Part 1 out of 3
I. AS TO HUMANNESS.
II. THE MAN-MADE FAMILY.
III. HEALTH AND BEAUTY.
IV. MEN AND ART.
V. MASCULINE LITERATURE.
VI. GAMES AND SPORTS
VII. ETHICS AND RELIGION.
IX. "SOCIETY" AND "FASHION"
X. LAW AND GOVERNMENT.
XI. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.
XII. POLITICS AND WARFARE. (with WOMAN AND THE STATE.)
XIII. INDUSTRY AND ECONOMICS.
XIV. A HUMAN WORLD.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE, or THE MAN-MADE WORLD
AS TO HUMANNESS.
Let us begin, inoffensively, with sheep. The sheep is a beast with
which we are all familiar, being much used in religious imagery; the
common stock of painters; a staple article of diet; one of our main
sources of clothing; and an everyday symbol of bashfulness and
In some grazing regions the sheep is an object of terror, destroying
grass, bush and forest by omnipresent nibbling; on the great plains,
sheep-keeping frequently results in insanity, owing to the loneliness of
the shepherd, and the monotonous appearance and behavior of the sheep.
By the poet, young sheep are preferred, the lamb gambolling gaily;
unless it be in hymns, where "all we like sheep" are repeatedly
described, and much stress is laid upon the straying propensities of the
To the scientific mind there is special interest in the sequacity of
sheep, their habit of following one another with automatic imitation.
This instinct, we are told, has been developed by ages of wild crowded
racing on narrow ledges, along precipices, chasms, around sudden spurs
and corners, only the leader seeing when, where and how to jump. If
those behind jumped exactly as he did, they lived. If they stopped to
exercise independent judgment, they were pushed off and perished; they
and their judgment with them.
All these things, and many that are similar, occur to us when we think
of sheep. They are also ewes and rams. Yes, truly; but what of it?
All that has been said was said of sheep, _genus ovis,_ that bland
beast, compound of mutton, wool, and foolishness. so widely known. If
we think of the sheep-dog (and dog-ess), the shepherd (and
shepherd-ess), of the ferocious sheep-eating bird of New Zealand, the
Kea (and Kea-ess), all these herd, guard, or kill the sheep, both rams
and ewes alike. In regard to mutton, to wool, to general character, we
think only of their sheepishness, not at all of their ramishness or
eweishness. That which is ovine or bovine, canine, feline or equine, is
easily recognized as distinguishing that particular species of animal,
and has no relation whatever to the sex thereof.
Returning to our muttons, let us consider the ram, and wherein his
character differs from the sheep. We find he has a more quarrelsome
disposition. He paws the earth and makes a noise. He has a tendency to
butt. So has a goat--Mr. Goat. So has Mr. Buffalo, and Mr. Moose, and
Mr. Antelope. This tendency to plunge head foremost at an
adversary--and to find any other gentleman an adversary on
sight--evidently does not pertain to sheep, to _genus ovis;_ but to any
male creature with horns.
As "function comes before organ," we may even give a reminiscent glance
down the long path of evolution, and see how the mere act of
butting--passionately and perpetually repeated--born of the beliggerent
spirit of the male--produced horns!
The ewe, on the other hand, exhibits love and care for her little ones,
gives them milk and tries to guard them. But so does a goat--Mrs. Goat.
So does Mrs. Buffalo and the rest. Evidently this mother instinct is
no peculiarity of _genus ovis,_ but of any female creature.
Even the bird, though not a mammal, shows the same mother-love and
mother-care, while the father bird, though not a butter, fights with
beak and wing and spur. His competition is more effective through
display. The wish to please, the need to please, the overmastering
necessity upon him that he secure the favor of the female, has made the
male bird blossom like a butterfly. He blazes in gorgeous plumage,
rears haughty crests and combs, shows drooping wattles and dangling
blobs such as the turkey-cock affords; long splendid feathers for pure
ornament appear upon him; what in her is a mere tail-effect becomes in
him a mass of glittering drapery.
Partridge-cock, farmyard-cock, peacock, from sparrow to ostrich, observe
his mien! To strut and languish; to exhibit every beauteous lure; to
sacrifice ease, comfort, speed, everything--to beauty--for her
sake--this is the nature of the he-bird of any species; the
characteristic, not of the turkey, but of the cock! With drumming of
loud wings, with crow and quack and bursts of glorious song, he woos his
mate; displays his splendors before her; fights fiercely with his
rivals. To butt--to strut--to make a noise--all for love's sake; these
acts are common to the male.
We may now generalize and clearly state: That is masculine which belongs
to the male--to any or all males, irrespective of species. That is
feminine which belongs to the female, to any or all females,
irrespective of species. That is ovine, bovine, feline, canine, equine
or asinine which belongs to that species, irrespective of sex.
In our own species all this is changed. We have been so taken up with
the phenomena of masculinity and femininity, that our common humanity
has largely escaped notice. We know we are human, naturally, and are
very proud of it; but we do not consider in what our humanness consists;
nor how men and women may fall short of it, or overstep its bounds, in
continual insistence upon their special differences. It is "manly" to
do this; it is "womanly" to do that; but what a human being should do
under the circumstances is not thought of.
The only time when we do recognize what we call "common humanity" is in
extreme cases, matters of life and death; when either man or woman is
expected to behave as if they were also human creatures. Since the
range of feeling and action proper to humanity, as such, is far wider
than that proper to either sex, it seems at first somewhat remarkable
that we have given it so little recognition.
A little classification will help us here. We have certain qualities in
common with inanimate matter, such as weight, opacity, resilience. It
is clear that these are not human. We have other qualities in common
with all forms of life; cellular construction, for instance, the
reproduction of cells and the need of nutrition. These again are not
human. We have others, many others, common to the higher mammals; which
are not exclusively ours--are not distinctively "human." What then are
true human characteristics? In what way is the human species
distinguished from all other species?
Our human-ness is seen most clearly in three main lines: it is
mechanical, psychical and social. Our power to make and use things is
essentially human; we alone have extra-physical tools. We have added to
our teeth the knife, sword, scissors, mowing machine; to our claws the
spade, harrow, plough, drill, dredge. We are a protean creature, using
the larger brain power through a wide variety of changing weapons. This
is one of our main and vital distinctions. Ancient animal races are
traced and known by mere bones and shells, ancient human races by their
buildings, tools and utensils.
That degree of development which gives us the human mind is a clear
distinction of race. The savage who can count a hundred is more human
than the savage who can count ten.
More prominent than either of these is the social nature of humanity.
We are by no means the only group-animal; that ancient type of industry
the ant, and even the well-worn bee, are social creatures. But insects
of their kind are found living alone. Human beings never. Our
human-ness begins with some low form of social relation and increases as
that relation develops.
Human life of any sort is dependent upon what Kropotkin calls "mutual
aid," and human progress keeps step absolutely with that interchange of
specialized services which makes society organic. The nomad, living on
cattle as ants live on theirs, is less human than the farmer, raising
food by intelligently applied labor; and the extension of trade and
commerce, from mere village market-places to the world-exchanges of
to-day, is extension of human-ness as well.
Humanity, thus considered, is not a thing made at once and unchangeable,
but a stage of development; and is still, as Wells describes it, "in the
making." Our human-ness is seen to lie not so much in what we are
individually, as in our relations to one another; and even that
individuality is but the result of our relations to one another. It is
in what we do and how we do it, rather than in what we are. Some,
philosophically inclined, exalt "being" over "doing." To them this
question may be put: "Can you mention any form of life that merely 'is,'
without doing anything?"
Taken separately and physically, we are animals, _genus homo_; taken
socially and psychically, we are, in varying degree, human; and our real
history lies in the development of this human-ness.
Our historic period is not very long. Real written history only goes
back a few thousand years, beginning with the stone records of ancient
Egypt. During this period we have had almost universally what is here
called an Androcentric Culture. The history, such as it was, was made
and written by men.
The mental, the mechanical, the social development, was almost wholly
theirs. We have, so far, lived and suffered and died in a man-made
world. So general, so unbroken, has been this condition, that to
mention it arouses no more remark than the statement of a natural law.
We have taken it for granted, since the dawn of civilization, that
"mankind" meant men-kind, and the world was theirs.
Women we have sharply delimited. Women were a sex, "the sex," according
to chivalrous toasts; they were set apart for special services peculiar
to femininity. As one English scientist put it, in 1888, "Women are not
only not the race--they are not even half the race, but a subspecies
told off for reproduction only."
This mental attitude toward women is even more clearly expressed by Mr.
H. B. Marriot-Watson in his article on "The American Woman" in the
"Nineteenth Century" for June, 1904, where he says: "Her constitutional
restlessness has caused her to abdicate those functions which alone
excuse or explain her existence." This is a peculiarly happy and
condensed expression of the relative position of women during our
androcentric culture. The man was accepted as the race type without one
dissentient voice; and the woman--a strange, diverse creature, quite
disharmonious in the accepted scheme of things--was excused and
explained only as a female.
She has needed volumes of such excuse and explanation; also, apparently,
volumes of abuse and condemnation. In any library catalogue we may find
books upon books about women: physiological, sentimental, didactic,
religious--all manner of books about women, as such. Even to-day in the
works of Marholm--poor young Weininger, Moebius, and others, we find the
same perpetual discussion of women--as such.
This is a book about men--as such. It differentiates between the human
nature and the sex nature. It will not go so far as to allege man's
masculine traits to be all that excuse, or explain his existence: but it
will point out what are masculine traits as distinct from human ones,
and what has been the effect on our human life of the unbridled
dominance of one sex.
We can see at once, glaringly, what would have been the result of giving
all human affairs into female hands. Such an extraordinary and
deplorable situation would have "feminized" the world. We should have
all become "effeminate."
See how in our use of language the case is clearly shown. The
adjectives and derivatives based on woman's distinctions are alien and
derogatory when applied to human affairs; "effeminate"--too female,
connotes contempt, but has no masculine analogue; whereas
"emasculate"--not enough male, is a term of reproach, and has no
feminine analogue. "Virile"--manly, we oppose to "puerile"--childish,
and the very word "virtue" is derived from "vir"--a man.
Even in the naming of other animals we have taken the male as the race
type, and put on a special termination to indicate "his female," as in
lion, lioness; leopard, leopardess; while all our human scheme of things
rests on the same tacit assumption; man being held the human type; woman
a sort of accompaniment aud subordinate assistant, merely essential to
the making of people.
She has held always the place of a preposition in relation to man. She
has been considered above him or below him, before him, behind him,
beside him, a wholly relative existence--"Sydney's sister," "Pembroke's
mother"--but never by any chance Sydney or Pembroke herself.
Acting on this assumption, all human standards have been based on male
characteristics, and when we wish to praise the work of a woman, we say
she has "a masculine mind."
It is no easy matter to deny or reverse a universal assumption. The
human mind has had a good many jolts since it began to think, but after
each upheaval it settles down as peacefully as the vine-growers on
Vesuvius, accepting the last lava crust as permanent ground.
What we see immediately around us, what we are born into and grow up
with, be it mental furniture or physical, we assume to be the order of
If a given idea has been held in the human mind for many generations, as
almost all our common ideas have, it takes sincere and continued effort
to remove it; and if it is one of the oldest we have in stock, one of
the big, common, unquestioned world ideas, vast is the labor of those
who seek to change it.
Nevertheless, if the matter is one of importance, if the previous idea
was a palpable error, of large and evil effect, and if the new one is
true and widely important, the effort is worth making.
The task here undertaken is of this sort. It seeks to show that what we
have all this time called "human nature" and deprecated, was in great
part only male nature, and good enough in its place; that what we have
called "masculine" and admired as such, was in large part human, and
should be applied to both sexes: that what we have called "feminine" and
condemned, was also largely human and applicable to both. Our
androcentric culture is so shown to have been, and still to be, a
masculine culture in excess, and therefore undesirable.
In the preliminary work of approaching these facts it will be well to
explain how it can be that so wide and serious an error should have been
made by practically all men. The reason is simply that they were men.
They were males, avid saw women as females--and not otherwise.
So absolute is this conviction that the man who reads will say, "Of
course! How else are we to look at women except as females? They are
females, aren't they?" Yes, they are, as men are males unquestionably;
but there is possible the frame of mind of the old marquise who was
asked by an English friend how she could bear to have the footman serve
her breakfast in bed--to have a man in her bed-chamber--and replied
sincerely, "Call you that thing there a man?"
The world is full of men, but their principal occupation is human work
of some sort; and women see in them the human distinction
preponderantly. Occasionally some unhappy lady marries her
coachman--long contemplation of broad shoulders having an effect,
apparently; but in general women see the human creature most; the male
creature only when they love.
To the man, the whole world was his world; his because he was male; and
the whole world of woman was the home; because she was female. She had
her prescribed sphere, strictly limited to her feminine occupations and
interests; he had all the rest of life; and not only so, but, having it,
insisted on calling it male.
This accounts for the general attitude of men toward the now rapid
humanization of women. From her first faint struggles toward freedom
and justice, to her present valiant efforts toward full economic and
political equality, each step has been termed "unfeminine" and resented
as an intrusion upon man's place and power. Here shows the need of our
new classification, of the three distinct fields of life--masculine,
feminine and human.
As a matter of fact, there is a "woman's sphere," sharply defined and
quite different from his; there is also a "man's sphere," as sharply
defined and even more limited; but there remains a common sphere--that
of humanity, which belongs to both alike.
In the earlier part of what is known as "the woman's movement," it was
sharply opposed on the ground that women would become "unsexed." Let us
note in passing that they have become unsexed in one particular, most
glaringly so, and that no one has noticed or objected to it.
As part of our androcentric culture we may point to the peculiar
reversal of sex characteristics which make the human female carry the
burden of ornament. She alone, of all human creatures, has adopted the
essentially masculine attribute of special sex-decoration; she does not
fight for her mate as yet, but she blooms forth as the peacock and bird
of paradise, in poignant reversal of nature's laws, even wearing
masculine feathers to further her feminine ends.
Woman's natural work as a female is that of the mother; man's natural
work as a male is that of the father; their mutual relation to this end
being a source of joy and well-being when rightly held: but human work
covers all our life outside of these specialties. Every handicraft,
every profession, every science, every art, all normal amusements and
recreations, all government, education, religion; the whole living world
of human achievement: all this is human.
That one sex should have monopolized all human activities, called them
"man's work," and managed them as such, is what is meant by the phrase
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
THE MAN-MADE FAMILY.
The family is older than humanity, and therefore cannot be called a
human institution. A post office, now, is wholly human; no other
creature has a post office, but there are families in plenty among birds
and beasts; all kinds permanent and transient; monogamous, polygamous
We are now to consider the growth of the family in humanity; what is its
rational development in humanness; in mechanical, mental and social
lines; in the extension of love and service; and the effect upon it of
this strange new arrangement--a masculine proprietor.
Like all natural institutions the family has a purpose; and is to be
measured primarily as it serves that purpose; which is, the care and
nurture of the young. To protect the helpless little ones, to feed and
shelter them, to ensure them the benefits of an ever longer period of
immaturity, and so to improve the race--this is the original purpose of
When a natural institution becomes human it enters the plane of
consciousness. We think about it; and, in our strange new power of
voluntary action do things to it. We have done strange things to the
family; or, more specifically, men have.
Balsac, at his bitterest, observed, "Women's virtue is man's best
invention." Balsac was wrong. Virtue--the unswerving devotion to one
mate--is common among birds and some of the higher mammals. If Balsac
meant celibacy when he said virtue, why that is one of man's
inventions--though hardly his best.
What man has done to the family, speaking broadly, is to change it from
an institution for the best service of the child to one modified to his
own service, the vehicle of his comfort, power and pride.
Among the heavy millions of the stirred East, a child--necessarily a
male child--is desired for the credit and glory of the father, and his
fathers; in place of seeing that all a parent is for is the best service
of the child. Ancestor worship, that gross reversal of all natural law,
is of wholly androcentric origin. It is strongest among old patriarchal
races; lingers on in feudal Europe; is to be traced even in America
today in a few sporadic efforts to magnify the deeds of our ancestors.
The best thing any of us can do for our ancestors is to be better than
they were; and we ought to give our minds to it. When we use our past
merely as a guide-book, and concentrate our noble emotions on the
present and future, we shall improve more rapidly.
The peculiar changes brought about in family life by the predominance of
the male are easily traced. In these studies we must keep clearly in
mind the basic masculine characteristics: desire, combat,
self-expression--all legitimate and right in proper use; only
mischievous when excessive or out of place. Through them the male is
led to strenuous competition for the favor of the female; in the
overflowing ardours of song, as in nightingale and tomcat; in wasteful
splendor of personal decoration, from the pheasant's breast to an
embroidered waistcoat; and in direct struggle for the prize, from the
stag's locked horns to the clashing spears of the tournament.
It is earnestly hoped that no reader will take offence at the
necessarily frequent, reference to these essential features of maleness.
In the many books about women it is, naturally, their femaleness that
has been studied and enlarged upon. And though women, after thousands
of years of such discussion, have become a little restive under the
constant use of the word female: men, as rational beings, should not
object to an analogous study--at least not for some time--a few
centuries or so.
How, then, do we find these masculine tendencies, desire, combat and
self-expression, affect the home and family when given too much power?
First comes the effect in the preliminary work of selection. One of the
most uplifting forces of nature is that of sex selection. The males,
numerous, varied, pouring a flood of energy into wide modifications,
compete for the female, and she selects the victor, this securing to the
race the new improvements.
In forming the proprietary family there is no such competition, no such
selection. The man, by violence or by purchase, does the choosing--he
selects the kind of woman that pleases him. Nature did not intend him
to select; he is not good at it. Neither was the female intended to
compete--she is not good at it.
If there is a race between males for a mate--the swiftest gets her
first; but if one male is chasing a number of females he gets the
slowest first. The one method improves our speed: the other does not.
If males struggle and fight with one another for a mate, the strongest
secures her; if the male struggles and fights with the female--(a
peculiar and unnatural horror, known only among human beings) he most
readily secures the weakest. The one method improves our strength--the
other does not.
When women became the property of men; sold and bartered; "given away"
by their paternal owner to their marital owner; they lost this
prerogative of the female, this primal duty of selection. The males
were no longer improved by their natural competition for the female; and
the females were not improved; because the male did not select for
points of racial superiority, but for such qualities as pleased him.
There is a locality in northern Africa, where young girls are
deliberately fed with a certain oily seed, to make them fat,--that they
may be the more readily married,--as the men like fat wives. Among
certain more savage African tribes the chief's wives are prepared for
him by being kept in small dark huts and fed on "mealies' and molasses;
precisely as a Strasbourg goose is fattened for the gourmand. Now
fatness is not a desirable race characteristic; it does not add to the
woman's happiness or efficiency; or to the child's; it is merely an
accessory pleasant to the master; his attitude being much as the amorous
monad ecstatically puts it, in Sill's quaint poem, "Five Lives,"
"O the little female monad's lips!
O the little female monad's eyes!
O the little, little, female, female monad!"
This ultra littleness and ultra femaleness has been demanded and
produced by our Androcentric Culture.
Following this, and part of it, comes the effect on motherhood. This
function was the original and legitimate base of family life; and its
ample sustaining power throughout the long early period of "the
mother-right;" or as we call it, the matriarchate; the father being her
assistant in the great work. The patriarchate, with its proprietary
family, changed this altogether; the woman, as the property of the man
was considered first and foremost as a means of pleasure to him; and
while she was still valued as a mother, it was in a tributary capacity.
Her children were now his; his property, as she was; the whole enginery
of the family was turned from its true use to this new one, hitherto
unknown, the service of the adult male.
To this day we are living under the influence of the proprietary family.
The duty of the wife is held to involve man-service as well as
child-service, and indeed far more; as the duty of the wife to the
husband quite transcends the duty of the mother to the child.
See for instance the English wife staying with her husband in India and
sending the children home to be brought up; because India is bad for
children. See our common law that the man decides the place of
residence; if the wife refuses to go with him to howsoever unfit a place
for her and for the little ones, such refusal on her part constitutes
"desertion" and is ground for divorce.
See again the idea that the wife must remain with the husband though a
drunkard, or diseased; regardless of the sin against the child involved
in such a relation. Public feeling on these matters is indeed changing;
but as a whole the ideals of the man-made family still obtain.
The effect of this on the woman has been inevitably to weaken and
overshadow her sense of the real purpose of the family; of the
relentless responsibilities of her duty as a mother. She is first
taught duty to her parents, with heavy religious sanction; and then duty
to her husband, similarly buttressed; but her duty to her children has
been left to instinct. She is not taught in girlhood as to her
preeminent power and duty as a mother; her young ideals are all of
devotion to the lover and husband: with only the vaguest sense of
The young girl is reared in what we call "innocence;" poetically
described as "bloom;" and this condition is held one of her chief
"charms." The requisite is wholly androcentric. This "innocence" does
not enable her to choose a husband wisely; she does not even know the
dangers that possibly confront her. We vaguely imagine that her father
or brother, who do know, will protect her. Unfortunately the father and
brother, under our current "double standard" of morality do not judge
the applicants as she would if she knew the nature of their offenses.
Furthermore, if her heart is set on one of them, no amount of general
advice and opposition serves to prevent her marrying him. "I love him!"
she says, sublimely. "I do not care what he has done. I will forgive
him. I will save him!"
This state of mind serves to forward the interests of the lover, but is
of no advantage to the children. We have magnified the duties of the
wife, and minified the duties of the mother; and this is inevitable in a
family relation every law and custom of which is arranged from the
From this same viewpoint, equally essential to the proprietary family,
comes the requirement that the woman shall serve the man. Her service
is not that of the associate and equal, as when she joins him in his
business. It is not that of a beneficial combination, as when she
practices another business and they share the profits; it is not even
that of the specialist, as the service of a tailor or barber; it is
personal service--the work of a servant.
In large generalization, the women of the world cook and wash, sweep and
dust, sew and mend, for the men.
We are so accustomed to this relation; have held it for so long to be
the "natural" relation, that it is difficult indeed to show that it is
distinctly unnatural and injurious. The father expects to be served by
the daughter, a service quite different from what he expects of the son.
This shows at once that such service is no integral part of motherhood,
or even of marriage; but is supposed to be the proper industrial
position of women, as such.
Why is this so? Why, on the face of it, given a daughter and a son,
should a form of service be expected of the one, which would be
considered ignominious by the other?
The underlying reason is this. Industry, at its base, is a feminine
function. The surplus energy of the mother does not manifest itself in
noise, or combat, or display, but in productive industry. Because of
her mother-power she became the first inventor and laborer; being in
truth the mother of all industry as well as all people.
Man's entrance upon industry is late and reluctant; as will be shown
later in treating his effect on economics. In this field of family
life, his effect was as follows:
Establishing the proprietary family at an age when the industry was
primitive and domestic; and thereafter confining the woman solely to the
domestic area, he thereby confined her to primitive industry. The
domestic industries, in the hands of women, constitute a survival of our
remotest past. Such work was "woman's work" as was all the work then
known; such work is still considered woman's work because they have been
prevented from doing any other.
The term "domestic industry" does not define a certain kind of labor,
but a certain grade of labor. Architecture was a domestic industry
once--when every savage mother set up her own tepee. To be confined to
domestic industry is no proper distinction of womanhood; it is an
historic distinction, an economic distinction, it sets a date and limit
to woman's industrial progress.
In this respect the man-made family has resulted in arresting the
development of half the field. We have a world wherein men,
industrially, live in the twentieth century; and women, industrially,
live in the first--and back of it.
To the same source we trace the social and educational limitations set
about women. The dominant male, holding his women as property, and
fiercely jealous of them, considering them always as _his,_ not
belonging to themselves, their children, or the world; has hedged them
in with restrictions of a thousand sorts; physical, as in the crippled
Chinese lady or the imprisoned odalisque; moral, as in the oppressive
doctrines of submission taught by all our androcentric religions;
mental, as in the enforced ignorance from which women are now so swiftly
This abnormal restriction of women has necessarily injured motherhood.
The man, free, growing in the world's growth, has mounted with the
centuries, filling an ever wider range of world activities. The woman,
bound, has not so grown; and the child is born to a progressive
fatherhood and a stationary motherhood. Thus the man-made family reacts
unfavorably upon the child. We rob our children of half their social
heredity by keeping the mother in an inferior position; however
legalized, hallowed, or ossified by time, the position of a domestic
servant is inferior.
It is for this reason that child culture is at so low a level, and for
the most part utterly unknown. Today, when the forces of education are
steadily working nearer to the cradle, a new sense is wakening of the
importance of the period of infancy, and its wiser treatment; yet those
who know of such a movement are few, and of them some are content to
earn easy praise--and pay--by belittling right progress to gratify the
prejudices of the ignorant.
The whole position is simple and clear; and easily traceable to its
root. Given a proprietary family, where the man holds the woman
primarily for his satisfaction and service--then necessarily he shuts
her up and keeps her for these purposes. Being so kept, she cannot
develop humanly, as he has, through social contact, social service, true
social life. (We may note in passing, her passionate fondness for the
child-game called "society" she has been allowed to entertain herself
withal; that poor simiacrum of real social life, in which people
decorate themselves and madly crowd together, chattering, for what is
called "entertainment.") Thus checked in social development, we have
but a low grade motherhood to offer our children; and the children,
reared in the primitive conditions thus artificially maintained, enter
life with a false perspective, not only toward men and women, but toward
life as a whole.
The child should receive in the family, full preparation for his
relation to the world at large. His whole life must be spent in the
world, serving it well or ill; and youth is the time to learn how. But
the androcentric home cannot teach him. We live to-day in a
democracy-the man-made family is a despotism. It may be a weak one; the
despot may be dethroned and overmastered by his little harem of one; but
in that case she becomes the despot--that is all. The male is esteemed
"the head of the family;" it belongs to him; he maintains it; and the
rest of the world is a wide hunting ground and battlefield wherein he
competes with other males as of old.
The girl-child, peering out, sees this forbidden field as belonging
wholly to men-kind; and her relation to it is to secure one for
herself--not only that she may love, but that she may live. He will
feed, clothe and adorn her--she will serve him; from the subjection of
the daughter to that of the wife she steps; from one home to the other,
and never enters the world at all--man's world.
The boy, on the other hand, considers the home as a place of women, an
inferior place, and longs to grow up and leave it--for the real world.
He is quite right. The error is that this great social instinct,
calling for full social exercise, exchange, service, is considered
masculine, whereas it is human, and belongs to boy and girl alike.
The child is affected first through the retarded development of his
mother, then through the arrested condition of home industry; and
further through the wrong ideals which have arisen from these
conditions. A normal home, where there was human equality between
mother and father, would have a better influence.
We must not overlook the effect of the proprietary family on the
proprietor himself. He, too, has been held back somewhat by this
reactionary force. In the process of becoming human we must learn to
recognize justice, freedom, human rights; we must learn self-control and
to think of others; have minds that grow and broaden rationally; we must
learn the broad mutual interservice and unbounded joy of social
intercourse and service. The petty despot of the man-made home is
hindered in his humanness by too much manness.
For each man to have one whole woman to cook for and wait upon him is a
poor education for democracy. The boy with a servile mother, the man
with a servile wife, cannot reach the sense of equal rights we need
to-day. Too constant consideration of the master's tastes makes the
master selfish; and the assault upon his heart direct, or through that
proverbial side-avenue, the stomach, which the dependent woman needs
must make when she wants anything, is bad for the man, as well as for
We are slowly forming a nobler type of family; the union of two, based
on love and recognized by law, maintained because of its happiness and
use. We are even now approaching a tenderness and permanence of love,
high pure enduring love; combined with the broad deep-rooted
friendliness and comradeship of equals; which promises us more happiness
in marriage than we have yet known. It will be good for all the parties
concerned--man, woman and child: and promote our general social progress
If it needs "a head" it will elect a chairman pro tem. Friendship does
not need "a head." Love does dot need "a head." Why should a family?
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
HEALTH AND BEAUTY.
NOTE--The word "Androcentric" we owe to Prof. Lester F. Ward. In his
book, "Pure Sociology," Chap. 14, he describes the Androcentric Theory
of life, hitherto universally accepted; and introduces his own
"Gyneacocentric Theory." All who are interested in the deeper
scientific aspects of this question are urged to read that chapter.
Prof. Ward's theory is to my mind the most important that has been
offered the world since the Theory of Evolution; and without exception
the most important that has ever been put forward concerning women.
Among the many paradoxes which we find in human life is our low average
standard of health and beauty, compared with our power and knowledge.
All creatures suffer from conflict with the elements; from enemies
without and within--the prowling devourers of the forest, and "the
terror that walketh in darkness" and attacks the body from inside, in
Among wild animals generally, there is a certain standard of excellence;
if you shoot a bear or a bird, it is a fair sample of the species; you
do not say, "O what an ugly one!" or "This must have been an invalid!"
Where we have domesticated any animal, and interfered with its natural
habits, illness has followed; the dog is said to have the most diseases
second to man; the horse comes next; but the wild ones put us to shame
by their superior health and the beauty that belongs to right
In our long ages of blind infancy we assume that sickness was a
visitation frown the gods; some still believe this, holding it to be a
special prerogative of divinity to afflict us in this way. We speak of
"the ills that flesh is heir to" as if the inheritance was entailed and
inalienable. Only of late years, after much study and long struggle
with this old belief which made us submit to sickness as a blow from the
hand of God, we are beginning to learn something of the many causes of
our many diseases, and how to remove some of them.
It is still true, however, that almost every one of us is to some degree
abnormal; the features asymmetrical, the vision defective, the digestion
unreliable, the nervous system erratic--we are but a job lot even in
what we call "good health"; and are subject to a burden of pain and
premature death that would make life hideous if it were not so
As to beauty--we do not think of expecting it save in the rarely
exceptional case. Look at the faces--the figures--in any crowd you
meet; compare the average man or the average woman with the normal type
of human beauty as given us in picture and statue; and consider if there
is not some general cause for so general a condition of ugliness.
Moreover, leaving our defective bodies concealed by garments; what are
those garments, as conducive to health and beauty? Is the practical
ugliness of our men's attire, and the impractical absurdity of our
women's, any contribution to human beauty? Look at our houses--are they
beautiful? Even the houses of the rich?
We do not even know that we ought to live in a world of overflowing
loveliness; and that our contribution to it should be the loveliest of
all. We are so sodden in the dull ugliness of our interiors, so used to
calling a tame weary low-toned color scheme "good taste," that only
children dare frankly yearn for Beauty--and they are speedily educated
out of it.
The reasons specially given for our low standards of health and beauty
are ignorance, poverty, and the evil effects of special trades. The Man
with the Hoe becomes brother to the ox because of over-much hoeing; the
housepainter is lead-poisoned because of his painting; books have been
written to show the injurious influence of nearly all our industries
These causes are sound as far as they go; but do not cover the whole
The farmer may be muscle-bound and stooping from his labor; but that
does not account for his dyspepsia or his rheumatism.
Then we allege poverty as covering all. Poverty does cover a good deal.
But when we find even a half-fed savage better developed than a well
paid cashier; and a poor peasant woman a more vigorous mother than the
idle wife of a rich man, poverty is not enough.
Then we say ignorance explains it. But there are most learned
professors who are ugly and asthmathic; there are even doctors who can
boast no beauty and but moderate health; there are some of the petted
children of the wealthy, upon whom every care is lavished from birth,
and who still are ill to look at and worse to marry.
All these special causes are admitted, given their due share in lowering
our standards, but there is another far more universal in its
application and its effects. Let us look back on our little ancestors
the beasts, and see what keeps them so true to type.
The type itself set by that balance of conditions and forces we call
"natural selection." As the environment changes they must be adapted to
it, if they cannot so adapt themselves they die. Those who live are, by
living, proven capable of maintaining themselves. Every creature which
has remained on earth, while so many less effective kinds died out,
remains as a conqueror. The speed of the deer--the constant use of
speed--is what keeps it alive and makes it healthy and beautiful. The
varied activities of the life of a leopard are what have developed the
sinuous gracile strength we so admire. It is what the creature does for
its living, its daily life-long exercise which makes it what it is.
But there is another great natural force which works steadily to keep
all animals up to the race standard; that is sexual selection.
Throughout nature the male is the variant, as we have already noted.
His energy finds vent not only in that profuse output of decorative
appendages Ward defines as "masculine efflorescence" but in variations
not decorative, not useful or desirable at all.
The female, on the other hand, varies much less, remaining nearer the
race type; and her function is to select among these varying males the
specimens most valuable to the race. In the intense masculine
competition the victor must necessarily be stronger than his fellows; he
is first proven equal to his environment by having lived to grow up,
then more than equal to his fellows by overcoming them. This higher
grade of selection also develops not only the characteristics necessary
to make a living; but secondary ones, often of a purely aesthetic
nature, which make much of what we call beauty. Between the two, all
who live must be up to a certain grade, and those who become parents
must be above it; a masterly arrangement surely!
Here is where, during the period of our human history, we in our newborn
consciousness and imperfect knowledge, have grieviously interfered with
the laws of nature. The ancient proprietary family, treating the woman
as a slave, keeping her a prisoner and subject to the will of her
master, cut her off at once from the exercise of those activities which
alone develop and maintain the race type.
Take the one simple quality of speed. We are a creature built for
speed, a free swift graceful animal; and among savages this is still
seen--the capacity for running, mile after mile, hour after hour.
Running is as natural a gait for _genus homo_ as for _genus cervus._
Now suppose among deer, the doe was prohibited from running; the stag
continuing free on the mountain; the doe living in caves and pens,
unequal to any exercise. The effect on the species would be,
inevitably, to reduce its speed.
In this way, by keeping women to one small range of duties, and in most
cases housebound, we have interfered with natural selection and its
resultant health and beauty. It can easily be seen what the effect on
the race would have been if all men had been veiled and swathed, hidden
in harems, kept to the tent or house, and confined to the activities of
a house-servant. Our stalwart laborers, our proud soldiers, our
athletes, would never have appeared under such circumstances. The
confinement to the house alone, cutting women off from sunshine and air,
is by itself an injury; and the range of occupation allowed them is not
such as to develop a high standard of either health or beauty. Thus we
have cut off half the race from the strengthening influence of natural
selection, and so lowered our race-standards in large degree.
This alone, however, would not have hid such mischievous effects but for
our further blunder in completely reversing nature's order of sexual
selection. It is quite possible that even under confinement and
restriction women could have kept up the race level, passably, through
this great function of selection; but here is the great fundamental
error of the Androcentric Culture. Assuming to be the possessor of
women, their owner and master, able at will to give, buy and sell, or do
with as he pleases, man became the selector.
It seems a simple change; and in those early days, wholly ignorant of
natural laws, there was no suspicion that any mischief would result. In
the light of modern knowledge, however, the case is clear. The woman
was deprived of the beneficent action of natural selection, and the man
was then, by his own act, freed from the stern but elevating effect of
sexual selection. Nothing was required of the woman by natural
selection save such capacity as should please her master; nothing was
required of the man by sexual selection save power to take by force, or
buy, a woman.
It does not take a very high standard of feminine intelligence,
strength, skill, health, or beauty to be a houseservant, or even a
housekeeper; witness the average.
It does not take a very high standard of masculine, intelligence,
strength, skill, health or beauty to maintain a woman in that
Here at the very root of our physiological process, at the beginning of
life, we have perverted the order of nature, and are suffering the
It has been held by some that man as the selector has developed beauty,
more beauty than we had before; and we point to the charms of our women
as compared with those of the squaw. The answer to this is that the
squaw belongs to a decadent race; that she too is subject to the man,
that the comparison to have weight should be made between our women and
the women of the matriarchate--an obvious impossibility. We have not on
earth women in a state of normal freedom and full development; but we
have enough difference in their placing to learn that human strength and
beauty grows with woman's freedom and activity.
The second answer is that much of what man calls beauty in woman is not
human beauty at all, but gross overdevelopment of certain points which
appeal to him as a male. The excessive fatness, previously referred to,
is a case in point; that being considered beauty in a woman which is in
reality an element of weakness, inefficiency and ill-health. The
relatively small size of women, deliberately preferred, steadfastly
chosen, and so built into the race, is a blow at real human progress in
every particular. In our upward journey we should and do grow larger,
leaving far behind us our dwarfish progenitors. Yet the male, in his
unnatural position as selector, preferring for reasons both practical
and sentimental, to have "his woman" smaller than himself, has
deliberately striven to lower the standard of size in the race. We used
to read in the novels of the last generation, "He was a magnificent
specimen of manhood"--"Her golden head reached scarcely to his
shoulder"--"She was a fairy creature--the tiniest of her sex." Thus we
have mated, and yet expected that by some hocus pocus the boys would all
"take after their father," and the girls, their mother. In his efforts
to improve the breed of other animals, man has never tried to
deliberately cross the large and small and expect to keep up the
standard of size.
As a male he is appealed to by the ultra-feminine, and has given small
thought to effects on the race. He was not designed to do the
selecting. Under his fostering care we have bred a race of women who
are physically weak enough to be handed about like invalids; or mentally
weak enough to pretend they are--and to like it. We have made women who
respond so perfectly to the force which made them, that they attach all
their idea of beauty to those characteristics which attract men;
sometimes humanly ugly without even knowing it.
For instance, our long restriction to house-limits, the heavy
limitations of our clothing, and the heavier ones of traditional
decorum, have made women disproportionately short-legged. This is a
particularly undignified and injurious characteristic, bred in women and
inherited by men, most seen among those races which keep their women
most closely. Yet when one woman escapes the tendency and appears with
a normal length of femur and tibia, a normal height of hip and shoulder,
she is criticized and called awkward by her squatty sisters!
The most convenient proof of the inferiority of women in human beauty is
shown by those composite statues prepared by Mr. Sargent for the World's
Fair of '93. These were made from gymnasium measurements of thousands
of young collegians of both sexes all over America. The statue of the
girl has a pretty face, small hands and feet, rather nice arms, though
weak; but the legs are too thick and short; the chest and shoulders
poor; and the trunk is quite pitiful in its weakness. The figure of the
man is much better proportioned.
Thus the effect on human beauty of masculine selection.
Beyond this positive deteriorative effect on women through man's
arbitrary choice comes the negative effect of woman's lack of choice.
Bought or stolen or given by her father, she was deprived of the
innately feminine right and duty of choosing. "Who giveth this woman?"
we still inquire in our archaic marriage service, and one man steps
forward and gives her to another man.
Free, the female chose the victor, and the vanquished went unmated--and
without progeny. Dependent, having to be fed and cared for by some man,
the victors take their pick perhaps, but the vanquished take what is
left; and the poor women, "marrying for a home," take anything. As a
consequence the inferior male is as free to transmit his inferiority as
the superior to give better qualities, and does so--beyond computation.
In modern days, women are freer, in some countries freer than in others;
here in modern America freest of all; and the result is seen in our
improving standards of health and beauty.
Still there remains the field of inter-masculine competition, does there
not? Do not the males still struggle together? Is not that as of old,
a source of race advantage?
To some degree it is. When life was simple and our activities consisted
mainly in fighting and hard work; the male who could vanquish the others
was bigger and stronger. But inter-masculine competition ceases to be
of such advantage when we enter the field of social service. What is
required in organized society is the specialization of the individual,
the development of special talents, not always of immediate benefit to
the man himself, but of ultimate benefit to society. The best social
servant, progressive, meeting future needs, is almost always at a
disadvantage besides the well-established lower types. We need, for
social service, qualities quite different from the simple masculine
characteristics--desire, combat, self-expression.
By keeping what we call "the outside world" so wholly male, we keep up
masculine standards at the expense of human ones. This may be broadly
seen in the slow and painful development of industry and science as
compared to the easy dominance of warfare throughout all history until
our own times.
The effect of all this ultra masculine competition upon health and
beauty is but too plainly to be seen. Among men the male idea of what
is good looking is accentuated beyond reason. Read about any "hero" you
please; or study the products of the illustrator and note the broad
shoulders, the rugged features, the strong, square, determined jaw.
That jaw is in evidence if everything else fails. He may be cross-eyed,
wide-eared, thick-necked, bandy-legged--what you please; but he must
have a more or less prognathous jaw.
Meanwhile any anthropologist will show you that the line of human
development is away from that feature of the bulldog and the alligator,
and toward the measured dignity of the Greek type. The possessor of
that kind of jaw may enable male to conquer male, but does not make him
of any more service to society; of any better health or higher beauty.
Further, in the external decoration of our bodies, what is the influence
here of masculine dominance.
We have before spoken of the peculiar position of our race in that the
woman is the only female creature who carries the burden of sex
ornament. This amazing reversal of the order of nature results at its
mildest in a perversion of the natural feminine instincts of love and
service, and an appearance of the masculine instincts of self-expression
and display. Alone among all female things do women decorate and preen
themselves and exhibit their borrowed plumage (literally!) to attract
the favor of the male. This ignominy is forced upon them by their
position of economic dependence; and their general helplessness. As all
broader life is made to depend, for them, on whom they marry, indeed as
even the necessities of life so often depend on their marrying someone,
they have been driven into this form of competition, so alien to the
true female attitude.
The result is enough to make angels weep--and laugh. Perhaps no step in
the evolution of beauty went farther than our human power of making a
continuous fabric; soft and mobile, showing any color and texture
desired. The beauty of the human body is supreme, and when we add to it
the flow of color, the ripple of fluent motion, that comes of a soft,
light garment over free limbs--it is a new field of loveliness and
delight. Naturally this should have filled the whole world with a new
pleasure. Our garments, first under right natural selection developing
perfect use, under right sex selection developing beauty; and further,
as our human aesthetic sense progresses, showing a noble symbolism,
would have been an added strength and glory, a ceaseless joy.
What is the case?
Men, under a too strictly inter-masculine environment, have evolved the
mainly useful but beautiless costume common to-day; and women--?
Women wear beautiful garments when they happen to be the fashion; and
ugly garments when they are the fashion, and show no signs of knowing
the difference. They show no added pride in the beautiful, no hint of
mortification in the hideous, and are not even sensitive under
criticism, or open to any persuasion or argument. Why should they be?
Their condition, physical and mental, is largely abnormal, their whole
passionate absorption in dress and decoration is abnormal, and they have
never looked, from a frankly human standpoint, at their position and its
peculiarities, until the present age.
In the effect of our wrong relation on the world's health, we have
spoken of the check to vigor and growth due to the housebound state of
women and their burdensome clothes. There follow other influences,
similar in origin, even more evil in result. To roughly and briefly
classify we may distinguish the diseases due to bad air, to bad food,
and that field of cruel mischief we are only now beginning to
discuss--the diseases directly due to the erroneous relation between men
We are the only race where the female depends on the male for a
livelihood. We are the only race that practices prostitution. From the
first harmless-looking but abnormal general relation follows the well
recognized evil of the second, so long called "a social necessity," and
from it, in deadly sequence, comes the "wages of sin;" death not only of
the guilty, but of the innocent. It is no light part of our criticism
of the Androcentric Culture that a society based on masculine desires
alone, has willingly sacrificed such an army of women; and has repaid
the sacrifice by the heaviest punishments.
That the unfortunate woman should sicken and die was held to be her just
punishment; that man too should bear part penalty was found unavoidable,
though much legislation and medical effort has been spent to shield him;
but to the further consequences society is but now waking up.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
MEN AND ART.
Among the many counts in which women have been proven inferior to men in
human development is the oft-heard charge that there are no great women
artists. Where one or two are proudly exhibited in evidence, they are
either pooh-poohed as not very great, or held to be the trifling
exceptions which do but prove the rule.
Defenders of women generally make the mistake of over-estimating their
performances, instead of accepting, and explaining, the visible facts.
What are the facts as to the relation of men and women to art? And
what, in especial, has been the effect upon art of a solely masculine
When we look for the beginnings of art, we find ourselves in a period of
crude decoration of the person and of personal belongings. Tattooing,
for instance, is an early form of decorative art, still in practice
among certain classes, even in advanced people. Most boys, if they are
in contact with this early art, admire it, and wish to adorn themselves
therewith; some do so--to later mortification. Early personal
decoration consisted largely in direct mutilation of the body, and the
hanging upon it, or fastening to it, of decorative objects. This we see
among savages still, in its gross and primitive forms monopolized by
men, then shared by women, and, in our time, left almost wholly to them.
In personal decoration today, women are still near the savage. The
"artists" developed in this field of art are the tonsorial, the
sartorial, and all those specialized adorners of the body commonly known
as "beauty doctors."
Here, as in other cases, the greatest artists are men. The greatest
milliners, the greatest dressmakers and tailors, the greatest
hairdressers, and the masters and designers in all our decorative
toilettes and accessories, are men. Women, in this as in so many other
lines, consume rather than produce. They carry the major part of
personal decoration today; but the decorator is the man. In the
decoration of objects, woman, as the originator of primitive industry,
originated also the primitive arts; and in the pottery, basketry,
leatherwork, needlework, weaving, with all beadwork, dyeing and
embroideries of ancient peoples we see the work of the woman decorator.
Much of this is strong and beautiful, but its time is long past. The
art which is part of industry, natural, simple, spontaneous, making
beauty in every object of use, adding pleasure to labor and to life, is
not Art with a large A, the Art which requires Artists, among whom are
so few women of note.
Art as a profession, and the Artist as a professional, came later; and
by that time women had left the freedom and power of the matriarchate
and become slaves in varying degree. The women who were idle pets in
harems, or the women who worked hard as servants, were alike cut off
from the joy of making things. Where constructive work remained to
them, art remained, in its early decorative form. Men, in the
proprietary family, restricting the natural industry of women to
personal service, cut off their art with their industry, and by so much
impoverished the world.
There is no more conspicuously pathetic proof of the aborted development
of women than this commonplace--their lack of a civilized art sense.
Not only in the childish and savage display upon their bodies, but in
the pitiful products they hang upon the walls of the home, is seen the
arrest in normal growth.
After ages of culture, in which men have developed Architecture,
Sculpture, Painting, Music and the Drama, we find women in their
primitive environment making flowers of wax, and hair, and worsted;
doing mottoes of perforated cardboard, making crazy quilts and mats and
"tidies"--as if they lived in a long past age, or belonged to a lower
This, as part of the general injury to women dating from the beginning
of our androcentric culture, reacts heavily upon the world at large.
Men, specializing, giving their lives to the continuous pursuit of one
line of service, have lifted our standard in aesthetic culture, as they
have in other matters; but by refusing the same growth to women, they
have not only weakened and reduced the output, but ruined the market as
it were, hopelessly and permanently kept down the level of taste.
Among the many sides of this great question, some so terrible, some so
pathetic, some so utterly absurd, this particular phase of life is
especially easy to study and understand, and has its own elements of
amusement. Men, holding women at the level of domestic service, going
on themselves to lonely heights of achievement, have found their efforts
hampered and their attainments rendered barren and unsatisfactory by the
amazing indifference of the world at large. As the world at large
consists half of women, and wholly of their children, it would seem
patent to the meanest understanding that the women must be allowed to
rise in order to lift the world. But such has not been the
We have spoken so far in this chapter of the effect of men on art
through their interference with the art of women. There are other sides
to the question. Let us consider once more the essential
characteristics of maleness, and see how they have affected art, keeping
always in mind the triune distinction between masculine, feminine and
human. Perhaps we shall best see this difference by considering what
the development of art might have been on purely human terms.
The human creature, as such, naturally delights in construction, and
adds decoration to construction as naturally. The cook, making little
regular patterns around the edge of the pie, does so from a purely human
instinct, the innate eye-pleasure in regularity, symmetry, repetition,
and alternation. Had this natural social instinct grown unchecked in
us, it would have manifested itself in a certain proportion of
specialists--artists of all sorts--and an accompanying development of
appreciation on the part of the rest of us. Such is the case in
primitive art; the maker of beauty is upheld and rewarded by a popular
appreciation of her work--or his.
Had this condition remained, we should find a general level of artistic
expression and appreciation far higher than we see now. Take the one
field of textile art, for instance: that wide and fluent medium of
expression, the making of varied fabrics, the fashioning of garments and
the decoration of them--all this is human work and human pleasure. It
should have led us to a condition where every human being was a pleasure
to the eye, appropriately and beautifully clothed.
Our real condition in this field is too patent to need emphasis; the
stiff, black ugliness of our men's attire; the irritating variegated
folly of our women's; the way in which we spoil the beauty and shame the
dignity of childhood by modes of dress.
In normal human growth, our houses would be a pleasure to the eye; our
furniture and utensils, all our social products, would blossom into
beauty as naturally as they still do in those low stages of social
evolution where our major errors have not yet borne full fruit.
Applied art in all its forms is a human function, common to every one to
some degree, either in production or appreciation, or both. "Pure art,"
as an ideal, is also human; and the single-hearted devotion of the true
artist to this ideal is one of the highest forms of the social
sacrifice. Of all the thousand ways by which humanity is specialized
for inter-service, none is more exquisite than this; the evolution of
the social Eye, or Ear, or Voice, the development of those whose work is
wholly for others, and to whom the appreciation of others is as the
bread of life. This we should have in a properly developed community;
the pleasure of applied art in the making and using of everything we
have; and then the high joy of the Great Artist, and the noble work
thereof, spread far and wide.
What do we find?
Applied art at a very low level; small joy either for the maker or the
user. Pure art, a fine-spun specialty, a process carried on by an elect
few who openly despise the unappreciative many. Art has become an
occult profession requiring a long special education even to enjoy, and
evolving a jargon of criticism which becomes more esoteric yearly.
Let us now see what part in this undesirable outcome is due to our
As soon as the male of our species assumed the exclusive right to
perform all social functions, he necessarily brought to that performance
the advantages--and disadvantages--of maleness, of those dominant
characteristics, desire, combat, self-expression.
Desire has overweighted art in many visible forms; it is prominent in
painting and music, almost monopolizes fiction, and has pitifully
Combat is not so easily expressed in art, where even competition is on a
high plane; but the last element is the main evil, self-expression.
This impulse is inherently and ineradicably masculine. It rests on that
most basic of distinctions between the sexes, the centripetal and
centrifugal forces of the universe. In the very nature of the
sperm-cell and the germ-cell we find this difference: the one attracts,
gathers, draws in; the other repels, scatters, pushes out. That
projective impulse is seen in the male nature everywhere; the constant
urge toward expression, to all boasting and display. This spirit, like
all things masculine, is perfectly right and admirable in its place.
It is the duty of the male, as a male, to vary; bursting forth in a
thousand changing modifications--the female, selecting, may so
incorporate beneficial changes in the race. It is his duty to thus
express himself--an essentially masculine duty; but masculinity is one
thing, and art is another. Neither the masculine nor the feminine has
any place in art--Art is Human.
It is not in any faintest degree allied to the personal processes of
reproduction; but is a social process, a most distinctive social
process, quite above the plane of sex. The true artist transcends his
sex, or her sex. If this is not the case, the art suffers.
Dancing is an early, and a beautiful art; direct expression of emotion
through the body; beginning in subhuman type, among male birds, as the
bower-bird of New Guinea, and the dancing crane, who swing and caper
before their mates. Among early peoples we find it a common form of
social expression in tribal dances of all sorts, religious, military,
and other. Later it becomes a more explicit form of celebration, as
among the Greeks; in whose exquisite personal culture dancing and music
held high place.
But under the progressive effects of purely masculine dominance we find
the broader human elements of dancing left out, and the sex-element more
and more emphasized. As practiced by men alone dancing has become a
mere display of physical agility, a form of exhibition common to all
males. As practiced by men and women together we have our social
dances, so lacking in all the varied beauty of posture and expression,
so steadily becoming a pleasant form of dalliance.
As practiced by women alone we have one of the clearest proofs of the
degrading effect of masculine dominance:--the dancing girl. In the
frank sensualism of the Orient, this personage is admired and enjoyed on
her merits. We, more sophisticated in this matter, joke shamefacedly
about "the bald-headed row," and occasionally burst forth in shrill
scandal over some dinner party where ladies clad in a veil and a
bracelet dance on the table. Nowhere else in the whole range of life on
earth, is this degradation found--the female capering and prancing
before the male. It is absolutely and essentially his function, not
hers. That we, as a race, present this pitiful spectacle, a natural art
wrested to unnatural ends, a noble art degraded to ignoble ends, has one
Architecture, in its own nature, is least affected by that same cause.
The human needs secured by it, are so human, so unescapably human, that
we find less trace of excessive masculinity than in other arts. It
meets our social demands, it expresses in lasting form our social
feeling, up to the highest; and it has been injured not so much by an
excess of masculinity as by a lack of femininity.
The most universal architectural expression is in the home; the home is
essentially a place for the woman and the child; yet the needs of woman
and child are not expressed in our domestic architecture. The home is
built on lines of ancient precedent, mainly as an industrial form; the
kitchen is its working centre rather than the nursery.
Each man wishes his home to preserve and seclude his woman, his little
harem of one; and in it she is to labor for his comfort or to manifest
his ability to maintain her in idleness. The house is the physical
expression of the limitations of women; and as such it fills the world
with a small drab ugliness. A dwelling house is rarely a beautiful
object. In order to be such, it should truly express simple and natural
relations; or grow in larger beauty as our lives develop.
The deadlock for architectural progress, the low level of our general
taste, the everlasting predominance of the commonplace in buildings, is
the natural result of the proprietary family and its expression in this
In sculpture we have a noble art forcing itself into some service
through many limitations. Its check, as far as it comes under this line
of study, has been indicated in our last chapter; the degradation of the
human body, the vicious standards of sex-consciousness enforced under
the name of modesty, the covered ugliness, which we do not recognize,
all this is a deadly injury to free high work in sculpture.
With a nobly equal womanhood, stalwart and athletic; with the high
standards of beauty and of decorum which we can never have without free
womanhood; we should show a different product in this great art.
An interesting note in passing is this: when we seek to express socially
our noblest, ideas, Truth; Justice; Liberty; we use the woman's body as
the highest human type. But in doing this, the artist, true to humanity
and not biassed by sex, gives us a strong, grand figure, beautiful
indeed, but never _decorated_. Fancy Liberty in ruffles and frills,
with rings in her ears--or nose.
Music is injured by a one-sided handling, partly in the excess of the
one dominant masculine passion, partly by the general presence of
egoism; that tendency to self-expression instead of social expression,
which so disfigures our art; and this is true also of poetry.
Miles and miles of poetry consist of the ceaseless outcry of the male
for the female, which is by no means so overwhelming as a feature of
human life as he imagines it; and other miles express his other
feelings, with that ingenuous lack of reticence which is at its base
essentially masculine. Having a pain, the poet must needs pour it
forth, that his woe be shared and sympathized with.
As more and more women writers flock into the field there is room for
fine historic study of the difference in sex feeling, and the gradual
emergence of the human note.
Literature, and in especial the art of fiction, is so large a field for
this study that it will have a chapter to itself; this one but touching
on these various forms; and indicating lines of observation.
That best known form of art which to my mind needs no qualifying
description--painting--is also a wide field; and cannot be done full
justice to within these limits. The effect upon it of too much
masculinity is not so much in choice of subject as in method and spirit.
The artist sees beauty of form and color where the ordinary observer
does not; and paints the old and ugly with as much enthusiasm as the
young and beautiful--sometimes. If there is in some an over-emphasis of
feminine attractions it is counterbalanced in others by a far broader
line of work.
But the main evils of a too masculine art lie in the emphasis laid on
self-expression. The artist, passionately conscious of how he feels,
strives to make other people aware of these sensations. This is now so
generally accepted by critics, so seriously advanced by painters, that
what is called "the art world" accepts it as established.
If a man paints the sea, it is not to make you see and feel as a sight
of that same ocean would, but to make you see and feel how he,
personally, was affected by it; a matter surely of the narrowest
importance. The ultra-masculine artist, extremely sensitive,
necessarily, and full of the natural urge to expression of the sex, uses
the medium of art as ingenuously as the partridge-cock uses his wings in
drumming on the log; or the bull moose stamps and bellows; not narrowly
as a mate call, but as a form of expression of his personal sensations.
The higher the artist the more human he is, the broader his vision, the
more he sees for humanity, and expresses for humanity, and the less
personal, the less ultra-masculine, is his expression.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
When we are offered a "woman's" paper, page, or column, we find it
filled with matter supposed to appeal to women as a sex or class; the
writer mainly dwelling upon the Kaiser's four K's--Kuchen, Kinder,
Kirche, Kleider. They iterate and reiterate endlessly the discussion of
cookery, old and new; of the care of children; of the overwhelming
subject of clothing; and of moral instruction. All this is recognized
as "feminine" literature, and it must have some appeal else the women
would not read it. What parallel have we in "masculine" literature?
"None!" is the proud reply. "Men are people! Women, being 'the sex,'
have their limited feminine interests, their feminine point of view,
which must be provided for. Men, however, are not restricted--to them
belongs the world's literature!"
Yes, it has belonged to them--ever since there was any. They have
written it and they have read it. It is only lately that women,
generally speaking, have been taught to read; still more lately that
they have been allowed to write. It is but a little while since Harriet
Martineau concealed her writing beneath her sewing when visitors came
in--writing was "masculine"--sewing "feminine."
We have not, it Is true, confined men to a narrowly construed "masculine
sphere," and composed a special literature suited to it. Their effect
on literature has been far wider than that, monopolizing this form of
art with special favor. It was suited above all others to the dominant
impulse of self-expression; and being, as we have seen essentially and
continually "the sex;" they have impressed that sex upon this art
overwhelmingly; they have given the world a masculized literature.
It is hard for us to realize this. We can readily see, that if women
had always written the books, no men either writing or reading them,
that would have surely "feminized" our literature; but we have not in
our minds the concept, much less the word, for an overmasculized
Men having been accepted as humanity, women but a side-issue; (most
literally if we accept the Hebrew legend!), whatever men did or said was
human--and not to be criticized. In no department of life is it easier
to contravert this old belief; to show how the male sex as such differs
from the human type; and how this maleness has monopolized and
disfigured a great social function.
Human life is a very large affair; and literature is its chief art. We
live, humanly, only through our power of communication. Speech gives us
this power laterally, as it were, in immediate personal contact. For
permanent use speech becomes oral tradition--a poor dependence.
Literature gives not only an infinite multiplication to the lateral
spread of communion but adds the vertical reach. Through it we know the
past, govern the present, and influence the future. In its servicable
common forms it is the indispensable daily servant of our lives; in its
nobler flights as a great art no means of human inter-change goes so
In these brief limits we can touch but lightly on some phases of so
great a subject; and will rest the case mainly on the effect of an
exclusively masculine handling of the two fields of history and fiction.
In poetry and the drama the same influence is easily traced, but in the
first two it is so baldly prominent as to defy objection.
History is, or should be, the story of our racial life. What have men
made it? The story of warfare and conquest. Begin at the very
beginning with the carven stones of Egypt, the clay records of Chaldea,
what do we find of history?
"I Pharaoh, King of Kings! Lord of Lords! (etc. etc.), "went down into
the miserable land of Kush, and slew of the inhabitants thereof an
hundred and forty and two thousands!" That, or something like it, is
the kind of record early history gives us.
The story of Conquering Kings, who and how many they killed and
enslaved; the grovelling adulation of the abased; the unlimited
jubilation of the victor; from the primitive state of most ancient
kings, and the Roman triumphs where queens walked in chains, down to our
omni present soldier's monuments: the story of war and conquest--war and
conquest--over and over; with such boasting and triumph, such cock-crow
and flapping of wings as show most unmistakably the natural source.
All this will strike the reader at first as biased and unfair. "That
was the way people lived in those days!" says the reader.
No--it was not the way women lived.
"O, women!" says the reader, "Of course not! Women are different."
Yea, women are different; and _men are different!_ Both of them, as
sexes, differ from the human norm, which is social life and all social
development. Society was slowly growing in all those black blind years.
The arts, the sciences, the trades and crafts and professions,
religion, philosophy, government, law, commerce, agriculture--all the
human processes were going on as well as they were able, between wars.
The male naturally fights, and naturally crows, triumphs over his rival
and takes the prize--therefore was he made male. Maleness means war.
Not only so; but being male, he cares only for male interests. Men,
being the sole arbiters of what should be done and said and written,
have given us not only a social growth scarred and thwarted from the
beginning by continual destruction; but a history which is one unbroken
record of courage and red cruelty, of triumph and black shame.
As to what went on that was of real consequence, the great slow steps of
the working world, the discoveries and inventions, the real progress of
humanity--that was not worth recording, from a masculine point of view.
Within this last century, "the woman's century," the century of the
great awakening, the rising demand for freedom, political, economic, and
domestic, we are beginning to write real history, human history, and not
merely masculine history. But that great branch of literature--Hebrew,
Greek, Roman, and all down later times, shows beyond all question, the
influence of our androcentric culture.
Literature is the most powerful and necessary of the arts, and fiction
is its broadest form. If art "holds the mirror up to nature" this art's
mirror is the largest of all, the most used. Since our very life
depends on some communication; and our progress is in proportion to our
fullness and freedom of communication; since real communication requires
mutual understanding; so in the growth of the social consciousness, we
note from the beginning a passionate interest in other people's lives.
The art which gives humanity consciousness is the most vital art. Our
greatest dramatists are lauded for their breadth of knowledge of "human
nature," their range of emotion and understanding; our greatest poets
are those who most deeply and widely experience and reveal the feelings
of the human heart; and the power of fiction is that it can reach and
express this great field of human life with no limits but those of the
When fiction began it was the legitimate child of oral tradition; a
product of natural brain activity; the legend constructed instead of
remembered. (This stage is with us yet as seen in the constant changes
in repetition of popular jokes and stories.)
Fiction to-day has a much wider range; yet it is still restricted,
heavily and most mischievously restricted.
What is the preferred subject matter of fiction?
There are two main branches found everywhere, from the Romaunt of the
Rose to the Purplish Magazine;--the Story of Adventure, and the Love
The Story-of-Adventure branch is not so thick as the other by any means,
but it is a sturdy bough for all that. Stevenson and Kipling have
proved its immense popularity, with the whole brood of detective stories
and the tales of successful rascality we call "picaresque" Our most
popular weekly shows the broad appeal of this class of fiction.
All these tales of adventure, of struggle and difficulty; of hunting and
fishing and fighting; of robbing and murdering, catching and punishing,
are distinctly and essentially masculine. They do not touch on human
processes, social processes, but on the special field of predatory
excitement so long the sole province of men.
It is to be noted here that even in the overwhelming rise of industrial
interests to-day, these, when used as the basis for a story, are forced
into line with one, or both, of these two main branches of
fiction;--conflict or love. Unless the story has one of these
"interests" in it, there is no story--so holds the editor; the dictum
being, put plainly, "life has no interests except conflict and love!"
It is surely something more than a coincidence that these are the two
essential features of masculinity--Desire and Combat--Love and War.
As a matter of fact the major interests of life are in line with its
major processes; and these--in our stage of human development--are more
varied than our fiction would have us believe. Half the world consists
of women, we should remember, who are types of human life as well as
men, and their major processes are not those of conflict and adventure,
their love means more than mating. Even on so poor a line of
distinction as the "woman's column" offers, if women are to be kept to
their four Ks, there should be a "men's column" also; and all the
"sporting news" and fish stories be put in that; they are not world
interests; they are male interests.
Now for the main branch--the Love Story. Ninety per cent. of fiction is
In this line; this is preeminently the major interest of life--given in
fiction. What is the love-story, as rendered by this art?
It is the story of the pre-marital struggle. It is the Adventures of
Him in Pursuit of Her--and it stops when he gets her! Story after
story, age after age, over and over and over, this ceaseless repetition
of the Preliminaries.
Here is Human Life. In its large sense, its real sense, it is a matter
of inter-relation between individuals and groups, covering all emotions,
all processes, all experiences. Out of this vast field of human life
fiction arbitrarily selects one emotion, one process, one experience, as
its necessary base.
"Ah! but we are persons most of all!" protests the reader. "This is
personal experience--it has the universal appeal!"
Take human life personally then. Here is a Human Being, a life,
covering some seventy years; involving the changing growth of many
faculties; the ever new marvels of youth, the long working time of
middle life, the slow ripening of age. Here is the human soul, in the
human body, Living. Out of this field of personal life, with all of its
emotions, processes, and experiences, fiction arbitrarily selects one
emotion, one process, one experience, mainly of one sex.
The "love" of our stories is man's love of woman. If any dare dispute
this, and say it treats equally of woman's love for man, I answer, "Then
why do the stories stop at marriage?"
There is a current jest, revealing much, to this effect:
The young wife complains that the husband does not wait upon and woo her
as he did before marriage; to which he replies, "Why should I run after
the street-car when I've caught it?"
Woman's love for man, as currently treated in fiction is largely a
reflex; it is the way he wants her to feel, expects her to feel; not a
fair representation of how she does feel. If "love" is to be selected
as the most important thing in life to write about, then the mother's
love should be the principal subject: This is the main stream. This is
the general underlying, world-lifting force. The "life-force," now so
glibly chattered about, finds its fullest expression in motherhood; not
in the emotions of an assistant in the preliminary stages.
What has literature, what has fiction, to offer concerning mother-love,
or even concerning father-love, as compared to this vast volume of
excitement about lover-love? Why is the search-light continually
focussed upon a two or three years space of life "mid the blank miles
round about?" Why indeed, except for the clear reason, that on a
starkly masculine basis this is his one period of overwhelming interest
If the beehive produced literature, the bee's fiction would be rich and
broad; full of the complex tasks of comb-building and filling; the care
and feeding of the young, the guardian-service of the queen; and far
beyond that it would spread to the blue glory of the summer sky, the
fresh winds, the endless beauty and sweetness of a thousand thousand
flowers. It would treat of the vast fecundity of motherhood, the
educative and selective processes of the group-mothers; and the passion
of loyalty, of social service, which holds the hive together.
But if the drones wrote fiction, it would have no subject matter save
the feasting of many; and the nuptial flight, of one.
To the male, as such, this mating instinct is frankly the major interest
of life; even the belligerent instincts are second to it. To the
female, as such, it is for all its intensity, but a passing interest.
In nature's economy, his is but a temporary devotion, hers the slow
processes of life's fulfillment.
In Humanity we have long since, not outgrown, but overgrown, this stage
of feeling. In Human Parentage even the mother's share begins to pale
beside that ever-growing Social love and care, which guards and guides
the children of to-day.
The art of literature in this main form of fiction is far too great a
thing to be wholly governed by one dominant note. As life widened and
intensified, the artist, if great enough, has transcended sex; and in
the mightier works of the real masters, we find fiction treating of
life, life in general, in all its complex relationships, and refusing to
be held longer to the rigid canons of an androcentric past.
This was the power of Balzac--he took in more than this one field. This
was the universal appeal of Dickens; he wrote of people, all kinds of
people, doing all kinds of things. As you recall with pleasure some
preferred novel of this general favorite, you find yourself looking
narrowly for the "love story" in it. It is there--for it is part of
life; but it does not dominate the whole scene--any more than it does in
The thought of the world is made and handed out to us in the main. The
makers of books are the makers of thoughts and feelings for people in
general. Fiction is the most popular form in which this world-food is
taken. If it were true, it would teach us life easily, swiftly, truly;
teach not by preaching but by truly re-presenting; and we should grow up
becoming acquainted with a far wider range of life in books than could
even be ours in person. Then meeting life in reality we should be
wise--and not be disappointed.
As it is, our great sea of fiction is steeped and dyed and flavored all
one way. A young man faces life--the seventy year stretch, remember,
and is given book upon book wherein one set of feelings is continually
vocalized and overestimated. He reads forever of love, good love and
bad love, natural and unnatural, legitimate and illegitimate; with the
unavoidable inference that there is nothing else going on.
If he is a healthy young man he breaks loose from the whole thing,
despises "love stories" and takes up life as he finds it. But what
impression he does receive from fiction is a false one, and he suffers
without knowing it from lack of the truer broader views of life it
failed to give him.
A young woman faces life--the seventy year stretch remember; and is
given the same books--with restrictions. Remember the remark of
Rochefoucauld, "There are thirty good stories in the world and
twenty-nine cannot be told to women." There is a certain broad field of
literature so grossly androcentric that for very shame men have tried to
keep it to themselves. But in a milder form, the spades all named
teaspoons, or at the worst appearing as trowels--the young woman is
given the same fiction. Love and love and love--from "first sight" to
marriage. There it stops--just the fluttering ribbon of announcement,
"and lived happily ever after."
Is that kind of fiction any sort of picture of a woman's life? Fiction,
under our androcentric culture, has not given any true picture of
woman's life, very little of human life, and a disproportioned section
of man's life.
As we daily grow more human, both of us, this noble art is changing for
the better so fast that a short lifetime can mark the growth. New
fields are opening and new laborers are working in them. But it is no
swift and easy matter to disabuse the race mind from attitudes and
habits inculcated for a thousand years. What we have been fed upon so
long we are well used to, what we are used to we like, what we like we
think is good and proper.
The widening demand for broader, truer fiction is disputed by the slow
racial mind: and opposed by the marketers of literature on grounds of
visible self-interest, as well as lethargic conservatism.
It is difficult for men, heretofore the sole producers and consumers of
literature; and for women, new to the field, and following masculine
canons because all the canons were masculine; to stretch their minds to
a recognition of the change which is even now upon us.
This one narrow field has been for so long overworked, our minds are so
filled with heroes and heroes continually repeating the one-act play,
that when a book like David Harum is offered the publisher refuses it
repeatedly, and finally insists on a "heart interest" being injected by
Did anyone read David Harum for that heart interest? Does anyone
remember that heart interest? Has humanity no interests but those of
Robert Ellesmere was a popular book--but not because of its heart
Uncle Tom's Cabin appealed to the entire world, more widely than any
work of fiction that was ever written; but if anybody fell in love and
married in it they have been forgotten. There was plenty of love in
that book, love of family, love of friends, love of master for servant
and servant for master; love of mother for child; love of married people
for each other; love of humanity and love of God.
It was extremely popular. Some say it was not literature. That opinion
will live, like the name of Empedocles.
The art of fiction is being re-born in these days. Life is discovered
to be longer, wider, deeper, richer, than these monotonous players of
one June would have us believe.
The humanizing of woman of itself opens five distinctly fresh fields of
fiction: First the position of the young woman who is called upon to
give up her "career"--her humanness--for marriage, and who objects to
it; second, the middle-aged woman who at last discovers that her
discontent is social starvation--that it is not more love that she
wants, but more business in life: Third the interrelation of women with
women--a thing we could never write about before because we never had it
before: except in harems and convents: Fourth the inter-action between
mothers and children; this not the eternal "mother and child," wherein
the child is always a baby, but the long drama of personal relationship;
the love and hope, the patience and power, the lasting joy and triumph,
the slow eating disappointment which must never be owned to a living
soul--here are grounds for novels that a million mothers and many
million children would eagerly read: Fifth the new attitude of the
full-grown woman who faces the demands of love with the high standards
of conscious motherhood.
There are other fields, broad and brilliantly promising, but this
chapter is meant merely to show that our one-sided culture has, in this
art, most disproportionately overestimated the dominant instincts of the
male--Love and War--an offense against art and truth, and an injury to
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
GAMES AND SPORTS
One of the sharpest distinctions both between the essential characters
and the artificial positions of men and women, is in the matter of games
and sports. By far the greater proportion of them are essentially
masculine, and as such alien to women; while from those which are
humanly interesting, women have been largely debarred by their arbitrary
The play instinct is common to girls and boys alike; and endures in some
measure throughout life. As other young animals express their abounding
energies in capricious activities similar to those followed in the
business of living, so small children gambol, physically, like lambs and
kids; and as the young of higher kinds of animals imitate in their play
the more complex activities of their elders, so do children imitate
whatever activities they see about them. In this field of playing there
is no sex.
Similarly in adult life healthy and happy persons, men and women,
naturally express surplus energy in various forms of sport. We have
here one of the most distinctively human manifestations. The great
accumulation of social energy, and the necessary limitations of one kind
of work, leave a human being tired of one form of action, yet still
uneasy for lack of full expression; and this social need has been met by
our great safety valve of games and sports.
In a society of either sex, or in a society without sex, there would
still be both pleasure and use in games; they are vitally essential to
human life. In a society of two sexes, wherein one has dictated all the
terms of life, and the other has been confined to an extremely limited
fraction of human living, we may look to see this great field of
enjoyment as disproportionately divided.
It is not only that we have reduced the play impulse in women by
restricting them to one set of occupations, and overtaxing their
energies with mother-work and housework combined; and not only that by
our androcentric conventions we further restrict their amusements; but
we begin in infancy, and forcibly differentiate their methods of play
long before any natural distinction would appear.
Take that universal joy the doll, or puppet, as an instance. A small
imitation of a large known object carries delight to the heart of a
child of either sex. The worsted cat, the wooden horse, the little
wagon, the tin soldier, the wax doll, the toy village, the "Noah's Ark,"
the omnipresent "Teddy Bear," any and every small model of a real thing
is a delight to the young human being. Of all things the puppet is the
most intimate, the little image of another human being to play with.
The fancy of the child, making endless combinations with these visible
types, plays as freely as a kitten in the leaves; or gravely carries out
some observed forms of life, as the kitten imitates its mother's
So far all is natural and human.
Now see our attitude toward child's play--under a masculine culture.
Regarding women only as a sex, and that sex as manifest from infancy, we
make and buy for our little girls toys suitable to this view. Being
females--which means mothers, we must needs provide them with babies
before they cease to be babies themselves; and we expect their play to
consist in an imitation of maternal cares. The doll, the puppet, which
interests all children, we have rendered as an eternal baby; and we
foist them upon our girl children by ceaseless millions.
The doll, as such, is dear to the little boy as well as the girl, but
not as a baby. He likes his jumping-jack, his worsted Sambo, often a
genuine rag-doll; but he is discouraged and ridiculed in this. We do
not expect the little boy to manifest a father's love and care for an
imitation child--but we do expect the little girl to show maternal
feelings for her imitation baby. It has not yet occurred to us that
this is monstrous.
Little children should not be expected to show, in painful precocity,
feelings which ought never to be experienced till they come at the
proper age. Our kittens play at cat-sports, little Tom and Tabby
together; but little Tabby does not play she is a mother!
Beyond the continuous dolls and their continuous dressing, we provide
for our little girls tea sets and kitchen sets, doll's houses, little
work-boxes--the imitation tools of their narrow trades. For the boy
there is a larger choice. We make for them not only the essentially
masculine toys of combat--all the enginery of mimic war; but also the
models of human things, like boats, railroads, wagons. For them, too,
are the comprehensive toys of the centuries, the kite, the top, the
ball. As the boy gets old enough to play the games that require skill,
he enters the world-lists, and the little sister, left inside, with her
everlasting dolls, learns that she is "only a girl," and "mustn't play
with boys--boys are so rough!" She has her doll and her tea set. She
"plays house." If very active she may jump rope, in solitary
enthusiasm, or in combination of from two to four. Her brother is
playing games. From this time on he plays the games of the world. The
"sporting page" should be called "the Man's Page" as that array of
recipes, fashions and cheap advice is called "the Woman's Page."
One of the immediate educational advantages of the boy's position is
that he learns "team work." This is not a masculine characteristic, it
is a human one; a social power. Women are equally capable of it by
nature; but not by education. Tending one's imitation baby is not
team-work; nor is playing house. The little girl is kept forever within
the limitations of her mother's "sphere" of action; while the boy learns
life, and fancies that his new growth is due to his superior sex.
Now there are certain essential distinctions in the sexes, which would
manifest themselves to some degree even in normally reared children; as
for instance the little male would be more given to fighting and
destroying; the little female more to caring for and constructing
"Boys are so destructive!" we say with modest pride--as if it was in
some way a credit to them. But early youth is not the time to display
sex distinction; and they should be discouraged rather than approved.
The games of the world, now the games of men, easily fall into two broad
classes--games of skill and games of chance.
The interest and pleasure in the latter is purely human, and as such is
shared by the two sexes even now. Women, in the innocent beginnings or
the vicious extremes of this line of amusement, make as wild gamblers as
men. At the races, at the roulette wheel, at the bridge table, this is
In games of skill we have a different showing. Most of these are
developed by and for men; but when they are allowed, women take part in
them with interest and success. In card games, in chess, checkers, and
the like, in croquet and tennis, they play, and play well if
well-trained. Where they fall short in so many games, and are so wholly
excluded in others, is not for lack of human capacity, but for lack of
masculinity. Most games are male. In their element of desire to win,
to get the prize, they are male; and in their universal attitude of
competition they are male, the basic spirit of desire and of combat
working out through subtle modern forms.
There is something inherently masculine also in the universal dominance
of the projectile in their games. The ball is the one unescapable
instrument of sport. From the snapped marble of infancy to the flying
missile of the bat, this form endures. To send something forth with
violence; to throw it, bat it, kick it, shoot it; this impulse seems to
date back to one of the twin forces of the universe--the centrifugal and
centripetal energies between which swing the planets.
The basic feminine impulse is to gather, to put together, to construct;
the basic masculine impulse to scatter, to disseminate, to destroy. It
seems to give pleasure to a man to bang something and drive it from him;
the harder he hits it and the farther it goes the better pleased he is.
Games of this sort will never appeal to women. They are not wrong; not
necessarily evil in their place; our mistake is in considering them as
human, whereas they are only masculine.
Play, in the childish sense is an expression of previous habit; and to
be studied in that light. Play in the educational sense should be
encouraged or discouraged to develop desired characteristics. This we
know, and practice; only we do it under androcentric canons; confining
the girl to the narrow range we consider proper for women, and assisting
the boy to cover life with the expression of masculinity, when we should
be helping both to a more human development.
Our settled conviction that men are people--the people, and that
masculine qualities are the main desideratam in life, is what keeps up
this false estimate of the value of our present games. Advocates of
football, for instance, proudly claim that it fits a man for life.
Life--from the wholly male point of view--is a battle, with a prize. To
want something beyond measure, and to fight to get--that is the simple
proposition. This view of life finds its most naive expression in
predatory warfare; and still tends to make predatory warfare of the
later and more human processes of industry. Because they see life in
this way they imagine that skill and practice in the art of fighting,
especially in collective fighting, is so valuable in our modern life.
This is an archaism which would be laughable if it were not so dangerous
in its effects.
The valuable processes to-day are those of invention, discovery, all
grades of industry, and, most especially needed, the capacity for honest
service and administration of our immense advantages. These are not
learned on the football field. This spirit of desire and combat may be
seen further in all parts of this great subject. It has developed into
a cult of sportsmanship; so universally accepted among men as of
superlative merit as to quite blind them to other standards of judgment.
In the Cook-Peary controversy of 1909, this canon was made manifest.
Here, one man had spent a lifetime in trying to accomplish something;
and at the eleventh hour succeeded. Then, coming out in the rich
triumph long deferred, he finds another man, of character well known to
him, impudently and falsely claiming that he had done it first. Mr.
Peary expressed himself, quite restrainedly and correctly, in regard to
the effrontery and falsity of this claim--and all the country rose up
and denounced him as "unsportsmanlike!"
Sport and the canons of sport are so dominant in the masculine mind that
what they considered a deviation from these standards was of far more
importance than the question of fact involved; to say nothing of the
moral obliquity of one lying to the whole world, for money; and that at
the cost of another's hard-won triumph.
If women had condemned the conduct of one or the other as "not good
house-wifery," this would have been considered a most puerile comment.
But to be "unsportsmanlike" is the unpardonable sin.
Owing to our warped standards we glaringly misjudge the attitude of the
two sexes in regard to their amusements. Of late years more women than
ever before have taken to playing cards; and some, unfortunately, play
for money. A steady stream of comment and blame follows upon this. The
amount of card playing among men--and the amount of money lost and won,
does not produce an equivalent comment.
Quite aside from this one field of dissipation, look at the share of
life, of time, of strength, of money, given by men to their wide range
of recreation. The primitive satisfaction of hunting and fishing they
maintain at enormous expense. This is the indulgence of a most
rudimentary impulse; pre-social and largely pre-human, of no service
save as it affects bodily health, and of a most deterring influence on
real human development. Where hunting and fishing is of real human
service, done as a means of livelihood, it is looked down upon like any
other industry; it is no longer "sport."
The human being kills to eat, or to sell and eat from the returns; he
kills for the creature's hide or tusks, for use of some sort; or to
protect his crops from vermin, his flocks from depredation; but the
sportsman kills for the gratification of a primeval instinct, and under
rules of an arbitrary cult. "Game" creatures are his prey; bird, beast
or fish that is hard to catch, that requires some skill to slay; that
will give him not mere meat and bones, but "the pleasure of the chase."
The pleasure of the chase is a very real one. It is exemplified, in its
broad sense in children's play. The running and catching games, the
hiding and finding games, are always attractive to our infancy, as they
are to that of cubs and kittens. But the long continuance of this
indulgence among mature civilized beings is due to their masculinity.
That group of associated sex instincts, which in the woman prompts to
the patient service and fierce defence of the little child, in the man
has its deepest root in seeking, pursuing and catching. To hunt is more
than a means of obtaining food, in his long ancestry; it is to follow at
any cost, to seek through all difficulties, to struggle for and secure
the central prize of his being--a mate.
His "protective instincts" are far later and more superficial. To