Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/662

This page has been validated.
644
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the most rudimentary marriage, on to the highest types of sexual nuion, those social laws which are the seed of governmental codes, and without knowledge of which we can not understand those codes, deal with woman in her wedded state. We find the position of the married woman, as defined by these social laws, written and unwritten—and, if unwritten, quite as likely to be stringently enforced—to furnish examples of every grade of condition, from the captured or purchased slave to the comparatively equal partner. Moreover, we find the woman sometimes in possession of the most personal freedom in the lowest general social development. What law governs these widely diverging conditions?

The student of sociology must be convinced that the evolution of the family determines, in its different stages, the differing position of the married woman.

For proof of this statement we have only to consider the following facts: Progress from barbarism to civilization is marked by ever-increasing political control, as opposed to accidental, shifting despotisms of powerful individuals on the one side, and to purposeless anarchy of the masses on the other. "Political control rests primarily on distinct relationships of blood." For the structural cohesion of the family, established by this definite blood-relationship, alone makes possible the structural cohesion of many families in the organism we call society. The unity of the family, therefore, being the fundamental condition of the unity of society, it is secured beyond peradventure by successive changes which tend more and more to establish certainty of descent, of preservation, and of care of offspring. Probably every form of relation between man and woman, from promiscuity to pure monogamy, has been in existence at every stage of human development. But the prevailing type of sexual union has differed at each of these differing stages. How do we know which are the higher and which are the lower of these types? By the application of the simple test-question, which the more perfectly secures that organization of the family which is the primary necessity of the organization of the state?

In the building up of the state, the primitive need is sufficient power and permanency of control to make law supreme over the individual will. And where the personal wishes or rights, even of men, come in conflict with this initial step toward social order, those personal wishes and rights are ruthlessly sacrificed; not because individual liberty is ignored in the process of development, but rather because individual liberty can only be permanently secured by making it second to social order in sequence of evolution. On exactly the same principle, the building up of the family, which precedes the establishment of political order, must begin in the strong foundation-wall of family unity, even although to that unity must be sacrificed the individual rights of every member of the family except its acknowledged head. Hence we