Part 3 out of 3
and haggling concessions, is held to be the proper and only political
"Women do not understand politics," we are told; "Women do not care for
politics;" "Women are unfitted for politics."
It is frankly inconceivable, from the androcentric view-point, that
nations can live in peace together, and be friendly and serviceable as
persons are. It is inconceivable also, that in the management of a
nation, honesty, efficiency, wisdom, experience and love could work out
good results without any element of combat.
The "ultimate resort" is still to arms. "The will of the majority" is
only respected on account of the guns oŁ the majority. We have but a
partial civilization, heavily modified to sex--the male sex.
WOMAN AND THE STATE
[A Discussion of Political Equality of Men and Women. To be read in
connection with chapter 12 of Our Androcentric Culture.]
Here are two vital factors in human life; one a prime essential to our
existence; the other a prime essential to our progress.
Both of them we idealize in certain lines, and exploit in others. Both
of them are misinterpreted, balked of their full usefulness, and
humanity thus injured.
The human race does not get the benefit of the full powers of women, nor
of the full powers of the state.
In all civilized races to-day there is a wide and growing sense of
discontent among women; a criticism of their assigned limitations, and a
demand for larger freedom and opportunity. Under different conditions
the demand varies; it is here for higher education, there for justice
before the law; here for economic independence, and there for political
This last is at present the most prominent Issue of "the woman question"
in England and America, as the activity of the "militant suffragists"
has forced it upon the attention of the world.
Thoughtful people in general are now studying this point more seriously
than ever before, genuinely anxious to adopt the right side, and there
is an alarmed uprising of sincere objection to the political equality of
Wasting no time on ignorance, prejudice, or the resistance of special
interests, let us fairly face the honest opposition, and do it justice.
The conservative position is this:
Men and women have different spheres in life. To men belong the
creation and management of the state, and the financial maintenance of
the home and family:
"To women belong the physical burden of maternity, and the industrial
management of the home and family; these duties require all their time
"The prosperity of the state may be sufficiently conserved by men alone;
the prosperity of the family requires the personal presence and services
of the mother in the home: if women assume the cares of the state, the
home and family will suffer:
Some go even farther than this, and claim an essential limitation in
"the female mind" which prevents it from grasping large political
interests; holding, therefore, that if women took part in state affairs
it would be to the detriment of the community:
Others advance a theory that "society," in the special sense, is the
true sphere of larger service for women, and that those of them not
exclusively confined to "home duties" may find full occupation in
"social duties," including the time honored fields of "religion" and
Others again place their main reliance on the statement that, as to the
suffrage, "women do not want it."
Let us consider these points in inverse order, beginning with the last
We will admit that at present the majority of women are not consciously
desirous of any extension of their political rights and privileges, but
deny that this indifference is any evidence against the desirability of
It has long been accepted that the position of women is an index of
civilization. Progressive people are proud of the freedom and honor
given their women, and our nation honestly believes itself the leader in
this line. "American women are the freest in the world!" we say; and
boast of it.
Since the agitation for women's rights began, many concessions have been
made to further improve their condition. Men, seeing the justice of
certain demands, have granted in many states such privileges as
admission to schools, colleges, universities, and special instruction
for professions; followed by admission to the bar, the pulpit, and the
practice of medicine. Married women, in many states, have now a right
to their own earnings; and in a few, mothers have an equal right in the
guardianship of their children.
We are proud and glad that our women are free to go unveiled, to travel
alone, to choose their own husbands; we are proud and glad of every
extension of justice already granted by men to women.
Now:--Have any of these concessions been granted because a majority of
women asked for them? Was it advanced in opposition to any of them that
"women did not want it?" Have as many women ever asked for these things
as are now asking for the ballot? If it was desirable to grant these
other rights and privileges without the demand of a majority, why is the
demand of a majority required before this one is granted?
The child widows of India did not unitedly demand the abolition of the
The tortured girl children of China did not rise in overwhelming
majority to demand free feet; yet surely no one would refuse to lift
these burdens because only a minority of progressive women insisted on
It is a sociological impossibility that a majority of an unorganized
class should unite in concerted demand for a right, a duty, which they
have never known.
The point to be decided is whether political equality is to the
advantage of women and of the state--not whether either, as a body, is
asking for it.
Now for the "society" theory. There is a venerable fiction to the
effect that women make--and manage, "society." No careful student of
comparative history can hold this belief for a moment. Whatever the
conditions of the age or place; industrial, financial, religious,
political, educational; these conditions are in the hands of men; and
these conditions dictate the "society" of that age or place.
"Society" in a constitutional monarchy is one thing; in a primitive
despotism another; among millionaires a third; but women do not make the
despotism, the monarchy, or the millions. They take social conditions
as provided by men, precisely as they take all other conditions at their
hands. They do not even modify an existing society to their own
interests, being powerless to do so. The "double standard of morals,"
ruling everywhere in "society," proves this; as does the comparative
helplessness of women to enjoy even social entertainments, without the
constant attendance and invitation of men.
Even in its great function of exhibition leading to marriage, it is the
girls who are trained and exhibited, under closest surveillance; while
the men stroll in and out, to chose at will, under no surveillance
That women, otherwise powerful, may use "society" to further their ends,
is as true as that men do; and in England, where women, through their
titled and landed position, have always had more political power than
here, "society" is a very useful vehicle for the activities of both
But, in the main, the opportunities of "society" to women, are merely
opportunities to use their "feminine influence" in extra domestic
lines--a very questionable advantage to the home and family, to
motherhood, to women, or to the state.
In religion women have always filled and more than filled the place
allowed them. Needless to say it was a low one. The power of the
church, its whole management and emoluments, were always in the hands of
men, save when the Lady Abbess held her partial sway; but the work of
the church has always been helped by women--the men have preached and
the women practised!
Charity, as a vocation, is directly in line with the mother instinct,
and has always appealed to women. Since we have learned how injurious
to true social development this mistaken kindness is, it might almost be
classified as a morbid by-product of suppressed femininity!
In passing we may note that charity as a virtue is ranked highest among
those nations and religions where women are held lowest. With the
Moslems it is a universal law--and in the Moslem Paradise there are no
women--save the Houries!
The playground of a man-fenced "society"; the work-ground of a
man-taught church; and this "osmosis" of social nutrition, this leakage
and seepage of values which should circulate normally, called charity;
these are not a sufficient field for the activities of women.
As for those limitations of the "feminine mind" which render her unfit
to consider the victuallage of a nation, or the justice of a tax on
sugar; it hardly seems as if the charge need be taken seriously. Yet so
able a woman as Mrs. Humphry Ward has recently advanced it in all
In her view women are capable of handling municipal, but not state
affairs. Since even this was once denied them; and since, in England,
they have had municipal suffrage for some time; it would seem as if
their abilities grew with use, as most abilities do; which is in truth
the real answer.
Most women spend their whole lives, and have spent their whole lives for
uncounted generations, in the persistent and exclusive contemplation of
their own family affairs. They are near-sighted, or near-minded,
rather; the trouble is not with the nature of their minds, but with the
use of them.
If men as a class had been exclusively confined to the occupation of
house-service since history began, they would be similarly unlikely to
manifest an acute political intelligence.
We may agree with Tennyson that "Woman is not undeveloped man, but
diverse;" that is _women_ are not undeveloped _men;_ but the feminine
half of humanity is undeveloped human. They have exercised their
feminine functions, but not their human-functions; at least not to their
Here appears a distinction which needs to be widely appreciated.
We are not merely male and female--all animals are that--our chief
distinction is that of race, our humanness.
Male characteristics we share with all males, bird and beast; female
characteristics we share with all females, similarly; but human
characteristics belong to _genus homo_ alone; and are possessed by both
sexes. A female horse is just as much a horse as a male of her species;
a female human being is just as human as the male of her species--or
ought to be!
In the special functions and relations of sex there is no contest, no
possible rivalry or confusion; but in the general functions of humanity
there is great misunderstanding.
Our trouble is that we have not recognized these human functions as
such; but supposed them to be exclusively masculine; and, acting under
that idea, strove to prevent women from an unnatural imitation of men.
Hence this minor theory of the limitations of the "female mind."
The mind is pre-eminently human. That degree of brain development which
distinguishes our species, is a human, not a sex characteristic.
There may be, has been, and still is, a vast difference in our treatment
of the minds of the two sexes. We have given them a different
education, different exercises, different conditions in all ways. But
all these differences are external, and their effect disappears with
The "female mind" has proven its identical capacity with the "male
mind," _in so far as it has been given identical conditions._ It will
take a long time, however, before conditions are so identical, for
successive generations, as to give the "female mind" a fair chance.
In the meantime, considering its traditional, educational and
associative drawbacks, the "female mind" has made a remarkably good
The field of politics is an unfortunate one in which to urge this
alleged limitation; because politics is one of the few fields in which
some women have been reared and exercised under equal conditions with
We have had queens as long as we have had kings, perhaps longer; and
history does not show the male mind, in kings, to have manifested a
numerically proportionate superiority over the female mind, in queens.
There have been more kings than queens, but have there been more good
and great ones, in proportion?
Even one practical and efficient queen is proof enough that being a
woman does not preclude political capacity. Since England has had such
an able queen for so long, and that within Mrs. Humphry Ward's personal
memory, her position seems fatuous in the extreme.
It has been advanced that great queens owed their power to the
association and advice of the noble and high-minded men who surrounded
them; and, further, that the poor showing made by many kings, was due to
the association and vice of the base and low-minded women who surrounded
This is a particularly pusillanimous claim in the first place; is not
provable in the second place; and, if it were true, opens up a very
pretty field of study in the third place. It would seem to prove, if it
proves anything, that men are not fit to be trusted with political power
on account of an alarming affinity for the worst of women; and,
conversely, that women, as commanding the assistance of the best of men,
are visibly the right rulers! Also it opens a pleasant sidelight on
that oft-recommended tool--"feminine influence."
We now come to our opening objection; that society and state, home, and
family, are best served by the present division of interests: and its
corollary, that if women enlarge that field of interest it would reduce
their usefulness in their present sphere.
The corollary is easily removed. We are now on the broad ground of
established facts; of history, recent, but still achieved.
Women have had equal political rights with men in several places, for
considerable periods of time. In Wyoming, to come near home, they have
enjoyed this status for more than a generation. Neither here nor in any
other state or country where women vote, is there the faintest proof of
injury to the home or family relation. In Wyoming, indeed, divorce has
decreased, while gaining so fast in other places.
Political knowledge, political interest, does not take up more time and
strength than any other form of mental activity; nor does it preclude a
keen efficiency in other lines; and as for the actual time required to
perform the average duties of citizenship--it is a contemptible bit of
trickery in argument, if not mere ignorance and confusion of idea, to
urge the occasional attendance on political meetings, or the annual or
bi-annual dropping of a ballot, as any interference with the management
of a house.
It is proven, by years on years of established experience, that women
can enjoy full political equality and use their power, without in the
least ceasing to be contented and efficient wives and mothers, cooks and
What really horrifies the popular mind at the thought of women in
politics, is the picture of woman as a "practical politician;" giving
her time to it as a business, and making money by it, in questionable,
or unquestionable, ways; and, further, as a politician in office, as
sheriff, alderman, senator, judge.
The popular mind becomes suffused with horror at the first idea, and
scarcely less so at the second. It pictures blushing girlhood on the
Bench; tender motherhood in the Senate; the housewife turned
"ward-heeler;" and becomes quite sick in contemplation of these
No educated mind, practical mind, no mind able and willing to use its
faculties, need be misled for a moment by these sophistries.
There is absolutely no evidence that women as a class will rush into
"practical politics." Where they have voted longest they do not
manifest this dread result. Neither is there any proof that they will
all desire to hold office; or that any considerable portion of them
will; or that, if they did, they would get it.
We seem unconsciously to assume that when women begin to vote, men will
stop; or that the women will outnumber the men; also that, outnumbering
them, they will be completely united in their vote; and, still further,
that so outnumbering and uniting, they will solidly vote for a ticket
composed wholly of women candidates.
Does anyone seriously imagine this to be likely?
This may be stated with assurance; if ever we do see a clever,
designing, flirtatious, man-twisting woman; or a pretty, charming,
irresistable young girl, elected to office--it will not be by the votes
Where women are elected to office, by the votes of both men and women,
they are of suitable age and abilities, and do their work well. They
have already greatly improved some of the conditions of local politics,
and the legislation they advocate is of a beneficial character.
What is the true relation of women to the state?
It is precisely identical with that of men. Their forms of service may
vary, but their duty, their interest, their responsibility, is the same.
Here are the people on earth, half of them women, all of them her
children. It is her earth as much as his; the people are their people,
the state their state; compounded of them all, in due relation.
As the father and mother, together; shelter, guard, teach and provide
for their children in the home; so should all fathers and mothers,
together; shelter, guard, teach and provide for their common children,
The state is no mystery; no taboo place of masculine secrecy; it is
Democracy is but a half-grown child as yet, one of twins? Its boy-half
is a struggling thing, with "the diseases of babyhood"; its girl-half
has hardly begun to take notice.
As human creatures we have precisely the same duty and privilege,
interest, and power in the state; sharing its protection, its
advantages, and its services. As women we have a different relation.
Here indeed we will admit, and glory in, our "diversity." The "eternal
womanly" is a far more useful thing in the state than the "eternal
To be woman means to be mother. To be mother means to give love,
defense, nourishment, care, instruction. Too long, far too long has
motherhood neglected its real social duties, its duties to humanity at
large. Even in her position of retarded industrial development, as the
housekeeper and houseworker of the world, woman has a contribution of
special value to the state.
As the loving mother, the patient teacher, the tender nurse, the wise
provider and care-taker, she can serve the state, and the state needs
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; OR, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
INDUSTRY AND ECONOMICS.
The forest of Truth, on the subject of industry and economics, is
difficult to see on account of the trees.
We have so many Facts on this subject; so many Opinions; so many
Traditions and Habits; and the pressure of Immediate Conclusions is so
intense upon us all; that it is not easy to form a clear space in one's
mind and consider the field fairly.
Possibly the present treatment of the subject will appeal most to the
minds of those who know least about it; such as the Average Woman. To
her, Industry is a daylong and lifelong duty, as well as a natural
impulse; and economics means going without things. To such untrained
but also unprejudiced minds it should be easy to show the main facts on
Let us dispose of Economics first, as having a solemn scientific
Physical Economics treats of the internal affairs of the body; the whole
machinery and how it works; all organs, members, functions; each last
and littlest capillary and leucocyte, are parts of that "economy."
Nature's "economy" is not in the least "economical." The waste of life,
the waste of material, the waste of time and effort, are prodigious, yet
she achieves her end as we see.
Domestic Economics covers the whole care and government of the
household; the maintenance of peace, health, order, and morality; the
care and nourishment of children as far as done at home; the entire
management of the home, as well as the spending and saving of money; are
included in it. Saving is the least and poorest part of it; especially
as in mere abstinence from needed things; most especially when this
abstinence is mainly "Mother's." How best to spend; time, strength,
love, care, labor, knowledge, and money--this should be the main study
in Domestic Economics.
Social, or, as they are used to call it, Political Economics, covers a
larger, but not essentially different field. A family consists of
people, and the Mother is their natural manager. Society consists of
people--_the same people_--only more of them. All the people, who are
members of Society, are also members of families--except some incubated
orphans maybe. Social Economics covers the whole care and management of
the people, the maintenance of peace and health and order and morality;
the care of children, as far as done out of the home; as well as the
spending and saving of the public money--all these are included in it.
This great business of Social Economics is at present little understood
and most poorly managed, for this reason; we approach it from an
individual point of view; seeking not so much to do our share in the
common service, as to get our personal profit from the common wealth.
Where the whole family labors together to harvest fruit and store it for
the winter, we have legitimate Domestic Economics: but where one member
takes and hides a lot for himself, to the exclusion of the others, we
have no Domestic Economics at all--merely individual selfishness.
In Social Economics we have a large, but simple problem. Here is the
earth, our farm. Here are the people, who own the earth. How can the
most advantage to the most people be obtained from the earth with the
least labor? That is the problem of Social Economics.
Looking at the world as if you held it in your hands to study and
discuss, what do we find at present?
We find people living too thickly for health and comfort in some places,
and too thinly for others; we find most people working too hard and too
long at honest labor; some people working with damaging intensity at
dishonest labor; and a few wretched paupers among the rich and poor,
degenerate idlers who do not work at all, the scum and the dregs of
All this is bad economics. We do not get the comfort out of life we
easily could; and work far too hard for what we do get. Moreover, there
is no peace, no settled security. No man is sure of his living, no
matter how hard he works, a thousand things may occur to deprive him of
his job, or his income. In our time there is great excitement along
this line of study; and more than one proposition is advanced whereby we
may improve, most notably instanced in the world-covering advance of
In our present study the principal fact to be exhibited is the influence
of a male culture upon Social Economics and Industry.
Industry, as a department of Social Economics, is little understood.
Heretofore we have viewed this field from several wholly erroneous
positions. From the Hebrew (and wholly androcentric) religious
teaching, we have regarded labor as a curse.
Nothing could be more absurdly false. Labor is not merely a means of
supporting human life--it _is_ human life. Imagine a race of beings
living without labor! They must be the rudest savages.
Human work consists in specialized industry and the exchange of its
products; and without it is no civilization. As industry develops,
civilization develops; peace expands; wealth increases; science and art
help on the splendid total. Productive industry, and its concomitant of
distributive industry cover the major field of human life.
If our industry was normal, what should we see?
A world full of healthy, happy people; each busily engaged in what he or
she most enjoys doing. Normal Specialization, like all our voluntary
processes, is accompanied by keen pleasure; and any check or
interruption to it gives pain and injury. Whosoever works at what he
loves is well and happy. Whoso works at what he does not love is ill
and miserable. It is very bad economics to force unwilling industry.
That is the weakness of slave labor; and of wage labor also where there
is not full industrial education and freedom of choice.
Under normal conditions we should see well developed, well trained
specialists happily engaged in the work they most enjoyed; for
reasonable hours (any work, or play either, becomes injurious if done
too long); and as a consequence the whole output of the world would be
vastly improved, not only in quantity but in quality.
Plain are the melancholy facts of what we do see. Following that
pitiful conception of labor as a curse, comes the very old and
androcentric habit of despising it as belonging to women, and then to
As a matter of fact industry is in its origin feminine; that is,
maternal. It is the overflowing fountain of mother-love and
mother-power which first prompts the human race to labor; and for long
ages men performed no productive industry at all; being merely hunters
It is this lack of natural instinct for labor in the male of our
species, together with the ideas and opinions based on that lack, and
voiced by him in his many writings, religious and other, which have
given to the world its false estimate of this great function, human
work. That which is our very life, our greatest joy, our road to all
advancement, we have scorned and oppressed; so that "working people,"
the "working classes," "having to work," etc., are to this day spoken of
with contempt. Perhaps drones speak so among themselves of the "working
Normally, widening out from the mother's careful and generous service in
the family, to careful, generous service in the world, we should find
labor freely given, with love and pride.
Abnormally, crushed under the burden of androcentric scorn and
prejudice, we have labor grudgingly produced under pressure of
necessity; labor of slaves under fear of the whip, or of wage-slaves,
one step higher, under fear of want. Long ages wherein hunting and
fighting were the only manly occupations, have left their heavy impress.
The predacious instinct and the combative instinct weigh down and
disfigure our economic development. What Veblen calls "the instinct of
workmanship" grows on, slowly and irresistably; but the malign features
of our industrial life are distinctively androcentric: the desire to
get, of the hunter; interfering with the desire to give, of the mother;
the desire to overcome an antagonist--originally masculine, interfering
with the desire to serve and benefit--originally feminine.
Let the reader keep in mind that as human beings, men are able to
over-live their masculine natures and do noble service to the world;
also that as human beings they are today far more highly developed than
women, and doing far more for the world. The point here brought out is
that as males their unchecked supremacy has resulted in the abnormal
predominance of masculine impulses in our human processes; and that this
predominance has been largely injurious.
As it happens, the distinctly feminine or maternal impulses are far more
nearly in line with human progress than are those of the male; which
makes her exclusion from human functions the more mischievous.
Our current teachings in the infant science of Political Economy are
naively masculine. They assume as unquestionable that "the economic
man" will never do anything unless he has to; will only do it to escape
pain or attain pleasure; and will, inevitably, take all he can get, and
do all he can to outwit, overcome, and if necessary destroy his
Always the antagonist; to the male mind an antagonist is essential to
progress, to all achievement. He has planted that root-thought in all
the human world; from that old hideous idea of Satan, "The Adversary,"
down to the competitor in business, or the boy at the head of the class,
to be superseded by another.
Therefore, even in science, "the struggle for existence" is the dominant
law--to the male mind, with the "survival of the fittest" and "the
elimination of the unfit."
Therefore in industry and economics we find always and everywhere the
antagonist; the necessity for somebody or something to be overcome--else
why make an effort? If you have not the incentive of reward, or the
incentive of combat, why work? "Competition is the life of trade."
Thus the Economic Man.
But how about the Economic Woman?
To the androcentric mind she does not exist. Women are females, and
that's all; their working abilities are limited to personal service.
That it would be possible to develop industry to far greater heights,
and to find in social economics a simple and beneficial process for the
promotion of human life and prosperity, under any other impulse than
these two, Desire and Combat, is hard indeed to recognize--for the "male
So absolutely interwoven are our existing concepts of maleness and
humanness, so sure are we that men are people and women only females,
that the claim of equal weight and dignity in human affairs of the
feminine instincts and methods is scouted as absurd. We find existing
industry almost wholly in male hands; find it done as men do it; assume
that that is the way it must be done.
When women suggest that it could be done differently, their proposal is
waved aside--they are "only women"--their ideas are "womanish."
Agreed. So are men "only men," their ideas are "mannish"; and of the
two the women are more vitally human than the men.
The female is the race-type--the man the variant.
The female, as a race-type, having the female processes besides; best
performs the race processes. The male, however, has with great
difficulty developed them, always heavily handicapped by his maleness;
being in origin essentially a creature of sex, and so dominated almost
exclusively by sex impulses.
The human instinct of mutual service is checked by the masculine
instinct of combat; the human tendency to specialize in labor, to
rejoicingly pour force in lines of specialized expression, is checked by
the predacious instinct, which will exert itself for reward; and
disfigured by the masculine instinct of self-expression, which is an
entirely different thing from the great human outpouring of world force.
Great men, the world's teachers and leaders, are great in humanness;
mere maleness does not make for greatness unless it be in warfare--a
disadvantageous glory! Great women also must be great in humanness; but
their female instincts are not so subversive of human progress as are
the instincts of the male. To be a teacher and leader, to love and
serve, to guard and guide and help, are well in line with motherhood.
"Are they not also in line with fatherhood?" will be asked; and, "Are
not the father's paternal instincts masculine?"
No, they are not; they differ in no way from the maternal, in so far as
they are beneficial. Parental functions of the higher sort, of the
human sort, are identical. The father can give his children many
advantages which the mother can not; but that is due to his superiority
as a human being. He possesses far more knowledge and power in the
world, the human world; he himself is more developed in human powers and
processes; and is therefore able to do much for his children which the
mother can not; but this is in no way due to his masculinity. It is in
this development of human powers in man, through fatherhood, that we may
read the explanation of our short period of androcentric culture.
So thorough and complete a reversal of previous relation, such
continuance of what appears in every way an unnatural position, must
have had some justification in racial advantages, or it could not have
endured. This is its justification; the establishment of humanness in
the male; he being led into it, along natural lines, by the exercise of
previously existing desires.
In a male culture the attracting forces must inevitably have been, we
have seen, Desire and Combat. These masculine forces, acting upon human
processes, while necessary to the uplifting of the man, have been
anything but uplifting to civilization. A sex which thinks, feels and
acts in terms of combat is difficult to harmonize in the smooth bonds of
human relationship; that they have succeeded so well is a beautiful
testimony to the superior power of race tendency over sex tendency.
Uniting and organizing, crudely and temporarily, for the common hunt;
and then, with progressive elaboration, for the common fight; they are
now using the same tactics--and the same desires, unfortunately--in
Union, organization, complex interservice, are the essential processes
of a growing society; in them, in the ever-increasing discharge of power
along widening lines of action, is the joy and health of social life.
But so far men combine in order to better combat; the mutual service
held incidental to the common end of conquest and plunder.
In spite of this the overmastering power of humanness is now developing
among modern men immense organizations of a wholly beneficial character,
with no purpose but mutual advantage. This is true human growth, and as
such will inevitably take the place of the sex-prejudiced earlier
The human character of the Christian religion is now being more and more
insisted on; the practical love and service of each and all; in place of
the old insistence on Desire--for a Crown and Harp in Heaven, and
Combat--with that everlasting adversary.
In economics this great change is rapidly going on before our eyes. It
is a change in idea, in basic concept, in our theory of what the whole
thing is about. We are beginning to see the world, not as "a fair field
and no favor"--not a place for one man to get ahead of others, for a
price; but as an establishment belonging to us, the proceeds of which
are to be applied, as a matter of course, to human advantage.
In the old idea, the wholly masculine idea, based on the processes of
sex-combat, the advantage of the world lay in having "the best man win."
Some, in the first steps of enthusiasm for Eugenics, think so still;
imagining that the primal process of promoting evolution through the
paternity of the conquering male is the best process.
To have one superior lion kill six or sixty inferior lions, and leave a
progeny of more superior lions behind him, is all right--for lions; the
superiority in fighting being all the superiority they need.
But the man able to outwit his follows, to destroy them in physical, or
ruin in financial, combat, is not therefore a superior human creature.
Even physical superiority, as a fighter, does not prove the kind of
vigor best calculated to resist disease, or to adapt itself to changing
That our masculine culture in its effect on Economics and Industry is
injurious, is clearly shown by the whole open page of history. From the
simple beneficent activities of a matriarchal period we follow the same
lamentable steps; nation after nation. Women are enslaved and captives
are enslaved; a military despotism is developed; labor is despised and
discouraged. Then when the irresistible social forces do bring us
onward, in science, art, commerce, and all that we call civilization, we
find the same check acting always upon that progress; and the really
vital social processes of production and distribution heavily injured by
the financial combat and carnage which rages ever over and among them.
The real development of the people, the forming of finer physiques,
finer minds, a higher level of efficiency, a broader range of enjoyment
and accomplishment--is hindered and not helped by this artificially
maintained "struggle for existence," this constant endeavor to eliminate
what, from a masculine standard, is "unfit."
That we have progressed thus far, that we are now moving forward so
rapidly, is in spite of and not because of our androcentric culture.
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; OR, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
A HUMAN WORLD.
In the change from the dominance of one sex to the equal power of two,
to what may we look forward? What effect upon civilization is to be
expected from the equality of womanhood in the human race?
To put the most natural question first--what will men lose by it? Many
men are genuinely concerned about this; fearing some new position of
subservience and disrespect. Others laugh at the very idea of change in
their position, relying as always on the heavier fist. So long as
fighting was the determining process, the best fighter must needs win;
but in the rearrangement of processes which marks our age, superior
physical strength does not make the poorer wealthy, nor even the soldier
The major processes of life to-day are quite within the powers of women;
women are fulfilling their new relations more and more successfully;
gathering new strength, new knowledge, new ideals. The change is upon
us; what will it do to men?
As we are a monogamous race, there will be no such drastic and cruel
selection among competing males as would eliminate the vast majority as
unfit. Even though some be considered unfit for fatherhood, all human
life remains open to them. Perhaps the most important feature of this
change comes in right here; along this old line of sex-selection,
replacing that power in the right hands, and using it for the good of
The woman, free at last, intelligent, recognizing her real place and
responsibility in life as a human being, will be not less, but more,
efficient as a mother. She will understand that, in the line of
physical evolution, motherhood is the highest process; and that her
work, as a contribution to an improved race, must always involve this
great function. She will see that right parentage is the purpose of the
whole scheme of sex-relationship, and act accordingly.
In our time, his human faculties being sufficiently developed, civilized
man can look over and around his sex limitations, and begin to see what
are the true purposes and methods of human life.
He is now beginning to learn that his own governing necessity of Desire
is not _the_ governing necessity of parentage, but only a contributory
tendency; and that, in the interests of better parentage, motherhood is
the dominant factor, and must be so considered.
In slow reluctant admission of this fact, man heretofore has recognized
one class of women as mothers; and has granted them a varying amount of
consideration as such; but he has none the less insisted on maintaining
another class of women, forbidden motherhood, and merely subservient to
his desires; a barren, mischievous unnatural relation, wholly aside from
parental purposes, and absolutely injurious to society. This whole
field of morbid action will be eliminated from human life by the normal
development of women.
It is not a question of interfering with or punishing men; still less of
interfering with or punishing women; but purely a matter of changed
education and opportunity for every child.
Each and all shall be taught the real nature and purpose of motherhood;
the real nature and purpose of manhood; what each is for, and which is
the more important. A new sense of the power and pride of womanhood
will waken; a womanhood no longer sunk in helpless dependence upon men;
no longer limited to mere unpaid house-service; no longer blinded by the
false morality which subjects even motherhood to man's dominance; but a
womanhood which will recognize its pre-eminent responsibility to the
human race, and live up to it. Then, with all normal and right
competition among men for the favor of women, those best fitted for
fatherhood will be chosen. Those who are not chosen will live
Many, under the old mistaken notion of what used to be called the
"social necessity" of prostitution, will protest at the idea of its
"It is necessary to have it," they will say.
"Necessary _to whom?_"
Not to the women hideously sacrificed to it, surely.
Not to society, honey-combed with diseases due to this cause.
Not to the family, weakened and impoverished by it.
To whom then? To the men who want it?
But it is not good for them, it promotes all manner of disease, of vice,
of crime. It is absolutely and unquestionably a "social evil."
An intelligent and powerful womanhood will put an end to this indulgence
of one sex at the expense of the other; and to the injury of both.
In this inevitable change will lie what some men will consider a loss.
But only those of the present generation. For the sons of the women now
entering upon this new era of world life will be differently reared.
They will recognize the true relation of men to the primal process; and
be amazed that for so long the greater values have been lost sight of in
favor of the less.
This one change will do more to promote the physical health and beauty
of the race; to improve the quality of children born, and the general
vigor and purity of social life, than any one measure which could be
proposed. It rests upon a recognition of motherhood as the real base
and cause of the family; and dismisses to the limbo of all outworn
superstition that false Hebraic and grossly androcentric doctrine that
the woman is to be subject to the man, and that he shall rule over her.
He has tried this arrangement long enough--to the grievous injury of the
world. A higher standard of happiness will result; equality and mutual
respect between parents; pure love, undefiled by self-interests on
either side; and a new respect for Childhood.
With the Child, seen at last to be the governing purpose of this
relation, with all the best energies of men and women bent on raising
the standard of life for all children, we shall have a new status of
family life which will be clean and noble, and satisfying to all its
The change in all the varied lines of human work is beyond the powers of
any present day prophet to forecast with precision. A new grade of
womanhood we can clearly foresee; proud, strong, serene, independent;
great mothers of great women and great men. These will hold high
standards and draw men up to them; by no compulsion save nature's law of
attraction. A clean and healthful world, enjoying the taste of life as
it never has since racial babyhood, with homes of quiet and
content--this we can foresee.
Art--in the extreme sense will perhaps always belong most to men. It
would seem as if that ceaseless urge to expression, was, at least
originally, most congenial to the male. But applied art, in every form,
and art used directly for transmission of ideas, such as literature, or
oratory, appeals to women as much, if not more, than to men.
We can make no safe assumption as to what, if any, distinction there
will be in the free human work of men and women, until we have seen
generation after generation grow up under absolutely equal conditions.
In all our games and sports and minor social customs, such changes will
occur as must needs follow upon the rising dignity alloted to the
woman's temperament, the woman's point of view; not in the least denying
to men the fullest exercise of their special powers and preferences; but
classifying these newly, as not human--merely male. At present we have
pages or columns in our papers, marked as "The Woman's Page" "Of
Interest to Women," and similar delimiting titles. Similarly we might
have distinctly masculine matters so marked and specified; not assumed
as now to be of general human interest.
The effect of the change upon Ethics and Religion is deep and wide.
With the entrance of women upon full human life, a new principle comes
into prominence; the principle of loving service. That this is the
governing principle of Christianity is believed by many; but an
androcentric interpretation has quite overlooked it; and made, as we
have shown, the essential dogma of their faith the desire of an eternal
reward and the combat with an eternal enemy.
The feminine attitude in life is wholly different. As a female she has
merely to be herself and passively attract; neither to compete nor to
pursue; as a mother her whole process is one of growth; first the
development of the live child within her, and the wonderful nourishment
from her own body; and then all the later cultivation to make the child
grow; all the watching, teaching, guarding, feeding. In none of this is
there either desire, combat, or self-expression. The feminine attitude,
as expressed in religion, makes of it a patient practical fulfillment of
law; a process of large sure improvements; a limitless comforting love
This full assurance of love and of power; this endless cheerful service;
the broad provision for all people; rather than the competitive
selection of a few "victors;" is the natural presentation of religious
truth from the woman's viewpoint. Her governing principle being growth
and not combat; her main tendency being to give and not to get; she more
easily and naturally lives and teaches these religious principles. It
is for this reason that the broader gentler teaching of the Unitarian
and Universalist sects have appealed so especially to women, and that so
many women preach in their churches.
This principle of growth, as applied and used in general human life will
work to far other ends than those now so painfully visible.
In education, for instance, with neither reward nor punishment as spur
or bait; with no competition to rouse effort and animosity, but rather
with the feeling of a gardener towards his plants; the teacher will
teach and the children learn, in mutual ease and happiness. The law of
passive attraction applies here, leading to such ingenuity in
presentation as shall arouse the child's interest; and, in the true
spirit of promoting growth, each child will have his best and fullest
training, without regard to who is "ahead" of him, or her, or who
We do not sadly measure the cabbage-stalk by the corn-stalk, and praise
the corn for getting ahead of the cabbage--nor incite the cabbage to
emulate the corn. We nourish both, to its best growth--and are the
That every child on earth shall have right conditions to make the best
growth possible to it; that every citizen, from birth to death, shall
have a chance to learn all he or she can assimilate, to develop every
power that is in them--for the common good--this will be the aim of
education, under human management.
In the world of "society" we may look for very radical changes.
With all women full human beings, trained and useful in some form of
work; the class of busy idlers, who run about forever "entertaining" and
being "entertained" will disappear as utterly as will the prostitute.
No woman with real work to do could have the time for such petty
amusements; or enjoy them if she did have time. No woman with real work
to do, work she loved and was well fitted for, work honored and
well-paid, would take up the Unnatural Trade. Genuine relaxation and
recreation, all manner of healthful sports and pastimes, beloved of both
sexes to-day, will remain, of course; but the set structure of "social
functions"--so laughably misnamed--will disappear with the "society
women" who make it possible. Once active members of real Society; no
woman could go back to "society," any more than a roughrider could
return to a hobbyhorse.
New development in dress, wise, comfortable, beautiful, may be
confidently expected, as woman becomes more human. No fully human
creature could hold up its head under the absurdities our women wear
to-day--and have worn for dreary centuries.
So on through all the aspects of life we may look for changes, rapid and
far-reaching; but natural and all for good. The improvement is not due
to any inherent moral superiority of women; nor to any moral inferiority
of men; men at present, as more human, are ahead of women in all
distinctly human ways; yet their maleness, as we have shown repeatedly,
warps and disfigures their humanness. The woman, being by nature the
race-type; and her feminine functions being far more akin to human
functions than are those essential to the male; will bring into human
life a more normal influence.
Under this more normal influence our present perversities of functions
will, of course, tend to disappear. The directly serviceable tendency
of women, as shown in every step of their public work, will have small
patience with hoary traditions of absurdity. We need but look at long
recorded facts to see what women do--or try to do, when they have
opportunity. Even in their crippled, smothered past, they have made
valiant efforts--not always wise--in charity and philanthropy.
In our own time this is shown through all the length and breadth of our
country, by the Woman's Clubs. Little groups of women, drawing together
in human relation, at first, perhaps, with no better purpose than to
"improve their minds," have grown and spread; combined and federated;
and in their great reports, representing hundreds of thousands of
women--we find a splendid record of human work. They strive always to
improve something, to take care of something, to help and serve and
benefit. In "village improvement," in traveling libraries, in lecture
courses and exhibitions, in promoting good legislation; in many a line
of noble effort our Women's Clubs show what women want to do.
Men do not have to do these things through their clubs, which are mainly
for pleasure; they can accomplish what they wish to through regular
channels. But the character and direction of the influence of women in
human affairs is conclusively established by the things they already do
and try to do. In those countries, and in our own states, where they
are already full citizens, the legislation introduced and promoted by
them is of the same beneficent character. The normal woman is a strong
creature, loving and serviceable. The kind of woman men are afraid to
entrust with political power, selfish, idle, over-sexed, or ignorant and
narrow-minded, is not normal, but is the creature of conditions men have
made. We need have no fear of her, for she will disappear with the
conditions which created her.
In older days, without knowledge of the natural sciences, we accepted
life as static. If, being born in China, we grew up with foot-bound
women, we assumed that women were such, and must so remain. Born in
India, we accepted the child-wife, the pitiful child-widow, the ecstatic
_suttee_, as natural expressions of womanhood. In each age, each
country, we have assumed life to be necessarily what it was--a moveless
All this is giving way fast in our new knowledge of the laws of life.
We find that Growth is the eternal law, and that even rocks are slowly
changing. Human life is seen to be as dynamic as any other form; and
the most certain thing about it is that it will change. In the light of
this knowledge we need no longer accept the load of what we call "sin;"
the grouped misery of poverty, disease and crime; the cumbrous,
inefficatious, wasteful processes of life today, as needful or
We have but to learn the _real_ elements in humanity; its true powers
and natural characteristics; to see wherein we are hampered by the wrong
ideas and inherited habits of earlier generations, and break loose from
them--then we can safely and swiftly introduce a far nobler grade of
Of all crippling hindrances in false ideas, we have none more
universally mischievous than this root error about men and women. Given
the old androcentric theory, and we have an androcentric culture--the
kind we so far know; this short stretch we call "history;" with its
proud and pitiful record. We have done wonders of upward growth--for
growth is the main law, and may not be wholly resisted. But we have
hindered, perverted, temporarily checked that growth, age after age; and
again and again has a given nation, far advanced and promising, sunk to
ruin, and left another to take up its task of social evolution; repeat
its errors--and its failure.
One major cause of the decay of nations is "the social evil"--a thing
wholly due to the androcentric culture. Another steady endless check is
warfare--due to the same cause. Largest of all is poverty; that
spreading disease which grows with our social growth and shows most
horribly when and where we are most proud, keeping step, as it were,
with private wealth. This too, in large measure, is due to the false
ideas on industry and economics, based, like the others mentioned, on a
wholly masculine view of life.
By changing our underlying theory in this matter we change all the
resultant assumptions; and it is this alteration in our basic theory of
life which is being urged.
The scope and purpose of human life is entirely above and beyond the
field of sex relationship. Women are human beings, as much as men, by
nature; and as women, are even more sympathetic with human processes.
To develop human life in its true powers we need full equal citizenship
The great woman's movement and labor movement of to-day are parts of the
same pressure, the same world-progress. An economic democracy must rest
on a free womanhood; and a free womanhood inevitably leads to an