He provides, however, "a contingent disability," that of getting married, which may overtake these. As our prophet waxes eloquent over matrimony he forgets what manner of woman he has pictured as a politician, and tells us "only intelligent and agreeable women will be popular, and only popular women would be candidates and elected." The forlorn and déclassée woman is metamorphosed into "the brilliant, educated, and accomplished lady stump speaker," and when she marries, what can be left for the suffragists?
Having thus disposed of the phantasmagoria of his creation, he asks two momentous questions:
1. What wrongs are there affecting society which the women's vote will set right?
2. What oppression does woman suffer at the hands of man which she must rise in her might to redress?
I am not aware that woman suffrage is proposed as a panacea for social evils, or that it will usher in a millennial condition. Man would be disfranchised if such requirement was made of his vote. Legislation does not beget character, and man is not made temperate and pure by law. Stringent laws, however, are needed to prevent various evils and to make certain offenses punishable. Women are quick to recognize vicious tendencies that men with a greed for money-getting often overlook. The work of Mrs. Fawcett in England, and of many earnest women in the United States, shows what good would accrue to society if women helped to frame the laws.
Our opponent does not pause to consider whether woman's vote would be beneficial or not to the community, but spends his full strength in fortifying the second query. "The woman's grievance against man, what is it?" he asks. "The moment you attempt to inflate its emptiness. . . you are dealing with hysteric fancies rather than hard facts. . . . Woman has no grievance against man. . . . Cruel Nature has committed an offense against woman."
English law is more nearly defined as "a hard fact" than as "a hysteric fancy," and English law contains a long "bill of grievances" which woman may publish against man. True, in this land of boasted freedom most of these laws have been repealed, many others are a dead letter, and still others have been enacted that favor woman. These changes have been brought about by the growth of the sense of justice, but also directly through the efforts of women agitators who have pleaded and written against decrees of oppression. These writings and arguments are a matter of record, and they antedate all betterment of
- John Stuart Mill. Subjection of Woman, pp. 56-58.