Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/427

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413
EDITOR'S TABLE.

future working upon domestic life. The industrial progress of mankind, as is well known, has been carried forward by the division of labor, in which, through greater proficiency of specialized work, improved machinery, and efficient organization, the productive capacities of society have been much diversified and augmented. Dr. Blackwell's argument is that this great social tendency has taken effect upon the domestic sphere, and must take much further effect by removing those forms of domestic labor with which women have been so long burdened, to the outside sphere of business organization. She maintains that woman must follow out these industries into the outer field of competition, or be left without the means of subsistence; while, by thus getting rid of all work hitherto called domestic, she will achieve her liberation from that home bondage of which she has so long been the victim. The social movement here referred to has two effects—the enlargement of external competition for woman, and a corresponding diminution of the internal sphere of home occupation. We must very briefly object to Dr. Blackwell's views upon both points.

As to the industrial tendencies of social evolution invoked by Dr. Blackwell, she seems to have left out the most important, and, indeed, in this case, an all-determining consideration. While the common differentiations of industry are a result of progress, that between the sexes is not a result of progress. The division of labor between the sexes is primordial—older and deeper than all social development, and a fundamental condition to it. Any one who will consult the comprehensive "Cyclopædia of Descriptive Sociology," by Herbert Spencer, and refer to the operative division of his tabular summaries, will find superabundant proofs that in the very lowest stages of all savage societies there was a fundamental and universal separation in the active spheres of the sexes, so that "no division of labor except that between the sexes" becomes almost a stereotyped formula. Men devoted themselves to hunting, fishing, and war, for the maintenance of the life of the tribe, while women cooked the food, made the clothes, took care of the children, and occupied themselves chiefly with the drudgeries of the rude home. Thus, before industries began to take any separate shape, there was already a division of occupations so broad and clear as to be evidently grounded in the nature of things, and all the subsequent progress of mankind has been achieved in subordination to it. The first great specialization of human activities is, therefore, not a product of social evolution. We have here to do with a fact of exceptional import, deeply grounded in the constitution of things, and not to be studied as an effect of social progress. And in its essential quality, moreover, this separation of the spheres of action of men and women is totally different from the ordinary differentiations of industry. The historic relation of the sexes, in regard to their distinctive spheres of action, is a non-competitive relation. The family arose not merely by a union of the sexes in marriage, but by a union of interests which made their respective spheres of occupation supplementary to each other. There is here no industrial rivalry, but the common ambition centers in the prosperity of the home. This is the fixed order observed equally in all stages of progress. As men fished, hunted, and fought in the pre-industrial stages of society, while women were occupied with the domestic cares, so the men still labor without, struggling with their fellows in the arena of business, and earning wealth which it is their pleasure and pride to expend upon the home and for the advantage of the family, while wives and mothers co-operate in the household sphere, contributing their indispensable and co-equal share