out the division among early feminists between those who wanted freedom to enjoy the rights and opportunities of men (voting, professional employment, equal treatment under the law) and those who wanted special treatment (exemptions from military service, favorable alimony and custody rules, lighter criminal sentences, lowered physical qualification standards for physical jobs.) He pointed me to the work of Ernest Belfort Bax, an early (1913) men’s rights advocate:

Modern Feminism rose slowly above the horizon. Modern Feminism has two distinct sides to it: (1) an articulate political and economic side embracing demands for so-called rights; and (2) a sentimental side which insists in an accentuation of the privileges and immunities which have grown up, not articulately or as the result of definite demands, but as the consequence of sentimental pleading in particular cases. In this way, however, a public opinion became established…

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