Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/266

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
252
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

merely associated with one sex but having no essential connection with the sex itself, such as the brilliant plumage of the peacock, or, as Mr. Darwin suggested, the baldness of Englishmen. These in a majority of instances depend upon the preferences of the opposite sex, the last example being a probable exception. So men have only themselves to blame if an undesirable type of woman persists.

In addition to these, artificial differences, mere resultants of specific treatment, may also disappear. The foot of a Chinese woman is quite unlike that of a man, and possibly an aristocratic Celestial dame would be fearful of approaching the masculine type if she allowed her daughter's feet a natural development. Barbarous nations are not usually content with Nature; they delight in differentiating their women from men by blackening their teeth or boring holes in their lips, ears, and noses. We follow their fashions in a mild way and have created several artificial types of women, but it is hardly scientific to call the exaggerations which distinguish them "sexual differences."

Among animals we can, by breeding and training[1] through several generations, increase desirable qualities, such as the pace of horses or flight of pigeons, but it is not claimed by any breeder or zoölogist that the sexes are any nearer each other than they were in protozoan times. It is also an assumption to declare that the "graces of womanhood—affection, tenderness, and sympathy"—have sprung from the relation of the sexes. According to all authorities, the general relation of the sexes in all but recent times has been characterized by anything but "affection, tenderness, and sympathy." So far as we have proof of the origin of these qualities, they have arisen from the offices of motherhood; and just in the degree that we elevate, ennoble, and endow the mother with moral, mental, and political responsibility, do we put it in her power to exercise the wisest affection toward her offspring, the fullest sympathy with her mate.

Our antisuffragist "fears to drag woman from her high estate wherein man is her servant." This has for me the melodramatic ring of "a hysteric fancy." With all the opportunities for progress which recent years have given her, it does not appear to me that woman is yet on so high a plane as man. She is, however, climbing step by step, and all unprejudiced, men and women will welcome the day when she may stand beside him as his coworker in life. That the ballot, officeholding, or any other right which she can exercise or pursuit which she will undertake can render her less a woman, is a hypothesis without a grain of evidence. No


  1. In every case of change, breeding is certified to be more potent than mere conditioning; vide Alfred Russel Wallace, in the Popular Science Monthly, vol. xxxviii, p. 94.