Are There Any Significant
We must throw open the debate to anyone who wishes either in
jest or in earnest to raise the question whether female human
nature is capable of sharing with the male all tasks or none at all,
or some but not others.… If it appears that the male and the
female sex have distinct qualifications for any arts or pursuits, we
shall affirm that they ought to be assigned respectively to each.
But if it appears that they differ only in just this respect that the
female bears and the male begets, we shall say that no proof has
yet been produced that the woman differs from the man for our
purposes, but we shall continue to think that our guardians and
their wives ought to follow the same pursuits.
No one can safely pronounce that if women's nature were left to
choose its direction as freely as men's, and if no artificial bent were
attempted to be given to it except that required by the conditions
of human society, and given to both sexes alike, there would be
any material difference, or perhaps any difference at all, in the
character and capacities which would unfold themselves.
—John Stuart Mill, On the Subjection of Women