Feminism and Freedom

Authored by: Allison Weir

The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138795921
eBook ISBN: 9781315758152
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315758152-53

 Download Chapter

 

Abstract

In New York harbor, at the entrance to the United States of America, stands the Statue of Liberty: Liberty Enlightening the World. Liberty stands as a beacon welcoming all to the land of the free, holding a torch and a tablet inscribed with the date of American Declaration of Independence. At her feet lies a broken chain. The Statue of Liberty, like the statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol in Washington, is modeled on the Roman goddess Libertas, who was also a symbol of the French Revolution: Delacroix’s painting of the 1830 July Revolution, Liberty Leading the People, shows her holding the French flag and a bayonet. Through the history of Western civilization, freedom, like other abstract ideals, has been personified as a woman. This is ironic, given the status of actual women in these societies. Though women in Rome who were “freeborn” were classed as citizens, they could not vote or hold public office. Neither the Declaration of the Rights of Man in France nor the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights in America granted full citizenship or equal rights to women. Today the Equal Rights Amendment to the American Constitution, which would accord equal rights to women, still has not been ratified. Many are excluded from the ideal of freedom: the American Declaration of Independence was signed by slave owners, and the land that was declared independent was stolen from indigenous peoples; America has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, and more than 60 percent of the prison population is Black or Hispanic; Indigenous peoples around the world struggle for freedom from colonization; and the land of the free, like other “developed” nations, polices its borders to keep out unwanted foreigners. Worldwide, the freedom of some depends on the exploitation and oppression of most of the world’s people.

 Cite
Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.