That last, it is to be feared, is the one existing practical result of the higher education of women, up to date.If some women shirk their natural duties, then a heavier task must be laid upon the remainder.The other two must be provided to cover risks of infant or adolescent mortality, and to insure against infertility or incapacity for marriage in later life.It is true also that among savage races generally the women have to work as hard as the men, though the men bear in most cases the larger share in providing actual food for the entire family.Or, to put these conclusions another way: in any case, the vast majority of women in any community must needs become wives and mothers; and in the best ordered community the largest possible number will doubtless become so, in order to distribute the burden equally, and to produce in the end the best results for the nation.But figures are things that always require to be explained, and, above all, to be regarded in their true proportions to one another.
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Well, it may be brutal and unmanly to admit these facts or to insist upon these facts, as we are often told it is by maiden ladies; but still, if we are to go on existing at all, we must look the facts fairly and squarely in the face, and must see how modern tendencies stand with regard to them.You sacrifice the race to a handful of barren experimenters.Women ought equally to glory in their femininity.As a matter of fact, the statistics are not true.Rights women have constantly spoken, thought, and written as though it were possible and desirable for the mass of women to support themselves, and to remain unmarried forever.
Though the truisms, to be sure, are of a particular sort too much overlooked in controversy nowadays by a certain type of modern lady writers.Therefore it will at once be clear that each actual marriage is fertile to considerably more than the extent of four children.Make your men virile: make your women womanly.We hold it a slight not to be borne that any one should impugn our essential manhood.Speaking very roughly, this makes about four females in every hundred, including babies, widows, and so forth, who have not a complementary male found for them.Kimberley, or a merchant at Melbourne: in short, he is anywhere and everywhere except where he ought to be, making love to the pretty girls in England.
If this is barren paradox, I am content to be paradoxical; if this is rank Toryism, I am content for once to be reckoned among the Tories.In England he is in the army, in the navy, in the Indian Civil Service, in the Cape Mounted Rifles.But are there not seven hundred thousand more women than men in the United Kingdom?But, as a matter of fact, all the children do not attain maturity: on the contrary, nearly half of them die before reaching the age of manhood in some conditions of life, indeed, and in some countries, more than half.It was Ibsen, not Mrs.
At the present moment a great majority of the ablest women are wholly dissatisfied with their own position as women, and with the position imposed by the facts of the case upon women generally; and this as the direct result of their false education.Where marriages are fewer and families large, the strain of maternity will be most constant and most heavily felt; the father will be harder worked, and the children will be born feebler, will be worse fed, and will start worse equipped in the battle of life.Of course, nothing could be narrower than the view of their sex then prevalent, as eternally predestined to suckle fools and chronicle small beer.Instead of that, the scheme of female education now in vogue is a scheme for the production of literary women, schoolmistresses, hospital nurses, and lecturers on cookery.There are not seven hundred thousand more women than men, but seven hundred thousand more females than males in the United Kingdom.
These seven hundred thousand females include infants in arms, lunatics, sisters of charity, unfortunates, and ladies of eighty.Any supposed solution of the woman problem, therefore, which fails to look this fact straight in the face, is a false solution.Unfortunately, too, they have erected into an ideal what is really an unhappy necessity of the passing phase.Admitting that certain women may have good reasons for avoiding maternity on various grounds unfitness, or, what is probably much the same thing at bottom, disinclination and admitting also that where such good reasons exist, it is best those women should remain unmarried, we must still feel that in most cases marriage is in itself desirable, and that limited families are better than large ones.It must also recognize the other fact that in an ideal community the greatest possible number of women should be devoted to the duties of maternity, in order that the average family may be kept small, that is to say, healthy and educable.
In other words, it is best for the community at large that most women should marry, and should have moderate families, rather than that fewer should marry and have unwieldily large ones; for if families are moderate there will be a greater reserve of health and strength left in the mothers for each birth, the production of children can be spread more slowly over a longer time, and the family resources will be less heavily taxed for their maintenance and education.Let us look then briefly at the needful conditions under which alone the human race can go on reproducing itself.In other cases, they marry, though obviously ill adapted to bear the strain of maternity; and in such instances they frequently break down with the birth of their first or second infant.They usually content themselves with vague declamation and with erecting female celibacy into a panacea for the ills that woman is heir to, while they refuse to meddle at all in definite terms with the question of marriage or its substitute in the future.Nevertheless, I think, it will be abundantly apparent from these simple considerations that in every community, and to all time, the vast majority of the women must become wives and mothers, and must bear at least four children apiece.In the second place, a certain real lack of men to marry, here and now, in certain classes of society, and those the classes that lead thought, has made an exceptional number of able women at present husbandless, and thus has added strength to the feeling that women must and ought to earn their own living.What is thus true of the blind groping after female education is true throughout of almost all the Woman Movement.
They ought to feel they have fallen short of the healthy instincts of their kind, instead of posing as in some sense the cream of the universe, on the strength of what is really a functional aberration.Are they not always talking to us as though it were not the fact that most women must be wives and mothers?In order that the community may keep up to its normal level, therefore, either all adults must marry and produce to this extent, or else, fewer marrying, those few must have families exceeding on the average four children, in exact proportion to the rate of abstention.Both in England and America, the women of the cultivated classes are becoming unfit to be wives or mothers.We will not aid or abet women as a sex in rebelling against maternity, or in quarreling with the constitution of the solar system.Hence I would infer that the goal a wise community should keep in view is rather more marriages and fewer children per marriage, than fewer marriages and more children per marriage.
They are setting up a false and unattainable ideal, while they omit to realize the true and attainable one which alone is open to them.Indeed, so far am I from wishing to keep her in subjection to man, that I should like to see her a great deal more emancipated than she herself as yet at all desires.We ought frankly to recognize that most women must be wives and mothers; that most women should therefore be trained, physically, morally, socially, and mentally, in the way best fitting them to be wives and mothers; and that all such women have a right to the fullest and most generous support in carrying out their functions as wives and mothers.But we ought at the same time fully to realize that she is an abnormity, not the woman of the future.On the contrary, I feel sure that while women are crying for emancipation they really want to be left in slavery; and that it is only a few exceptional men, here and there in the world, who wish to see them fully and wholly enfranchised.
If every woman married, and every woman had four children, population would remain just stationary.They dread the frown of their Grundian deity.The higher the type, the longer are the wives and children provided for.They have no real plan to propose for the future of women as a sex; but in a vague and formless way they protest inarticulately against the whole feminine function in women, often even going the length of talking as though the world could get along permanently without wives and mothers.That we should try to handicap her heavily in the race for life is a shame to our manhood.While denouncing loudly the supremacy of man, they seem ready to shake off that supremacy only for the celibate minority of their sex, without attempting to do anything for the married majority.
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That is to say, where many marriages and small families are the rule, the children will on the average be born healthier, be better fed, and be launched more fairly on the world in the end.It does not more than cover the relative number of women who are naturally debarred from marriage, or who under no circumstances would ever submit to be married.It gives precedence to the wrong element in the problem.For let us look again for a moment at what this all but universal necessity of maternity implies.If they realized how magnificent a nation might be molded by mothers who devoted themselves faithfully and earnestly to their great privilege, they would be proud to carry out the duties of their maternity.But in any case almost all must become wives and mothers, and almost all must bear at least four or five children.
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To the end of all time, it is mathematically demonstrable that most women must become the mothers of at least four children, or else the race must cease to exist.We ought not to erect into an ideal what is in reality a painful necessity of the present transitional age.Well, suppose, now, every man and every woman in a given community were to marry; and suppose they were in each case to produce two children, a boy and a girl; and suppose those children were in every case to attain maturity; why, then, the next generation would exactly reproduce the last, each father being represented by his son, and each mother by her daughter, ad infinitum.In short, it will recognize maternity as the central function of the mass of women, and will do everything in its power to make that maternity as healthy, as noble, and as little burdensome as possible.This, I am aware, is an obvious platitude; but I think it was John Stuart Mill who once said there were such things in the world as luminous platitudes.It is true that in the very lowest state of savagery special provision is seldom made by the men for the women even during the periods of pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy of the offspring.This in itself is surely no very terrible disproportion.
While allowing that exceptional circumstances call for exceptional tenderness toward those women who are now compelled by untoward conditions to earn their own livelihood, it will avoid creating that accident into a positive goal, and it will endeavor to lessen the necessity for the existence of such exceptions in the future.Woman Question there was, and is, and must be.And if women realized how noble and important a task it is that falls upon mothers, they would ask no other.Incidentally this will benefit both parents as well as the community.Exactly so; and therefore you sacrifice the many to the few, the potential wives to the possible lady lecturers.This evil, of course, is destined by natural means to cure itself with time: the families in question will not be represented at all in the second generation, or will be represented only by feeble and futile descendants.In our existing state six are the very fewest that our country can do with.
For this reason a scheme of female education ought to be mainly a scheme for the education of wives and mothers.For the result has been that, instead of subordinating the claims of the unmarried women to the claims of the wives and mothers, the movement has subordinated the claims of the wives and mothers to the claims of the unmarried women.And it would be well, if possible, to bring up those mothers as strong, as wise, as free, as sane, as healthy, as earnest, and as efficient as we can make them.For note, by the way, that these women must also for the most part marry young: as Mr.Almost every woman must bear four or five children.These facts, all platitudes as they are, look so startling at first sight that they will probably need for the unstatistical reader a little explanation and simplification.So much our very chivalry ought to make obligatory upon us.
It must assume as its goal, not general celibacy and the independence of women, but general marriage and the ample support of women by the men of the community.That is, indeed, a heavy burden to lay upon women.So that even if every possible person married, and if every married pair had four children, we should only just keep up the number of our population from one age to another.In America the young man has gone West.IF any species or race desires a continued existence, then above all things it is necessary that that species or race should go on reproducing itself.
The causes of this class disparity are not far to seek.To sum up the point whither this long, and I confess discursive, argument is tending.And if the marriageable men and women only are reckoned in the account, as far as I can gather from existing statistics, the disproportion sinks to a quite insignificant fraction.What is essential and eternal it neglects in favor of what is accidental and temporary.They are wanted to make up the categories of soldiers, sailors, imbeciles, cripples, and incapables generally.The result was that many women became unsexed in the process, and many others acquired a distaste, an unnatural distaste, for the functions which Nature intended them to perform.
They are pursuing a chimera, and neglecting to perceive the true aim of their sex.Owing to these causes, it has unfortunately happened that a period of great upheaval in the female mind has coincided with a period when the number of unmarried women in the cultivated classes was abnormally large.One aim, at least, of social reformers should certainly be to lighten it as much as possible.Now, I need hardly say that not every possible person does marry, and that we do actually a good deal more than keep up the number of our population.It substitutes a verbal juggle for a real way out of the difficulty.
The exact opposite, I believe, is the true line of progress.Do they not treat any reference to that fact as something ungenerous, ungentlemanly, and almost brutal?It was women, not men, who ostracized George Eliot.We are of two sexes: and in healthy diversity of sex, pushed to its utmost, lies the greatest strength of all of us.How small and local this cause is I shall hereafter try to show: but there can be no doubt that it has much to do with the present discontents among women.Is it not clearly the ideal of an unsexed woman?In doing so she must on the average use up the ten or twelve best years of her life the ten or twelve years that immediately succeed her attainment of complete womanhood.
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The pity of it is that the coincidence of its recognition with the dearth of marriageable men in the middle and upper classes has largely deflected the consequent movement into wrong and essentially impracticable channels.And must not these seven hundred thousand be enabled to earn their own living?PLAIN WORDS ON THE WOMAN QUESTION.In the first place, the movement for the higher education of women, in itself an excellent and most praiseworthy movement, has at first, almost of necessity, taken a wrong direction, which has entailed in the end much of the present uneasiness.For, being a man, I, of course, take it for granted that the first business of a girl is to be pretty.Or rather, if every marriageable adult man and woman in a given community were to marry, and if every marriage proved fertile, on the average, to the extent of four children, then, under favorable circumstances, that community, I take it, would just keep up its numbers, neither increasing nor decreasing from generation to generation.
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Rights women are sedulously doing at the present day.Looking these figures straight in the face, we find the actual proportion of the sexes to be as 172 males to 179 females.Some truths are so often taken for granted in silence, that we are in danger at times of quite losing sight of them.If less than all the adult men and women married, or if the marriages proved fertile on the average to a less degree than four children apiece, then that community would grow smaller and smaller.But in civilized communities and the more so in proportion to their degree of civilization the men do most of the hardest work, and in particular take upon themselves the duty of providing for the wives and children.
But what we must absolutely insist upon is full and free recognition of the fact that, in spite of everything, the race and the nation must go on reproducing themselves.We ought, of course, frankly to recognize the existence of the deplorable accident; we ought for the moment to make things as easy and smooth as possible for her; we ought to remove all professional barriers, to break down the absurd jealousies and prejudices of men, to give her fair play, and if possible a little more than fair play, in the struggle for existence.There is, and ought to be, a genuine Woman Question and a genuine Woman Movement.Seeing, then, that these necessities are laid by the very nature of our organization upon women, it would appear as though two duties were clearly imposed upon the women themselves, and upon all those men who sympathize in their welfare: First, to see that their training and education should fit them above everything else for this their main function in life; and, second, that in consideration of the special burden they have to bear in connection with reproduction, all the rest of life should be made as light and easy and free for them as possible.For what is the ideal that most of these modern women agitators set before them?
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