SEX AND SOCIETY
Studies in the Social Psychology of Sex
WILLIAM I. THOMAS
Associate Professor of Sociology in the University of Chicago
The University of Chicago Press Chicago, Illinois
1907 Fourth Impression 1913
These studies have been published in various journals at different times. They are reprinted together because there is some demand for them, and they are not easily accessible. In preparing them for publication in the present form, some of them have been expanded and all of them have been revised.
While each study is complete in itself, the general thesis running through all of them is the same—that the differences in bodily habit between men and women, particularly the greater strength, restlessness, and motor aptitude of man, and the more stationary condition of woman, have had an important influence on social forms and activities, and on the character and mind of the two sexes.
"Organic Differences in the Sexes" appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, III, 31ff., with the title, "On a Difference in the Metabolism of the Sexes;" "Sex and Primitive Social Control," ibid., III, 754ff.; "Sex and Primitive Industry," ibid., IV, 474ff.; "Sex and Primitive Morality," ibid., IV, 774ff.; "The Psychology of Modesty and Clothing," ibid., V, 246ff.; "The Adventitious Character of Woman," ibid., XII, 32ff.; "The Mind of Woman and the Lower Races," ibid., XII, 435ff.; "The Psychology of Exogamy," in the Zeitschrift fuer Socialwissenschaft, V, 1ff., with the title, "Der Ursprung der Exogamie;" "Sex and Social Feeling," in the Psychological Review, XI, 61ff., with the title, "The Sexual Element in Sensibility." Portions of a paper printed in the Forum, XXXVI, 305ff., with the title, "Is the Human Brain Stationary?" are incorporated in the paper on "The Mind of Woman and the Lower Races," and portions of a paper printed in the American Journal of Sociology, IX, 593ff., with the title, "The Psychology of Race-Prejudice," are incorporated in the paper on "Sex and Social Feeling." I acknowledge the courtesy of the editors of these journals for permission to reprint.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ORGANIC DIFFERENCES IN THE SEXES
SEX AND PRIMITIVE SOCIAL CONTROL
SEX AND SOCIAL FEELING
SEX AND PRIMITIVE INDUSTRY
SEX AND PRIMITIVE MORALITY
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EXOGAMY
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MODESTY AND CLOTHING
THE ADVENTITIOUS CHARACTER OF WOMAN
THE MIND OF WOMAN AND THE LOWER RACES
ORGANIC DIFFERENCES IN THE SEXES
A grand difference between plant and animal life lies in the fact that the plant is concerned chiefly with storing energy, and the animal with consuming it. The plant by a very slow process converts lifeless into living matter, expending little energy and living at a profit. The animal is unable to change lifeless into living matter, but has developed organs of locomotion, ingestion, and digestion which enable it to prey upon the plant world and upon other animal forms; and in contrast with plant life it lives at a loss of energy. Expressed in biological formula, the habit of the plant is predominantly anabolic, that of the animal predominantly katabolic.
Certain biologists, limiting their attention in the main to the lower forms of life, have maintained very plausibly that males are more katabolic than females, and that maleness is the product of influences tending to produce a katabolic habit of body. If this assumption is correct, maleness and femaleness are merely a repetition of the contrast existing between the animal and the plant. The katabolic animal form, through its rapid destruction of energy, has been carried developmentally away from the anabolic plant form; and of the two sexes the male has been carried farther than the female from the plant process. The body of morphological, physiological, ethnological, and demographic data which follows becomes coherent, indeed, only on the assumption that woman stands nearer to the plant process than man, representing the constructive as opposed to the disruptive metabolic tendency.
The researches of Duesing, supplementing the antecedent observations of Ploss, and further supplemented by the ethnological data collected by Westermarck, seem to demonstrate a connection between an abundance of nutrition and females, and between scarcity and males, in relatively higher animal forms and in man. The main facts in support of the theory that such a connection exists are the following: Furriers testify that rich regions yield more furs from females and poor regions more from males. In high altitudes, where nutrition is scant, the birthrate of boys is high as compared with lower altitudes in the same locality. Ploss has pointed out, for instance, that in Saxony from 1847 to 1849 the yield of rye fell, and the birth-rate of boys rose with the approach of high altitudes. More boys are born in the country than in cities, because city diet is richer, especially in meat; Duesing shows that in Prussia the numerical excess of boys is greatest in the country districts, less in the villages, still less in the cities, and least in Berlin. In times of war, famine, and migration more boys are born, and more are born also in poor than in well-to-do families. European statistics show that when food-stuffs are high or scarce the number of marriages diminishes, and in consequence a diminished number of births follows, and a heightened percentage of boys; with the recurrence of prosperity and an increased number of marriages and births, the percentage of female births rises (though it never equals numerically that of the males). More children are born from warm-weather than from cold-weather conceptions, but relatively more boys are born from cold-weather conceptions. Professor Axel Key has shown from statistics of 18,000 Swedish school children that from the end of November and the beginning of December until the end of March or the middle of April, growth in children is feeble. From July-August to November-December their daily increase in weight is three times as great as during the winter months. This is evidence in confirmation of a connection between maleness, slow growth, and either poor nutrition or cold weather, or both. Professor Key's investigations have also confirmed the well-known fact that maturity is reached earlier in girls than in boys and have shown that in respect of growth the ill-nourished girls follow the law of growth of the boys. Growth is a function of nutrition, and puberty is a sign that somatic growth is so far finished that the organism produces a surplus of nutrition to be used in reproduction. Organically reproduction is also a function of nutrition, and, as Spencer pointed out, is to be regarded as discontinuous growth. The fact than an anabolic surplus, preparatory to the katabolic process of reproduction, is stored at an earlier period in the female than in the male, and that this period is retarded in the ill-nourished female, is a confirmation of the view that femaleness is an expression of the tendency to store nutriment, and explains also the infantile somatic characters of woman. Finally, the fact that polyandry is found almost exclusively in poor countries, coupled with the fact that ethnologists uniformly report a scarcity of women in those countries, permits us to attribute polyandry to a scarcity of women and scarcity of women to poor food conditions.
This evidence should be considered in connection with the experiments of Yung on tadpoles, of Siebold on wasps, and of Klebs on the modification of male and female organs in plants:
According to Yung, tadpoles pass through an hermaphroditic stage, in common, according to other authorities, with most animals.... When the tadpoles were left to themselves, the females were rather in the majority. In three lots the proportion of females to males was: 54-46, 61-39, 56-44. The average number of females was thus about fifty-seven in the hundred. In the first brood, by feeding one set with beef, Yung raised the percentage of females from 54 to 78: in the second, with fish, the percentage rose from 61 to 81; while in the third set, when the especially nutritious flesh of frogs was supplied, the percentage rose from 56 to 92. That is to say, in the last case the result of high feeding was that there were 92 females and 8 males.
Similarly, the experiments of Siebold on wasps show that the percentage of females increases from spring to August, and then diminishes. We may conclude without scruple that the production of females from fertilized ova increases with the temperature and food supply, and decreases as these diminish.
Nor are there many facts more significant than the simple and well-known one that within the first eight days of larval life the addition of food will determine the striking and functional differences between worker and queen.
It is certainly no mere chance, but agrees with other well-known facts, that for the generation of the female organ more favorable external circumstances must prevail, while the male organ may develop under very much more unfavorable conditions.
These facts are not conclusive, but they all point in the same direction, and are probably sufficient to establish a connection between food conditions and the determination of sex. But behind the mere fact that a different attitude toward food determines difference of sex lies the more fundamental—indeed, the real—explanation of the fact, and this chemists and physiologists are not at present able to give us. Researches must be carried farther on the effect of temperature, light, and water on variation, before we may hope to reach a positive conclusion. We can only assume that the chemical constitution of the organism at a given moment conditions the sex of the offspring, and is itself conditioned by various factors—light, heat, water, electricity, etc.—and that food is one of these variables. It is sufficient for our present purpose that sex is a constitutional matter, indirectly dependent upon food conditions; that the female is the result of a surplus of nutrition; and that the relation reported among the lower forms persists in the human species.
In close connection with the foregoing we have the fact, reported by Maupas, that certain Infusorians are capable of reproducing asexually for a number of generations, but that, unless the individuals are sexually fertilized by crossing with unrelated forms of the same species, they finally exhibit all the signs of senile degeneration, ending in death. After sexual conjugation there was an access of vitality, and the asexual reproduction proceeded as before. "The evident result of these long and fatiguing experiments is that among the ciliates the life of the species is decomposed into evolutional cycles, each one having for its point of departure an individual regenerated and rejuvenated by sexual copulation."
The results obtained by Maupas receive striking confirmation in the universal experience of stock-breeders, that, in order to keep a breed in health, it is necessary to cross it occasionally with a distinct but allied variety. It appears, then, that a mixture of blood has a favorable effect on the metabolism of the organism, comparable to that of abundant nutrition, and that innutrition and in-and-in breeding are alike prejudicial.
If this is true, and if heightened nutrition yields an increased proportion of females, we ought to find that breeding-out is favorable to the production of females, and breeding-in to the production of males; and a considerable body of evidence in favor of this assumption exists.
Observations of above 4,000 cases show that, among horses, the more the parent animals differ in color, the more the female foals outnumber the male. Similarly, in-and-in-bred cattle give an excessively large number of bull calves. Liaisons produce an abnormally large proportion of females; incestuous unions, of males. Among the Jews, who frequently marry cousins, the percentage of male births is very high.
According to Mr. Jacobs' comprehensive manuscript collection of Jewish statistics ... the average proportion of male and female Jewish births registered in various countries is 114.5 males to 100 females, whilst the average proportion among the non-Jewish population of the corresponding countries is 105.25 males to 100 females.... His collection includes details of 118 mixed marriages; of these 28 are sterile, and in the remainder there are 145 female children and 122 male—that is, 118.82 females to 100 males.
The testimony is also tolerably full that among metis and among exogamous peoples the female birth-rate is often excessively high.
Viewed with reference to activity, the animal is an advance on the plant, from which it departs by morphological and physiological variations suited to a more energized form of life; and the female may be regarded as the animal norm from which the male departs by further morphological variations. It is now well known that variations are more frequent and marked in males than in females. Among the lower forms, in which activity is more directly determined mechanically by the stimuli of heat, light, and chemical attraction, and where in general the food and light are evenly distributed through the medium in which life exists, and where the limits of variation are consequently small, the constitutional nutritive tendency of the female manifests itself in size. Among many Cephalopoda and Cirripedia, and among certain of the Articulata, the female is larger than the male. Female spiders, bees, wasps, hornets, and butterflies are larger than the males, and the difference is noticeable even in the larval stage. So considerable is the difference in size between the male and female cocoons of the silk-moth that in France they are separated by a particular mode of weighing. The same superiority of the female is found among fishes and reptiles; and this relation, wherever it occurs, may be associated with a habit of life in which food conditions are simple and stimuli mandatory. As we rise in the scale toward backboned and warm-blooded animals, the males become larger in size; and this reversal of relation, like the development of offensive and defensive weapons, is due to the superior variational tendency of the male, resulting in characters which persist in the species wherever they prove of life-saving advantage.
The superior activity and variability of the male among lower forms has been pointed out in great detail by Darwin and confirmed by others.
Throughout the animal kingdom, when the sexes differ in external appearance, it is, with rare exceptions, the male which has been more modified; for, generally, the female retains a closer resemblance to the young of her own species, and to other adult members of the same group. The cause of this seems to lie in the males of almost all animals having stronger passions than the females.
Darwin explains the greater variability of the males—as shown in more brilliant colors, ornamental feathers, scent-pouches, the power of music, spurs, larger canines and claws, horns, antlers, tusks, dewlaps, manes, crests, beards, etc.—as due to the operation of sexual selection, meaning by this "the advantage which certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species solely in respect of reproduction," the female choosing to pair with the more attractive male, or the stronger male prevailing in a contest for the female. Wallace advanced the opposite view, that the female owes her soberness to the fact that only inconspicuous females have in the struggle for existence escaped destruction during the breeding season. There are fatal objections to both these theories; and, taking his cue from Tylor, Wallace himself, in a later work, suggested what is probably the true explanation, namely, that the superior variability of the male is constitutional, and due to general laws of growth and development. "If ornament," he says, "is the natural product and direct outcome of superabundant health and vigor, then no other mode of selection is needed to account for the presence of such ornament." That a tendency to spend energy more rapidly should result in more striking morphological variation is to be expected; or, put otherwise, the fact of a greater variational tendency in the male is the outcome of a constitutional inclination to destructive metabolism. It is a general law in the courtship of the sexes that the male seeks the female. The secondary sexual characters of the male are developed with puberty, and in some cases these sexual distinctions come and go with the breeding season. What we know as physiological energy is the result of the dissociation of atoms in the organism; expressions of energy are the accompaniment of the katabolic or breaking-up process, and the brighter color of the male, especially at the breeding season, results from the fact that the waste products of the katabolism are deposited as pigments.
When we compare the sexes of mankind morphologically, we find a greater tendency to variation in man:
All the secondary sexual characters of man are highly variable, even within the limits of the same race; and they differ much in the several races.... Numerous measurements carefully made of the stature, the circumference of the neck and chest, the length of the backbone and of the arms, in various races ... nearly all show that the males differ much more from one another than do the females. This fact indicates that, as far as these characters are concerned, it is the male which has been chiefly modified, since the several races diverged from their common stock.
Morphologically the development of man is more accentuated than that of woman. Anthropologists, indeed, regard woman as intermediate in development between the child and the man.
The outlines of the adult female cranium are intermediate between those of the child and the adult man; they are softer, more graceful and delicate, and the apophyses and ridges for the attachment of muscles are less pronounced,... the forehead is ... more perpendicular, to such a degree that in a group of skulls those of the two sexes have been mistaken for different types; the superciliary ridges and the glabella are less developed, often not at all; the crown is higher and more horizontal; the brain weight and cranial capacity are less; the mastoid apophyses, the inion, the styloid apophyses, and the condyles of the occipital are of less volume, the zygomatic and alveolar arches are more regular.
Wagner decided that the brain of a woman, taken as a whole, is uniformly in a more or less embryonic condition. Huschke says that woman is always a growing child, and that her brain departs from the infantile type no more than the other portions of her body. Weisbach pointed out that the limits of variation in the skull of man are greater than in that of woman.
Several observers have recorded the opinion that women of dolichocephalic races are more brachycephalic, and women of brachycephalic races more dolichocephalic, than the men of the same races. If this is true, it is a remarkable confirmation of the conservative tendency of woman. "I have thought for several years that woman was, in a general way, less dolichocephalic in dolichocephalic races, and less brachycephalic in brachycephalic races, and that she had a tendency to approach the typical median form of humanity." The skin of woman is without exception of a lighter shade than that of man, even among the dark races. This cannot be due to less exposure, since the women and men are equally exposed among the uncivilized races, but is due to the same causes as the more brilliant plumage of male birds.
The form of woman is rounder and less variable than that of man, and art has been able to produce a more nearly ideal figure of woman than of man; at the same time, the bones of woman weigh less with reference to body weight than the bones of man, and both these facts indicate less variation and more constitutional passivity in woman. The trunk of woman is slightly longer than that of man, and her abdomen is relatively more prominent, and is so represented in art. In these respects she resembles the child and the lower races, i.e., the less developed forms. Ranke states that the typical adult male form is characterized by a relatively shorter trunk, relatively longer arms, legs, hands, and feet, and relatively to the long upper arms and thighs by still longer forearms and lower legs, and relatively to the whole upper extremity by a still longer lower extremity; while the typical female form approaches the infantile condition in having a relatively longer trunk, shorter arms, legs, hands, and feet; relatively to short upper arms still shorter forearms, and relatively to short thighs still shorter lower legs, and relatively to the whole short upper extremity a still shorter lower extremity—a very striking evidence of the ineptitude of woman for the expenditure of physiological energy through motor action.
The strength of woman, on the other hand, her capacity for motion, and her muscular mechanical aptitude are far inferior to that of man. Tests of strength made on 2,300 students of Yale University and on 1,600 women of Oberlin College show the mean relation of the strength of the sexes, expressed in kilograms:
Back Legs Right Forearm Men 153.0 186.0 56.0 Women 54.0 76.5 21.4
The average weight of the men was 63.1 kilograms, and of the women 51 kilograms; and, making deduction for this, the strength of the men is still not less than twice as great as that of the women. The anthropometric committee reported to the British Association in 1883 that women are little more than half as strong as men.
The first field day of the Vassar College Athletic Association was held November 9, 1895, and a comparison of the records of some of the events with those of similar events at Yale University in the corresponding year gives us a basis of comparison:
Yale Vassar 100-yard dash 10-2/5 sec. 151/4 sec. Running broad jump 23 ft. 11 ft. 5 in. Running high jump 5 ft. 9 in. 4 ft. 220-yard dash 22-3/5 sec. 361/4 sec.
Miss Thompson, whose results were obtained in a psychological laboratory, concludes that in reactions where strength is involved men are clearly superior to women, and this is the only respect in which she finds a marked difference:
Motor ability in most of its forms is better in men than in women. In strength, rapidity of movement, and rate of fatigue they have a very decided advantage. These three forms of superiority are probably all expressions of one and the same fact—the greater muscular strength of men. Men are very slightly superior to women in precision of movement. This fact is probably also connected with their superior muscular force. In the formation of a new co-ordination women are superior. The superiority of men in muscular strength is so well known that it is a universally accepted fact. There has been more or less dispute as to which sex displayed greater manual dexterity. According to the present results, that depends on what is meant by manual dexterity. If it means the ability to make very delicate and minutely controlled movements, then it is slightly better in men. If it means ability to co-ordinate movements rapidly to unforeseen stimuli it is clearly better in women.
We have no other than a utilitarian basis for judging some variations advantageous and others disadvantageous. We can estimate them only with reference to activity and the service or disservice to the individual and society implied in them, and a given variation must receive very different valuations at different historical periods in the development of the race. Departures from the normal are simply nature's way of "trying conclusions." The variations which have proved of life-saving advantage have in the course of time become typical, while the individuals in which unfavorable variations, or defects, have occurred have not survived in the struggle for existence. Morphologically men are the more unstable element of society, and this instability expresses itself in the two extremes of genius and idiocy. Genius in general is correlated with an excessive development in brain-growth, stopping dangerously near the line of hypertrophy and insanity; while microcephaly is a variation in the opposite direction, in which idiocy results from arrested development of the brain, usually through premature closing of the sutures; and both these variations occur more frequently in men than in women. There is also evidence that defects in general are more frequent in men than in women.
A committee reported to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1894, that of some 50,000 children (26,287 boys, and 23,713 girls) seen personally by Dr. Francis Warner (1892-94) 8,941 were found defective in some respect. Of these, 19 per cent. (5,112) were boys, and 16 per cent. (3,829) were girls.
An examination of 1,345 idiots and imbeciles in Scotland by Mitchell showed the following distribution of the sexes:
Male Female Male Female Idiots 430 284 or 100 to 66.0 Imbeciles 321 310 or 100 to 96.5
showing that "the excess of males is much greater among idiots than among imbeciles; in other words, that the excess of males is most marked in the graver forms of the disease."
A census of the insane in Prussia in 1880 showed that 9,809 males and 7,827 females were born idiots. Koch's statistics of insanity show that in idiots there is almost always a majority of males, in the insane, a majority of females. But the majority of male idiots is so much greater than the majority of female insane that when idiots and insane are classed together there remains a majority of males. Insanity is, however, more frequently induced by external conditions, and less dependent on imperfect or arrested cerebral development. Mayr has shown from statistics of Bavaria that insanity is infrequent before the sixteenth year; and even before the twentieth year the number of insane is not considerable. In insanity the chances of recovery of the female are greater than those of the male, and mortality is higher among insane men than among insane women. There is practical agreement among pathologists on this point. Campbell points out in detail that the male sex is more liable than the female to gross lesions of the nervous system—a fact which he attributes to the greater variability of the male.
An excess of all other anatomical anomalies, except cleft palate, is reported among males. Manley reports that of 33 cases of harelip treated by him only 6 were females. It appears also that supernumerary digits are more frequent in males. Wilder has recorded 152 cases of individuals with supernumerary digits, of whom 86 were males, 39 females, and 27 of unknown sex. A similar relation, according to Bruce, exists in regard to supernumerary nipples.
Muscular abnormalities, monstrosities, deaf-mutism, clubfoot, and transposition of viscera are also reported as of commoner occurrence in men than in women. Lombroso states that congenital criminals are more frequently male than female. Cunningham noted an eighth (true) rib in 14 of 70 subjects examined. It occurred 7 times in males and 7 times in females, but the number of females examined was twice as large as the number of males. The reports of the registrar-general show that for the years 1884-88, inclusive, the deaths from congenital defects (spina bifida, imperforate anus, cleft palate, harelip, etc.) were, taking the average of the five years, 49.6 per million of the persons living in England for the male sex, and 44.2 for the female.
It has already been noted as a general rule throughout nature that the male seeks the female and physicians generally believe that men are sexually more active than women, though woman's need of reproduction is greater, and celibacy unquestionably impresses the character of women more deeply than that of man. Additional evidence of the greater sexual activity of man is furnished by the overwhelmingly large proportion of the various forms of sexual perversion reported by psychiatrists in the male sex.
Pathological variations do not become fixed in the species, because of their disadvantageous nature, but their excess in the male is, as we have seen in the case of variations which have become fixed, an expression of the more energetic somatic habit of the male.
A very noticeable expression of the anabolism of woman is her tendency to put on fat. "Women, as a class, show a greater tendency to put on fat than men, and the tendency is particularly well marked at puberty, when some girls become phenomenally stout." The distinctive beauty of the female form is due to the storing of adipose tissue, and the form even of very slender women is gracefully rounded in comparison with that of man. Bischoff found the following relation between muscle and fat in a man of 33, a woman of 22, and a boy of 16, all of whom died accidentally and in good physical condition:
Man Woman Boy Muscle 41.18 35.8 44.2 Fat 18.2 28.2 13.9
The steatopyga of the women of some races and the accumulation of adipose tissue late in life are quasi-pathological expressions of this tendency.
In tracing the transition from lower to higher forms of life, we find a great change in the nature of the blood, or what answers to the blood, and the constitution of the blood is some index of the intensity of the metabolic processes going on within the organism. The sap of plants is thin and watery, corresponding with the preponderant anabolism of the plant. "Blood is a peculiar kind of sap," and there is almost as much difference between this sap in warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals as between the latter and plants. Rich, red blood characterizes the forms of life fitted for activity and bursts of energy. In his exhaustive work on the blood Hayem has given a summary of the results of the investigations of chemists and physiologists on the differences in the composition of the blood in the two sexes. Contrary to the assertion of Robin, Hayem finds that the white blood-corpuscles are not more numerous in women than in men, and he also states that the number of haematoblasts is the same in the two sexes. All chemists are agreed, however, that the number of red corpuscles is greater in men than in women. Nasse found in man 0.05824 of iron to 100, and in woman only 0.0499. Becquerel and Rodier give 0.0565 for man, 0.0511 for woman, and Schmidt, Scherer, and others give similar results. Welcker (using a chromometer) found between the corpuscles of man and woman the relation of 5 to 4.7, and Hayem confirmed this by numeration. Cadet found in woman on the average 4.9 million corpuscles per cubic millimeter, and in man 5.2 million. More recently Korniloff, using still another method—the spectroscope of Vierordt—has reached about the same result. The proportion of red blood-corpuscles varies according to individual constitution, race, and sex. In robust men Lacanu found 136 red corpuscles in 1,000; in weak men, only 116 in 1,000; in robust women, only 126 in 1,000; and in weak women, 117. Professor Jones has taken the specific gravity of the blood of above 1,500 individuals of all ages and of both sexes. An examination of his charts shows that the specific gravity of the male is higher than that of the female between the ages of 16 and 68. Between the ages of 16 and 45 the average specific gravity of the male is about 1,058, and that of the female about 1,054.5. At 45 years the specific gravity of the male begins to fall rapidly and that of the female to rise rapidly, and at 55 they are almost equal; but the male remains slightly higher until 68 years, when it falls below that of the female. The period of marked difference in the specific gravity of the blood is thus seen to be coincident with the period of menstruation in the female. A chart constructed by Leichtenstern, based upon observations on 191 individuals and showing variations in the amount of haemoglobin with age, is also reproduced by Professor Jones, suggesting that the variations in specific gravity of the blood with age and sex are closely related to variations in the amount of haemoglobin. Leichtenstern states that the excess in men of haemoglobin is 7 per cent. until the tenth year, 8 per cent. between 11 and 50 years, and 5 per cent. after the fiftieth year. Jones states further that the specific gravity is higher in persons of the upper classes and lower in the poorer classes. Observations of boys who were inmates of workhouses gave a mean specific gravity of 1,052.8 and on schoolboys a mean of 1,056, while among the undergraduate students of Cambridge University he found a mean of 1,059.5. Several men of very high specific gravity in the last group had distinguished themselves in athletics. "Workhouse boys are in most cases of poor physique, and one can hardly find a better antithesis than the general type of physique common among the athletic members of such a university as Cambridge." There is no more conclusive evidence of an organic difference between man and woman than these tests of the blood. They permit us to associate a high specific gravity, red corpuscles, plentiful haemoglobin, and a katabolic constitution.
A comparison of the waste products of the body and of the quantity of materials consumed in the metabolic process indicates a relatively larger consumption of energy by man. It is stated that man produces more urine than woman in the following proportion: men, 1,000 to 2,000 grams daily; women, 1,000 to 1,400 grams. As age advances, the amount diminishes absolutely and relatively in proportion to the diminution of the energy of the metabolic process. A table prepared from adults of both sexes, twenty-five years of age, of the average weight of sixty kilograms, shows a larger proportion both of inorganic and organic substances in the urine of men. Milne Edwards has found that the bones of the male are slightly richer in inorganic substances than those of the female.
The lung capacity of women is less, and they consume less oxygen and produce less carbonic acid than men of equal weight, although the number of respirations is slightly higher than in man. On this account women suffer deprivation of air more easily than men. They are not so easily suffocated, and are reported to endure charcoal fumes better, and live in high altitudes where men cannot endure the deprivation of oxygen. The number of deaths from chloroform is reckoned as from two to four times as great in males as in females, and this although chloroform is used in childbirth. Children also bear chloroform well. Women, like children, require more sleep normally than men, but "Macfarlane states that they can better bear the loss of sleep, and most physicians will agree with him.... One of the greatest difficulties we have to contend with in nervous men is sleeplessness, a result, no doubt, of excessive katabolism." Loss of sleep is a strain which, like gestation, women are able to meet because of their anabolic surplus. The fact that women undertake changes more reluctantly than men, but adjust themselves to changed fortunes more readily, is due to the same metabolic difference. Man has, in short, become somatically a more specialized animal than woman, and feels more keenly any disturbance of normal conditions, while he has not the same physiological surplus as woman with which to meet the disturbance.
Lower forms of life have the remarkable quality of restoring a lost organ, and of living as separate individuals if divided. This power gradually diminishes as we ascend the scale of life, and is lost by the higher forms. It is a remarkable fact, however, that the lower human races, the lower classes of society, women and children, show something of the same quality in their superior tolerance of surgical disease. The indifference of savage races to wounds and loss of blood has everywhere been remarked by ethnologists. Dr. Bartels has formulated the law of resistance to surgical and traumatic treatment in the following sentence: "The higher the race, the less the tolerance, and the lower the culture-condition in a given race, the greater the tolerance." The greater disvulnerability of women is generally recognized by surgeons. The following figures from Lawrie, Malgaigne, and Fenwick are representative:
============================================================== Men Deaths Women Deaths - - - Pathological amputations... 110 cases 29 41 cases 7 Traumatic amputations...... 106 " 59 14 " 4 - - Total.................. 216 cases 88 55 cases 11 or, 40.74 deaths 20 deaths per 100 per 100 A difference of 20.74 per cent. in favor of women.
MALGAIGNE (HOSPITALS OF PARIS)
============================================================== Men Deaths Women Deaths - - - Major pathological amputa- tions................... 280 cases 138 98 cases 44 Minor pathological amputa- tions................... 106 cases 9 40 cases 2 Major traumatic amputations 165 " 107 17 " 10 Minor traumatic amputations 73 " 13 10 " 0 - Total.................. 624 cases 267 165 cases 56 or, 37.98 deaths 34.18 deaths per 100 per 100 A difference of 3.8 per cent. in favor of women.
FENWICK (NEWCASTLE, GLASGOW, EDINBURGH)
============================================================== Men Deaths Women Deaths -+ -+ + -+ Amputations................ 304 cases 86 64 cases 16 + or, 27.86 deaths 25 deaths per per 100 100 A difference of 2.86 per cent. in favor of women.
TOTAL FOR THE THREE SERIES
=============================================================== Men Deaths Women Deaths -+ + + -+ Amputations................ 1144 cases 441 284 cases 83 -+ or, 38.56 deaths 29.29 deaths per 100 per 100 - A difference of 9.27 per cent. in favor of women.
Legouest states in the same article that the lowest mortality of all is in children from 5 to 15 years of age. Ellis quotes a passage from a paper read by Lombroso at the International Congress of Experimental Psychology held in London:
Billroth experimented on women when attempting a certain operation (excision of the pylorus) for the first time, judging that they were less sensitive and therefore more disvulnerable, i.e., better able to resist pain. Carle assured me that women would let themselves be operated upon almost as though their flesh were an alien thing. Giordano told me that even the pains of childbirth caused relatively little suffering to women, in spite of their apprehensions. Dr. Martini, one of the most distinguished dentists of Turin, has informed me of the amazement he has felt at seeing women endure more easily and courageously than men every kind of dental operation. Mela, too, has found that men will, under such circumstances, faint oftener than women.
The same tolerance of pain and misery in women is shown by an examination of the number of male and female suicides from physical suffering. Von Oettingen states that in 30,000 cases the percentage of suicides from physical suffering was in men 11.4, in women 11.3; and Lombroso, following Morselli, gives the following table representing the proportion out of a hundred suicides of each sex resulting from the same cause:
Men Women - Germany (1852-61)................. 9.61 8.08 Prussia (1869-77)................. 6.00 7.00 Saxony (1875-78).................. 4.61 6.21 Belgium........................... 1.34 0.84 France (1873-78) ................. 14.28 13.56 Italy (1866-77)................... 6.70 8.50 Vienna (1851-59).................. 9.20 10.04 Vienna (1869-78).................. 7.73 70.37 Paris (1851-59)................... 10.27 11.22 Madrid (1884)..................... 31.81 31.25
But these figures represent the numbers of suicides in each hundred of either sex, whereas suicide is three to four times as frequent among men as among women, and the absolute proportion of suicide among men from physical pain is, therefore, overwhelmingly great. Still more significant is a table given by Lombroso showing the percentage of suicides from want:
Men Women - - Germany (1852-61)..................... 37.75 18.46 Saxony (1875-78)...................... 6.64 1.52 Belgium............................... 4.65 4.02 Italy (1866-77)....................... 7.00 4.60 Italy (1866-77) (financial reverses).. 12.80 2.20 Norway (1866-70)...................... 10.30 4.50 Vienna (1851-59)...................... 6.64 3.10
But the excess of male suicides over females is so great that, reckoned absolutely, about one woman to seven or ten men is driven by want to take her life.
Physical suffering and want are among the motives which, constitutional differences aside, would appeal with about the same force to the two sexes. But the great excess both of suicide (3 or 4 men to 1 woman) and of crime (4 or 5 men to 1 woman) in men, while directly conditioned by a manner of life more subject to vicissitude and catastrophe, is still remotely due to the male, katabolic tendency which has historically eventuated in a life of this nature in the male.
Woman offers in general a greater resistance to disease than man. The following table from the registrar-general's report for 1888 gives the mortality in England per million inhabitants at all ages and for both sexes from 1854 to 1887 in a group of diseases chiefly affecting young children:
Disease Year Male Female + -+ + Smallpox.................... 1854-87 183 148 Measles..................... 1848-87 426 408 Scarlet fever............... 1859-85 763 738 Diphtheria.................. 1859-87 157 176 Croup....................... 1848-87 221 192 Whooping-cough.............. 1848-87 451 554 Diarrhoea, dysentery........ 1848-87 932 835 Enteric fever............... 1869-87 288 277
or, a total mortality of 3,421 per million for the males and 3,328 for the females. The greater fatality of diphtheria and whooping-cough in the female is attributed to the smaller larynx of girls, and to their habit of kissing. In diphtheria, indeed, the number of girls attacked is in excess of that of the boys, and it does not appear that their mortality is higher when this is considered. Statistics based on nearly half a million deaths from scarlet fever in England and Wales (1859-85) show a mean annual in males of 778, and in females of 717, per million living. Dr. Farr reports on the mortality from cholera in the epidemic years of 1849, 1854, and 1866, that
the mean mortality from all causes in the three cholera years was, for males, 19.3 in excess, for females, 17.0 in excess of the average mortality to 10,000 living; so females suffered less than males.... The mortality is higher in boys than in girls at all ages under 15; at the ages of reproduction, 25 to 45, the mortality of women, many of them pregnant, exceeds the mortality of men; but at the ages after 65 the mortality of men exceeds the mortality of women.
Statistics show that woman is more susceptible to many diseases, but in less danger than man when attacked, because of her anabolic surplus, and also that the greatest mortality in woman is during the period of reproduction, when the specific gravity of the blood is low and her anabolic surplus small. It is significant also that the point of highest mortality from disease and of the highest rate of suicide in the female, as compared with the male, falls at about 15 years, and is to be associated with the rapid physiological changes preceding that time.
The numerical relation of the sexes at birth seems to be more variable in those regions where economic conditions and social usages are least settled, but in civilized countries the relation is fairly constant, and statistics of 32 countries and states between the years 1865 and 1883 show that to every 100 girls 105 boys are born, or including stillborn, 100 girls to 106.6 boys. But the mortality of male children so much exceeds that of female that at the age of five the sexes are about in numerical equilibrium; and in the adult population of all European countries the average numerical relation of the sexes is reckoned as 102.1 women to 100 men. Von Oettingen gives a representative table; compiled from statistics of eight European countries, showing that (omitting the stillborn) 124.71 boys to 100 girls die before the end of the first year, and that between the years of 2 and 5 the proportion is 102.91 boys to 100 girls; or, about 25 per cent. excess of boys in the first year, and 3 per cent. in the years between 1 and 5. In the intra-uterine period and at the very threshold of life the mortality of males is still greater. The figures of Wappaeus were 100 stillborn girls to 140.3 boys; Quetelet gave the proportion as 100:133.5; and the statistics of fourteen European countries during the years 1865-83 show that 130.2 boys were stillborn to every 100 girls. So that, while more boys than girls are born living, still more are born dead. That this astonishingly high mortality is due in part to the somewhat larger size of boys at birth and the narrowness of the maternal pelvis is indicated by the statement of Collins, of the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital, Dublin, that within half an hour after birth only 1 female died to 16 males; within the first hour 2 females to 19 males; and within the first 6 hours, 7 females to 29 males. But that this explanation is not sufficient is shown by the fact that a high mortality of boys extends through the whole of the first year, and through five years, in a diminishing ratio, and also that the tenacity of woman on life, as will be shown immediately, is greater at every age than man's except during a period of about five years following puberty. "There must be," says Ploss, "some cause which operates more energetically in the removal of male than of female children just before and after birth;" but, besides the more violent movement of boys and their greater size, no explanation of the cause has been advanced more acceptably than Haushofer's teleological one, quoted by Ploss, that Nature wished to make a more perfect being of man and therefore threw more obstacles in his way. A satisfactory explanation is found if we regard the young female as more anabolic, and more quiescent, with a stored surplus of nutriment by which in the helpless and critical period of change from intra- to extra-uterine conditions it is able to get its adjustment to life. The constructive phase of metabolism has prevailed in them even during fetal life. That there is need of a surplus of nutrition in the child at birth, or that a surplus will stand it in good stead, is indicated by the results of the weighing of children communicated by Winckel to the Gynaecological Society in Berlin in 1862. Winckel weighed 100 new-born children, 56 boys and 44 girls, showing that birth was uniformly followed by a loss of weight. The average diminution was about 108 grams the first day, and but little less the second day. At the end of five days the loss was 220 grams, six-sevenths of which occurred during the first two days. The tendency to decreased vitality in girls after maturity and before marriage, just referred to, must be associated with the katabolic changes implied in menstruation and the newness to the system of this destructive phase of metabolism.
We should expect the death-rate of men to run high during the period of manhood, in consequence of their greater exposure to peril, hardship, and the storm and stress of life. But two tendencies operate to reduce the comparative mortality of men between the twentieth and about the fortieth year: the fact of the severe male mortality in infancy, which has removed the constitutionally weak contingent, and the fact that during this period women are subject to death in connection with childbirth. So that in the prime of life the mortality of males does not markedly exceed that of females. But the statistics of longevity show that with the approach of old age the number of women of a given age surviving is in excess of the men, and that their relative tenacity of life increases with increasing years. Ornstein has shown, from the official statistics of Greece from 1878 to 1883, that in every period of five years between the ages of 85 and 110 years and upward a larger number of women survive than of men, and in the following proportion:
Years Men Women - - 85-90 1,296 1,347 90-95 700 820 95-100 305 370 100-105 116 168 105-110 52 69 110 and over 20 34
Of the 459 centenarians 188 were men and 271 were women. In Bavaria the women aged from 51 to 55 years alive in 1874 had lived in the aggregate more than seven million years, while the men of the same age had lived not so much as six and one-half million. Turquan gives a table showing the death-rate of centenarians in all France during a period of twenty years (1866-85). From this it appears that there died in these years an annual average of 73 centenarians, of whom 27 were men and 46 women. In only one year of the twenty did the deaths of men exceed those of women. Lombroso and Ferrero have shown that between 1870 and 1879 the inhabitants of the prisons and convict establishments in Italy who were over 60 years of age showed a percentage of 4.3 among the women, and 3.2 among the men, although the number of men condemned to prison for long periods is far greater than among women.
Women are not only longer-lived than men, but have greater powers of resistance to misfortune and deep grief.
This is a well-known law, which in the case of the female criminal seems almost exaggerated, so remarkable is her longevity and the toughness with which she endures the hardships, even the prolonged hardships, of prison life.... I know some denizens of female prisons who have reached the age of 90, having lived within those walls since they were 29 without any grave injury to health.
Woman's resistance to death is thus more marked at the two extremes of life, infancy and old age, the periods in which her anabolism is uninterrupted. Menstruation, reproduction, and lactation are at once the cause of an anabolic surplus and the means of getting rid of it. At the extremes of life no demand of this kind is made on woman, and her anabolic nature expresses itself at these times in greater resistance.
Dr. Lloyd Jones has determined that between 17 and 45 years of age the specific gravity of the blood of women is lower than that of men. In old women the specific gravity rises above that of old men, and he suggests that their greater longevity is due to this. No doubt the greater longevity of women is to be associated with the rise in specific gravity of their blood, but this rise in the specific gravity of women after 45 years is consequent upon their anabolic constitution. High specific gravity in general is associated with abundant and rich nutrition; it falls in women during pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation, and when these functions cease it is natural that the constructive metabolic tendency on which they are dependent should show itself in a heightened specific gravity of the blood (i.e., greater richness), and in consequence greater longevity.
Some facts in the brain development of women point to the same conclusion. The growth of the brain is relatively more rapid in women than in men before the twentieth year. Between 15 and 20 it has reached its maximum, and from that time there is a gradual decline in weight until about the fiftieth year, when there is an acceleration of growth, followed by a renewed diminution after the sixtieth year. The maximum of brain weight is almost reached by men at 20 years, but there is a slow increase until 30 or 35 years. There is then a diminution until the fiftieth year, followed by an acceleration, and at 60 years again a rapid diminution in weight; but the acceleration is more marked and the final diminution less marked in woman than in man. A table prepared by Topinard shows that woman from 20 to 60 years of age has from 126 to 164 grams less brain weight than man, while her deficit from 60 to 90 years is from 123 to 158 grams.
The only explanation at hand of this relative superiority of brain weight in old women is that with the close of the period of reproduction (the anabolic surplus being no longer consumed in the processes associated with reproduction) the constructive tendency still asserts itself, and a slight access of growth and vitality results to the organism.
* * * * *
It must be confessed that the testimony of anthropologists on the difference in variability of men and women is to be accepted with great caution. As a class they have gone on the assumption that woman is an inferior creation, and have almost totally neglected to distinguish between the congenital characters of woman and those acquired as the result of a totally different relation to society on the part of women and men. They have also failed to appreciate the fact that differences from man are not necessarily points of inferiority, but adaptations to different and specialized modes of functioning. But, whatever may be the final interpretation of details, I think the evidence is sufficient to establish the following main propositions: Man consumes energy more rapidly; woman is more conservative of it. The structural variability of man is mainly toward motion; woman's variational tendency is not toward motion, but toward reproduction. Man is fitted for feats of strength and bursts of energy; woman has more stability and endurance. While woman remains nearer to the infantile type, man approaches more to the senile. The extreme variational tendency of man expresses itself in a larger percentage of genius, insanity, and idiocy; woman remains more nearly normal.
The fact that society is composed of two sexes, numerically almost equal, but differing in organic and social habits, is too significant to remain without influence on the structural and occupational sides of human life, and in the following chapters we shall note some of the influences of sex, and of the differences in bodily habit of men and women, on social forms and activities.
SEX AND PRIMITIVE SOCIAL CONTROL
The greater strength and restlessness of man and the more stationary condition of woman have a striking social expression in the fact that the earliest groupings of population were about the females rather than the males.
While at a disadvantage in point of force when compared with the male, the female has enjoyed a negative superiority in the fact that her sexual appetite was not so sharp as that of the male. Primitive man, when he desired a mate, sought her. The female was more passive and stationary. She exercised the right of choice, and had the power to transfer her choice more arbitrarily than has usually been recognized; but the need of protection and assistance in providing for offspring inclined her to a permanent union, and doubtless natural selection favored the groups in which parents co-operated in caring for the offspring. But assuming a relation permanent enough to be called marriage, the man was still, as compared with the woman, unsettled and unsocial. He secured food by violence or cunning, and hunting and fighting were fit expressions of his somatic habit.
The woman was the social nucleus, the point to which he returned from his wanderings. In this primitive stage of society, however, the bond between woman and child was altogether more immediate and constraining than the bond between woman and man. The maternal instinct is reinforced by necessary and constant association with the child. We can hardly find a parallel for the intimacy of association between mother and child during the period of lactation; and, in the absence of domesticated animals or suitable foods, and also, apparently, from simple neglect formally to wean the child, this connection is greatly prolonged. The child is frequently suckled from four to five years, and occasionally from ten to twelve. In consequence we find society literally growing up about the woman. The mother and her children, and her children's children, and so on indefinitely in the female line, form a group. But the men were not so completely incorporated in this group as the women, not only because parentage was uncertain and naming of children consequently on the female side, but because the man was neither by necessity nor disposition so much a home-keeper as the women and their children.
The tangential disposition of the male is expressed in the system of exogamy so characteristic of tribal life. The movement toward exogamy doubtless originates in the restlessness of the male, the tendency to make new co-ordinations, the stimulus to seek more unfamiliar women, and the emotional interest in making unfamiliar sexual alliances. But, quite aside from its origin, exogamy is an energetic expression of the male nature. Natural selection favors the process by sparing the groups which by breeding out have heightened their physical vigor. There results from this a social condition which, from the standpoint of modern ideas, is very curious. The man makes, and, by force of convention, finally must make, his matrimonial alliances only with women of other groups; but the woman still remains in her own group, and the children are members of her group, while the husband remains a member of his own clan, and is received, or may be received, as a guest in the clan of his wife. Upon his death his property is not shared by his children, nor by his wife, since these are not members of his clan; but it falls to the nearest of kin within his clan—usually to his sister's children.
The maternal system of descent is found in all parts of the world where social advance stands at a certain level, and the evidence warrants the assumption that every group which advances to a culture state passes through this stage. Morgan gives an account of this system among the Iroquois:
Each household was made up on the principle of kin. The married women, usually sisters, own or collateral, were of the same gens or clan, the symbol or totem of which was often painted upon the house, while their husbands and the wives of their sons belonged to several other gentes. The children were of the gens of their mother. While husband and wife belonged to different gentes, the predominating number in each household would be of the same gens, namely, that of their mothers. As a rule the sons brought home their wives, and in some cases the husbands of the daughters were admitted to the maternal household. Thus each household was composed of a mixture of persons of different gentes, but this would not prevent the numerical ascendency of the particular gens to whom the house belonged. In a village of one hundred and twenty houses, as the Seneca village of Tiotohatton described by Mr. Greenbalge in 1677, there would be several houses belonging to each gens. It presented a general picture of the Indian life in all parts of America at the epoch of European discovery.
Morgan also quotes Rev. Ashur Wright, for many years a missionary among the Senecas and familiar with their language and customs:
As to their family system, when occupying the old log houses, it is probable that some one clan predominated, the women taking in husbands, however, from the other clans, and sometimes for novelty, some of their sons bringing in their young wives until they felt brave enough to leave their mothers. Usually the female portion ruled the house, and were doubtless clannish enough about it. The stores were in common, but woe to the luckless husband or lover who was too shiftless to do his share of the providing. No matter how many children or whatever goods he might have in the house, he might at any time be ordered to pick up his blanket and budge, and after such orders it would not be healthful for him to attempt to disobey; the house would become too hot for him, and, unless saved by the intercession of some aunt or grandmother, he must retreat to his own clan, or, as was often done, go and start a new matrimonial alliance in some other. The women were the great power among the clans as everywhere else. They did not hesitate, when occasion required, to "knock off the horns," so it was technically called, from the head of a chief and send him back to the ranks of the warriors. The original nomination of the chiefs, also, always rested with them.
Traces of the maternal system are everywhere found on the American continent, and in some regions it is still in force. McGee says of the Seri stock of the southwest coast, now reduced to a single tribe, that the claims of a suitor are pressed by his female relatives, and, if the suit is favorably regarded by the mother and uncles of the girl, the suitor is provisionally installed in the house, without purchase price and presents. He is then expected to show his worthiness of a permanent relation by demonstrating his ability as a provider, and by showing himself an implacable foe to aliens. He must support all the female relatives of his bride's family by the products of his skill and industry in hunting and fishing for a year. He is the general protector of the girl's family, and especially of the girl, whose bower and pelican-skin couch he shares, "not as husband, but as continent companion," for a year. If all goes well, he is then permanently received as "consort-guest," and his children are added to the clan of his mother-in-law. With few exceptions, descent was formerly reckoned in Australia in the female line, and the usage survives in some regions. Howitt, in a letter to Professor Tylor, reports of the tribes near Maryborough, Queensland:
When a man marries a woman from a distant locality, he goes to her tribelet and identifies himself with her people. This is a rule with very few exceptions. Of course, I speak of them as they were in their wild state. He becomes a part of, and one of, the family. In the event of a war expedition, the daughter's husband acts as a blood-relation, and will fight and kill his own blood-relations, if blows are struck by his wife's relations. I have seen a father and son fighting under these circumstances, and the son would most certainly have killed the father, if others had not interfered.
In Australia there is also a very sharp social expression of the fact of sex in the division of the group into male and female classes in addition to the division into clans. In the Malay Archipelago the same system is found.
Among the Padang Malays the child always belongs to its mother's suku, and all blood-relationship is reckoned through the wife as the real transmitter of the family, the husband being only a stranger. For this reason his heirs are not his own children, but the children of his sister, his brothers, and other uterine relations; children are the natural heirs of their mother only.... We may assume that, wherever exogamy is now found coexisting with inheritance through the father (as among Rejangs and Bataks, the people of Nias and Timor, or the Alfurs of Ceram and Buru), this was formerly through the mother; and that the other system has grown up out of dislike to the inconveniences arising from the insecure and dependent condition of the husband in the wife's family.
In Africa descent through females is the rule, with exceptions. The practice of the Wamoima, where the son of the sister is preferred in legacies, because "a man's own son is only the son of his wife," is typical. Battel reported that the state of Loango was ruled by four princes, the sons of the former king's sister, since the own sons of the king never succeeded.
Traces of this system are found in China and Japan, and it is still in full force in parts of India. Among the Kasias of northeast India the husband resides in the house of his wife, or visits her occasionally.
Laws of rank and property follow the strictest maternal type; when a couple separate, the children remain with the mother; the son does not succeed his father, but the raja's neglected offspring may become a common peasant or laborer; the sister's son succeeds to rank, and is heir to the property.
Male kinship prevails among the Arabs, but Professor Robertson Smith has discovered abundant evidence that the contrary practice prevailed in ancient Arabia.
The women of the Jahiliya, or some of them, had the right to dismiss their husbands, and the form of dismissal was this: If they lived in a tent, they turned it round, so that, if the door had faced east, it now faced west, and when the man saw this, he knew that he was dismissed, and did not enter.
And after the establishment of the male system the women still held property—a survival from maternal times. A form of divorce pronounced by a husband was, "Begone! for I will no longer drive thy flocks to the pasture."
Our evidence seems to show that, when something like regular marriage began, and a free tribeswoman had one husband or one definite group of husbands at a time, the husbands at first came to her and she did not go to them.
Numerous survivals of the older system are also found among the Hebrews. The servant of Abraham anticipated that the bride whom he was sent to bring for Isaac might be unwilling to leave her home, and the presents which he carried went to Rebekah's mother and brother. Laban says to Jacob, "These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children;" the obligation to blood-vengeance rests apparently on the maternal kindred; Samson's Philistine wife remained among her people; and the injunction in Gen. 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife," refers to the primitive Hebraic form of marriage. Where the matriarchate prevails we naturally find no prejudice against marriage with a half-sister on the father's side, while union with a uterine sister is incestuous. Sara was a half-sister of Abraham on the father's side, and Tamar could have married her half-brother Amnon, though they were both children of David; and a similar condition prevailed in Athens under the laws of Solon. Herodotus says of the Lycians:
Ask a Lycian who he is, and he will answer by giving his own name, that of his mother, and so on in the female line. Moreover, if a free woman marry a man who is a slave, their children are free citizens; but if a free man marry a foreign woman, or cohabit with a concubine, even though he be the first person in the state, the children forfeit all rights of citizenship.
Herodotus also relates that when Darius gave to the wife of Intaphernes permission to claim the life of a single man of her kindred, she chose her brother, saying that both husband and children could be replaced. The declaration of Antigone in Sophocles, that she would have performed for neither husband nor children the toil which she undertook for Polynices, against the will of the citizens, indicates that the tie of a common womb was stronger than the social tie of marriage. The extraordinary honor, privilege, and proprietary rights enjoyed by ancient Egyptian and Babylonian wives are traceable to an earlier maternal organization.
All ethnologists admit that descent through females has been very widespread, but some deny that this system has been universally prevalent at any stage of culture. Those who have diminished its importance, however, have done so chiefly in reinforcement of their denials of the theory of promiscuity. It has been very generally assumed that maternal descent is due solely to uncertainty of paternity, and that an admission that the maternal system has been universal is practically an admission of promiscuity. Opponents of this theory have consequently felt called upon to minimize the importance of maternal descent. But descent through females is not, in fact, fully explained by uncertainty of parentage on the male side. It is due to the larger social fact, including this biological one, that the bond between mother and child is the closest in nature, and that the group grew up about the more stationary female; and consequently the questions of maternal descent and promiscuity are by no means so inseparable as has commonly been assumed. We may accept Sir Henry Maine's terse remark that "paternity is a matter of inference, as opposed to maternity, which is a matter of observation," without concluding that society would have been first of all patriarchal in organization, even if paternity had been also a matter of observation. For the association of the woman with the child is immediate and perforce, but the immediate interest of the man is in the woman, through the power of her sexual attractiveness, and his interest in the child is secondary and mediated through her. This relation being a constant one, having its roots in the nature of sex rather than in the uncertainty of parentage, we may safely conclude that the so-called "mother-right" has everywhere preceded "father-right," and was the fund from which the latter was evolved.
But while it is natural that the children and the group should grow up about the mother, it is not conceivable that woman should definitely or long control the activities of society, especially on their motor side. In view of his superior power of making movements and applying force, the male must inevitably assume control of the life direction of the group, no matter what the genesis of the group. It is not a difficult conclusion that, if woman's leaping, lifting, running, climbing, and slugging capacity is inferior to man's, by however slight a margin, her fighting capacity is less in the same degree; for battle is only an application of force, and there has never been a moment in the history of society when the law of might, tempered by sexual affinity, did not prevail. We must then, in fact, recognize a sharp distinction between the law of descent and the fact of authority.
The male was everywhere present in primitive society, and everywhere made his force felt. We can see this illustrated most plainly in the animal group, where the male is the leader, by virtue of his strength. There is also a stage of human society which may be called the prematriarchal stage, from the fact that ideas of kinship are so feeble that no extensive social filiation is effected through this principle, in consequence of which the group has not reached the tribal stage of organization on the basis of kinship, but remains in the primitive biological relation of male, female, and offspring. The Botocudos, Fuegians, Eskimos, West Australians, Bushmen, and Veddahs represent this primitive stage more or less completely; they have apparently not reached the stage where the fact of kinship expresses itself in maternal organization. They live in scattered bands, held together loosely by convenience, safety, and inertia, and the male is the leader; but the leadership of the male in this case, as among animals, is very different from the organized and institutional expression of the male force in systems of political control growing out of achievement. This involves a social history through which these low tribes have not passed.
Organization cannot proceed very far in the absence of social mass, and the collection of social mass took place unconsciously about the female as a universal preliminary of the conscious synthetization of the mass through males. From the side of organization, the negative accretion of population about female centers and filiation through blood is very precious, since filiation based on relation to females prepares the way for organization based on motor activities. But in the prematernal stage, in the maternal stage, and in the patriarchal stage the male force was present and was the carrier of the social will. In the fully maternal system, indeed, the male authority is only thinly veiled, or not at all. Filiation through female descent precedes filiation through achievement, because it is a function of somatic conditions, in the main, while filiation through achievement is a function of historical conditions. This advantage of maternal organization in point of time embarrasses and obscures the individual and collective expression of the male force, but under the veil of female nomenclature and in the midst of the female organization we can always detect the presence of the male authority. Bachofen's conception of the maternal system as a political system was erroneous, as Dargun and others have pointed out, though woman has been reinforced by the fact of descent, and has so figured somewhat in political systems.
A most instructive example of the parallel existence of descent through females and of male authority is found in the Wyandot tribe of Indians, in which also the participation of woman in the regulative activities of society is, perhaps, more systematically developed than in any other single case among maternal peoples. Major Powell gives the following outline of the civil and military government of this tribe:
The civil government inheres in a system of councils and chiefs. In each gens there is a council, composed of four women, called Yu-wai-yu-wa-na. These four women councilors select a chief of the gens from its male members—that is, from their brothers and sons. This gentile chief is the head of the gentile council. The council of the tribe is composed of the aggregated gentile councils. The tribal council, therefore, is composed one-fifth of men and four-fifths of women. The sachem of the tribe, or tribal chief, is chosen by the chiefs of the gentes. There is sometimes a grand council of the gens, composed of the councilors of the gens proper and all the heads of households (women) and leading men—brothers and sons. There is also a grand council of the tribe, composed of the council of the tribe proper and the heads of households of the tribe, and all the leading men of the tribe....
The four women councilors of the gens are chosen by the heads of households, themselves being women. There is no formal election, but frequent discussion is had over the matter from time to time, in which a sentiment grows up within the gens and throughout the tribe that, in the event of the death of any councilor, a certain person will take her place. In this manner there are usually one, two, or more potential councilors in each gens, who are expected to attend all the meetings of the council, though they take no part in the deliberations and have no vote. When a woman is installed as a councilor, a feast is prepared by the gens to which she belongs, and to this feast all the members of the tribe are invited. The woman is painted and dressed in her best attire, and the sachem of the tribe places upon her head the gentile chaplet of feathers, and announces in a formal manner to the assembled guests that the woman has been chosen a councilor.... The gentile chief is chosen by the council women after consultation with the other women and men of the gens. Often the gentile chief is a potential chief through a period of probation. During this time he attends the meetings of the council, but takes no part in the deliberations and has no vote. At his installation, the council women invest him with an elaborately ornamented tunic, place upon his head a chaplet of feathers, and paint the gentile totem upon his face.... The sachem of the tribe is selected by the men belonging to the council of the tribe.
The management of military affairs inheres in the military council and chief. The military council is composed of all the able-bodied men of the tribe; the military chief is chosen by the council from the Porcupine gens. Each gentile chief is responsible for the military training of the youth under his authority. There are usually one or more potential military chiefs, who are the close companions and assistants of the chief in time of war and, in case of the death of the chief, take his place in the order of seniority.
In this tribe the numerical recognition of women is striking, and indicates that they are the original core of society. They are still responsible for society, in a way, but all the offices involving motor activity are deputed to men. Thus women, as heads of households, choose four women councilors of the clan (gens), and these choose the fifth member, who is a man and the head of the council and chief of the clan. The tribal chief is, however, chosen by males, and in the military organization, which represents the group capacity for violence, the women have not even a nominal recognition. The real authority rests with those who are most fit to exercise it. Female influence persists as a matter of habit, until, under the pressure of social, particularly of military, activities, the breaking-up of the habit and a new accommodation follows the accumulation of a larger fund of social energy.
The men of any group are at any time in possession of the force to change the habits of the group and push aside any existing system. But the savage is not revolutionary; his life and his social sanctions are habitual. He is averse to change as such, and retains form and rite after their meaning is lost. We consequently find an expression of social respect for woman under the maternal system suggestive of chivalry, and even a formal elevation of women to authority in groups where the actual control is in the hands of men.
In the Mariana Islands the position of woman was distinctly superior; even when the man had contributed an equal share of property on marriage, the wife dictated everything and the man could undertake nothing without her approval; but, if the woman committed an offense, the man was held responsible and suffered the punishment. The women could speak in the assembly, they held property, and if a woman asked anything of a man, he gave it up without a murmur. If a wife was unfaithful, the husband could send her home, keep her property, and kill the adulterer; but if the man was guilty, or even suspected of the same offense, the women of the neighborhood destroyed his house and all his visible property, and the owner was fortunate if he escaped with a whole skin; and if a wife was not pleased with her husband, she withdrew, and a similar attack followed. On this account many men were not married, preferring to live with paid women. Likewise, in the Gilbert Islands a man shows the same respect to a woman as to a chief, by stepping aside when he meets her. If a man strikes a woman, the other women drive him from the tribe. On Lukunor the men used, in conversation with women, not the usual, but a deferential form of language.
The discoverers of the Friendly Islands found there a king in authority over the people, and his wife in control of the king, receiving homage from him, but not ruling. In these and similar cases woman's early relation to the household is formally retained in the larger group and in the presence of an obviously masculine form of organization.
But, in contrast with the survival in political systems of the primitive respect shown mothers, we find the assertion of individual male force within the very bosom of the maternal organization, in the person of the husband, brother, or uncle of the woman. Among the Caribs "the father or head of the household exerts unlimited authority over his wives and children, but this authority is not founded on legal rights, but upon his physical superiority." In spite of the maternal system in North America, the women were often roughly handled by their husbands. Schoolcraft says of the Kenistenos: "When a young man marries, he immediately goes to live with the father and mother of his wife, who treat him, nevertheless, as an entire stranger till after the birth of his first child." But
it appears that chastity is considered by them as a virtue ... and it sometimes happens that the infidelity of a wife is punished by the husband with the loss of her hair, nose, or perhaps life. Such severity proceeds, perhaps, less from rigidity of virtue than from its having been practiced without his permission; for a temporary interchange of wives is not uncommon, and the offer of their persons is considered as a necessary part of the hospitality due to strangers.
Schoolcraft also says of the women of the Chippeways, among whom the maternal system had given way:
They are very submissive to their husbands, who have however, their fits of jealousy; and for very trifling causes treat them with such cruelty as sometimes to occasion their death. They are frequently objects of traffic, and the father possesses the right of disposing of his daughter.
Indian fathers also frequently sold their children, without any show of right. "Kane mentions that the Shastas ... frequently sell their children as slaves to the Chinooks." Bancroft says of the Columbians: "Affection for children is by no means rare, but in few tribes can they resist the temptation to sell or gamble them away." Descent through mothers is in force among the negroes of equatorial Africa, the man's property passing to his sister's children; but the father is an unlimited despot, and no one dares to oppose him. So long as his relation with his wives continues, he is master of them and of their children. He can even sell the latter into slavery. In New Britain maternal descent prevails, but wives are obtained by purchase or capture, and are practically slaves; they are cruelly treated, carry on agriculture, and bear burdens which make them prematurely stooped, and are likely, if their husbands are offended, to be killed and eaten.
In many regions of Australia women are treated with extreme brutality, when their work is not satisfactory, or the husband has any other cause for offense. In Victoria the men often break their staves over the heads of the women, and skulls of women have been found in which knitted fractures indicated former ill-treatment. In Cape York the women are beaten, and in the interior an angry native burned his wife alive. In the Adelaide dialect the phrase "owner of a woman" means husband. When a man dies, his uterine brother inherits his wife and children.
Where under an exogamous system of marriage a man is forced to go outside his group to obtain a wife, he may do this either by going over to her group, by taking possession of her violently, or by offering her and the members of her group sufficient inducements to relinquish her; and the contrasted male and female disposition is expressed in all the forms of marriage incident to the exogamous system. Every exogamous group is naturally reluctant to relinquish its women, both because it has in them laborers and potential mothers whose children will be added to the group, and because, in the event of their remaining in the group after marriage, their husbands become additional defenders and providers within the group. Where the husband is to settle in the family of the wife, a test is consequently often made of his ability as a provider. Among the Zuni Indians there is no purchase price, no general exchange of gifts; but as soon as the agreement is reached, the young man must undertake certain duties:
He must work in the field of his prospective mother-in-law, that his strength and industry may be tested; he must collect fuel and deposit it near the maternal domicile, that his disposition as a provider may be made known; he must chase and slay the deer, and make from an entire buckskin a pair of moccasins for the bride, and from other skins and textiles a complete feminine suit, to the end that his skill in hunting, skin-dressing, and weaving may be displayed; and, finally, he must fabricate or obtain for the maiden's use a necklace of seashell or of silver, in order that his capacity for long journeys or successful barter may be established; but if circumstances prevent him from performing these duties actually, he may perform them symbolically, and such performance is usually acceptable to the elder people. After these preliminaries are completed, he is formally adopted by his wife's parents, yet remains merely a perpetual guest, subject to dislodgment at his wife's behest, though he cannot legally withdraw from the covenant; if dissatisfied, he can only so ill-treat his wife or children as to compel his expulsion.
This practice is seen in a symbolical form where presents are required of the suitor before marriage and their equivalent returned later. By depositing goods accumulated through his activities he demonstrates his ability as a provider, without undergoing a formal test. This practice is reported of the Indians of Oregon:
The suitor never, in person, asks the parents for their daughter; but he sends one or more friends, whom he pays for their services. The latter sometimes effect their purposes by feasts. The offer generally includes a statement of the property which will be given for the wife to the parents, consisting of horses, blankets, or buffalo robes. The wife's relations always raise as many horses (or other property) for her dower as the bridegroom has sent the parents, but scrupulously take care not to turn over the same horses or the same articles.... This is the custom alike of the Walla-Wallas, Nez-Perces, Cayuse, Waskows, Flatheads, and Spokanes.
In Patagonia the usual custom is for the bridegroom, after he has secured the consent of his damsel, to send either a brother or some intimate friend to the parents, offering so many mares, horses, or silver ornaments for the bride. If the parents consider the match desirable, as soon after as circumstances will permit, the bridegroom, dressed in his best, and mounted on his best horse, proceeds to the toldo of his intended, and hands over the gifts; the parents then return gifts of equivalent value, which, however, in the event of a separation are the property of the bride.
Marriage by capture is an immediate expression of male force. Like marriage by settlement in the house of the wife, it is an expedient for obtaining a wife outside the group where marriage by purchase is not developed, or where the suitor cannot offer property for the bride. It is an unsocial procedure and does not persist in a growing society, for it involves retaliation and blood-feud. But it is a desperate means of avoiding the constraint and embarrassment of a residence in the family and among the relatives of the wife, where the power of the husband is hindered, and the male disposition is not satisfied in this matter short of personal ownership.
The man also sometimes lives under the maternal system in regular marriage, but escapes its disadvantages by stealing a supplementary wife or purchasing a slave woman, over whom and whose children he has full authority. In the Babar Archipelago, where the maternal system persists, even in the presence of marriage by purchase (the man living in the house of the woman, and the children reckoned with the mother), it is considered highly honorable to steal an additional wife from another group, and in this case the children belong to the father. Among the Kinbundas of Africa children belong to the maternal uncle, who has the right to sell them, while the father regards as his children in fact the offspring of a slave woman, and these he treats as his personal property. To the same effect, among the Wanyamwesi, south of the Victoria Nyanza, the children of a slave wife inherit, to the exclusion of children born of a legal wife. And husbands among the Fellatahs are in the habit of adopting children, though they may have sons or daughters of their own, and the adopted children inherit the property. In Indonesia a man sometimes marries a woman and settles in her family, and the children belong to her. But he may later carry her forcibly to his own group, and the children then belong to him.
Bosman relates that in Guinea religious symbolism was also introduced by the husband to reinforce and lend dignity to this action. The maternal system held with respect to the chief wife:
It was customary, however, for a man to buy and take to wife a slave, a friendless person with whom he could deal at pleasure, who had no kindred that could interfere for her, and to consecrate her to his Bossum or god. The Bossum wife, slave as she had been, ranked next to the chief wife, and was like her exceptionally treated. She alone was very jealously guarded, she alone was sacrificed at her husband's death. She was, in fact, wife in a peculiar sense. And having, by consecration, been made of the kindred and worship of her husband, her children would be born of his kindred and worship.
Altogether the most satisfactory means of removing a girl from her group is to purchase her. The use of property in the acquisition of women is not a particular expression of the male nature, since property is accumulated by females as well; but where this form of marriage exists it means practically that the male relatives of the girl are using her for profit, and that her suitor is seeking more complete control of her than he can gain in her group; and viewed in this light the purchase and sale of women is an expression of the dominant nature of the male. In consequence of purchase, woman became in barbarous society a chattel, and her socially constrained position in history and the present hindrances to the outflow of her activities are to be traced largely to the system of purchasing wives.