Слике страница

ethnographers suggest, that all is at an end between them. But the initiates are turning their backs on their mother only to turn their faces towards their father and their father's friends. For these seniors, upon taking into their life youthful participants, an adjustment is necessary, and it is for them to get it over with as quickly and easily as possible. Naturally they resort to the usual social method, the method of ceremonial. It is plain enough why men figure rather than women in the puberty or initiation rites to celebrate a boy's growing up.

But there are other conditions in the life of men besides an adjustment to their juniors to be met with ceremonial or with conventionality. Their contacts with all their non-familial groups, the groups they resort to when they leave home, when they go out "to meet a man," all these associations have to be entered upon with ceremonial and, their membership never entirely homogeneous, safeguarded with conventionalities. Hence presentations and introductions of all kinds, the conferring of orders or degrees, the induction into office, "treating" and the "sacred laws of hospitality." Hence tribal or patriotic standards, professional etiquette, chivalry, the code of a gentleman, and many other caste taboos or rules. In all these matters women figure far less than men, of course, for the simple enough reason that they are out of touch with the different groups concerned. They have avoided them or they have been excluded from them. Then when they do begin to seek admission into these non-familial groups we may note that very often they ride roughshod over their conventionalities, breaking their rules, either because they are ignorant of them or because they see in them little or no value. This procedure, whatever its explanation, is very disturbing to men, distasteful to them and even abhorrent. And often enough it is the more or less unconscious anticipation of such violations by women, of such misbehaviour, that sets men so bitterly against opening the doors to them. Merely to lessen masculine apprehensiveness and to overcome masculine antagonism women might do


* The rigid separation of initiates from females is also more of a symbol of sex segregation, I think, than a practical measure against sexual intercourse. It is a concentration rite, a synopsis, so to speak, of the life ahead of them, life apart from women.

An infraction we recognize when we say, for example, that women have no sense of honor, or that women dislike "red tape.”

well to adopt quickly and unquestioningly masculine conventionalities.

But even if women develop a sense of honor and a respect for masculine routine, even if they shear their hair and dress like men, even if they keep men's hours, and work and play like men, even if they smoke and swear and get drunk like men, even if they succeed in getting from the outside the loyalty and esprit du corps that usually come only with participation in the life of the group, learning to swim, in other words, without going near the water, even if they conform in all these ways, differences will still exist between them and men, natural differences, urges the anti-feminist, and should not these natural differences receive appreciation and be given social expression? However we may answer this question, it does not quite meet the point of masculine exclusiveness. It is apprehension of difference rather than actual difference which bulks so large now and always in the social regulation of sex. It is fear of the unlike rather than the fact of it. The anti-feminist wishes to keep women apart from men not because he values sex differences, but because he fears them. He or she is not so anxious to preserve them as to get away from them, to be protected from the danger of being disturbed by them. Differences in age, in caste, in family, and in race, have filled mankind with analogous apprehensions and prompted analogous methods and plans of self-protection.

Age-class, caste group, family, and race, each has its own closed circle from unlikeness to exclusion or seclusion, from exclusion or seclusion to unlikeness-but each of these vicious circles the modern spirit has begun to invade and break down. In the spirit of our time fear of the unlike is waning, and pari passu intolerance. Fear of the unlike and intolerance are due to fear of change, and that fear, whether of change wrought by life or of change threatened by the stranger, that great fear, is passing. With it are bound to go the devices of self-protection it prompted-ceremonial, conventionality, and segregation. In this general movement of the human spirit feminism was born; upon its march the hopes of feminism ultimately must depend.




Secretary, Legislative Committee, Women's Trade Union League of
New York

The forces which actually mold and determine legislative policies in modern society are among the deepest mysteries of political science. Generally speaking, men have had the suffrage for nearly a century in the United States, and yet we still talk, and with reason, of "invisible government," "government by public opinion," "government by common counsel," wondering how much numerical majorities at the polls really count for after all. That the "invisible government" is forceful enough and keen enough to defeat again and again solemn judgments made at the polls is patent to all. Our talk about "bossism" and "big business in politics" is not mere gossip. Investigation after investigation has revealed the reality of the economic influences in modern legislation. Even the late Senator Platt, always reticent in the presence of inquisitors, admitted that the large sums which he received from the life insurance companies "might" have had some influence on legislation at Albany. Anti-lobby legislation is another piece of testimony to the effect that the "popular will" registered at the polls is not always the "will" registered at the state capitol. The growth of direct government is an evidence of the voters' suspicion that other influences than those of the ballot box operate on their "representatives."

If it is true that powerful economic interests, organized and always alert, have often written their will into law, through popular representatives and in spite of popular will, what can we say of the weight of beneficent influences, and particularly the influence of voteless women? If we cannot estimate accurately the weight of popular will expressed at the polls on legislation, or the weight of determined economic interests, how can we hope, with any degree of success, to gauge the intermittent efforts of women to advance or retard the progress of legislation in many fields? In the absence of data of a scientific character, we can only fall back upon certain

more or less popular conclusions about women's influence, some of which have arisen from vague opinion or uncertain feelings, only slightly tinged with information.

These conclusions rest in fact upon such readily available data as the following: the testimony of politicians and legislators as to the extent of women's influence which they have been compelled to recognize; individual examples of moral persuasion or statesmanlike wire-pulling on the part of women; organized efforts of women for the accomplishment of definite programs; lobbies in legislative chambers maintained by women; and coöperation with men in organized legislative effort.

Only the most striking instances can be given of the testimony of legislators as to the influence exercised upon them by women. The first example, and probably the most forceful one, that comes to mind is in connection with the extension of the privilege of voting to women. "When women want it they will get it" is admitted even by the most hardened anti. Men on platform committees, men at the primaries, men at the polls, men in their legislative halls and in judiciary committees would gladly escape the importunities of the persistent hordes of women who descend upon them to question them as they go into meeting places or polling booths about their intentions and question them again as they come forth about their acts with regard to the enfranchisement of women. Where women in large organized groups protest vigorously against the extension of the suffrage, their influence is undoubtedly felt in the legislatures and at the polls, and the cry of defense by the legislator and the voter becomes: "Women do not want to vote.' In either case, the proposition in the popular mind is left to the decision of women. Suffrage, when submitted at the polls, is generally won by women through their activity in persuading voters to ballot in its favor. Without their constant hammering at every man whom they can reach, women know, and men know and admit, that the franchise would never be extended to women.

[ocr errors]

The clearest evidence of this fact lies in the pressure now being exerted for the Bristow-Mondell federal amendment to bring enfranchisement more speedily to all the women of the country. Driven by the women who are now included among their voting constituents, and sometimes boldly admitting it, senators and representatives from suffrage states are asking, seriously at last, for this legislation.

Driven by fear of the possibility of women soon forming part of their voting constituents, men from suffrage campaign states are espousing the same amendment or hesitating to oppose it hoping for its postponement; while in the South, where neither woman suffrage nor campaign states, in the strict sense of the term, exist, congressmen are beginning to find themselves in a dilemma owing to the growing support of the amendment among the women of their districts and the additional and more potent fact that the women voters of the North are questioning the attitude of the Democratic party toward the amendment-thus making suffrage a serious issue in view of the present and possible electoral vote to be determined by voting women in 1916. In national politics, then, the influence of women on legislation dealing with their own enfranchisement is plainly seen. It is this which led the Virginia member of the judiciary committee in the House of Representatives to exclaim in committee last spring: "I shall no longer be responsible for holding up this discussion in the House."

Further testimony to the part borne by women in their own enfranchisement is given by Colonel Roosevelt in his recent statement to leading women of the Progressive party in New York:

I believe that the surest way of bringing about a realization of one feature of the Progressive party program, that of securing the vote for women, is the constant development of what are already the social and industrial activities of women within the Progressive party.

The strongest argument in its favor, thus set forth by the men who incorporated the suffrage feature into the Progressive platform, is the influence of women on other legislation.

Representative government is, to some extent at least, a government by petition, legislators responding to personal appeals from individuals and organizations when they are powerful enough to arouse interest or alarm. National as well as state legislation has been effected in this way by women, if the testimony of men like Harvey W. Wiley is accepted. In his campaign for pure food laws, he stated repeatedly that his strongest support came from women's organizations. That support was not passive and moral, merely expressed to him privately, but these women inundated Congress with letters, telegrams, petitions pleading for the passage of the laws in question. These communications were presented to Congress by

« ПретходнаНастави »