A Jeanne Site
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: December 17, 1999
Faculty on the Site.
Black Letter Definition of "Subservience of Women" Reasoning
Conceptual Links of "Subservience of Women" to Women and Crime
Rousseau's Argument on "Subservience of Women"
The "subservience of women" describes the perspective that women are meant by some recognized authority, be it political, spiritual, or "natural," to serve men.
Karlene Faith (Unruly Women, Press Gang Publishers, Vancouver, 1993.) discusses Jean Jacques Rousseau's flawed explanation for the subservience of women on pp. 42 ff. Most theories of crime throughout history have assumed that women commit less crime than men because they are more effectively controlled by their families and the men in charge of those families. Faith's title, Unruly Women, refers to the refusal of some women to accept the subservient role, and their consequent labeling as deviant and evil. This was the source of the Lilith stories. (Lilith was the first wife of Adam, before Eve, in Jewish lore. Refusing subservience, she consorted with devils and defied man. In the seventies many of those in the Feminist Movement in the U.S. adopted Lilith as a model.)
This enforced subservience of women was supported by laws that permitted the man absolute control, including abusive behavior within the private sphere. This provides an interesting contrast with the ideals of the Enlightenment, which included "justice, rationality, free will, equality . . ." Faith says these values "were intended only for men of privilege." (Ibid., at p. 42)
Notice the steps in the argument: