Слике страница

Twenty-one of them at the present moment are sitting as members in the Finnish Parliament. Due to that inveterate tendency of revolutionists to incorporate into their program the most advanced features of existing governments, the demand for woman's political representation has reached even Mohammedan countries, such as Persia and Turkey, where it is directly opposed to their religious teaching. Both China and Siam, in spite of eastern customs, have given women a political status in their new constitutions by extending to certain classes of them the right of suffrage.

In contrast to these contemporary revolutions in which women have been recognized are the European revolutions of the nineteenth century in which women also worked side by side with men for a larger democracy, but where they were ignored when the constitutions were finally written. This is clearly seen in such states as Bohemia, Silesia, and Hungary, where women with certain property qualifications are still sending members to Parliament who directly represent their interests. This right of women to vote has survived from the days when the ownership of property was the only basis upon which either men or women were given the franchise. When the vote for men was based upon a broader qualification than that of property, the vote, although it was not extended to other women, was not taken away from the women previously qualified. It was upon such a basis that women a few centuries ago sat in the English Parliament and at this moment are voting upon the same terms as men in the municipal governments of Rangoon and other Indian cities. These surviving votes, representing a stage long past, are a reproach to existing governments which at the present moment are making a greater disparity between the political status of men and women than that which existed three hundred years ago. Whatever the result, in the final adjustment, so long as the revolutions both of the nineteenth and the twentieth century were purely inspirational and doctrinaire, the revolutionists recognized the equality of women. The aftermath was obvious, during the recent election in Chicago, that the women of those nations recently stirred by revolution were the women most eager to utilize the franchise— Bohemian, Polish, and Irish women, and the Italian women whose families had been committed to a new Italy.

The generous moral feeling evoked in a time of revolution, reducing life to its first principles as it were, tends to restore women

to their earlier place in society, somewhat as women regain much of their original social importance in pioneer countries where there is little division of labor. Because good government is not a matter of sex when it means a method of identifying cattle which have become mixed with the neighboring herd or of defending little children from the dangers incident to frontier life, it has evidently been difficult for the pioneer man to withhold political rights from women when government has become more conventional. Such a condition is represented by all of the Australian states, one following another in the granting of the franchise to women until the entire seven are included; by Wyoming which gave suffrage to women in 1869, and by others of the western states in America, and last of all by Alaska. Even the conservative Boers of the early Dutch republics in South Africa had given the right of the franchise to the women who had trekked and fought and ploughed by their sides in the spirit of the early German woman who evoked the admiration of Tacitus. And although the Dutch women had never used the vote, being inhibited by some notion that it was not ladylike, there it was ready at hand until the English inaugurated a more sophisticated rule.

The final impression of a review of this movement we have ventured to consider is of a cause growing, pushing, and developing in all the nations upon the face of the earth, representing new experiences and untrammeled hopes. It is everywhere surprisingly spontaneous and universal. It not only appears simultaneously in various nations in both hemispheres, but manifests itself in widely separated groups within the same nation, embracing the smart set and the hard driven working woman; sometimes the movement is sectarian and dogmatic, at others philosophic and grandiloquent; it may be amorphous and sporadic, or carefully organized and consciously directed; but it is always vital and is constantly becoming more widespread.



Lecturer on Education.

The position which any group of individuals holds in society at any time depends upon two factors, the qualities which actually belong to the group, and the ideas concerning the group which are current at the time. Of these two, the actual physical and subjective qualities, which may conveniently be called the biological conditions, are much the more important. They are always hard to determine, but they are very persistent, and since they represent the facts of life, they are very powerful. They change very slowly, and if at any time the public ideas do not agree with them, then the ideas must change no matter how logical nor how well established they may be.

But ideas are also very powerful in, at least temporarily, determining social position, whether they agree with the physical and subjective facts of the class or not. In the past, they have exalted priesthoods, good or bad; they have enforced slavery, sometimes on inferior people, as the black race, and sometimes on superior people, as when Rome enslaved Greece. These ideas also change slowly; but in the case of industrial or military revolutions they may move with amazing rapidity. Thus in the case of American slavery, a change in dominant ideas transformed the blacks from chattels to equal citizenship in a few brief days, during which there could have been no appreciable change in their physical and mental qualities.

From this it is clear that the ideas must often have little correspondence with the actual qualities of the class whose position they determine. Ideas must, of course, have a cause; but once shaped in language, they may survive long after the conditions which created them have ceased to exist; or they may be carried over seas and grafted on alien people, under conditions where they would never have arisen. Backed by superstitions, religious sanctions, and most of all by long usage, they may come to be so ardently believed that the actual facts cannot be discerned; and they may

even become an end in themselves so that people may fight for their preservation, even when they feel that they no longer fit the facts of life. The English peerage, with its monopoly of votes, land, wealth, and hereditary privileges, is still upheld by the masses of the English people.

In judging of the position of women, the difficulties already mentioned are increased by the fact that in matters of sex the emotions generally lead the mind and obscure its action; and, besides this, any change in our beliefs or practices concerning women will disturb the vested interests and the daily adjustments of life of almost every man and woman alive. It is not to be wondered at, then, that our knowledge of the biological facts of sex is so limited; nor is it surprising that old ideas and new ideas are inextricably mixed; nor that in such a time of transition ideas are seldom brought to the test of the biological and psychological facts which we do possess.

For about forty years the physical and mental qualities of women have been subjected to careful analysis, in some cases with very little prejudice on the part of observers. To summarize these briefly, we may say: Women are shorter and lighter in weight than men. They are narrower at the shoulders than men and broader at the hips; man tapers from the shoulders downward while woman tapers from the hips upward to the shoulders and downward to the feet. She is longer in the body than man and shorter in the legs and arms; her leverage in both arms and legs is shorter than in men. Men are built on lines of movement more than women are, and in most of our athletic contests men's records are from a third to a half superior to those made by women. From the point of view of resistance, woman's general structure, considered from the point of view of her potential or actual motherhood, makes her less capable of standing and lifting for a considerable period than a man is.

In civilized communities, from 1 to 2 per cent more boys than girls are born, and the girls seem less subject to variation than the boys. Following Geddes and Thompson, we may say that women are anabolic; they gather and shape the forces of life; they are its conservers. Men, on the other hand, are katabolic; they tend to distribute and dissipate the forces of life; they are its destroyers. To put it differently, women are more passive than men; and men are more active on the physical side than women are.

The nervous system in the two sexes, compared with the general physical bulk, is almost the same in size; and of its qualitative differences we know nothing. No biologist can tell from a section of the brain whether it is that of a man or a woman. While each sex can probably do any intellectual work which the other can do, women are more emotional than men and reach conclusions by shorter routes. Men are more labored in their subjective processes; and they care more for logic and science than women do. The intellectual interests of women seem at present strongly personal and concrete, while men are more devoted to impersonal and abstract problems.

It is also recognized that a woman's life is more subject to periodicities than is that of a man. Not only is she subject to interruptions due to her potential motherhood but, if she becomes a wife and mother, her whole life breaks into three segments of about equal length. The first third, the period of girlhood and maidenhood, must be given to preparation for life; the next third, up to the age of forty-five or fifty, gathers around the problems of maternity and the family, and may be called the romantic period; the third part, from fifty to seventy-five has been largely wasted in the past, and promises to be one of the best periods in the future.

If we turn now to the ideas that determine woman's position, we find them in utter confusion. Until about 1870, they were pretty clearly established and they can be summed up in the statement that woman was man's inferior, physically and mentally. Her spiritual insight and her higher moral ideals were often recognized; but her proper social position was believed to be half way between that of a child and a man. Judaic-Christianity was largely responsible for this belief in Christendom. In both Judaism and Christianity, the heavenly hierarchy was purely patriarchal; and in the story of creation, Eve overwhelmed the race in ruin and brought suspicion on all her daughters, which even the promise that her seed should bruise the serpent's head could not dispel.

Early Christianity in its revolt against pagan sensuality developed an ascetic attitude towards life which recognized woman as the dangerous ally of evil. The fact that Jesus never married, that he had no children, and that he chose men alone as his active coworkers, backed by the Jewish attitude of Paul, gave women a subordinate place in the early Christian Church. The Patristic

« ПретходнаНастави »