Part 2 out of 3
support and care for his wife, his children, is a recent habit, in plain
sight historically; but "the pleasure of the chase" is older than that.
We should remember that associate habits and impulses last for ages upon
ages in living forms; as in the tree climbing instincts of our earliest
years, of Simian origin; and the love of water, which dates back through
unmeasured time. Where for millions of years the strongest pleasure a
given organism is fitted for, is obtained by a certain group of
activities, those activities will continue to give pleasure long after
their earlier use is gone.
This is why men enjoy "the ardor of pursuit" far more than women. It is
an essentially masculine ardor. To come easily by what he wants does
not satisfy him. He wants to want it. He wants to hunt it, seek it,
chase it, catch it. He wants it to be "game." He is by virtue of his
sex a sportsman.
There is no reason why these special instincts should not be gratified
so long as it does no harm to the more important social processes; but
it is distinctly desirable that we should understand their nature. The
reason why we have the present overwhelming mass of "sporting events,"
from the ball game to the prize fight, is because our civilization is so
overwhelmingly masculine. We shall criticize them more justly when we
see that all this mass of indulgence is in the first place a form of
sex-expression, and in the second place a survival of instincts older
than the oldest savagery.
Besides our games and sports we have a large field of "amusements" also
worth examining. We not only enjoy doing things, but we enjoy seeing
them done by others. In these highly specialized days most of our
amusement consists in paying two dollars to sit three hours and see
other people do things.
This in its largest sense is wholly human. We, as social creatures, can
enjoy a thousand forms of expression quite beyond the personal. The
birds must each sing his own song; the crickets chirp in millionfold
performance; but human being feels the deep thrill of joy in their
special singers, actors, dancers, as well as in their own personal
attempts. That we should find pleasure in watching one another is
humanly natural, but what it is we watch, the kind of pleasure and the
kind of performance, opens a wide field of choice.
We know, for instance, something of the crude excesses of aboriginal
Australian dances; we know more of the gross license of old Rome; we
know the breadth of the jokes in medieval times, and the childish
brutality of the bull-ring and the cockpit. We know, in a word, that
amusements vary; that they form a ready gauge of character and culture;
that they have a strong educational influence for good or bad. What we
have not hitherto observed is the predominant masculine influence on our
amusements. If we recall once more the statement with regard to
entertaining anecdotes, "There are thirty good stories in the world, and
twenty-nine of them cannot be told to women," we get a glaring sidelight
on the masculine specialization in jokes.
"Women have no sense of humor" has been frequently said, when "Women
have not a masculine sense of humor" would be truer. If women had
thirty "good stories" twenty-nine of which could not be told to men, it
is possible that men, if they heard some of the twenty-nine, would not
find them funny. The overweight of one sex has told in our amusements
as everywhere else.
Because men are further developed in humanity than women are as yet,
they have built and organized great places of amusement; because they
carried into their humanity their unchecked masculinity, they have made
these amusements to correspond. Dramatic expression, is in its true
sense, not only a human distinction, but one of our noblest arts. It is
allied with the highest emotions; is religious, educational, patriotic,
covering the whole range of human feeling. Through it we should be able
continually to express, in audible, visible forms, alive and moving,
whatever phase of life we most enjoyed or wished to see. There was a
time when the drama led life; lifted, taught, inspired, enlightened.
Now its main function is to amuse. Under the demand for amusement, it
has cheapened and coarsened, and now the thousand vaudevilles and
picture shows give us the broken fragments of a degraded art of which
our one main demand is that it shall make us laugh.
There are many causes at work here; and while this study seeks to show
in various fields one cause, it does not claim that cause is the only
one. Our economic conditions have enormous weight upon our amusements,
as on all other human phenomena; but even under economic pressure the
reactions of men and women are often dissimilar. Tired men and women
both need amusement, the relaxation and restful change of irresponsible
gayety. The great majority of women, who work longer hours than any
other class, need it desperately and never get it. Amusement,
entertainment, recreation, should be open to us all, enjoyed by all.
This is a human need, and not a distinction of either sex. Like most
human things it is not only largely monopolized by men, but masculized
throughout. Many forms of amusement are for men only; more for men
mostly; all are for men if they choose to go.
The entrance of women upon the stage, and their increased attendance at
theatres has somewhat modified the nature of the performance; even the
"refined vaudeville" now begins to show the influence of women. It
would be no great advantage to have this department of human life
feminized; the improvement desired is to have it less masculized; to
reduce the excessive influence of one, and to bring out those broad
human interests and pleasures which men and women can equally
participate in and enjoy.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
ETHICS AND RELIGION.
The laws of physics were at work before we were on earth, and continued
to work on us long before we had intelligence enough to perceive, much
less understand, them. Our proven knowledge of these processes
constitutes "the science of physics"; but the laws were there before the
Physics is the science of material relation, how things and natural
forces work with and on one another. Ethics is the science of social
relation, how persons and social forces work with and on one another.
Ethics is to the human world what physics is to the material world;
ignorance of ethics leaves us in the same helpless position in regard to
one another that ignorance of physics left us in regard to earth, air,
fire and water.
To be sure, people lived and died and gradually improved, while yet
ignorant of the physical sciences; they developed a rough "rule of
thumb" method, as animals do, and used great forces without
understanding them. But their lives were safer and their improvement
more rapid as they learned more, and began to make servants of the
forces which had been their masters.
We have progressed, lamely enough, with terrible loss and suffering,
from stark savagery to our present degree of civilization; we shall go
on more safely and swiftly when we learn more of the science of ethics.
Let us note first that while the underlying laws of ethics remain steady
and reliable, human notions of them have varied widely and still do so.
In different races, ages, classes, sexes, different views of ethics
obtain; the conduct of the people is modified by their views, and their
prosperity is modified by their conduct.
Primitive man became very soon aware that conduct was of importance. As
consciousness increased, with the power to modify action from within,
instead of helplessly reacting to stimuli from without, there arose the
crude first codes of ethics, the "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not" of
the blundering savage. It was mostly "Thou shalt not." Inhibition, the
checking of an impulse proven disadvantageous, was an earlier and easier
form of action than the later human power to consciously decide on and
follow a course of action with no stimulus but one's own will.
Primitive ethics consists mostly of Tabus--the things that are
forbidden; and all our dim notions of ethics to this day, as well as
most of our religions, deal mainly with forbidding.
This is almost the whole of our nursery government, to an extent shown
by the well-worn tale of the child who said her name was "Mary." "Mary
what?" they asked her. And she answered, "Mary Don't." It is also the
main body of our legal systems--a complex mass of prohibitions and
preventions. And even in manners and conventions, the things one should
not do far outnumber the things one should. A general policy of
negation colors our conceptions of ethics and religion.
When the positive side began to be developed, it was at first in purely
arbitrary and artificial form. The followers of a given religion were
required to go through certain motions, as prostrating themselves,
kneeling, and the like; they were required to bring tribute to the gods
and their priests, sacrifices, tithes, oblations; they were set little
special performances to go through at given times; the range of things
forbidden was broad; the range of things commanded was narrow. The
Christian religion, practically interpreted, requires a fuller "change
of heart" and change of life than any preceding it; which may account at
once for its wide appeal to enlightened peoples, and to its scarcity of
Again, in surveying the field, it is seen that as our grasp of ethical
values widened, as we called more and more acts and tendencies "right"
and "wrong," we have shown astonishing fluctuations and vagaries in our
judgment. Not only in our religions, which have necessarily upheld each
its own set of prescribed actions as most "right," and its own special
prohibitions as most "wrong"; but in our beliefs about ethics and our
real conduct, we have varied absurdly.
Take, for instance, the ethical concept among "gentlemen" a century or
so since, which put the paying of one's gambling debts as a well-nigh
sacred duty, and the paying of a tradesman who had fed and clothed one
as a quite negligible matter. If the process of gambling was of social
service, and the furnishing of food and clothes was not, this might be
good ethics; but as the contrary is true, we have to account for this
peculiar view on other grounds.
Again, where in Japan a girl, to maintain her parents, is justified in
leading a life of shame, we have a peculiar ethical standard difficult
for Western minds to appreciate. Yet in such an instance as is
described in "Auld Robin Gray," we see precisely the same code; the
girl, to benefit her parents, marries a rich old man she does not
love--which is to lead a life of shame. The ethical view which
justifies this, puts the benefit of parents above the benefit of
children, robs the daughter of happiness and motherhood, injures
posterity to assist ancestors.
This is one of the products of that very early religion, ancestor
worship; and here we lay a finger on a distinctly masculine influence.
We know little of ethical values during the matriarchate; whatever they
were, they must have depended for sanction on a cult of promiscuous but
efficient maternity. Our recorded history begins in the patriarchal
period, and it is its ethics alone which we know.
The mother instinct, throughout nature, is one of unmixed devotion, of
love and service, care and defence, with no self-interest. The animal
father, in such cases as he is of service to the young, assists the
mother in her work in similar fashion. But the human father in the
family with the male head soon made that family an instrument of desire,
and combat, and self-expression, following the essentially masculine
impulses. The children were his, and if males, valuable to serve and
glorify him. In his dominance over servile women and helpless children,
free rein was given to the growth of pride and the exercise of
irresponsible tyranny. To these feelings, developed without check for
thousands of years, and to the mental habits resultant, it is easy to
trace much of the bias of our early ethical concepts.
Perhaps it is worth while to repeat here that the effort of this book is
by no means to attribute a wholly evil influence to men, and a wholly
good one to women; it is not even claimed that a purely feminine culture
would have advanced the world more successfully. It does claim that the
influence of the two together is better than that of either one alone;
and in especial to point out what special kind of injury is due to the
exclusive influence of one sex heretofore.
We have to-day reached a degree of human development where both men and
women are capable of seeing over and across the distinctions of sex, and
mutually working for the advancement of the world. Our progress is,
however, seriously impeded by what we may call the masculine tradition,
the unconscious dominance of a race habit based on this long
androcentric period; and it is well worth while, in the interests of
both sexes, to show the mischievous effects of the predominance of one.
We have in our ethics not only a "double standard" in one special line,
but in nearly all. Man, as a sex, has quite naturally deified his own
qualities rather than those of his opposite. In his codes of manners,
of morals, of laws, in his early concepts of God, his ancient religions,
we see masculinity written large on every side. Confining women wholly
to their feminine functions, he has required of them only what he called
feminine virtues, and the one virtue he has demanded, to the complete
overshadowing of all others, is measured by wholly masculine
ln the interests of health and happiness, monogamous marriage proves its
superiority in our race as it has in others. It is essential to the
best growth of humanity that we practice the virtue of chastity; it is a
human virtue, not a feminine one. But in masculine hands this virtue
was enforced upon women under penalties of hideous cruelty, and quite
ignored by men. Masculine ethics, colored by masculine instincts,
always dominated by sex, has at once recognized the value of chastity in
the woman, which is right; punished its absence unfairly, which is
wrong; and then reversed the whole matter when applied to men, which is
Ethical laws are laws--not idle notions. Chastity is a virtue because
it promotes human welfare--not because men happen to prize it in women
and ignore it themselves. The underlying reason for the whole thing is
the benefit of the child; and to that end a pure and noble fatherhood is
requisite, as well as such a motherhood. Under the limitations of a too
masculine ethics, we have developed on this one line social conditions
which would be absurdly funny if they were not so horrible.
Religion, be it noticed, does not bear out this attitude. The immense
human need of religion, the noble human character of the great religious
teachers, has always set its standards, when first established, ahead of
Some there are, men of learning and authority, who hold that the
deadening immobility of our religions, their resistance to progress and
relentless preservation of primitive ideals, is due to the conservatism
of women. Men, they say, are progressive by nature; women are
conservative. Women are more religious than men, and so preserve old
religious forms unchanged after men have outgrown them.
If we saw women in absolute freedom, with a separate religion devised by
women, practiced by women, and remaining unchanged through the
centuries; while men, on the other hand, bounded bravely forward, making
new ones as fast as they were needed, this belief might be maintained.
But what do we see? All the old religions made by men, and forced on
the women whether they liked it or not. Often women not even considered
as part of the scheme--denied souls--given a much lower place in the
system--going from the service of their father's gods to the service of
their husbands--having none of their own. We see religions which make
practically no place for women, as with the Moslem, as rigidly bigoted
and unchanging as any other.
We see also this: that the wider and deeper the religion, the more
human, the more it calls for practical applications in Christianity--the
more it appeals to women. Further, in the diverging sects of the
Christian religion, we find that its progressiveness is to be measured,
not by the numbers of its women adherents, but by their relative
freedom. The women of America, who belong to a thousand sects, who
follow new ones with avidity, who even make them, and who also leave
them all as men do, are women, as well as those of Spain, who remain
contented Romanists, but in America the status of women is higher.
The fact is this: a servile womanhood is in a state of arrested
development, and as such does form a ground for the retention of ancient
ideas. But this is due to the condition of servility, not to womanhood.
That women at present are the bulwark of the older forms of our
religions is due to the action of two classes of men: the men of the
world, who keep women in their restricted position, and the men of the
church, who take every advantage of the limitations of women. When we
have for the first time in history a really civilized womanhood, we can
then judge better of its effect on religion.
Meanwhile, we can see quite clearly the effect of manhood. Keeping in
mind those basic masculine impulses--desire and combat--we see them
reflected from high heaven in their religious concepts. Reward!
Something to want tremendously and struggle to achieve! This is a
concept perfectly masculine and most imperfectly religious. A religion
is partly explanation--a theory of life; it is partly emotion--an
attitude of mind, it is partly action--a system of morals. Man's
special effect on this large field of human development is clear. He
pictured his early gods as like to himself, and they behaved in
accordance with his ideals. In the dimmest, oldest religions, nearest
the matriarchate, we find great goddesses--types of Motherhood,
Mother-love, Mother-care and Service. But under masculine dominance,
Isis and Ashteroth dwindle away to an alluring Aphrodite--not Womanhood
for the child and the World--but the incarnation of female
attractiveness for man.
As the idea of heaven developed in the man's mind it became the Happy
Hunting Ground of the savage, the beery and gory Valhalla of the
Norseman, the voluptuous, many-houri-ed Paradise of the Mohammedan.
These are men's heavens all. Women have never been so fond of hunting,
beer or blood; and their houris would be of the other kind. It may be
said that the early Christian idea of heaven is by no means planned for
men. That is trite, and is perhaps the reason why it has never had so
compelling an attraction for them.
Very early in his vague efforts towards religious expression, man voiced
his second strongest instinct--that of combat. His universe is always
dual, always a scene of combat. Born with that impulse, exercising it
continually, he naturally assumed it to be the major process in life.
It is not. Growth is the major process. Combat is a useful subsidiary
process, chiefly valuable for its initial use, to transmit the physical
superiority of the victor. Psychic and social advantages are not thus
secured or transmitted.
In no one particular is the androcentric character of our common thought
more clearly shown than in the general deification of what are now
described as "conflict stimuli." That which is true of the male
creature as such is assumed to be true of life in general; quite
naturally, but by no means correctly. To this universal masculine error
we may trace in the field of religion and ethics the great devil theory,
which has for so long obscured our minds. A God without an Adversary
was inconceivable to the masculine mind. From this basic misconception
we find all our ideas of ethics distorted; that which should have been
treated as a group of truths to be learned and habits to be cultivated
was treated in terms of combat, and moral growth made an everlasting
battle. This combat theory we may follow later into our common notions
of discipline, government, law and punishment; here is it enough to see
its painful effects in this primary field of ethics and religion?
The third essential male trait of self-expression we may follow from its
innocent natural form in strutting cock or stamping stag up to the
characteristics we label vanity and pride. The degradation of women in
forcing them to adopt masculine methods of personal decoration as a
means of livelihood, has carried with the concomitant of personal
vanity: but to this day and at their worst we do not find in women the
_naive_ exultant glow of pride which swells the bosom of the men who
march in procession with brass bands, in full regalia of any sort, so
that it be gorgeous, exhibiting their glories to all.
It is this purely masculine spirit which has given to our early concepts
of Deity the unadmirable qualities of boundless pride and a thirst for
constant praise and prostrate admiration, characteristics certainly
unbefitting any noble idea of God. Desire, combat and self-expression
all have had their unavoidable influence on masculine religions. What
deified Maternity a purely feminine culture might have put forth we do
not know, having had none such. Women are generally credited with as
much moral sense as men, and as much religious instinct; but so far it
has had small power to modify our prevailing creeds.
As a matter of fact, no special sex attributes should have any weight in
our ideas of right and wrong. Ethics and religion are distinctly human
concerns; they belong to us as social factors, not as physical ones. As
we learn to recognize our humanness, and to leave our sex
characteristics where they belong, we shall at last learn something
about ethics as a simple and practical science, and see that religions
grow as the mind grows to formulate them.
If anyone seeks for a clear, simple, easily grasped proof of our ethics,
it is to be found in a popular proverb. Struggling upward from beast
and savage into humanness, man has seen, reverenced, and striven to
attain various human virtues.
He was willing to check many primitive impulses, to change many
barbarous habits, to manifest newer, nobler powers. Much he would
concede to Humanness, but not his sex--that was beyond the range of
Ethics or Religion. By the state of what he calls "morals," and the
laws he makes to regulate them, by his attitude in courtship and in
marriage, and by the gross anomaly of militarism, in all its senseless
waste of life and wealth and joy, we may perceive this little masculine
"All's fair in love and war."
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
The origin of education is maternal. The mother animal is seen to teach
her young what she knows of life, its gains and losses; and, whether
consciously done or not, this is education. In our human life,
education, even in its present state, is the most important process.
Without it we could not maintain ourselves, much less dominate and
improve conditions as we do; and when education is what it should be,
our power will increase far beyond present hopes.
In lower animals, speaking generally, the powers of the race must be
lodged in each individual. No gain of personal experience is of avail
to the others. No advantages remain, save those physically transmitted.
The narrow limits of personal gain and personal inheritance rigidly hem
in sub-human progress. With us, what one learns may be taught to the
others. Our life is social, collective. Our gain is for all, and
profits us in proportion as we extend it to all. As the human soul
develops in us, we become able to grasp more fully our common needs and
advantages; and with this growth has come the extension of education to
the people as a whole. Social functions are developed under natural
laws, like physical ones, and may be studied similarly.
In the evolution of this basic social function, what has been the effect
of wholly masculine influence?
The original process, instruction of individual child by individual
mother, has been largely neglected in our man-made world. That was
considered as a subsidiary sex-function of the woman, and as such, left
to her "instinct." This is the main reason why we show such great
progress in education for older children, and especially for youths, and
so little comparatively in that given to little ones.
We have had on the one side the natural current of maternal education,
with its first assistant, the nursemaid, and its second, the
"dame-school"; and on the other the influence of the dominant class,
organized in university, college, and public school, slowly filtering
Educational forces are many. The child is born into certain conditions,
physical and psychic, and "educated" thereby. He grows up into social,
political and economic conditions, and is further modified by them. All
these conditions, so far, have been of androcentric character; but what
we call education as a special social process is what the child is
deliberately taught and subjected to; and it is here we may see the same
dominant influence so clearly.
This conscious education was, for long, given to boys alone, the girls
being left to maternal influence, each to learn what her mother knew,
and no more. This very clear instance of the masculine theory is
glaring enough by itself to rest a case on. It shows how absolute was
the assumption that the world was composed of men, and men alone were to
be fitted for it. Women were no part of the world, and needed no
training for its uses. As females they were born and not made; as human
beings they were only servants, trained as such by their servant
This system of education we are outgrowing more swiftly with each year.
The growing humanness of women, and its recognition, is forcing an equal
education for boy and girl. When this demand was first made, by women
of unusual calibre, and by men sufficiently human to overlook
sex-prejudice, how was it met? What was the attitude of woman's
"natural protector" when she began to ask some share in human life?
Under the universal assumption that men alone were humanity, that the
world was masculine and for men only, the efforts of the women were met
as a deliberate attempt to "unsex" themselves and become men. To be a
woman was to be ignorant, uneducated; to be wise, educated, was to be a
man. Women were not men, visibly; therefore they could not be educated,
and ought not to want to be.
Under this androcentric prejudice, the equal extension of education to
women was opposed at every step, and is still opposed by many. Seeing
in women only sex, and not humanness, they would confine her exclusively
to feminine interests. This is the masculine view, _par excellence_.
In spite of it, the human development of women, which so splendidly
characterizes our age, has gone on; and now both woman's colleges and
those for both sexes offer "the higher education" to our girls, as well
as the lower grades in school and kindergarten.
In the special professional training, the same opposition was
experienced, even more rancorous and cruel. One would think that on the
entrance of a few straggling and necessarily inferior feminine beginners
into a trade or profession, those in possession would extend to them the
right hand of fellowship, as comrades, extra assistance as beginners,
and special courtesy as women.
The contrary occurred. Women were barred out, discriminated against,
taken advantage of, as competitors; and as women they have had to meet
special danger and offence instead of special courtesy. An
unforgettable instance of this lies in the attitude of the medical
colleges toward women students. The men, strong enough, one would
think, in numbers, in knowledge, in established precedent, to be
generous, opposed the newcomers first with absolute refusal; then, when
the patient, persistent applicants did get inside, both students and
teachers met them not only with unkindness and unfairness, but with a
weapon ingeniously well chosen, and most discreditable--namely,
obscenity. Grave professors, in lecture and clinic, as well as grinning
students, used offensive language, and played offensive tricks, to drive
the women out--a most androcentric performance.
Remember that the essential masculine attitude is one of opposition, of
combat; his desire is obtained by first overcoming a competitor; and
then see how this dominant masculinity stands out where it has no
possible use or benefit--in the field of education. All along the line,
man, long master of a subject sex, fought every step of woman toward
mental equality. Nevertheless, since modern man has become human enough
to be just, he has at last let her have a share in the advantages of
education; and she has proven her full power to appreciate and use these
Then to-day rises a new cry against "women in education." Here is Mr.
Barrett Wendell, of Harvard, solemnly claiming that teaching women
weakens the intellect of the teacher, and every now and then bursts out
a frantic sputter of alarm over the "feminization" of our schools. It
is true that the majority of teachers are now women. It is true that
they do have an influence on growing children. It would even seem to be
true that that is largely what women are for.
But the male assumes his influence to be normal, human, and the female
influence as wholly a matter of sex; therefore, where women teach boys,
the boys become "effeminate"--a grievous fall. When men teach girls, do
the girls become -----? Here again we lack the analogue. Never has it
occurred to the androcentric mind to conceive of such a thing as being
too masculine. There is no such word! It is odd to notice that which
ever way the woman is placed, she is supposed to exert this degrading
influence; if the teacher, she effeminizes her pupils; if the pupil, she
effeminizes her teachers.
Now let us shake ourselves free, if only for a moment, from the
androcentric habit of mind.
As a matter of sex, the female is the more important. Her share of the
processes which sex distinction serves is by far the greater. To be
feminine--if one were nothing else, is a far more extensive and
dignified office than to be masculine--and nothing else.
But as a matter of humanity the male of our species is at present far
ahead of the female. By this superior humanness, his knowledge, his
skill, his experience, his organization and specialization, he makes and
manages the world. All this is human, not male. All this is as open to
the woman as the man by nature, but has been denied her during our
But even if, in a purely human process, such as education, she does
bring her special feminine characteristics to bear, what are they, and
what are the results?
We can see the masculine influence everywhere still dominant and
superior. There is the first spur, Desire, the base of the reward
system, the incentive of self-interest, the attitude which says, "Why
should I make an effort unless it will give me pleasure?" with its
concomitant laziness, unwillingness to work without payment. There is
the second spur, Combat, the competitive system, which sets one against
another, and finds pleasure not in learning, not exercising the mind,
but in getting ahead of one's fellows. Under these two wholly masculine
influences we have made the educational process a joy to the few who
successfully attain, and a weary effort, with failure and contumely
attached, to all the others. This may be a good method in
sex-competition, but is wholly out of place and mischievous in
education. Its prevalence shows the injurious masculization of this
noble social process.
What might we look for in a distinctly feminine influence? What are
these much-dreaded feminine characteristics?
The maternal ones, of course. The sex instincts of the male are of a
preliminary nature, leading merely to the union preceding parenthood.
The sex instincts of the female cover a far larger field, spending
themselves most fully in the lasting love, the ceaseless service, the
ingenuity and courage of efficient motherhood. To feminize education
would be to make it more motherly. The mother does not rear her
children by a system of prizes to be longed for and pursued; nor does
she set them to compete with one another, giving to the conquering child
what he needs, and to the vanquished, blame and deprivation. That would
Motherhood does all it knows to give to each child what is most needed,
to teach all to their fullest capacity, to affectionately and
efficiently develop the whole of them.
But this is not what is meant by those who fear so much the influence of
women. Accustomed to a wholly male standard of living, to masculine
ideals, virtues, methods and conditions, they say--and say with some
justice--that feminine methods and ideals would be destructive to what
they call "manliness." For instance, education to-day is closely
interwoven with games and sports, all of an excessively masculine
nature. "The education of a boy is carried on largely on the
playground!" say the objectors to women teachers. Women cannot join
them there; therefore, they cannot educate them.
What games are these in which women cannot join? There are forms of
fighting, of course, violent and fierce, modern modifications of the
instinct of sex-combat. It is quite true that women are not adapted, or
inclined, to baseball or football or any violent game. They are
perfectly competent to take part in all normal athletic development, the
human range of agility and skill is open to them, as everyone knows who
has been to the circus; but they are not built for physical combat; nor
do they find ceaseless pleasure in throwing, hitting or kicking things.
But is it true that these strenuous games have the educational value
attributed to them? It seems like blasphemy to question it. The whole
range of male teachers, male pupils, male critics and spectators, are
loud in their admiration for the "manliness" developed by the craft,
courage, co-ordinative power and general "sportsmanship" developed by
the game of football, for instance; that a few young men are killed and
many maimed, is nothing in comparison to these advantages.
Let us review the threefold distinction on which this whole study rests,
between masculine, feminine and human. Grant that woman, being
feminine, cannot emulate man in being masculine--and does not want to.
Grant that the masculine qualities have their use and value, as well as
feminine ones. There still remain the human qualities shared by both,
owned by neither, most important of all. Education is a human process,
and should develop human qualities--not sex qualities. Surely our boys
are sufficiently masculine, without needing a special education to make
them more so.
The error lies here. A strictly masculine world, proud of its own sex
and despising the other, seeing nothing in the world but sex, either
male or female, has "viewed with alarm" the steady and rapid growth of
humanness. Here, for instance, is a boy visibly tending to be an
artist, a musician, a scientific discoverer. Here is another boy not
particularly clever in any line, nor ambitious for any special work,
though he means in a general way to "succeed"; he is, however, a big,
husky fellow, a good fighter, mischievous as a monkey, and strong in the
virtues covered by the word "sportsmanship." This boy we call "a fine
We are quite right. He is. He is distinctly and excessively male, at
the expense of his humanness. He may make a more prepotent sire than
the other, though even that is not certain; he may, and probably will,
appeal more strongly to the excessively feminine girl, who has even less
humanness than he; but he is not therefore a better citizen.
The advance of civilization calls for human qualities, in both men and
women. Our educational system is thwarted and hindered, not as Prof.
Wendell and his life would have us believe, by "feminization," but by an
Their position is a simple one. "We are men. Men are human beings.
Women are only women. This is a man's world. To get on in it you must
do it man-fashion--i.e., fight, and overcome the others. Being
civilized, in part, we must arrange a sort of "civilized warfare," and
learn to play the game, the old crude, fierce male game of combat, and
we must educate our boys thereto." No wonder education was denied to
women. No wonder their influence is dreaded by an ultra-masculine
It will change the system in time. It will gradually establish an equal
place in life for the feminine characteristics, so long belittled and
derided, and give pre-eminent dignity to the human power.
Physical culture, for both boys and girls, will be part of such a
modified system. All things that both can do together will be accepted
as human; but what either boys or girls have to retire apart to practice
will be frankly called masculine and feminine, and not encouraged in
The most important qualities are the human ones, and will be so named
and honored. Courage is a human quality, not a sex-quality. What is
commonly called courage in male animals is mere belligerence, the
fighting instinct. To meet an adversary of his own sort is a universal
masculine trait; two father cats may fight fiercely each other, but both
will run from a dog as quickly as a mother cat. She has courage enough,
however, in defence of her kittens.
What this world most needs to-day in both men and women, is the power to
recognize our public conditions; to see the relative importance of
measures; to learn the processes of constructive citizenship. We need
an education which shall give its facts in the order of their
importance; morals and manners based on these facts; and train our
personal powers with careful selection, so that each may best serve the
At present, in the larger processes of extra-scholastic education, the
advantage is still with the boy. From infancy we make the gross mistake
of accentuating sex in our children, by dress and all its limitations,
by special teaching of what is "ladylike" and "manly." The boy is
allowed a freedom of experience far beyond the girl. He learns more of
his town and city, more of machinery, more of life, passing on from
father to son the truths as well as traditions of sex superiority.
All this is changing before our eyes, with the advancing humanness of
women. Not yet, however, has their advance affected, to any large
extent, the base of all education; the experience of a child's first
years. Here is where the limitations of women have checked race
progress most thoroughly. Here hereditary influence was constantly
offset by the advance of the male. Social selection did develop higher
types of men, though sex-selection reversed still insisted on primitive
types of women. But the educative influence of these primitive women,
acting most exclusively on the most susceptible years of life, has been
a serious deterrent to race progress.
Here is the dominant male, largely humanized, yet still measuring life
from male standards. He sees women only as a sex. (Note here the
criticism of Europeans on American women. "Your women are so sexless!"
they say, meaning merely that our women have human qualities as well as
feminine.) And children he considers as part and parcel of the same
domain, both inferior classes, "women and children."
I recall in Rimmer's beautiful red chalk studies, certain profiles of
man, woman and child, and careful explanation that the proportion of the
woman's face and head were far more akin to the child than to the man.
What Mr. Rimmer should have shown, and could have, by profuse
illustration, was that the faces of boy and girl differ but slightly,
and the faces of old men and women differ as little, sometimes not at
all; while the face of the woman approximates the human more closely
than that of the man; while the child, representing race more than sex,
is naturally more akin to her than to him. The male reserves more
primitive qualities, the hairiness, the more pugnacious jaw; the female
is nearer to the higher human types.
An ultra-male selection has chosen women for their femininity first, and
next for qualities of submissiveness and patient service bred by long
ages of servility.
This servile womanhood, or the idler and more excessively feminine type,
has never appreciated the real power and place of the mother, and has
never been able to grasp or to carry out any worthy system of education
for little children. Any experienced teacher, man or woman, will own
how rare it is to find a mother capable of a dispassionate appreciation
of educative values. Books in infant education and child culture
generally are read by teachers more than mothers, so our public
libraries prove. The mother-instinct, quite suitable and sufficient in
animals, is by no means equal to the requirements of civilized life.
Animal motherhood furnishes a fresh wave of devotion for each new birth;
primitive human motherhood extends that passionate tenderness over the
growing family for a longer period; but neither can carry education
beyond its rudiments.
So accustomed are we to our world-old method of entrusting the first
years of the child to the action of untaught, unbridled mother-instinct,
that suggestions as to a better education for babies are received with
the frank derision of massed ignorance.
That powerful and brilliant writer, Mrs. Josephine Daskam Bacon, among
others has lent her able pen to ridicule and obstruct the gradual
awakening of human intelligence in mothers, the recognition that babies
are no exception to the rest of us in being better off for competent
care and service. It seems delightfully absurd to these reactionaries
that ages of human progress should be of any benefit to babies, save,
indeed, as their more human fathers, specialized and organized, are able
to provide them with better homes and a better world to grow up in. The
idea that mothers, more human, should specialize and organize as well,
and extend to their babies these supreme advantages, is made a laughing
It is easy and profitable to laugh with the majority; but in the
judgment of history, those who do so, hold unenviable positions. The
time is coming when the human mother will recognize the educative
possibilities of early childhood, learn that the ability to rightly
teach little children is rare and precious, and be proud and glad to
avail themselves of it.
We shall then see a development of the most valuable human qualities in
our children's minds such as would now seem wildly Utopian. We shall
learn from wide and long experience to anticipate and provide for the
steps of the unfolding mind, and train it, through carefully prearranged
experiences, to a power of judgment, of self-control, of social
perception, now utterly unthought of.
Such an education would begin at birth; yes, far before it, in the
standards of a conscious human motherhood. It would require a quite
different status of wifehood, womanhood, girlhood. It would be wholly
impossible if we were never to outgrow our androcentric culture.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
"SOCIETY" AND "FASHION"
Among our many naive misbeliefs is the current fallacy that "society" is
made by women; and that women are responsible for that peculiar social
manifestation called "fashion."
Men and women alike accept this notion; the serious essayist and
philosopher, as well as the novelist and paragrapher, reflect it in
their pages. The force of inertia acts in the domain of psychics as
well as physics; any idea pushed into the popular mind with considerable
force will keep on going until some opposing force--or the slow
resistance of friction--stops it at last.
"Society" consists mostly of women. Women carry on most of its
processes, therefore women are its makers and masters, they are
responsible for it, that is the general belief.
We might as well hold women responsible for harems--or prisoners for
jails. To be helplessly confined to a given place or condition does not
prove that one has chosen it; much less made it.
No; in an androcentric culture "society," like every other social
relation, is dominated by the male and arranged for his convenience.
There are, of course, modifications due to the presence of the other
sex; where there are more women than men there are inevitable results of
their influence; but the character and conditions of the whole
performance are dictated by men.
Social intercourse is the prime condition of human life. To meet, to
mingle, to know one another, to exchange, not only definite ideas,
facts, and feelings, but to experience that vague general stimulus and
enlarged power that comes of contact--all this is essential to our
happiness as well as to our progress.
This grand desideratum has always been monopolized by men as far as
possible. What intercourse was allowed to women has been rigidly hemmed
its by man-made conventions. Women accept these conventions, repeat
them, enforce them upon their daughters; but they originate with men.
The feet of the little Chinese girl are bound by her mother and her
nurse--but it is not for woman's pleasure that this crippling torture
was invented. The Oriental veil is worn by women, but it is not for any
need of theirs that veils were decreed them.
When we look at society in its earlier form we find that the public
house has always been with us. It is as old almost as the private
house; the need for association is as human as the need for privacy.
But the public house was--and is--for men only. The woman was kept as
far as possible at home. Her female nature was supposed to delimit her
life satisfactorily, and her human stature was completely ignored.
Under the pressure of that human nature she has always rebelled at the
social restrictions which surrounded her; and from the women of older
lands gathered at the well, or in the market place, to our own women on
the church steps or in the sewing circle, they have ceaselessly
struggled for the social intercourse which was as much a law of their
being as of man's.
When we come to the modern special field that we call "society," we find
it to consist of a carefully arranged set of processes and places
wherein women may meet one another and meet men. These vary, of course,
with race, country, class, and period; from the clean licence of our
western customs to the strict chaperonage of older lands; but free as it
is in America, even here there are bounds.
Men associate without any limit but that of inclination and financial
capacity. Even class distinction only works one way--the low-class man
may not mingle with high-class women; but the high-class man may--and
does--mingle with low-class women. It is his society--may not a man do
what he will with his own?
Caste distinctions, as have been ably shown by Prof. Lester F. Ward, are
relics of race distinction; the subordinate caste was once a subordinate
race; and while mating, upward, was always forbidden to the subject
race; mating, downward, was always practiced by the master race.
The elaborate shading of "the color line" in slavery days, from pure
black up through mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, quinteroon, griffada,
mustafee, mustee, and sang d'or--to white again; was not through white
mothers--but white fathers; never too exclusive in their tastes. Even
in slavery, the worst horrors were strictly androcentric.
"Society" is strictly guarded--that is its women are. As always, the
main tabu is on the woman. Consider carefully the relation between
"society" and the growing girl. She must, of course, marry; and her
education, manners, character, must of course be pleasing to the
prospective wooer. That which is desirable in young girls means,
naturally, that which is desirable to men. Of all cultivated
accomplishments the first is "innocence." Beauty may or may not be
forthcoming; but "innocence" is "the chief charm of girlhood."
Why? What good does it do _her?_ Her whole life's success is made to
depend on her marrying; her health and happiness depends on her marrying
the right man. The more "innocent" she is, the less she knows, the
easier it is for the wrong man to get her.
As is so feelingly described in "The Sorrows of Amelia," in "The Ladies'
Literary Cabinet," a magazine taken by my grandmother; "The only foible
which the delicate Amelia possessed was an unsuspecting breast to lavish
esteem. Unversed in the secret villanies of a base degenerate world,
she ever imagined all mankind to be as spotless as herself. Alas for
Amelia! This fatal credulity was the source of all her misfortunes."
It was. It is yet.
Just face the facts with new eyes--look at it as if you had never seen
"society" before; and observe the position of its "Queen."
Here is Woman. Let us grant that Motherhood is her chief purpose. (As
a female it is. As a human being she has others!) Marriage is our way
of safeguarding motherhood; of ensuring "support" and "protection" to
the wife and children.
"Society" is very largely used as a means to bring together young
people, to promote marriage. If "society" is made and governed by women
we should naturally look to see its restrictions and encouragements such
as would put a premium on successful maternity and protect women--and
their children--from the evils of ill-regulated fatherhood.
Do we find this? By no means.
"Society" allows the man all liberty--all privilege--all license. There
are certain offences which would exclude him; such as not paying
gambling debts, or being poor; but offences against womanhood--against
motherhood--do not exclude him.
How about the reverse?
If "society" is made by women, for women, surely a misstep by a
helplessly "innocent" girl, will not injure her standing!
But it does. She is no longer "innocent." She knows now. She has lost
her market value and is thrown out of the shop. Why not? It is his
shop--not hers. What women may and may not be, what they must and must
not do, all is measured from the masculine standard.
A really feminine "society" based on the needs and pleasures of women,
both as females and as human beings, would in the first place accord
them freedom and knowledge; the knowledge which is power. It would not
show us "the queen of the ballroom" in the position of a wall-flower
unless favored by masculine invitation; unable to eat unless he brings
her something; unable to cross the floor without his arm. Of all blind
stultified "royal sluggards" she is the archetype. No, a feminine
society would grant _at least_ equality to women in this, their
so-called special field.
Its attitude toward men, however, would be rigidly critical.
Fancy a real Mrs. Grundy (up to date it has been a Mr., his whiskers hid
in capstrings) saying, "No, no, young man. You won't do. You've been
drinking. The habit's growing on you. You'll make a bad husband."
Or still more severely, "Out with you, sir! You've forfeited your right
to marry! Go into retirement for seven years, and when you come back
bring a doctor's certificate with you."
That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it--for "Society" to say? It is
ridiculous, in a man's "society."
The required dress and decoration of "society"; the everlasting eating
and drinking of "society," the preferred amusements of "society," the
absolute requirements and absolute exclusions of "society," are of men,
by men, for men,--to paraphrase a threadbare quotation. And then, upon
all that vast edifice of masculine influence, they turn upon women as
Adam did; and blame _them_ for severity with their fallen sisters!
"Women are so hard upon women!"
They have to be. What man would "allow" his wife, his daughters, to
visit and associate with "the fallen"? His esteem would be forfeited,
they would lose their "social position," the girl's chance of marrying
would be gone.
Men are not so stern. They may visit the unfortunate women, to bring
them help, sympathy, re-establishment--or for other reasons; and it does
not forfeit their social position. Why should it? They make the
Women are to-day, far more conspicuously than men, the exponents and
victims of that mysterious power we call "Fashion." As shown in mere
helpless imitation of one another's idea, customs, methods, there is not
much difference; in patient acquiescence with prescribed models of
architecture, furniture, literature, or anything else; there is not much
difference; but in personal decoration there is a most conspicuous
difference. Women do to-day submit to more grotesque ugliness and
absurdity than men; and there are plenty of good reasons for it.
Confining our brief study of fashion to fashion in dress, let us observe
why it is that women wear these fine clothes at all; and why they change
them as they do.
First, and very clearly, the human female carries the weight of sex
decoration, solely because of her economic dependence on the male. She
alone in nature adds to the burdens of maternity, which she was meant
for, this unnatural burden of ornament, which she was not meant for.
Every other female in the world is sufficiently attractive to the male
without trimmings. He carries the trimmings, sparing no expense of
spreading antlers or trailing plumes; no monstrosity of crest and
wattles, to win her favor.
She is only temporarily interested in him. The rest of the time she is
getting her own living, and caring for her own young. But our women get
their bread from their husbands, and every other social need. The woman
depends on the man for her position in life, as well as the necessities
of existence. For herself and for her children she must win and hold
him who is the source of all supplies. Therefore she is forced to add
to her own natural attractions this "dance of the seven veils," of the
seventeen gowns, of the seventy-seven hats of gay delirium.
There are many who think in one syllable, who say, "women don't dress to
please men--they dress to please themselves--and to outshine other
women." To these I would suggest a visit to some summer shore resort
during the week and extending over Saturday night. The women have all
the week to please themselves and outshine one another; but their array
on Saturday seems to indicate the approach of some new force or
If all this does not satisfy I would then call their attention to the
well-known fact that the young damsel previous to marriage spends far
more time and ingenuity in decoration than she does afterward. This has
long been observed and deprecated by those who write Advice to Wives, on
the ground that this difference is displeasing to the husband--that she
loses her influence over him; which is true. But since his own
"society," knowing his weakness, has tied him to her by law; why should
she keep up what is after all an unnatural exertion?
That excellent magazine "Good Housekeeping" has been running for some
months a rhymed and illustrated story of "Miss Melissa Clarissa McRae,"
an extremely dainty and well-dressed stenographer, who captured and
married a fastidious young man, her employer, by the force of her
artificial attractions--and then lost his love after marriage by a
sudden unaccountable slovenliness--the same old story.
If this in not enough, let me instance further the attitude toward
"Fashion" of that class of women who live most openly and directly upon
the favor of men. These know their business. To continually attract
the vagrant fancy of the male, nature's born "variant," they must not
only pile on artificial charms, but change them constantly. They do.
From the leaders of this profession comes a steady stream of changing
fashions; the more extreme and bizarre, the more successful--and because
they are successful they are imitated.
If men did not like changes in fashion be assured these professional
men-pleasers would not change them, but since Nature's Variant tires of
any face in favor of a new one, the lady who would hold her sway and
cannot change her face (except in color) must needs change her hat and
But the Arbiter, the Ruling Cause, he who not only by choice demands,
but as a business manufactures and supplies this amazing stream of
fashions; again like Adam blames the woman--for accepting what he both
demands and supplies.
A further proof, if more were needed, is shown in this; that in exact
proportion as women grow independent, educated, wise and free, do they
become less submissive to men-made fashions. Was this improvement
hailed with sympathy and admiration--crowned with masculine favor?
The attitude of men toward those women who have so far presumed to
"unsex themselves" is known to all. They like women to be foolish,
changeable, always newly attractive; and while women must "attract" for
a living--why they do, that's all.
It is a pity. It is humiliating to any far-seeing woman to have to
recognize this glaring proof of the dependent, degraded position of her
sex; and it ought to be humiliating to men to see the results of their
mastery. These crazily decorated little creatures do not represent
When the artist uses the woman as the type of every highest ideal; as
Justice, Liberty, Charity, Truth--he does not represent her trimmed. In
any part of the world where women are even in part economically
independent there we find less of the absurdities of fashion. Women who
work cannot be utterly absurd.
But the idle woman, the Queen of Society, who must please men within
their prescribed bounds; and those of the half-world, who must please
them at any cost--these are the vehicles of fashion.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN~MADE WORLD
LAW AND GOVERNMENT.
It is easy to assume that men are naturally the lawmakers and
law-enforcers, under the plain historic fact that they have been such
since the beginning of the patriarchate.
Back of law lies custom and tradition. Back of government lies the
correlative activity of any organized group. What group-insects and
group-animals evolve unconsciously and fulfill by their social
instincts, we evolve consciously and fulfill by arbitrary systems called
laws and governments. In this, as in all other fields of our action, we
must discriminate between the humanness of the function in process of
development, and the influence of the male or female upon it. Quite
apart from what they may like or dislike as sexes, from their differing
tastes and faculties, lies the much larger field of human progress, in
which they equally participate.
On this plane the evolution of law and government proceeds somewhat as
follows:--The early woman-centered group organized on maternal lines of
common love and service. The early combinations of men were first a
grouped predacity--organized hunting; then a grouped
By special development some minds are able to perceive the need of
certain lines of conduct over others, and to make this clear to their
fellows; whereby, gradually, our higher social nature establishes rules
and precedents to which we personally agree to submit. The process of
social development is one of progressive co-ordination.
From independent individual action for individual ends, up to
interdependent social action for social ends we slowly move; the "devil"
in the play being the old Ego, which has to be harmonized with the new
social spirit. This social process, like all others, having been in
masculine hands, we may find in it the same marks of one-sided
Specialization so visible in our previous studies.
The coersive attitude is essentially male. In the ceaseless age-old
struggle of sex combat he developed the desire to overcome, which is
always stimulated by resistance; and in this later historic period of
his supremacy, he further developed the habit of dominance and mastery.
We may instance the contrast between the conduct of a man when "in love"
and while courting; in which period he falls into the natural position
of his sex towards the other--namely, that of a wooer; and his behavior
when, with marriage, they enter the, artificial relation of the master
male and servile female. His "instinct of dominance" does not assert
itself during the earlier period, which was a million times longer than
the latter; it only appears in the more modern and arbitrary relation.
Among other animals monogamous union is not accompanied by any such
discordant and unnatural features. However recent as this habit is when
considered biologically, it is as old as civilization when we consider
it historically: quite old enough to be a serious force. Under its
pressure we see the legal systems and forms of government slowly
evolving, the general human growth always heavily perverted by the
special masculine influence. First we find the mere force of custom
governing us, the _mores_ of the ancient people. Then comes the gradual
appearance of authority, from the purely natural leadership of the best
hunter or fighter up through the unnatural mastery of the patriarch,
owning and governing his wives, children, slaves and cattle, and making
such rules and regulations as pleased him.
Our laws as we support them now are slow, wasteful, cumbrous systems,
which require a special caste to interpret and another to enforce;
wherein the average citizen knows nothing of the law, and cares only to
evade it when he can, obey it when he must. In the household, that
stunted, crippled rudiment of the matriarchate, where alone we can find
what is left of the natural influence of woman, the laws and government,
so far as she is responsible for them, are fairly simple, and bear
visible relation to the common good, which relation is clearly and
In the larger household of city and state the educational part of the
law is grievously neglected. It makes no allowance for ignorance. If a
man breaks a law of which he never heard he is not excused therefore;
the penalty rolls on just the same. Fancy a mother making solemn rules
and regulations for her family, telling the children nothing about them,
and then punishing them when they disobeyed the unknown laws!
The use of force is natural to the male; while as a human being he must
needs legislate somewhat in the interests of the community, as a male
being he sees no necessity for other enforcement than by penalty. To
violently oppose, to fight, to trample to the earth, to triumph in loud
bellowings of savage joy,--these are the primitive male instincts; and
the perfectly natural social instinct which leads to peaceful
persuasion, to education, to an easy harmony of action, are
contemptuously ranked as "feminine," or as "philanthropic,"--which is
almost as bad. "Men need stronger measures" they say proudly. Yes, but
four-fifths of the world are women and children!
As a matter of fact the woman, the mother, is the first co-ordinator,
legislator, administrator and executive. From the guarding and guidance
of her cubs and kittens up to the longer, larger management of human
youth, she is the first to consider group interests and co-relate them.
As a father the male grows to share in these original feminine
functions, and with us, fatherhood having become socialized while
motherhood has not, he does the best he can, alone, to do the world's
mother-work in his father way.
In study of any long established human custom it is very difficult to
see it clearly and dispassionately. Our minds are heavily loaded with
precedent, with race-custom, with the iron weight called authority.
These heavy forces reach their most perfect expression in the absolutely
masculine field of warfare. The absolute authority; the brainless,
voiceless obedience; the relentless penalty. Here we have male coercion
at its height; law and government wholly arbitrary. The result is as
might be expected, a fine machine of destruction. But destruction is
not a human process--merely a male process of eliminating the unfit.
The female process is to select the fit; her elimination is negative and
Greater than either is the human process, to _develop fitness._
Men are at present far more human than women. Alone upon their
self-seized thrones they have carried as best they might the burdens of
the state; and the history of law and government shows them as changing
slowly but irresistably in the direction of social improvement.
The ancient kings were the joyous apotheosis of masculinity. Power and
Pride were theirs; Limitless Display; Boundless Self-indulgence;
Irresistable Authority. Slaves and courtiers bowed before them,
subjects obeyed them, captive women filled their harems. But the day of
the masculine monarchy is passing, and the day of the human democracy is
coming in. In a Democracy Law and Government both change. Laws are no
longer imposed on the people by one above them, but are evolved from the
people themselves. How absurd that the people should not be educated in
the laws they make; that the trailing remnants of blind submission
should still becloud their minds and make them bow down patiently under
the absurd pressure of outgrown tradition!
Democratic government is no longer an exercise of arbitrary authority
from one above, but is an organization for public service of the people
themselves--or will be when it is really attained.
In this change government ceases to be compulsion, and becomes
agreement; law ceases to be authority and becomes co-ordination. When
we learn the rules of whist or chess we do not obey them because we fear
to be punished if we don't, but because we want to play the game. The
rules of human conduct are for our own happiness and service--any child
can see that. Every child will see it when laws are simplified, based
on sociology, and taught in schools. A child of ten should be
considered grossly uneducated who could not rewrite the main features of
the laws of his country, state, and city; and those laws should be so
simple in their principles that a child of ten could understand them.
Teacher: "What is a tax?"
Child: "A tax is the money we agree to pay to keep up our common
Teacher: "Why do we all pay taxes?"
Child: "Because the country belongs to all of us, and we must all pay
our share to keep it up."
Teacher: "In what proportion do we pay taxes?"
Child: "In proportion to how much money we have." (_Sotto voce_: "Of
Teacher: "What is it to evade taxes?"
Child: "It is treason." (_Sotto voce_: "And a dirty mean trick.")
In masculine administration of the laws we may follow the instinctive
love of battle down through the custom of "trial by combat"--only
recently outgrown, to our present method, where each contending party
hires a champion to represent him, and these fight it out in a wordy
war, with tricks and devices of complex ingenuity, enjoying this kind of
struggle as they enjoy all other kinds.
It is the old masculine spirit of government as authority which is so
slow in adapting itself to the democratic idea of government as service.
That it should be a representative government they grasp, but
representative of what? of the common will, they say; the will of the
majority;--never thinking that it is the common good, the common
welfare, that government should represent.
It is the inextricable masculinity in our idea of government which so
revolts at the idea of women as voters. "To govern:" that means to
boss, to control, to have authority; and that only, to most minds. They
cannot bear to think of the woman as having control over even their own
affairs; to control is masculine, they assume. Seeing only
self-interest as a natural impulse, and the ruling powers of the state
as a sort of umpire, an authority to preserve the rules of the game
while men fight it out forever; they see in a democracy merely a wider
range of self interest, and a wider, freer field to fight in.
The law dictates the rules, the government enforces them, but the main
business of life, hitherto, has been esteemed as one long fierce
struggle; each man seeking for himself. To deliberately legislate for
the service of all the people, to use the government as the main engine
of that service, is a new process, wholly human, and difficult of
development under an androcentric culture.
Furthermore they put forth those naively androcentric protests,--women
cannot fight, and in case their laws were resisted by men they could not
enforce them,--_therefore_ they should not vote!
What they do not so plainly say, but very strongly think, is that women
should not share the loot which to their minds is so large a part of
Here we may trace clearly the social heredity of male government.
Fix clearly in your mind the first head-ship of man--the leader of the
pack as it were--the Chief Hunter. Then the second head-ship, the Chief
Fighter. Then the third head-ship, the Chief of the Family. Then the
long line of Chiefs and Captains, Warlords and Landlords, Rulers and
The Hunter hunted for prey, and got it. The Fighter enriched himself
with the spoils of the vanquished. The Patriarch lived on the labor of
women and slaves. All down the ages, from frank piracy and robbery to
the measured toll of tribute, ransom and indemnity, we see the same
natural instinct of the hunter and fighter. In his hands the government
is a thing to sap and wreck, to live on. It is his essential impulse to
want something very much; to struggle and fight for it; to take all he
Set against this the giving love that comes with motherhood; the endless
service that comes of motherhood; the peaceful administration in the
interest of the family that comes of motherhood. We prate much of the
family as the unit of the state. If it is--why not run the state on
that basis? Government by women, so far as it is influenced by their
sex, would be influenced by motherhood; and that would mean care,
nurture, provision, education. We have to go far down the scale for any
instance of organized motherhood, but we do find it in the hymenoptera;
in the overflowing industry, prosperity, peace and loving service of the
ant-hill and bee-hive. These are the most highly socialized types of
life, next to ours, and they are feminine types.
We as human beings have a far higher form of association, with further
issues than mere wealth and propagation of the species. In this human
process we should never forget that men are far more advanced than
women, at present. Because of their humanness has come all the noble
growth of civilization, in spite of their maleness.
As human beings both male and female stand alike useful and honorable,
and should in our government be alike used and honored; but as creatures
of sex, the female is fitter than the male for administration of
constructive social interests. The change in governmental processes
which marks our times is a change in principle. Two great movements
convulse the world to-day, the woman's movement and the labor movement.
Each regards the other as of less moment than itself. Both are parts of
the same world-process.
We are entering upon a period of social consciousness. Whereas so far
almost all of us have seen life only as individuals, and have regarded
the growing strength and riches of the social body as merely so much the
more to fatten on; now we are beginning to take an intelligent interest
in our social nature, to understand it a little, and to begin to feel
the vast increase of happiness and power that comes of real Human Life.
In this change of systems a government which consisted only of
prohibition and commands; of tax collecting and making war; is rapidly
giving way to a system which intelligently manages our common interests,
which is a growing and improving method of universal service. Here the
socialist is perfectly right in his vision of the economic welfare to be
assured by the socialization of industry, though that is but part of the
new development; and the individualist who opposes socialism, crying
loudly for the advantage of "free competition" is but voicing the spirit
of the predacious male.
So with the opposers to the suffrage of women. They represent, whether
men or women, the male viewpoint. They see the woman only as a female,
utterly absorbed in feminine functions, belittled and ignored as her
long tutelage has made her; and they see the man as he sees himself, the
sole master of human affairs for as long as we have historic record.
This, fortunately, is not long. We can now see back of the period of
his supremacy, and are beginning to see beyond it. We are well under
way already in a higher stage of social development, conscious,
well-organized, wisely managed, in which the laws shall be simple and
founded on constructive principles instead of being a set of
ring-regulations within which people may fight as they will; and in
which the government shall be recognized in its full use; not only the
sternly dominant father, and the wisely servicable mother, but the real
union of all people to sanely and economically manage their affairs.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.
The human concept of Sin has had its uses no doubt; and our special
invention of a thing called Punishment has also served a purpose.
Social evolution has worked in many ways wastefully, and with
unnecessary pain, but it compares very favorably with natural evolution.
As we grow wiser; as our social consciousness develops, we are beginning
to improve on nature in more ways than one; a part of the same great
process, but of a more highly sublimated sort.
Nature shows a world of varied and changing environment. Into this
comes Life--flushing and spreading in every direction. A pretty hard
time Life has of it. In the first place it is dog eat dog in every
direction; the joy of the hunter and the most unjoyous fear of the
But quite outside of this essential danger, the environment waits, grim
and unappeasable, and continuously destroys the innocent myriads who
fail to meet the one requirement of life--Adaptation. So we must not be
too severe in self-condemnation when we see how foolish, cruel, crazily
wasteful, is our attitude toward crime and punishment.
We become socially conscious largely through pain, and as we begin to
see how much of the pain is wholly of our own causing we are overcome
with shame. But the right way for society to face its past is the same
as for the individual; to see where it was wrong and stop it--but to
waste no time and no emotion over past misdeeds.
What is our present state as to crime? It is pretty bad. Some say it
is worse than it used to be; others that it is better. At any rate it
is bad enough, and a disgrace to our civilization. We have murderers by
the thousand and thieves by the million, of all kinds and sizes; we have
what we tenderly call "immorality," from the "errors of youth" to the
sodden grossness of old age; married, single, and mixed. We have all
the old kinds of wickedness and a lot of new ones, until one marvels at
the purity and power of human nature, that it should carry so much
disease and still grow on to higher things.
Also we have punishment still with us; private and public; applied like
a rabbit's foot, with as little regard to its efficacy. Does a child
offend? Punish it! Does a woman offend? Punish her! Does a man
offend? Punish him! Does a group offend? Punish them!
"What for?" some one suddenly asks.
"To make them stop doing it!"
"But they have done it!"
"To make them not do it again, then."
"But they do do it again--and worse."
"To prevent other people's doing it, then."
"But it does not prevent them--the crime keeps on. What good is your
What is the application of punishment to crime? Its base, its
prehistoric base, is simple retaliation; and this is by no means wholly
male, let us freely admit. The instinct of resistance, of opposition,
of retaliation, lies deeper than life itself. Its underlying law is the
law of physics--action and reaction are equal. Life's expression of
this law is perfectly natural, but not always profitable. Hit your hand
on a stone wall, and the stone wall hits your hand. Very good; you
learn that stone walls are hard, and govern yourself accordingly.
Conscious young humanity observed and philosophized, congratulating
itself on its discernment. "A man hits me--I hit the man a little
harder--then he won't do it again." Unfortunately he did do it again--a
little harder still. The effort to hit harder carried on the action and
reaction till society, hitting hardest of all, set up a system of legal
punishment, of unlimited severity. It imprisoned, it mutilated, it
tortured, it killed; it destroyed whole families, and razed contumelious
cities to the ground.
Therefore all crime ceased, of course? No? But crime was mitigated,
surely! Perhaps. This we have proven at last; that crime does not
decrease in proportion to the severest punishment. Little by little we
have ceased to raze the cities, to wipe out the families, to cut off the
ears, to torture; and our imprisonment is changing from slow death and
insanity to a form of attempted improvement.
But punishment as a principle remains in good standing, and is still the
main reliance where it does the most harm--in the rearing of children.
"Spare the rod and spoil the child" remains in belief, unmodified by the
millions of children spoiled by the unspared rod.
The breeders of racehorses have learned better, but not the breeders of
children. Our trouble is simply the lack of intelligence. We face the
babyish error and the hideous crime in exactly the same attitude.
"This person has done something offensive."
Yes?--and one waits eagerly for the first question of the rational
mind--but does not hear it. One only hears "Punish him!"
What is the first question of the rational mind?
Human beings are not first causes. They do not evolve conduct out of
nothing. The child does this, the man does that, _because_ of
something; because of many things. If we do not like the way people
behave, and wish them to behave better, we should, if we are rational
beings, study the conditions that produce the conduct.
The connection between our archaic system of punishment and our
androcentric culture is two-fold. The impulse of resistance, while, as
we have seen, of the deepest natural origin, is expressed more strongly
in the male than in the female. The tendency to hit back and hit harder
has been fostered in him by sex-combat till it has become of great
intensity. The habit of authority too, as old as our history; and the
cumulative weight of all the religions and systems of law and
government, have furthermore built up and intensified the spirit of
retaliation and vengeance.
They have even deified this concept, in ancient religions, crediting to
God the evil passions of men. As the small boy recited; "Vengeance. A
mean desire to get even with your enemies: 'Vengeance is mine saith the
Lord'--'I will repay.'"
The Christian religion teaches better things; better than its expositors
and upholders have ever understood--much less practised.
The teaching of "Love your enemies, do good unto them that hate you, and
serve them that despitefully use you and persecute you," has too often
resulted, when practised at all, in a sentimental negation; a
pathetically useless attitude of non-resistance. You might as well base
a religion on a feather pillow!
The advice given was active; direct; concrete. "_Love!_" Love is not
non-resistance. "Do good!" Doing good is not non-resistance. "Serve!"
Service is not non-resistance.
Again we have an overwhelming proof of the far-reaching effects of our
androcentric culture. Consider it once more. Here is one by nature
combative and desirous, and not by nature intended to monopolize the
management of his species. He assumes to be not only the leader, but
the whole thing--to be humanity itself, and to see in woman as Grant
Allen so clearly put it "Not only not the race; she is not even half the
race, but a subspecies, told off for purposes of reproduction merely."
Under this monstrous assumption, his sex-attributes wholly identified
with his human attributes, and overshadowing them, he has imprinted on
every human institution the tastes and tendencies of the male. As a
male he fought, as a male human being he fought more, and deified
fighting; and in a culture based on desire and combat, loud with
strident self-expression, there could be but slow acceptance of the more
human methods urged by Christianity. "It is a religion for slaves and
women!" said the warrior of old. (Slaves and women were largely the
same thing.) "It is a religion for slaves and women" says the advocate
of the Superman.
Well? Who did the work of all the ancient world? Who raised the food
and garnered it and cooked it and served it? Who built the houses, the
temples, the acqueducts, the city wall? Who made the furniture, the
tools, the weapons, the utensils, the ornaments--made them strong and
beautiful and useful? Who kept the human race going, somehow, in spite
of the constant hideous waste of war, and slowly built up the real
industrial civilization behind that gory show?--Why just the slaves and
A religion which had attractions for the real human type is not
therefore to be utterly despised by the male.
In modern history we may watch with increasing ease the slow, sure
progress of our growing humanness beneath the weakening shell of an
all-male dominance. And in this field of what begins in the nurse as
"discipline," and ends on the scaffold as "punishment," we can clearly
see that blessed change.
What is the natural, the human attribute? What does this "Love," and
"Do good," and "Serve" mean? In the blundering old church, still
androcentric, there was a great to-do to carry out this doctrine, in
elaborate symbolism. A set of beggars and cripples, gathered for the
occasion, was exhibited, and kings and cardinals went solemnly through
the motions of serving them. As the English schoolboy phrased it,
"Thomas Becket washed the feet of leopards."
Service and love and doing good must always remain side issues in a male
world. Service and love and doing good are the spirit of motherhood,
and the essense of human life.
Human life is service, and is not combat. There you have the nature of
the change now upon us.
What has the male mind made of Christianity?
Desire--to save one's own soul. Combat--with the Devil.
Self-expression--the whole gorgeous outpouring of pageant and display,
from the jewels of the high priest's breastplate to the choir of
mutilated men to praise a male Deity no woman may so serve.
What kind of mind can imagine a kind of god who would like a eunuch
better than a woman?
For woman they made at last a place--the usual place--of renunciation,
sacrifice and service, the Sisters of Mercy and their kind; and in that
loving service the woman soul has been content, not yearning for
cardinal's cape or bishop's mitre.
All this is changing--changing fast. Everywhere the churches are
broadening out into more service, and the service broadening out beyond
a little group of widows and fatherless, of sick and in prison, to
embrace its true field--all human life. In this new attitude, how shall
we face the problems of crime?
Thus: "It is painfully apparent that a certain percentage of our people
do not function properly. They perform antisocial acts. Why? What is
the matter with them?"
Then the heart and mind of society is applied to the question, and
certain results are soon reached; others slowly worked toward.
First result. Some persons are so morally diseased that they must have
hospital treatment. The world's last prison will be simply a hospital
for moral incurables. They must by no means reproduce their kind,--that
can be attended to at once. Some are morally diseased, but may be
cured, and the best powers of society will be used to cure them. Some
are only morally diseased because of the conditions in which they are
born and reared, and here society can save millions at once.
An intelligent society will no more neglect its children than an
intelligent mother will neglect her children; and will see as clearly
that ill-fed, ill-dressed, ill-taught and vilely associated little ones
must grow up gravely injured.
As a matter of fact we make our crop of criminals, just as we make our
idiots, blind, crippled, and generally defective. Everyone is a baby
first, and a baby is not a criminal, unless we make it so. It never
would be,--in right conditions. Sometimes a pervert is born, as
sometimes a two-headed calf is born, but they are not common.
The older, simpler forms of crime we may prevent with case and despatch,
but how of the new ones?--big, terrible, far-reaching, wide-spread
crimes, for which we have as yet no names; and before which our old
system of anti-personal punishment falls helpless? What of the crimes
of poisoning a community with bad food; of defiling the water; of
blackening the air; of stealing whole forests? What of the crimes of
working little children; of building and renting tenements that produce
crime and physical disease as well? What of the crime of living on the
wages of fallen women--of hiring men to ruin innocent young girls; of
holding them enslaved and selling them for profit? (These things are
only "misdemeanors" in a man-made world!)
And what about a crime like this; to use the public press to lie to the
public for private ends? No name yet for this crime; much less a
And this: To bring worse than leprosy to an innocent clean wife who
loves and trusts you?
Or this: To knowingly plant poison in an unborn child?
No names, for these; no "penalties"; no conceivable penalty that could
The whole punishment system falls to the ground before the huge mass of
evil that confronts us. If we saw a procession of air ships flying over
a city and dropping bombs, should we rush madly off after each one
crying, "Catch him! Punish him!" or should we try to stop the
The time is coming when the very word "crime" will be disused, except in
poems and orations; and "punishment," the word and deed, be obliterated.
We are beginning to learn a little of the nature of humanity its
goodness, its beauty, its lovingness; and to see that even its stupidity
is only due to our foolish old methods of education.
It is not new power, new light, new hope that we need, but _to
understand what ails us._
We know enough now, we care enough now, we are strong enough now, to
make the whole world a thousand fold better in a generation; but we are
shackled, chained, blinded, by old false notions. The ideas of the
past, the sentiments of the past, the attitude and prejudices of the
past, are in our way; and among them none more universally mischievous
than this great body of ideas and sentiments, prejudices and habits,
which make up the offensive network of the androcentric culture.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; or, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
POLITICS AND WARFARE.
I go to my old dictionary, and find; "Politics, I. The science of
government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and
government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace
and prosperity; the defence of its existence and rights against foreign
control or conquest; the augmentation of its strength and resources, and
the protection of its citizens in their rights; with the preservation
and improvement of their morals. 2. The management of political
parties; the advancement of candidates to office; in a bad sense, artful
or dishonest management to secure the success of political measures or
party schemes, political trickery."
From present day experience we might add, 3. Politics, practical; The
art of organizing and handling men in large numbers, manipulating votes,
and, in especial, appropriating public wealth.
We can easily see that the "science of government" may be divided into
"pure" and "applied" like other sciences, but that it is "a part of
ethics" will be news to many minds.
Yet why not? Ethics is the science of conduct, and politics is merely
one field of conduct; a very common one. Its connection with Warfare in
this chapter is perfectly legitimate in view of the history of politics
on the one hand, and the imperative modern issues which are to-day
opposed to this established combination.
There are many to-day who hold that politics need not be at all
connected with warfare, and others who hold that politics is warfare
front start to finish.
In order to dissociate the two ideas completely let us give a paraphrase
of the above definition, applying it to domestic management;--that part
of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a
family; the preservation of its safety, peace and prosperity; the
defense of its existence and rights against any strangers' interference
or control; the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the
protection of its members in their rights; with the preservation and
improvement of their morals.
All this is simple enough, and in no way masculine; neither is it
feminine, save in this; that the tendency to care for, defend and manage
a group, is in its origin maternal.
In every human sense, however, politics has left its maternal base far
in the background; and as a field of study and of action is as well
adapted to men as to women. There is no reason whatever why men should
not develop great ability in this department of ethics, and gradually
learn how to preserve the safety, peace and prosperity of their nation;
together with those other services as to resources, protection of
citizens, and improvement of morals.
Men, as human beings, are capable of the noblest devotion and efficiency
in these matters, and have often shown them; but their devotion and
efficiency have been marred in this, as in so many other fields, by the
constant obtrusion of an ultra-masculine tendency.
In warfare, _per se_, we find maleness in its absurdest extremes. Here
is to be studied the whole gamut of basic masculinity, from the initial
instinct of combat, through every form of glorious ostentation, with the
loudest possible accompaniment of noise.
Primitive warfare had for its climax the possession of the primitive
prize, the female. Without dogmatising on so remote a period, it may be
suggested as a fair hypothesis that this was the very origin of our
organized raids. We certainly find war before there was property in
land, or any other property to tempt aggressors. Women, however, there
were always, and when a specially androcentric tribe had reduced its
supply of women by cruel treatment, or they were not born in sufficient
numbers, owing to hard conditions, men must needs go farther afield
after other women. Then, since the men of the other tribes naturally
objected to losing their main labor supply and comfort, there was war.
Thus based on the sex impulse, it gave full range to the combative
instinct, and further to that thirst for vocal exultation so exquisitely
male. The proud bellowings of the conquering stag, as he trampled on
his prostrate rival, found higher expression in the "triumphs" of old
days, when the conquering warrior returned to his home, with victims
chained to his chariot wheels, and braying trumpets.
When property became an appreciable factor in life, warfare took on a
new significance. What was at first mere destruction, in the effort to
defend or obtain some hunting ground or pasture; and, always, to secure
the female; now coalesced with the acquisitive instinct, and the long
black ages of predatory warfare closed in upon the world.
Where the earliest form exterminated, the later enslaved, and took
tribute; and for century upon century the "gentleman adventurer," i.e.,
the primitive male, greatly preferred to acquire wealth by the simple
old process of taking it, to any form of productive industry.
We have been much misled as to warfare by our androcentric literature.
With a history which recorded nothing else; a literature which praised
and an art which exalted it; a religion which called its central power
"the God of Battles"--never the God of Workshops, mind you!--with a
whole complex social structure man-prejudiced from center to
circumference, and giving highest praise and honor to the Soldier; it is
still hard for its to see what warfare really is in human life.
Someday we shall have new histories written, histories of world
progress, showing the slow uprising, the development, the interservice
of the nations; showing the faint beautiful dawn of the larger spirit of
world-consciousness, and all its benefitting growth.
We shall see people softening, learning, rising; see life lengthen with
the possession of herds, and widen in rich prosperity with agriculture.
Then industry, blossoming, fruiting, spreading wide; art, giving light
and joy; the intellect developing with companionship and human
intercourse; the whole spreading tree of social progress, the trunk of
which is specialized industry, and the branches of which comprise every
least and greatest line of human activity and enjoyment. This growing
tree, springing up wherever conditions of peace and prosperity gave it a
chance, we shall see continually hewed down to the very root by war.
To the later historian will appear throughout the ages, like some
Hideous Fate, some Curse, some predetermined check, to drag down all our
hope and joy and set life forever at its first steps over again, this
Red Plague of War.
The instinct of combat, between males, worked advantageously so long as
it did not injure the female or the young. It is a perfectly natural
instinct, and therefore perfectly right, in its place; but its place is
in a pre-patriarchal era. So long as the animal mother was free and
competent to care for herself and her young; then it was an advantage to
have "the best man win;" that is the best stag or lion; and to have the
vanquished die, or live in sulky celibacy, was no disadvantage to any
one but himself.
Humanity is on a stage above this plan. The best man in the social
structure is not always the huskiest. When a fresh horde of ultra-male
savages swarmed down upon a prosperous young civilization, killed off
the more civilized males and appropriated the more civilized females;
they did, no doubt, bring in a fresh physical impetus to the race; but
they destroyed the civilization.
The reproduction of perfectly good savages is not the main business of
humanity. Its business is to grow, socially; to develop, to improve;
and warfare, at its best, retards human progress; at its worst,
Combat is not a social process at all; it is a physical process, a
subsidiary sex process, purely masculine, intended to improve the
species by the elimination of the unfit. Amusingly enough, or absurdly
enough; when applied to society, it eliminates the fit, and leaves the
unfit to perpetuate the race!
We require, to do our organized fighting, a picked lot of vigorous young
males, the fittest we can find. The too old or too young; the sick,
crippled, defective; are all left behind, to marry and be fathers; while
the pick of the country, physically, is sent off to oppose the pick of
another country, and kill--kill--kill!
Observe the result on the population! In the first place the balance is
broken--there are not enough men to go around, at home; many women are
left unmated. In primitive warfare, where women were promptly enslaved,
or, at the best, polygamously married, this did not greatly matter to
the population; but as civilization advances and monogamy obtains,
whatever eugenic benefits may once have sprung from warfare are
completely lost, and all its injuries remain.
In what we innocently call "civilized warfare" (we might as well speak
of "civilized cannibalism!"), this steady elimination of the fit leaves
an everlowering standard of parentage at home. It makes a widening
margin of what we call "surplus women," meaning more than enough to be
monogamously married; and these women, not being economically
independent, drag steadily upon the remaining men, postponing marriage,
and increasing its burdens.
The birth rate is lowered in quantity by the lack of husbands, and
lowered in quality both by the destruction of superior stock, and by the
wide dissemination of those diseases which invariably accompany the
wife-lessness of the segregated males who are told off to perform our
The external horrors and wastes of warfare we are all familiar with; A.
It arrests industry and all progress. B. It destroys the fruits of
industry and progress. C. It weakens, hurts and kills the combatants.
D. It lowers the standard of the non-combatants. Even the conquering
nation is heavily injured; the conquered sometimes exterminated, or at
least absorbed by the victor.
This masculine selective process, when applied to nations, does not
produce the same result as when applied to single opposing animals.
When little Greece was overcome it did not prove that the victors were
superior, nor promote human interests in any way; it injured them.
The "stern arbitrament of war" may prove which of two peoples is the
better fighter, but ft does not prove it therefor the fittest to
Beyond all these more or less obvious evils, comes a further result, not
enough recognized; the psychic effects of military standard of thought
Remember that an androcentric culture has always exempted its own
essential activities from the restraints of ethics,--"All's fair in love
and war!" Deceit, trickery, lying, every kind of skulking underhand
effort to get information; ceaseless endeavor to outwit and overcome
"the enemy"; besides as cruelty and destruction; are characteristic of
the military process; as well as the much praised virtues of courage,
endurance and loyalty, personal and public.
Also classed as a virtue, and unquestionably such from the military
point of view, is that prime factor in making and keeping an army,
See how the effect of this artificial maintenance of early mental
attitudes acts on our later development. True human progress requires
elements quite other than these. If successful warfare made one nation
unquestioned master of the earth its social progress would not be
promoted by that event. The rude hordes of Genghis Khan swarmed over
Asia and into Europe, but remained rude hordes; conquest is not
civilization, nor any part of it.
When the northern tribes-men overwhelmed the Roman culture they
paralysed progress for a thousand years or so; set back the clock by
that much. So long as all Europe was at war, so long the arts and
sciences sat still, or struggled in hid corners to keep their light
When warfare itself ceases, the physical, social and psychic results do
not cease. Our whole culture is still hag-ridden by military ideals.
Peace congresses have begun to meet, peace societies write and talk, but
the monuments to soldiers and sailors (naval sailors of course), still
go up, and the tin soldier remains a popular toy. We do not see boxes
of tin carpenters by any chance; tin farmers, weavers, shoemakers; we do
not write our "boys books" about the real benefactors and servers of
society; the adventurer and destroyer remains the idol of an
In politics the military ideal, the military processes, are so
predominant as to almost monopolise "that part of ethics." The science
of government, the plain wholesome business of managing a community for
its own good; doing its work, advancing its prosperity, improving its
morals--this is frankly understood and accepted as A Fight from start to
finish. Marshall your forces and try to get in, this is the political
campaign. When you are in, fight to stay in, and to keep the other
fellow out. Fight for your own hand, like an animal; fight for your
master like any hired bravo; fight always for some desired
"victory"--and "to the victors belong the spoils."
This is not by any means the true nature of politics. It is not even a
fair picture of politics to-day; in which man, the human being, is doing
noble work for humanity; but it is the effect of man, the male, on
Life, to the "male mind" (we have heard enough of the "female mind" to
use the analogue!) _is_ a fight, and his ancient military institutions
and processes keep up the delusion.
As a matter of fact life is growth. Growth comes naturally, by
multiplication of cells, and requires three factors to promote it;
nourishment, use, rest. Combat is a minor incident of life; belonging
to low levels, and not of a developing influence socially.
The science of politics, in a civilized community, should have by this
time a fine accumulation of simplified knowledge for diffusion in public
schools; a store of practical experience in how to promote social
advancement most rapidly, a progressive economy and ease of
administration, a simplicity in theory and visible benefit in practice,
such as should make every child an eager and serviceable citizen.
What do we find, here in America, in the field of "politics?"
We find first a party system which is the technical arrangement to carry
on a fight. It is perfectly conceivable that a flourishing democratic
government be carried on _without any parties at all;_ public
functionaries being elected on their merits, and each proposed measure
judged on its merits; though this sounds impossible to the androcentric
"There has never been a democracy without factions and parties!" is
There has never been a democracy, so far--only an androcracy.
A group composed of males alone, naturally divides, opposes, fights;
even a male church, under the most rigid rule, has its secret
undercurrents of antagonism.
"It is the human heart!" is again protested. No, not essentially the
human heart, but the male heart. This is so well recognized by men in
general, that, to their minds, in this mingled field of politics and
warfare, women have no place.
In "civilized warfare" they are, it is true, allowed to trail along and
practice their feminine function of nursing; but this is no part of war
proper, it is rather the beginning of the end of war. Some time it will
strike our "funny spot," these strenuous efforts to hurt and destroy,
and these accompanying efforts to heal and save.
But in our politics there is not even provision for a nursing corps;
women are absolutely excluded.
"They cannot play the game!" cries the practical politician. There is
loud talk of the defilement, the "dirty pool" and its resultant
darkening of fair reputations, the total unfitness of lovely woman to
take part in "the rough and tumble of politics."
In other words men have made a human institution into an ultra-masculine
performance; and, quite rightly, feel that women could not take part in
politics _as men do._ That it is not necessary to fulfill this human
custom in so masculine a way does not occur to them. Few men can
overlook the limitations of their sex and see the truth; that this
business of taking care of our common affairs is not only equally open
to women and men, but that women are distinctly needed in it.
Anyone will admit that a government wholly in the hands of women would
be helped by the assistance of men; that a gynaecocracy must, of its own
nature, be one sided. Yet it is hard to win reluctant admission of the
opposite fact; that an androcracy must of its own nature be one sided
also, and would be greatly improved by the participation of the other
The inextricable confusion of politics and warfare is part of the
stumbling block in the minds of men. As they see it, a nation is
primarily a fighting organization; and its principal business is
offensive and defensive warfare; therefore the ultimatum with which they
oppose the demand for political equality--"women cannot fight, therefore
they cannot vote."
Fighting, when all is said, is to them the real business of life; not to
be able to fight is to be quite out of the running; and ability to solve
our growing mass of public problems; questions of health, of education,
of morals, of economics; weighs naught against the ability to kill.
This naive assumption of supreme value in a process never of the first
importance; and increasingly injurious as society progresses, would be
laughable if it were not for its evil effects. It acts and reacts upon
us to our hurt. Positively, we see the ill effects already touched on;
the evils not only of active war; but of the spirit and methods of war;
idealized, inculcated and practiced in other social processes. It tends
to make each man-managed nation an actual or potential fighting
organization, and to give us, instead of civilized peace, that "balance
of power" which is like the counted time in the prize ring--only a rest
It leaves the weaker nations to be "conquered" and "annexed" just as
they used to be; with tariffs instead of tribute. It forces upon each
the burden of armament; upon many the dreaded conscription; and
continually lowers the world's resources in money and in life.
Similarly in politics, it adds to the legitimate expenses of governing
the illegitimate expenses of fighting; and must needs have a "spoils
system" by which to pay its mercenaries.
In carrying out the public policies the wheels of state are continually
clogged by the "opposition;" always an opposition on one side or the
other; and this slow wiggling uneven progress, through shorn victories