Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/353

This page has been validated.


THE men of America have met the suffrage agitation with an admirable gallantry. Aspersed to their faces from the rostrum as masculine creatures of unfathomable iniquity, they return only a deprecating smile. Assured by the "new woman" that the ever feminine leadeth them on, and that politics will clarify as soon as the superior purity and integrity of the sex are brought to bear upon them, they appreciate her splendid confidence, applaud, and cry her on. There are those who, ever suspicious of the masculine character, take umbrage at this favor, looking upon it as an impertinent condescension. But surely we may grant that the slow partner of our humanity, admiring our victorious advance, and bewildered by our swift onslaughts from all points at once, wishes by his expressions of good will to placate our wrath and further our desires. Stupid and mannish he may be, but after all he is rather good-natured.

American women, however, are taking toward the question at issue a curious attitude. One large and picturesque division, when exhorted that they "ought" to desire a finger in the political pie, if not for the sake of the pie at least for the sake of the finger, show a sweet resignation, and, definitely premising that they do not wish the ballot, cry meekly that if it be the will of God to give it to them they will do their best to make a proper use of it. Others express a frank impatience with our prophets and saviors. Others, still, recognizing that the vantage ground upon which American women stand to-day is not entirely the result of democracy, give due gratitude and appreciation to those who through hard battles have helped to win the position. "But," they exclaim, "stay in your ministrations of deliverance! Forbear to impose upon us the added responsibility of the suffrage!" And, worst of all, masses of these shackled citizens show an unalterable apathy toward the injustice they are suffering, and indifference to the hands reached out to help them. Surely never did enthusiasts have to deal with more refractory and exasperating material. The suffrage leaders have proved in their own persons the angelic quality of womankind in not giving up long ago the attempt to free such inveterate slaves.

What is the significance of this general reluctance? To give her the suffrage is to add another to the long list of her opportunities for exercising power and influence outside of the home, and the question becomes. Do American women desire this, and if not, why not? The answer is bound up with the hackneyed subject of "woman's sphere," and, as all our philosophy is nowa-