Women in politics – the realization of one idea [10 October 2005]

Women in politics – the realization of one idea (abstracts of full bulgarian text)

It is often when the historical changes receive their initial legitimating in the sphere of ideas, in the philosophers’ and thinker’ reflections on the human society and its structure. The idea for political and social emancipation of women like many others is typically modern. But although this idea was shaped and developed in the Modern age, it has a long pre-history.
Let us see which has been the factors, determined and pursued the genesis of women’s emancipation and the idea for the equal participation of women in the political and public life. Their advent and development we will seek first in the philosophical mainstreams, where the ideas for inequilaterally treatment of women were elaborated. After that we will take heed to those factors, which made the nascence of the movement advocating the equal rights for women possible. At the end will be presented the role of the woman in the politics and the social life according the views of the contemporary political traditions and ideologies – liberalism, conservatism and socialism […]

First views on the social role of woman

[…]For Plato the human soul does not have a sex and therefore the women and men do not distinguish on principle in their potential capacities. By nature the man and woman are identical. Only their projection in the real world as beings with different sex distinguishes purely physically. Videlicet on account of this, in the ideal state of Plato, the women could occupy social roles equal with the men ones, if the women receive equal training, education and possibilities for realization. Only the physical characteristic of the female sex justify the difference in the wage of the assigned task.
Whereas Plato assumes that women are equal with men by nature, Aristotle thinks that his teacher is fundamentally wrong in his opinion of nature and eternal ideas. Aristotle does not agree with the assumption that women are equal to men. He believes that male representatives are more supreme by nature and this supremacy could not be obliterated by any cultural or educational compensation. The Philosopher assumes that the woman is not only naturally physically weaker but is weaker by her soul too. According to him, the nature of the things comprises the potential for their completeness. That is why the subordinate role of the woman is defined by her natural immanent qualities[...]

The idea of woman in the Middle Ages

[…]Later on one of the most influential Rome catholic theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas, connects the views of Aristotle with the Christian dogmas. The theologian assumes the concept that the women are “imperfect” men - mas occasionatus. But yet the existence of woman is not fortuitous, but is a part of the God’s providence, as far as she is indispensable for the continuation of the mankind. For St. Thomas Aquinas the man is a origin and goal for women as well as God is the prime source and goal for the man and the whole Creation[...]

New time for woman
[…]At the end of the 17th century starts the time of the great social changes. In the epoch of political revolutions the ideas for civil consciousness and human rights culminated. Large, ignored by that time, groups obtained important rights; among them is the right to participation, direct or by representation, in the state’s governance. The civil society was built gradually and the first voice advocating the women rights were raised. These were the voices, which denied the idea that the biology engenders social differences. Namely this is the main idea of the mainstream, bred at this time, which today we call feminism.
In his essay “A vindication of the rights of woman” Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, that the prejudice concerning the subordinate role of women origins in the prevailing opinion, that they were created to feel rather to think and the whole power, which they could receive, should be obtained only through their charm and weakness. She turned down this assumption and adduced arguments in favor of the equal civil rights for women[…]

The contemporary ideas

[…]If the society is let by itself to gain the idea for balanced participation of women in the political process, we could wait with centuries, believe for their part the contemporary liberals. But this does not mean that the expansion of women’s participation should be settled only by legislative measures. The liberals realize that the main change should be implemented first and foremost in the social attitudes towards the role of woman. They however believe, that this process could be initiated and supported, and every normative initiative only can pursue the road to change, but shouldn’t settle fully the status of women in politics […]

Ivan R. Todorov

(on picture - Mary Wollstonecraft)

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