Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/632

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To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly:

IN the article on "Woman's Place in Nature," which appeared in the January number of The Popular Science Monthly, some applications of the general principles enunciated were omitted for the sake of brevity, and, deeming them important, I send them for publication, in continuation of that argument.

Although the characters peculiar to each sex have undoubtedly been acquired under the operation of the same laws, it would seem that men and women have become too much differentiated in their mode of living, for the physical or mental health of either. Among lower animals in a wild state, sex makes little difference in the habits of life; and, among barbarous tribes and races of men, there is little concerted action or differentiation of duties of men and women, except in the conduct of wars of rivalry or defense; and it has always been considered a sign of a higher civilization when woman is released from the heavier kinds of labor, and relegated to a special and different sphere of activity. But civilization, even, may be carried too far, in the extreme separation of men and women in their daily lives, no less than in the generally-acknowledged direction of the excessive refinements of metropolitan life; and there seems to be a tendency to a "reversion" in this respect, in an increasing disposition on the part of women to share, to a fuller extent than heretofore, the labors, the interests, the education, and the recreations, which do so much to give physical health and mental vigor to men. On the other hand, the sexual erethism, amounting to a pathological condition, so frequent among the men of today, may be regarded as an indication in the same direction. The greater strength of sexual passions in men is looked upon as a weakness and degradation by women—the "social evil" being largely attributed to it as a cause. While the brief review of the causes and conditions of the development of the race, given in a former article, shows, if both facts and deductions are accepted, that the higher traits of human character have arisen largely through this inequality, the fact of its having become excessive may be taken as an indication of the desirableness of a "reversion" for men as well as women; and, through a more intimate association in business relations, where the affinities of sex would be less powerfully asserted among sterner interests—where mere entertainment of each other would not be the occupation of the hour, as in social gatherings and dissipations—it is probable that a tendency would arise toward an equalizing of the sexes in this particular, which would contribute to the health of both; and that co-education, though advocated in the interests of women only, would result in advantage to both sexes.

An undue accumulation of electric force terminates in the thunder-bolt, which carries disaster in its pathway; while a more constant communication between cloud and earth tends to the maintenance of a safe equilibrium, by which means catastrophe is averted, and a better atmospheric condition secured.

While it would not be in accordance with the principles of evolution to say that woman does not now occupy her true and natural place in life, the fact of her increasing dissatisfaction with it is evidence that she is moving on to a better one—better, because higher in the scale of evolution. Says Lecky: "That the pursuits and education of women will be considerably altered, and that these alterations will bring with them some modifications of the type of character, may safely be predicted."

Since it is in the direction of greater moral as well as intellectual unfolding that the future progress of the race is undoubtedly to consist, woman will find ample fields for the expenditure of her special force and influence. I would not be understood to discourage women from entering any profession or department of labor to which