The Status of Women as a Standard of Civilization

TitleThe Status of Women as a Standard of Civilization
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsTowns, Ann
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Date Published12/2009

This article focuses on the status of women as a standard of civilization by examining its emergence in the 19th-century European ‘society of civilized states.’ More specifically, the article centers on expectations about the proper political role of women and how these operated as a standard to distinguish ‘civilized’ states from other societies. The article shows that the political exclusion of women — not their inclusion — became expected behavior for ‘advanced’ societies at this time. To statesmen and social scientists alike, evidence from ‘savage’ society and an uncivilized European past demonstrated that women could not contribute to human advancement if given a political role. To arrive at this claim, the article examines the understandings that had come into place to make the political exclusion of women possible and reasonable for European and European settler states. [Author]

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