Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

17. The Idea of Gender

17. Idea of Gender

One of the perplexing characteristics of liberal society has been its struggle with the concept of humanity, both in defining the concept and in applying that definition to its populace. The challenge for liberal society has been to apply its ideals uniformly, to allow all of its members equal access to the opportunities and rewards of egalitarian life. In this program Professor James Sheehan addresses the issue of gender, and more specifically womanhood. He shows how the fact of being born a female in liberal society brought with it certain biologically based expectations and, perhaps more importantly, certain social limitations. However, through the efforts of such forward thinkers as John Stuart Mill and Simone de Beauvoir, liberal societies have been compelled to recognize that the continued subordination of women to men in liberal society was inherently unjust and occurred most insidiously in the private realm of the family. Sheehan suggests that the key to the full re-enfranchisement of women into liberal society must be the deliberate imposition of liberal ideals into the family. He explains that personal relations within a family have a political element to them, with inherent power inequalities, and that it "is only if the private realm of the family is subjected to the same principles of justice, that the age old inequalities between the genders can be removed." 99/10DE SCA 50 min.

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