Wrong and Right Methods of Dealing with Social Evil
WRONG AND RIGHT METHODS
DEALING WITH SOCIAL EVIL,
AS SHOWN BY ENGLISH PARLIAMENTARY EVIDENCE.
DR. ELIZABETH BLACKWELL,
AUTHOR OF "COUNSEL TO PARENTS ON THE MORAL EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN IN RELATION TO SEX."
A. BRENTANO & CO.,
No. 5 Union Square, New York.
A. Brenlano, Cor. Pennsylvania Ave. and 11th Street, Washington, D.C.
Woman's Journal Office, 5 Park St., Boston Mass.
|I.— On the "Let Alone" System||9|
|II.— The Female Regulation System||19|
|III.— The Repressive System, in Reference to Municipal Action||42|
|IV.— The Repressive System, in Reference to National Law||60|
To all Persons who value Christian Morality as the Foundation of Permanent National Welfare.
A Widespread discussion has already begun throughout the United States, as to the wisest methods of dealing with social evil. Much perplexity is felt on this subject, and a feeling of despondency upon the part of many. A doubt as to the possibility of dealing with a vast and growing evil in a way that shall satisfy our highest ideas of morality and religion.
In England the subject is attracting an even deeper and more immediate attention, and certain Parliamentary evidence lately published in the English Blue Books, throw so much light upon the subject—show such pitfalls ahead; such failures in one direction; such cheering success in another, that we can not do better than study this evidence to aid us in determining the course that we should ourselves pursue.
The following record of facts is laid before women as well as men, because their aid is indispensable for the establishment of sound legislation or wise custom, in all that concerns the relations of the sexes.
In the great majority of the subjects of legislation, the nature and interests of the two sexes are identical; but the fact of natural difference between men and women in one important point, renders it impossible for either sex alone to understand the true aspect of this ineradicable difference, on which just and wise action must be based.
The intelligent aid which is thus demanded from women, can only come from larger knowledge, and earnest study of the actual facts of life. The fundamental error that one sex can govern the several relations of both, is a corrupting fallacy, which has proved destructive of national life in the past. The documentary evidence which follows, shows clearly how all self-styled Christian nations are really drifting to the same destruction which has come upon so many ancient races.
The restraining force of old religious feelings and customs is rapidly disappearing. Up to the early part of this century, when the Roman Catholic and Puritan faiths were still active controlling influences in the life of nations, sexual vice, like other vice, was regarded as an evil thing in men and women; and the efforts made to check it were made on the assumption that it is to be repressed, not accepted. This is seen in the existent Common and Statute Law, i. e. the General Law of the typical nations—France, England, and the United States. But with the gradual decay of religious faiths in the nineteenth century, a change has taken place, and is still going on. English Practice has fallen behind English Law, and the method of dealing with licentiousness has changed in a striking manner.
The Church, also, has loosened its restraining hand. It shrinks from plain and forcible condemnation of this deadliest evil, and neglects to train the young in the strong virtue of purity. In Catholic countries, the Confessional (which, notwithstanding its great inherent evils, did try to deal with this vice) has lost its power over men, and no other institution has taken its place. The Ordinance of Godfathers and God-mothers, which might have wisely replaced the Confessional in the Episcopal Church, is a dead letter. "Discipline" in other religious bodies is relaxed or given up. Thus the difficult but imperative duty of guarding and guiding youth, in relation to their sexual powers, is not provided for.
Religion and Law, equally, must be aroused to the fulfilment of their heavy responsibility toward the rising generation.
53 East 20th Street, New York.
May 1st, 1883.