Woman in Modern Society
by Earl Barnes
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse











This volume is dedicated to a woman endowed by her ancestors with health and strength, reared by a wise mother, trained to earn her own living, and university bred, at one time an independent wage-earner and now equal partner in the business of a home, a social force in the life of her community, member of a woman's club, a suffragist, the devoted and intelligent mother of a group of fine children, and the center of a family which loves and reverences her and finds the deepest meaning of life in her presence.






What it Means to be a Woman

If we go back to the earliest forms of life, where the unit is simply a minute mass of protoplasm surrounded by a cell wall, we find each of these divisions to be a complete individual. It can feed itself, that its life may go on to-day; it can fight or run away, that it may be here to fight to-morrow; and by a process of division it can create a new life so that its existence may continue across the generations. With such units it is quite conceivable that life might go on through all eternity, death following birth, were it not that protoplasm contains within itself a principle of change. Life and change are synonymous.

And this change moves ever toward a complexity, which we call development, where cells unite in a larger life, and functions and organs are specialized. Thus there comes a time when the part split off carries with it power to eat and digest, to fight or run away, but only half the power of procreation. This half unit, this incomplete individual, is either male or female, and from this time on, the epic of life gathers around the search of these half-lives for their complements. The force that impels to this search, while at first valuable only for the perpetuation of the generations, gathers into itself modifying feeling and desires and, at a later period, ideas and ideals, which finally, when men and women appear, make it the greatest of all the shaping forces in life.[1]

[1] The fact that sexual selection does not play the part in organic evolution which Darwin assigned it does not affect this statement. See chapter on Sexual Selection in YVES DELAGEE and MARIE GOLDSMITH, The Theories of Evolution, New York: Huebsch, 1912.

Of course, in such a sweeping statement as this, one must include under sex hunger all the forces that drive men and women to seek each other's society, rather than that of their own sex. In this sense, it can be truly said that it gives a motive for our care of offspring, and for all our other most self-forgetful devotions, our finest altruisms, our most polished expressions in language, manners and dress. It justifies labor, ambition, and at times even self-effacement. It underlies nearly all the lyric expressions in art; furnishes almost the only theme for that delineation of modern life which we call the novel; and is a main support for music, painting, statuary and belles-lettres. It gives us the institution of the family, which is the parent of the state; it is closely allied to religion; and in our individual lives it lifts us to the heights of self-realization and happiness, or plunges us down to the depths of degradation and tragedy.

While this sex hunger belongs equally to men and women, it has come to be associated with women, until we even speak of them as "the sex." Hence, when we are discussing women, we are generally discussing the sex interest common to both men and women, and this disturbs our point of view. The fact is that sex interest is a common possession, that the unit in human life, even more than among lower animals, is always a male and a female bound together by love. Just as a body can function in sleep or under the influence of a narcotic, for a time seemingly independent of the mind, so a man or a woman can live for a time in seeming independence of the opposite sex; but from any biological point of view, such a separate existence of male and female is only a transient effort. The half-life must find its mate or, after a few brief days, it dies, leaving its line extinct. For all the larger purposes of life, man is but a half-creature, and woman is equally a fragment.

It is, of course, conceivable that these two halves of the biological unit might have been made, or might have developed, alike in everything except the sexual function. At least they might have been as much alike as men are alike. They might have been of the same size, possessed of the same strength, of the same figures and gestures, complexion and hair. Their voices might have been alike. They might have had the same kinds of nervous systems, with the same desires, feelings, ideas and tendencies. In the assertions and arguments born of intellectual, industrial, social and political readjustments, it is often assumed that this is the case. Differences are minimized or denied, and an attempt is made to resolve the world of men and women into a world of human beings capable of living together in mingled competitions and cooperations, regardless of sex, except where the reproductive process is considered. But this view is superficial; born of argument it breaks down when confronted by any body of significant facts.

Again, it has happened that in the long struggle of developing civilization, sometimes one and sometimes the other sex has gained what has seemed an advantage over the other, just as in the development of any man's individual life, his brain may gain a seeming advantage over his stomach, so that it has more than its fair share of nourishment and activity. Arguing from such a case, we might declare the brain superior to the stomach in power, health and function; but in the long accounting, all such temporary superiorities are wiped out. So with men and women, seeming advantages for either are gained only at the expense of the common life; and in the last analysis, each finds his individual value only in the common life of the unit.

Let us try then to see what the special characteristics of women are, ignoring as far as possible the accidental variations of individuals, and the temporary advantages or disadvantages due to economic or ideational forces, and all assertions of what would be if things were not as they are.

While the whole matter of sex differences is in a state of unsettlement, it seems very certain that males are more active and more variable than females. This superabundant vitality appears in the males of the higher animals in secondary sex characteristics, such as more abundant and unnecessary hair and feathers, tusks, spurs, antlers, wattles, brilliant colors and scent pouches. It also appears in mating calls, songs, and general carriage of the body. Correspondingly, the female is smaller, duller colored, and less immediately attractive than the male.

All the studies that have been made on men and women, also confirm our ordinary observation that men are taller, heavier, stronger and more active than women, and this holds true in all stages of civilization, wherever tests have been made. In strength, rapidity of movement, and rate of fatigue Miss Thompson's studies[2] show that men have a very decided advantage over women. Thus in strength tests, the men in Yale have double the power of women in Oberlin;[3] while our college athletic records place men far ahead of women in all events requiring strength and endurance.

[2] HELEN B. THOMPSON, Psychological Norms in Men and Women, p. 167. University of Chicago Press, 1903.

[3] THOMAS, Sex and Society, p. 21. University of Chicago Press, 1907.

The differences in structure between men and women are such as to correspond with the functional differences just stated. A woman's bones are smaller in proportion to her size, than are those of a man. The body is longer, the hips broader, and the abdomen more prominent. Relatively to the length of the body, the arms, legs, feet and hands are shorter than in men, the lower leg and arm are shorter in proportion to the upper leg and arm. Man has the long levers and the active frame. One has only to look at two good statues of a man and a woman to realize the greater strength and activity of the man.

Woman, as she actually appears in modern society, is also less subject to variation than man;[4] she is much less liable to be a genius or an idiot than her brother.[5] She offers greater resistance to disease, endures pain and want more stoically, and lives longer; so that while more boys than girls are born in all parts of the world, where statistics are kept, in mature years women always outnumber men.

[4] KARL PEARSON denies this. See The Chances of Death, Vol. I, p. 256. London, 1897.

[5] C.W. SALEEBY, in Woman and Womanhood, p. 54, New York, Mitchell Kennerley, 1911, maintains that woman is biologically more variable than man, and that woman's less variable activity is due to her training.

All these statements are summed up by saying that not only in women, but in most female animals of the higher orders, life is more anabolic than in males. They tend to more static conditions; they collect, organize, conserve; they are patient and stable; they move about less; they more easily lay on adipose tissue. Compared with the female, the male animal is katabolic; he is active, impulsive, destructive, skilful, creative, intense, spasmodic, violent. Such a generalization as this must not be pushed too far in its applications to our daily life; but as a statement of basal differences it seems justified by ordinary observation as well as by scientific tests.[6]

[6] PATRICK GEDDES and ARTHUR THOMPSON, in The Evolution of Sex, D. Appleton & Co., 1889, first advanced this position.

Meantime, it is probably true that the female, as mother of the race, is more important biologically than the male, since she both furnishes germ plasm and nourishes the newly conceived life. The latest studies, along lines laid down by Mendel, seem to indicate that the female brings to the new creation both male and female attributes, while the male brings only male qualities. Thus when either sex sinks into insignificance, as sometimes happens in lower forms of life, it is generally the male which exists merely for purposes of reproduction.[7]

[7] C.W. SALEEBY, Woman and Womanhood, Chapter V. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1911.

The differences in the nervous systems of men and women are now fairly established on the quantitative side. Marshall has shown that if we compare brain weight with the stature in the two sexes there is a slight preponderance of cerebrum in males; but if the other parts of the brain are taken into consideration, the sexes are equal.[8] Havelock Ellis has carefully gathered the results of many investigators and declares that woman's brain is slightly superior to man's in proportion to her size.[9] But these quantitative differences are now felt to have comparatively little significance; and of the relative qualities of the brain substance in the two sexes we know nothing positively. In fact, if we give a scientist a section of brain substance he cannot tell whether it is the brain of a man or a woman.

[8] MARSHALL, Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, July, 1892.

[9] HAVELOCK ELLIS, Man and Woman, p. 97, Contemporary Science Series.

It is very probable that the average woman's mind is capable of much the same activity as the average man's mind, given the same heredity and the same training. They are both alike capable of remarkable feats of imitation, and an ordinarily intelligent man could probably learn to wear woman's clothes, and walk as she generally walks, so as to deceive even a jury of women, if there were a motive to justify the effort. Women also can perform, and they do perform, most of the feats of men.

At the same time it is desirable to note present differences in modes of thinking and feeling, for while they may have been produced by environment and ideals, and may hence give way to education, they must be reckoned with in making the next steps. In the chapter on education we shall discuss certain academic peculiarities of women's minds, but here we are interested in seeing what fundamental differences characterize the thinking of the sexes.

Women seem more subject to emotional states than men;[10] and this general observation agrees with the fact that the basal ganglia of the brain are more developed in women than in men, and these parts of the brain seem most intimately concerned with emotional activity. Whether emotion follows acts or leads to acts remains a disputed question, but certainly emotion gives charm and significance to life and distinguishes modes of thinking. Particularly in the dramatic art, this quality of mind gives women special excellence. The fact that she more often appeals to emotion than to reason, as cause for action, in no way marks her as inferior to man, but simply as different. As Ellen Key says: "There is nothing more futile than to try to prove the inferiority of woman to man, unless it be to try to prove her equality."[11]

[10] HELEN BRADFORD THOMPSON, Psychological Norms in Men and Women, p. 171, University of Chicago Press, 1903.

[11] ELLEN KEY, Love and Ethics, p. 52. New York: Huebsch, 1911.

Most women think in particulars as compared with men. The individual circumstance seems to them very important; and it is hard for them to get away from the concrete. On the other hand, a man's thinking is more impersonal and general; and he is more easily drawn into abstractions. It is true that woman's domestic life would naturally develop this quality but we are not now concerned with the question of origins. Most women find it easy to live from day to day; the man is more given to systematizing and planning. Thus in offices, men are more efficient as heads of departments, while women handle details admirably. In public life we have recently seen thousands of women eager to depose a United States Senator, accused of polygamy, without regard to the bearing of the concrete act on constitutional guarantees. Women have done little with abstract studies like metaphysics; they have done much with the novel, where ideas are presented in the concrete and particular.

This habit of dealing with particulars, and disinclination for abstraction, leads easily to habitual action. It is easy for women to stock up their lower nerve centers with reflex actions. This, of course, goes along with the general anabolic characteristics of the sex. Hence women are the conservers of traditions; rules of conducting social intercourse appeal to them; and they are the final supporters of theological dogmas.[12] Women naturally uphold caste, and Daughters of the Revolution and Colonial Dames flourish on the scantiest foundations of ancestral excellence. Man, on the other hand, is more radical and creative. He has perfected most of our inventions; he has painted our great pictures; carved our great statues; he has written music, while women have interpreted it.

[12] HELEN B. THOMPSON, Psychological Norms in Men and Women, p. 171, University of Chicago Press, 1903.

Along with these fixed qualities of action, women have a tendency to indirection when they advance. We say they have diplomacy, tact and coquetry, while man is more direct and bald in his methods. Of course, one easily understands how these qualities may have arisen, since "fraud is the force of weak natures," and woman has always been driven to supplement her weakness with tact, from the days of Jael and Delilah down to the present day adventuress.

These qualities of mind naturally drive women to literary interests which are concrete, personal and emotional. Men turn more easily than women to the abstract generalizations of science. Of course, there are marked exceptions to these general statements, in both sexes. Madame Curie, who was recently a candidate for the honors of the French Academy, and who, in 1911, was given the Nobel prize for her distinguished services to chemistry, is but one of many women who are famous to-day in the world of science. Still the private life of these women, as in the case of Sonya Kovalevsky, seems to bear out our general conclusion. Men, on the other hand, as milliners and editors of ladies' journals, show marked skill in catering to women's tastes; but on the whole the differences indicated seem important and widely diffused.

Another profound difference between men and women is the woman's greater tendency to periodicity in all her functions and adjustments to life.[13] In all normal societies the life of the man is fairly regular and constant from birth to old age. He moves along lines mainly predetermined by his heredity and his environment, his habits and his work. Even puberty is less disturbing in its effect upon a boy than upon a girl; and often by eighteen we can anticipate the life of a young man with great accuracy. The one element in his life hardest to forecast is the effect of his love-affairs.

[13] See chapter on Periodicity in G. STANLEY HALL'S Adolescence, Vol. I, p. 472.

With a woman, it is quite different. As a girl, the period of puberty produces profound changes; and after that, for more than thirty years she passes through periodical exaltations and depressions that must play a large part in determining her health, happiness and efficiency. In the forties, comes another great change which affects her life to a degree strangely ignored by those who have dealt with her possibilities in the past.[14]

[14] KARIN MICHAELIS, The Dangerous Age, John Lane Co., 1911, is said to have sold 80,000 in six weeks when it first appeared in Berlin. The Bride of the Mistletoe, by JAMES LANE ALLEN (Macmillan), deals with the same period.

But the great element of uncertainty, always fronting the girl and young woman, is marriage. Marriage for her generally means abandonment of old working interests, and a substitution of new; it brings her geographical change; new acquaintances and friendships; and the steady adjustment of her personal life to the man she has married in its relation to industry, religion, society and the arts. If children come to her, they must inevitably retire her from public life, for a time, with the danger of losing connections which comes to all who temporarily drop out of the race.

A boy, industrious, observant, with some power of administration, studies mining engineering, moves to a mining center and expresses his individual and social powers along the lines of his work until he is sixty. The women who impinge against his life may deflect him from the mines in California to those in Australia, or from the actual work of superintendence to an office; or from an interest in Browning to Tennyson; or from Methodism to Christian Science. The girl with industrious and observant interests studies stenography and type-writing, moves to the vicinity of offices, but is then caught up in the life of a farmer-husband who shifts her center of activity to a farm in Idaho where she must devote herself to entirely different activities, form new associations, think in new terms, respond to new emotions, and adjust herself to her farmer-husband's personality. When, after twenty-five years, she has reared a family of children, and when improved circumstances enable them to move up to the county seat, she confronts many of the conditions for which she originally prepared herself, but with farm habits, diminishing adaptability and diminishing power of appealing to her husband. His powers are still comparatively unimpaired, and as a dealer in farm produce or farm machinery his interests undergo slight change. In general, it may be said that a woman's life falls into three great periods of twenty-five years each. The first twenty-five years of childhood and girlhood is a time of getting ready for the puzzling combination of her personal needs as a human being, her needs as a self-supporting social unit, and her probabilities of matrimony. The second twenty-five years, the domestic period of her life, is a time of adjustments as wife and mother, which may instead prove to be a period of barren waiting, or a time of professional and industrial self-direction and self-support. The third twenty-five years is a time of mature and ripened powers, of lessened romantic interests, and if the preceding period has been devoted to husband and children, it is often a time of social detachment, of weakened individual initiative, of old-fashioned knowledge, of inefficiency, of premature retirement and old age.

On the moral side, as Professor Thomas has so admirably pointed out,[15] women have evolved a morality of the person and of the family, while men have evolved a morality of the group and of property. Since men have had a monopoly of property and of law-making they have shaped laws mainly for the protection of property, and in a secondary degree for the protection of the person. Under these laws a man who beats another nearly to death is less severely punished than one who signs the wrong name to a check for five dollars. Man's katabolic nature and his greater freedom have given him almost a monopoly of crime under these laws which he has made. Offences against the coming generation, against health, social efficiency and good taste have until recently been left to the tribunal of public opinion as expressed in social usage; and here, as we have seen, women are generally the judges and executioners. In this, her own field of moral judgment, woman is idealistic and uncompromising. If one of her sisters falls from virtue she will often pursue her unmercifully. If a man, on the other hand, commits a burglary or forgery her sympathy and mercy may make her a very lenient judge.

[15] WILLIAM I. THOMAS, Sex and Society, p. 149. University of Chicago Press, 1907. ELLEN KEY, in Love and Marriage, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1911, traces the same lines of growth.

In aesthetics, the differences follow the same general law. Women express beauty in themselves; jewels are for their ornament; and rooms are furnished as a setting for themselves. The lives of millions of workers go to the adornment of women. In painting they sometimes excel, but a Madame Le Brun does her best work when she paints herself and her child, and when Angelica Kauffmann would paint a vestal virgin, she drapes a veil over her own head and transfers her features to the canvas. Sculpture and architecture are too impersonal and abstract to attract much attention from women at present. Even a sculptor like Mrs. Bessie Potter Vonnoh finds her truest theme in statuettes of mothers with their children about them.

During the past few years psychologists have paid great attention to secondary sex characteristics of the mind, and doubtless many qualities of the thought and feeling of men and women owe their origin to the same source as brilliant plumage, antlers, combs and wattles. Thus the shy, retiring, reticent, self-effacing, languishing, adoring excesses of maidenhood and the peculiar psychological manifestations of the late forties must probably be understood from this point of view. So, also, must the bold, swaggering, assertive, compelling bearing of youth be interpreted. The shy or modish, dandified, lackadaisical cane-carrying youth is naturally disliked as a sexual perversion.

Women alone, whether individually or in groups, tend to develop certain hard, dry, arid qualities of mind and heart, or they become emotional and unbalanced. Losing a sense of large significances, they become overcareful, saving, sometimes penurious, while in matters of feeling they lavish sentiment and sympathy on unimportant pets and movements.

Men, when alone, become selfish, coarse, and reckless; their judgments become extravagant and their pursuits remorseless.

Thus it is certainly true that men and women supplement each other in the subjective as in the objective life. Man creates, woman conserves; man composes, woman interprets; man generalizes, woman particularizes; man seeks beauty, woman embodies beauty; man thinks more than he feels, woman feels more than she thinks. For new spiritual birth, as for physical birth, men and women must supplement each other.

To be a woman then, is to be for twenty-five years a girl and then a young woman, capable of feeding and protecting herself, possessed of preparing and conserving powers superior to her brothers. After that, for twenty-five years, she is a human being primarily devoted to romanticism, finding her largest fulfilment only in wifehood and motherhood, direct or vicarious; in the last twenty-five years, she should be a wise woman, of ripe experience, carrying over her gathered training and powers to the service of the group. All this time she is, like the man, an incomplete creature, realizing her greatest power and her greatest service only when working in loving association with the man of her choice.


Woman's Heritage

So thoroughly have modern men fastened their attention upon the problems of the immediate present, that one feels driven to justify oneself in taking up an historical investigation of any subject presented in a popular manner. And yet it takes little argument to show that what we shall be depends in large measure on what we are; and that what we are rests back on what we have been. In anything we try to think or feel or do, we quickly reach a limit; and this limit is determined by the original quality of our nervous system plus the training it has received. For here is the curious fact about this instrument of thought and feeling which at once takes it away from comparison with mechanical instruments. Whatever it does, becomes a part of itself, and then helps to determine what it will do the next time and how it will do it. With the making easy of mental operations through repetition, and with the formation of associations based on our choices, it may be truly said that we become whatever we habitually think and feel and do.

Every choice we make is thus literally built into our character and becomes a part of ourselves. After that, the old choice will help determine the new, and we shall find ourselves being directed by all of our past choices, and even by the choices of our ancestors. Since, then, all our earlier selves are continued in us and make us what we are, we are simply studying ourselves when we study the history of our ancestors. If we would go forward, we must first look backward; for we must rise on stepping-stones of our dead selves.

But history is not merely the story of the past. To relate that, would take as long as it took to live it, and the result would be but weariness of spirit. History, to be significant, must select the events with which it will deal; it must arrange these in series that are in accord with the constitution of things; and then it must use the generalizations it reaches to interpret the present, and even to forecast the future. It is obvious that this interpretation will depend on the point of view held by the interpreter.

Hence we must ask in what fundamental beliefs this presentation rests. These are, first, that life tends to move along certain lines that constitute the law of human nature. Just as the infant tends first to wriggle, then creep, then walk, then run and dance, so human nature tends to move upward from savagery through primitive settled life to the complex forms of larger settled units. In this progress, material or economic forces play a large part; but ideas, originally born out of circumstances, but sometimes borrowed from other people, sometimes degenerate remnants of past utilities, also play a large part. The progress we finally make is thus directed by this human tendency, by material circumstances, and by ideas. Sometimes it keeps pretty closely to what seems to us to be upward human growth; sometimes it stagnates; sometimes it gives us perverted products; and sometimes it destroys itself.

Thus it becomes necessary to trace the past experiences of woman that we may see with what heritage she faces the future. She is all that she has felt and thought and done. She started with at least half of the destiny of the race in her keeping. Handicapped in size and agility, and periodically weighted down by the burdens of maternity, she still possessed charms and was mistress of pleasures which made her, for savage man, the dearest possession next to food; and for civilized man, the companion, joy and inspiration of his days.

Of woman's position in early savage times we know only what we can learn from fragmentary prehistoric remains, from the structure of early languages, from records of travelers and students among savages of more recent times; or what can be inferred from human nature in general. Most of this data is difficult to interpret, but it is probable that woman's position was not much worse than man's. It is a bad beast that fouls its own food or its own nest; and the female had always the protection of the male's desire. If she could not entirely control her body, she could still control her own expressions of affection and desire; and, without these, mere possession lost much of its charm.

As keeper of the cave, cultivator of the soil, and guardian of the child, woman, rather than her more foot-loose mate, probably became the center of the earliest civilization. The jealousy of men formed tribal rules for her protection; and to these, religion early gave its powerful sanctions. Thus there came a day when the woman took her mate home to her tribe and gave her children her own name. Even if the matriarchal period was not so important as has sometimes been assumed, woman certainly had large influence over tribal affairs in early savage life.

With the increase in population, and the consequent disappearance of game, man was forced to turn his attention to the crude agriculture which woman had begun to develop. The superior qualities which he had acquired in war and the chase, enabled him slowly to improve on these beginnings and to shape a body of custom which made settled society possible. With man's leadership in the family the patriarchal form of government developed, and man's power over woman was sanctioned by custom and law. The woman was stolen, or bought; and while sexual attraction did not play the continuous part which it plays in developed society, it must have done much to protect women from abuse and neglect, at least during the years of girlhood and child-bearing. It is at this point that our historical records begin.

In the pages of Homer, or of the Old Testament, in Tacitus's "Germania," or in the writings of Livy, we find woman's position well defined. True, she stands second to the man, but she is his assistant, not his slave. She must be courted, and while marriage presents are exchanged, she is not bought. In times of emergency, she steps to the front and legislates, judges, or fights. It is possible in the pages of the Old Testament to find women doing everything which men can do. Even where the power is not nominally in her own hands, she often, as in the cases of Penelope or Esther, rules by indirection. Her body and her offspring are protected; and the Hebrew woman of the Proverbs shows us a singularly free and secure industrial position.[16] Such was the condition in primitive Judea, in early Greece, in republican Rome, or among the Germans who invaded southern Europe in the third and fourth centuries of our era.

[16] Proverbs xxxi, 10.

Man's jealousy of his woman as a source of pleasure and honor to himself, and to his family, must have always acted to limit woman's freedom, even while it gave her protection and a secure position in society. With the development of settled government in city states, like Athens or early Rome, the necessity for defining citizenship made the family increasingly a political institution. A man's offspring through slave women, concubines, or "strangers" lived outside the citizen group, and so were negligible; but the citizen woman's children were citizens, and so she became a jealously guarded political institution. The established family became the test of civic, military, and property rights. The regulations limiting the freedom of girls and women were jealously enforced, since mismating might open the treasures of citizenship to any low born or foreign adventurer.[17]

[17] T.G. TUCKER, Life in Ancient Athens, Chapter VIII, Macmillan Co., 1906.

In the ancient Orient, in Greece, Rome, and in later Europe, these stages have been repeated again and again. Woman is first a slave, stolen or bought, protected by sexual interest to which is later added social custom and religious sanction. Early civilization centers around the woman, so that she becomes in some degree the center of the home-staying group. In primitive civilization man takes over woman's most important activities; but she gains a fixed position, protected, though still further enslaved, by political necessities.

But with the increase of wealth, whether in terms of money, slaves, or trade, woman found herself subject to a fourth form of enslavement more subtly dangerous than brute force, lust, or political and religious institutionalism. This was the desire of man to protect her and make her happy because he loved her. He put golden chains about her neck and bracelets on her arms, clothed her in silks and satins, fed her with dainty fare, gave her a retinue of attendants to spare her fatigue, and put her in the safest rear rooms of the habitation. But it is foolish to talk of conscious enslavement in this connection. Rich men and luxurious civilizations have always enslaved women in the same way that rich, fond, and foolish mothers have enslaved their children, by robbing them of opportunity, by taking away that needful work and that vital experience of real life which alone can develop the powers of the soul.

Thus in the Periclean age in Greece, in the Eastern Kingdoms established by Alexander, in Imperial Rome, in the later Italian Renaissance, in France under Louis XIV and Louis XV, in England under the Stuart kings, and in many centers of our own contemporary world, women have given up their legitimate heritage of work and independent thought for trinkets, silks, and servants, and have quickly degenerated, like the children of rich and foolish mothers, into luxury-loving parasites and playthings.[18]

[18] OLIVE SCHREINER, Woman and Labor, Chapters on Parasitism. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1911.

To maintain this luxurious setting for their mistresses, whether wives or irregular concubines, men of the Occident have generally been driven to ever fiercer struggle with their fellows. Thus a Pericles, at the zenith of his powers, facing difficulties which strained and developed all his forces, had for his legitimate wife a woman, bound hand and foot by conventions and immured in her house in Athens. But a man is only half a complete human being, and the other half cannot be furnished by a weak and ignorant kept-woman, no matter how legal the bond. Hence the forces always driving men to completeness and unity drove Pericles away from his house and his legitimate children and his mere wife to find the completion of his life.

In these cases, as elsewhere, demand creates supply, and there were to be found everywhere in Athens able and cultivated foreign women, many of whom had come over from the mainland of Asia Minor; and one of these, Aspasia, became the mistress of Pericles and bore him children. She was no adventuress of the street, but an educated and brilliant woman, in whose home you might have met not only Pericles, but also Socrates, Phidias, Anaxagoras, Sophocles and Euripides.

This is the stage that always follows the period of the luxury-loving wife. It was so in Imperial Rome, in later Carthage, in Venice, and in eighteenth-century France. But the normal human unit is the man and woman who love each other, not these combinations of illegality, law, lust, love and dishonor. Such a triangle of two women and a man rests its base in shame, and its lines are lies, and its value is destruction. So virile republican Rome swept over decadent Greece and made it into the Roman province of Achaia; later the chaste Germans swarmed over the decadent Roman Empire and then slowly rebuilt modern Europe; the ascetic Puritans destroyed the Stuarts; while the French Revolution was the deluge that swept away Louis XVI and put the virtuous, if commonplace, bourgeoisie in power.

So far we have dealt with the position of women as though it depended alone on human hungers, passions and environment; but while these are the driving forces of life, they are very subject to the repressing and diverting power of ideas, working in an environment of economic conditions. These ideas may themselves date back to earlier passions and economic conditions, but they often survive the time which created them, and then they enter into life and conduct as seemingly independent forces. These ideas played a large part, even in the ancient world.

The Jews organized their religious and political practices about a patriarchal Deity ruling a patriarchal state; and their tradition handicapped all women with the sin of Eve, the sin of seeking knowledge. The Greeks, on the other hand, gave woman a splendid place in the hierarchy of the gods, and idealized not only her beauty in Aphrodite but her chaste aloofness in Artemis, her physical strength in the Amazons, and her wisdom in Athena and Hera. They covered the Acropolis with matchless monuments in honor of Athena, patron goddess of their fair city, and celebrated splendid pageants on her anniversaries. So, too, republican Rome, while it gathered its civic life about patriarchal ideas in which the father was supreme, gave women positions of high honor in its religion, whether as deities or as servitors of the gods. In the Niebelungenlied, the Germans bodied forth their splendid conceptions of female beauty, strength and passion in such figures as Brunhilda. These ideas must have done much to offset the physical weakness and functional handicaps of women in the ancient world.

The Christian ideas, which have dominated us now for nearly two thousand years, are generally considered to have been favorable to women. In their insistence on the value of the human soul, and on democratic equality, they have doubtless helped to raise the status of women along with that of all human beings. But, as between man and woman, Christianity has given every possible advantage to men, and has added needlessly to the natural burdens of women.[19]

[19] JAMES DONALDSON, Woman: Her Position and Influence in Ancient Greece and Rome and Among the Early Christians, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907.

From Judaism, Christianity borrowed Eve, with her eternally operative sin, and thus placed all women under a perpetual load of suspicion and guilt. The Founder of the new faith never assumed the responsibilities of a family, and he included no woman among his disciples. Example, even negative example, is often more powerful than precept. Paul, the most learned of the disciples, in his writings, and as an organizer of the Church, emphasized the older Jewish position. In the new organization, women filled only lesser places, while the men settled all points of dogma, directing and mainly conducting the services of worship. Meantime each woman's soul remained her own, to be saved only by her individual actions; therein lay her hope for the future, both on earth and in heaven.

But it was those later developments of belief and practice that gathered around Christian asceticism which placed woman and her special functions under a cloud of suspicion from which she is not even yet entirely freed. Celibacy became exalted; virginity was a positive virtue; chastity, instead of a healthful antecedent to parenthood, became an end in itself; and monasteries and convents multiplied throughout Christendom. Something of shame and guilt gathered around conception and birth, as representing a lower standard of life, even when sanctified by the ceremonies of the Church. From the second century to the sixth, the ablest of the Church Fathers, Greek and Latin alike, formulated statements in which woman became the chief ally of the devil in dragging men down to perdition. We still hear ancestral reverberations of these teachings in all our discussions of woman's place in civilization.

But ideas can only for a time overcome or divert the primitive human hungers, and slowly Mary, Mother of Jesus, won first place among the saints. Celibate recluses who feared to walk the streets for fear of meeting a woman, and who spent the nights fighting down their noblest passions, starving them, flagellating and rolling their naked bodies in thorny rose hedges or in snow-drifts to silence demands for wife and children, threw themselves in an ecstacy of adoration before an image of the Virgin with the Baby in her arms. So Maryolatry came to bless the world.

But even this blessing was not without alloy, for it gave us an ideal of woman, superhuman, immaculate, bowing in frightened awe before the angel with the lily, standing mute with crossed hands and downcast eyes before her Divine Son. She represented, not the institution of the family, but the institution of the Church. Even when she appeared in representations of the Holy Family, Joseph, her husband, was not the father of her child, but his servant.

Chivalry took up this conception, and shaped for us the fantastic lady who stands back of much of modern romantic love. Robbed of her simple, human, pagan passions, she became often an anaemic and unfruitful, if angelic, creature. For the direct and passionate assurances of a virtuous and noble love she substituted sighs and tears, languishing looks and weary renunciations. This sterile hybrid, bred of human passions and theological negations, must be finally banished from our literature and from our minds before we can have a healthy eugenic conscience among us.[20]

[20] R. DE MAULDE LA CLAVIERE, The Woman of the Renaissance. A Study in Feminism, translated by George H. Ely. New York: C.P. Putnam's Sons, 1900.

The Protestant Revolution went far to restore the special functions of women to respect. Belief in her individual soul, and in its need of salvation through individual choice, was supplemented by the belief that this choice must be guided by her individual judgment. Celibacy ceased to be a sign of righteousness; and the best men and women married. But beliefs cannot be directly destroyed by revolution; they can only be disturbed and modified. The teachings of Paul, Augustine, Tertullian and St. Jerome were still authoritative, and Calvin and Knox reaffirmed many of them. The family was still subordinate to the Church; and marriage still remained a sacrament, with theological significances, rather than the simple union of a man and woman who loved each other. The choice of a mate once made was final, because theological, and it could be broken only with infinite pain and disgrace.

The great political upheaval, which we call the French Revolution, carried in its fundamental teachings freedom and opportunity for men and for women; but like the corresponding revolution in religion, it required time to make adjustments, and so we have been content to live for more than a hundred years in the midst of verbal affirmations which we denied in all our institutional life.

In America, conditions have always been favorable for women to work out their freedom. Among the immigrants who came to our shores before 1840 there were, of course, a few traders, adventurers and servants who hoped to improve their financial conditions; but the leaders, and most of the rank and file, came that they might be free to think their own thoughts and live their own lives. If this selection of colonists, through religious and political persecution, sometimes gave us bigots with one idea, it also gave us people who knew that ideas can change. Along with Cotton Mather it gave us Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams and William Penn.

Most of these who came in the early days belonged to extreme dissenting sects believing in salvation through individual choice, based on personal judgments. Preaching was exalted at the expense of ritual; and by substituting new thinking for old habits in religion, the American settlers made it less difficult for other adjustments to be made, even in such a conservative matter as woman's position. It is through no accident that Methodists, Friends, Unitarians and the Salvation Army have been much more sympathetic to woman's progress than have the older ritualistic faiths.

And these theological ideas had to be worked out under the material conditions of the New World, which were also favorable to the emancipation of women. Facing primitive conditions in the forest, it became a habit to do new things in new ways. Woman's work and judgment were indispensable; and these picked women showed themselves capable in every direction. They did every kind of work; and when it came to enduring privation or even to starving, they set an example for men.

But while every new movement in ideas always carries with it other radical ideas, the practical difficulties of mental, social and legal adjustment always prevent the full and harmonious development of all that is involved in any new point of view. In the American colonies the need for new adjustments in religion, government and practical living made it inevitable that any very important change in woman's position should linger. In fact, the student of colonial records finds many traces of ultra conservatism in the treatment of women, though the forces had been liberated which must inevitably open the way for her through the New World of America into a new world of the spirit.

And before the quickening influence of the new life had time to become commonplace, the struggle with England began. The Revolutionary period was a time of intense political education for every one. War and sacrifice glorified the new ideas; and even the children and women could not escape their influence. Why then did not the American Revolution pass on to full freedom and opportunity for women? For the same reason that it did not forever abolish slavery in America. The vested interests involved were so many, and the changes so momentous and difficult, that only the most imperative needs could receive attention.

But this does not mean that the interest in a larger life for women was not active or that women were making no advance in self-direction. There is evidence that women like Abigail Adams realized the abstract injustice of their position, and the fact that as early as 1794, Mary Wollstonecraft's "Vindication of the Rights of Woman" was republished in Philadelphia shows that her ideas must have had some currency in America.

After the Revolution, the intimate, stimulating influence of Europe, which the earlier colonists had enjoyed, was for a time almost entirely lost. The new States became extremely provincial; and minds untouched by the larger world always tend to conservatism. Noah Webster, in "A Letter to Young Ladies," published in Boston, in 1790, declared that they "must be content to be women; to be mild, social and sentimental." Three years later the "Letters to a Young Lady," by the Reverend John Bennett, were republished in Philadelphia, after going through several London editions. He placed the qualities to be cultivated in this order: "A genteel person, a simple nature, sensibility, cheerfulness, delicacy, softness, affability, good manners, regular habits, skill in fancy work, and a fund of hidden genteel learning." Through the first half of the nineteenth century these ideals struggled along parallel with the new ideas that were everywhere springing up from the colonial forest experiences of the last two generations.

As conservers of morals and as leaders in higher ideals of life, the advanced women of America came early face to face with two outgrown abuses. One of these was human slavery and the other was intemperance. In attacking these abuses, women had to break with all the traditions that defined their position.

The wealthy and intelligent Englishwoman, Frances Wright, who came to this country in 1818 to attack slavery, found herself doubly opposed because she was a woman speaking in public. Had not St. Paul declared: "It is a shame for women to speak in the church"? Lucretia Mott, born in the Society of Friends in Nantucket, had escaped the full force of this injunction, but even she found, when she attacked slavery in public, that she had invaded a world sacred to men, and she was sternly warned back. Miss Susan B. Anthony also began her public life as a teacher and a temperance reformer. It was only when she found herself helpless, in presence of the prejudices against her sex, that she turned her attention to freeing women from all purely sex limitation in public life.

When the Civil War broke out, the women were ready to do their part. It is quite possible that the names of Clara Barton and Dorothea Dix may be remembered when Grant and Sherman are forgotten. With the establishing of new human values the historian of the future may consider the saving of life and the preventing of misery as more worthy of lasting record than even military genius. These women and their millions of helpers had not the resources of organized government at their disposal; but, instead, they had oftentimes to work against the jealousy of those in authority. At the close of the war, the Sanitary Commission comprised seven thousand aid societies scattered over the country, and it had raised over fifteen millions of dollars. Those women who remained at home, in the absence of fathers and sons for four years, faced all the problems of practical life. Who can estimate the value of training in cooperative work and organization which the Civil War gave to the American women?

In the Civil War, women directly served men; but in the great industrial reorganization which came afterward they served mainly women and children. Here the victories have been won in the press, in the legislative halls, and in courts of law. Working with men, or alone, they have perfected organization, agitated, raised money, printed appeals, and carried cases through the courts, until factories and stores have been made safer, excessive working hours have been cut down, young children have been exempted from labor, many sweat-shops have been closed, and women workers have begun to be organized to care for their own needs. Much has been done; more remains to be done; but the training of the women has gone steadily forward.

These, then, are the forces which have pushed women forward in America: European political and religious persecution, the forest necessities of colonial life, the American Revolution, the struggle with slavery and intemperance, the Civil War, the industrial struggle and the need to protect women and children from capitalistic exploitation. Possibly women have now reached a point in their development where they can turn to public service and to a full realization of their powers and responsibilities without the goading necessity of a great wrong. If not, there are sufficient wrongs still calling to lead them for many years. Intemperance is not yet banished; the negro is not yet freed from the effects of his slavery; working women and children are not yet fairly protected; disease reaps needlessly large harvests; Lazarus still begs at the table of Dives; our public education leaves much to be desired; criminals are badly handled; millions of European refugees come marching into our land needing guidance. Meantime, millions of women are content, because themselves comfortable, and there are some even willing to aid the powers of obstruction.

In these later years, marvelous changes have taken place all over the world. Even in China, official attempts are now being made to leave women free to walk by abolishing the bandaging of infants' feet. In Turkey, women are going out from the harem to participate in public life. In Germany, they are escaping from the exclusive service of the home. In England, they are repeating the cries of the men of 1776 and of 1789: "All men and women are born free and equal." "No taxation without representation." "One person, one vote." In Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, women have all the essential civic and political rights of men.

But, as in all human progress, first the ideas of a few leaders change; they shape legislation; and the new organization slowly makes over the practices and then the deep-seated mental and moral habits, which constitute popular prejudices. These old unreasoning feelings still largely dominate us, blinding us to the facts of life and blocking each new advance by which women might pass into the world of free choice and adjustment of their lives as co-workers with men. In the next chapters we must study these present-day conditions in detail.


Women in Education

In discussing woman's relation to formal education we are really examining her ability to master and teach certain intellectual exercises, for in our modern industrial democracies our efforts are confined almost exclusively to training the mind and to stocking it with information. Each year we talk more and more about physical, moral, political, social and industrial education; but requirements for entrance into schools, promotions in them, and graduation from their courses, still rest almost entirely on information acquired; and in a less degree, on intellectual ability displayed.

Even in selecting and certifying teachers, the emphasis is all laid on intellectual equipment. On the physical, moral, or social sides we at most demand that the candidates shall not be too bad; on the political side we do not demand even this, since nearly 80 per cent. of our whole teaching force is declared legally unfit to vote or hold office, and is yet employed to train our future citizens. But on the intellectual side we demand positive proof of fitness. Thus it is fair to say that our modern education deals almost exclusively with knowledge.

Knowledge, in the past, has nearly always been considered much as we consider dynamite to-day. It was a dangerous force, useful to a ruling class, and hence preserved in the hands of a cult, generally a priesthood; but it was thought capable of working endless mischief in the hands of ignorant people. Through all the pages of history we find individuals, and weaker groups, driven away from the accumulated treasure; and if detected in their desire to know, especially if they sought knowledge through original investigation, they were branded with such titles of disgrace as "wizard" or "heretic;" and, as a warning to others, they were often burned in the public square or buried alive.

Women, as an inferior class, were especially restrained from learning. Knowledge would breed discontent in them; it would make them question the binding power of the conventions and beliefs which held them in their place; and it would show them how to achieve their freedom, and might even encourage them to assume leadership. Here and there, individual women gained the training necessary for leadership, as in the cases of Sappho, Aspasia or Hypatia; but the great mass of women was sternly repressed. Eve leads a long line of women martyrs who, across the ages, have paid a great price for their desire to eat of the tree of knowledge. For herself, she might have paid the price but, with subtle understanding of women, the penalty was made to involve all whom they loved; the terrors of that price have held the sex in restraint ever since. Eurydice, Pandora, Eve, Lot's wife and Bluebeard's wife have in turn served as awful warnings. After a time it came to be understood by women that they should fix their eyes on their husbands and never look forward or backward, lest they lose their Eden and drag those whom they loved after them to destruction.

Of course, if women could not learn they could not teach; at least, they could not teach where it was necessary to impart knowledge; and so their share in formal education has been slight, until our own time. Young children have been considered their special charge, and the care and culture of infancy and young childhood have always rested in the hands of mothers, grandmothers, aunts and female servants. Beyond these early years, however, woman's part has been restricted to emphasizing, mainly with girls, the dogmas and practices of caste, kitchen and church.

These were the conditions which prevailed through early Oriental and Classical times. Christianity brought women some degree of intellectual freedom, but it also imposed new forms of restraint. Its fundamental teachings, based as they were on a belief in individual values, were favorable to the extension of knowledge and to the opening of opportunity for all. The Church, however, shaped under the half-civilized conditions of the Middle Ages, quickly took knowledge into her own keeping, forbade its extension, and increasingly held before woman, as her highest ideal, the negative virtues of the cloister.

The humanistic and theological changes which came with the awakening of the European mind at the close of the Middle Ages, did much to set free the accumulated treasures of knowledge. Protestantism, by exalting individual judgment and insisting on the necessity of each one reading and judging the sacred records for himself, made it possible for even women to enter into the heritage of the ages. At least, the key to learning, reading, was given into her hands. Later Protestant sects broke down the limits of sacerdotalism, until women found that they could look forward a little way without losing their Edens, or could even glance backward without being turned into pillars of reproach.

The political revolutions of the eighteenth century also affirmed in their point of view the same intellectual freedom for women as for men. It has taken a long time to make the practical adjustments, but they are now well under way. Since 1870, women have had very great freedom in their approach to knowledge; and having knowledge, they have been allowed to impart it to others.

In America, freedom for women to study has moved more rapidly than in Europe. Even in the colonial period, there were emancipated women, as we have seen; and in the last half of the eighteenth century several schools were opened for girls, which were more than polite finishing schools. Notable among these institutions were the seminary at Bethlehem, Pa., opened in 1753 by the Moravians, and the school established by the Society of Friends, in Providence, R.I., in 1784. But nearly all girl's schools before 1800 were limited to terms of a few months, where girls attended to learn needle-work, music and dancing, and to cultivate their morals and manners.

At the close of the Revolutionary War, the leaders of public opinion universally recognized that their new experiment in government would succeed only if the voters were intelligent. This statement of belief became the major premise on which all arguments for free and compulsory education were based; and while we have practically accepted a much wider justification for education, in connection with the care of defectives, industrial training, and other recent movements, we have not yet changed our formulated philosophy concerning the relation of the state to its children. Free and compulsory education is still mainly justified on the ground that it produced good citizens.

But the women had not full citizenship and hence the argument for general education did not apply to them. Had they been enfranchised after the Revolution, all educational opportunities would have been open to them at once as a matter of course; and an immense amount of struggle, futile effort, and unnecessary friction would have been saved. But this larger view of woman's rights and powers would have required an adjustment in deep-seated ideas and prejudices, concerning her proper position, too great to be undertaken by men facing a new form of government and the material problems of a new world.

But even without this change in ideas, economic conditions steadily forced the women into educational activity. There were not enough men available to teach the scattered country schools, and citizens had to be trained for the needs of the new democracy. John Adams recognized this when he wrote to Mr. Warren that their wives must "teach their sons the divine science of politics;" though he would have been one of the last to favor admitting women to full participation in public life. He did not realize that if women were to train men for citizenship, the rudiments of knowledge which they had learned in scattered schools and in their poor little academies must be greatly supplemented. Life, however, is never logical, and at this advance men balked. Necessity was forcing women into schools as teachers, and hence into larger preparation for their own lives; but public opinion, here as elsewhere, failed to recognize the forces that were compelling its action.

Thus the work of furnishing more advanced intellectual training for American women had to be started by the women themselves. This is possibly the first time in human history that a great group of people feeling itself irresistibly moving toward a social, industrial and political readjustment, little less than revolutionary in its nature, has gone deliberately to work to prepare for the change through education. The working classes of the world are doing the same thing now; but women showed them the way. In some vague degree, American women recognized the truth which Dr. Gore recently brought before a mass of working men in England. "All this passion for justice will accomplish nothing," he declared, "unless you get knowledge. You may become strong and clamorous, you may win a victory, you may affect a revolution, but you will be trodden down again under the feet of knowledge if you leave knowledge in the hands of privilege, because knowledge will always win over ignorance."[21]

[21] The Highway, London, Nov., 1911.

American women were fortunate, too, in having for their leaders such women as Emma Willard, Mary Lyon and Catherine Beecher. Emma Willard was a woman of the world; she had traveled abroad and she brought to her work a cultivated nature, wide experience of life and natural leadership. Her personality went far toward lifting the movement to a plane of respect. After trying a little academy in Vermont, she appealed to the State of New York in 1814 for help. In this appeal, she wisely adopted the prevailing view of the relation of the state to education. The state must have good citizens, she repeats, and then goes on, "The character of children will be formed by their mothers; and it is through the mothers that the government can control the character of its future citizens." The State of New York granted her articles of incorporation for her academy at Waterford, N.Y., but refused her the modest sum of five thousand dollars for which she had asked. In 1821, she established the Troy Female Seminary, where for years she trained and led the intellectual life of American women.

Miss Mary Lyon begged the money from the common people with which she opened Mount Holyoke Seminary in 1837. Those who feared the education of women were disarmed by the fact that in the new institution domestic service was emphasized to the extent of having the girls do all their own work. Another group of possible critics was won over by the fact that religious instruction received constant care. But notwithstanding the conserving influence of housework and religion, there went steadily out from Mount Holyoke during the following years a strong line of teachers demanding ever larger opportunity for themselves and for those they taught.

Miss Catherine Beecher added to her work in schools for girls a general propaganda for woman's education, and she devised large plans for its development. In 1852, she organized the American Woman's Educational Association "to aid in securing to American women a liberal education, honorable position, and remunerative employment." She helped to start girls' schools in half a dozen cities, and by writing and talking she sowed in the hearts of women, especially in the Middle West, a discontent with existing conditions and a deep desire to know.

From the time of this awakening in the thirties and forties, two lines of educational activity for the advancement of woman's education steadily developed. One was the effort of women to educate themselves in distinctly women's schools; and the other was the movement by which existing institutions for boys and men were gradually opened to girls and women. These two lines of activity still remain distinct, and not always sympathetic with each other's aims.

The effort to establish distinctly women's schools was continued after the Civil War by Matthew Vassar, who founded in 1861, and opened in 1865, the first adequately endowed and organized college for women in America. Ten years later, Miss Sophie Smith founded and endowed Smith College to furnish women "with means and facilities for education equal to those that are offered in colleges for young men." The institution was opened in 1875; and in the same year Henry Durant established Wellesley College.

The last Report of the United States Commissioner of Education shows that there are now 108 institutions of higher learning to which men are not admitted; but most of them have modeled themselves so closely upon men's colleges that they have not been able to work out lines of distinctive instruction specially fitted to women. One cannot help feeling that since they do not open their doors to men they should do something more toward working out an ideal education for women than they have so far undertaken. When the Association of Intercollegiate Alumnae met in New York, in the autumn of 1911, its discussions gathered around the possibility of adding to college courses subjects of special value to women. Hygiene, biology and sociology were the subjects most favored; but the matter needs attention from women and men who stand outside the group dominated by our older college traditions. This movement to provide distinctive schools for women had brought together, in 1910, 35,714 girl students in private secondary schools and 9,082 women students in higher institutions of learning.

The second line of development, which sought to open up all existing schools to girls and women, began when Boston opened a high school for girls in 1825. New York opened a high school for girls three years later.

It was in the West, however, that this movement took strongest root and made most steady advance. The West has always led the East in opening equal opportunity to women, even equal suffrage. The forest and the frontier compel such action even in such commonwealths as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where there has been no political revolution to hasten it. Labor is scarce; the invading people are intelligent and ambitious for their children and desire them educated. The women must teach them to read and write; the girls learn with their brothers; and so the women master the mysteries of formal education.

Thus it is no accident that Oberlin, in the western forest, was the first college to open its doors to women. Antioch, under Horace Mann's direction, was, however, the first institution of higher learning to give men and women equal opportunity. The new States of the Mississippi Valley early established State universities. These institutions were little more than seminaries, but the free spirit of the frontier was so strong in them that in 1863 Wisconsin University admitted women to its privileges, and Kansas and Indiana followed shortly after.

It is the year 1870, however, that marks the beginning of a new period in the higher education of women as in so many other lines of advance. In that year, Michigan University, California University and the University of Evanston, adopted co-education. Michigan was just entering on a great career and her influence was very important. There, for the first time, women could follow a university curriculum under the same conditions as men. Two years later, Andrew D. White introduced the Michigan idea at Cornell.

In the forty years since Michigan opened her doors, the advance of women under conditions of co-education has been steady and rapid. In Harvard and Columbia opportunity takes the form of annexes where women can secure almost any educational opportunities they desire. In other universities, like Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins, women are admitted to graduate study. Most of the institutions of higher education that do not yet admit women are theological and technical schools, or small colleges like Haverford, where there are equivalents in Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, for women who wish to attend a Friend's College. A woman can work in almost any important university in America to-day if she cares to do so. In 1910 there were conferred in the United States 12,590 A.B. degrees, and women took 44.1 per cent. of them.

Meantime, there have been no important reactions in institutions which have once opened their doors to women.[22] In 1902, Chicago University separated men and women students, but only during the first two years of their undergraduate work. Practically this has affected only one-half of the women in the first year and a very much smaller proportion in the second year.[23] When Leland Stanford Junior University was opened in 1891, 25.4% of the students were women. This proportion rose in successive years as follows: 1892, 29.7%; 1893, 30.4%; 1894, 33.8%; 1895, 35.3%; 1896, 36.6%; 1897, 37.4%; 1898, 40.1%. Fearing that the institution would be swamped with women, and that able men students would stay away, Mrs. Stanford ruled that there should never be more than five hundred women students in the university at one time. This limit was reached in 1902, and it was then provided that women should not be received as special students, nor in partial standing. Later, men in partial standing were cut out, though they continued to be received as special students. Women are now admitted in order of application, but preference is given to juniors and seniors. This really establishes a higher standard for women than for men, and one would expect that men would be kept away from an institution requiring a higher standard for women quite as much as from one where there were many women working on an equality with men. In 1910, Tufts College decided to separate men and women, for local reasons. The statement was made at the time that a philanthropist had promised a gift of $500,000 for a woman's college, if the sexes were separated.[24] The doors of Wesleyan are to be closed to women after 1912, but this is due to local and financial reasons.

[22] HELEN R. OLIN, The Women of a State University, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1909.

[23] MARION TALBOT, The Education of Women, University of Chicago Press, 1910.

[24] Report of the United States Commissioner of Education, p. 132, 1910.

The movement in European universities, while not so uniform as in America, has been in the same direction. Miss Buss, Miss Beal and Miss Emily Sheriff led an early movement for higher secondary education of girls similar to that which gathered around Miss Willard in America. In 1871, Miss Clough started in England the lectures for women which led to the establishment of Newnham and Girton at Cambridge, and opened Oxford to women. Now women can study almost any subject they like at these universities and take the same examinations as the men. They do not receive degrees, but they have most of the other advantages of men, and for forty years they have carried off many honors. In the newer universities of London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and in the Welsh University they have every advantage open to men.

In Germany, the opportunities for higher education of women have changed from year to year; but in 1910, there were 1,856 women in the universities as compared with 1,108 in 1909, and this notwithstanding the Emperor's well known belief that woman's sphere should be limited to domestic activities.

The claims advanced in opposition to the higher education of women have largely broken down to-day. It was long maintained that her mind was inferior to man's mind in kind and quality, and that she could not do the work required. In the presence of thousands of young women carrying all kinds of university work with credit and honor such charges become absurd. The belief that woman's health could not stand the strain fails for the same reason. The fear that she would be less likely to marry; or marrying, would be less likely to have children, has been seen to have some body of fact behind it; but we have seen also that university students are recruited from groups that are not the most fecund, and that the same danger applies to men students as to women.[25] Women in higher education are now accepted as a regular part of our modern life.

[25] Eight hundred and eighty-one Harvard graduates, twenty-five years after graduation, had but 1,226 children. If half were boys, we have but 613 sons for 881 Harvard graduates. HUGO MUeNSTERBERG, The Americans, p. 582. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1901.

And yet there is one objection that still remains unanswered in very many minds. It has always been feared that women would lower the standard of scholarship; and there is much in the quality of the present generation of women students that may strengthen this belief. In the seventies and eighties, the fear of being thought peculiar still kept many ordinary women away from colleges. Now it has become fashionable, and a woman who has been to college stands better in a community than one who has not. Add to this the freedom and romance of "going to college" and it follows that many young women, with increasing economic freedom, are tempted to go up to the universities just as well-placed young Englishmen go to Cambridge or Oxford as passmen. They have no special interest in scholarship; but they like the life. This large body of young women, and of men under similar conditions, will doubtless lower the scholarship of modern college and university life as a whole. But possibly the need of the world for all-around men and women is even greater than its need for scholars; and in that case we may find justification for both passmen and passwomen.

With the opening of knowledge to women it became possible for them to instruct children in matters intellectual; and since our school learning was almost entirely a matter of information and mental training, they early became an important part of the teaching profession in America.

Once started, all our conditions favored the rapid increase of women teachers. There were industrial openings for men on every side; and with our rapid increase in population, an army of teachers was required. Since the calling had in the past been filled by inferior members of the clergy, broken-down soldiers, or old women, there was a tradition of constant change, and young men on their way to permanent professions were steadily supplanted by young women on their way to the altar.

Co-education very materially assisted this substitution. Social, religious and economic reasons early combined to establish co-education in elementary schools in America, and now it has become a national custom. In cities like Philadelphia and Brooklyn there are some separate schools; but in 1910, only 4 per cent. of all the elementary children and only 5 per cent. of the children in public high schools were in separate classes. In private schools, which care for less than 10 per cent. of the children of the country, the percentage of children in separate schools is greater.

Practically all American children are now in co-educational institutions. Had the boys been in schools by themselves it would have been more difficult to place women teachers over them, but in mixed schools the question does not arise. Even where the boys and girls were separated, however, that fact did not prevent the employment of women teachers, though it may have retarded it. Thus in Philadelphia, in 1911, there were 125 boys' classes, 174 girls' classes, and 894 mixed classes in the grammar grades; still there were but 175 men teachers employed and, of course, the girls' classes were all taught by women.

While administrative positions are less monopolized by women than teaching posts, they are being steadily filled by them. For fifteen years Idaho has had able women State superintendents elected by popular suffrage; Colorado and Montana have also given this highest educational post to women. In most of our States we have women serving as county superintendents; and in Idaho women fill nearly all these positions. Several of our largest cities, notably Chicago and Cleveland, have women superintendents; while many high schools and most of our elementary schools have women principals. In 1909, Mrs. Ella Flagg Young was elected president of the National Education Association; and in 1911, Miss Alice Dilley was elected president of the Iowa State Teachers' Association. Both of these elections were victories for women won in the face of determined opposition from many of the men.

Another feature of this monopoly of teaching by women should be emphasized. Many boards of education require a woman to resign her position if she marries, and married women are seldom appointed to teaching positions, except where they are widows or separated from their husbands. In a test case recently carried to the Supreme Court of the State of New York a decision was rendered that the Board of Education of New York City could not dismiss teachers for marrying; but by refusing leave of absence to prospective mothers the Board is still able to remove all women who dare to have children. Thus we have a modern industrial democracy being educated almost entirely by celibate women.

But why should a woman be forced to leave teaching because she marries? Would not married women do much to strengthen and broaden the calling? Are not married women better fitted than celibates to deal with boys and girls in the period of adolescence? There is doubtless a feeling that a married woman should make way for some girl who needs the position to help herself along; but schools should not be used for the needs of teachers, no matter how deserving the individual may be.

There is, too, a possibility that a married woman might have a child, and a feeling that this would shock the other teachers and the children. Surely we have grown beyond this condition; the teacher could easily be given a leave of absence for a few months, or for a few years; and nowhere else could the children better meet this fact of universal existence around which our Anglo-Saxon reticence has woven such a shameful conspiracy of silence. At least, when a woman has passed the period of childbearing she could bring to the school incalculable gifts of balanced judgment and ripe understanding of life.

Meantime all the influences which have brought about the monopoly of teaching by women are increasingly operative. Every year more able women leave our high schools, normal schools and universities, with no corresponding new lines of occupation open to them. The feeling of rivalry between men and women teachers grows stronger each year. Powerful teachers' federations, such as those in Chicago and Buffalo, composed mainly of women, are said to be using their influence to favor women. In New York City, the women teachers have compelled the city to equalize the wages of men and women, at an annual expense of $3,500,000, after a bitter fight lasting several years.

The effects of this monopoly upon the women themselves are very difficult to estimate. Some alarmists tell us that women teachers face the danger of a premature and loveless old age; that the celibate communities they form in the commonwealth are marked by pettiness and emotionalism; that the salaries paid teachers are so small that they cannot provide for sickness and old age, and that, unless pensioned by the state, some of them must one day eat the bread of charity.

On the other hand, we are told that education is the natural province of women; that teaching fits them to be good mothers and helpful citizens; that women alone can form the character of girls; and that boys are refined and perfected by the constant contact with women.

Probably neither of these statements is wholly true. It is certain that many women teachers do marry, do become the mothers of fine children, and are social forces in their communities. With advancing standards of scholarship, better salaries, old age pensions, and a popular demand for professional efficiency in teachers, it will be increasingly difficult for men to use the calling as a preparation for law and medicine, or for women to use it as a preparation for matrimony. The calling doubtless does offer a greater equivalent for marriage than most others; and many women live their mother life vicariously for other people's children.

At the same time, however, when a woman has given fourteen years of her life to preparation for teaching, eight years in an elementary school, four in a high school, and from two to four in professional training, she has made an investment and formed habits which will make her hesitate before turning to matrimony. The independence and income will prove attractive during young maidenhood; and matrimony can hardly yield its best results to the woman who enters it after she is thirty. It is certainly true that women are decreasingly willing to enter the teaching profession; and in many parts of the country there is a chronic dearth of trained teachers.

Meantime, for good or ill, women have eaten, and are eating of the tree of knowledge as they will. If this has driven them out of the little paradise of the past, they are in a fair way to make the whole world into a paradise of the present. Only through training their minds could they have broken away from an outworn past. In this time of readjustment there must be many mistakes and many tragedies.[26] The fool-killer will gather a rich harvest, but if we are open-minded and eager to see the truth, each martyr will teach her sisters, and the future generations of women will conserve the values of the past and add to them new treasures and new graces of knowledge and understanding.

[26] See chapter on Education of Adolescent Girls, in Adolescence, by G. STANLEY HALL. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1904.

It is most unfortunate that these real issues should be obscured by sex rivalry. There can be no real rivalry between a man's soul and his body, between science and religion, between man and woman. Such antagonisms rest back in the failure to realize the incompleteness of man or woman alone, for any purposes of life. And there is, too, that evil notion which still affects economics, that when two trade one must lose. The fact is that in all honest exchange buyer and seller gain alike, and all who participate become rich. It is so in all honest relations between these half-creatures we call men and women. In agreement, association, cooperation, lies strongest significant life for both. In separation, competition and antagonism lie arid, poor, mean lives, conceited and egotistic, vapid and contemptible.


The Feminizing of Culture

With the weakening of sex prejudices and the removal of legal restrictions on women's freedom it was inevitable that they should invade fields of activity where formerly only men were found. Since women must eat every one knew that they must work, and the sight of a woman at work was no new experience. Even in the days when they were most secluded and protected, the number kept in ease was always very small compared with the women slaves and servants who spun, cooked and served. Hence men were used to seeing women at work; and while industrial adjustments have not been easily made, they have still been accepted as a matter of course. But who, fifty years ago, could have imagined that to-day women would be steadily monopolizing learning, teaching, literature, the fine arts, music, the church and the theater? And yet that is the condition at which we have arrived. We may scoff at the way women are doing the work, and reject the product, but that does not alter the fact that step by step women are taking over the field of liberal culture as opposed to the field of immediately productive work.

Some of the reasons for this change are so clear that it seems as though they might have been anticipated. In a comparatively few years the greater part of Western Europe and all of America has become rich, not this time through the enslavement of other peoples and the confiscating of their wealth, but through the enslaving and exploitation of the material forces of nature. This wealth is not well distributed, but large numbers of families have received enough so that the women do not have to work constantly with their hands. At this point all historic precedent would have turned these women into luxury-loving parasites and playthings. A good many of them have taken this easiest way and entered the peripatetic harems of the rich. But several million women refused to repeat the old cycle of ruin; they knew too much.[27] What then should they do? Faith in the value of conventual life for women had passed; industrial changes had transformed their homes so that the endless spinning, weaving, sewing and knitting were no longer there, even to be supervised. Penelope's tasks had passed to foremen, working under trades union agreements, in the factories of Fall River and Birmingham. Even the function of the lady bountiful who looked after the spiritual and family affairs of her tenants and servants and distributed doles and Christmas baskets was gone. Her tenants owned their own farms, and her chauffeur resented her interference with his personal life. What should she do?

[27] RHETA CHILDE DORR, What Eight Million Women Want, Boston: Small, Maynard & Co., 1910.

And this movement was not confined to the rich, for those who were not yet economically free were still deeply influenced by the changes which were taking place. The Goulds, Stanfords, Vanderbilts, Floods, Carnegies and Schwabs had all been lifted from the level of the masses to financial grandeur before the eyes of the multitude, and democratic ambitions drove parents who thought themselves in the line of financial advancement to secure culture for their girls in time. If the daughter was destined to live on Fifth Avenue, or to marry a duke, it was best to get her ready while young. In all our industrial democracies, armies of American parents have devoted themselves to labor, and even sacrificed comforts and necessities, that the daughters might get ready to live easier and fuller lives than the parents had known. If the choice had to be made between the girl and her brother, the chivalry of the father and the ambition of the mother very often gave the opportunity to the girl.

And so an emancipated army of leisure has been formed which has transformed the very nature of the culture with which it has busied itself. Books, periodicals, musical instruments, travel became cheaper and cheaper as the demand increased. Wholesale production makes almost any luxury accessible to every one. It is also possible to find modern and agreeable forms for older academic exercises. If Greek and Latin were too full or too difficult, courses in Romanic and Germanic philology would do as well. Anglo-Saxon gave way to Old English; and Chaucer to the Lake Poets. Philosophy struggled for favor with the English novel on equal terms. The works of Raphael were photographed and lithographed until the Sistine Madonna became as commonly known as the face of any strenuous and popular statesman of the day. With the aid of these art productions, and John Addington Symonds, every woman with leisure became an art critic. If economics was not interesting, sociology was available; and it could be democratized to any degree desired. If travel was troublesome, one could leave it to Cook; buy a ticket and he would do the rest.

If these awakening hungers and corresponding opportunities had affected only the period of life formerly thought available for education, these changes would have come about much more slowly than they have. But the genetic conception of life, steadily popularized since 1870, has led us to see that education is coterminous with life. It seems strange that we should have ever thought that mental activity belongs alone to youth. Dorland's study shows that in a list of four hundred fairly representative great men, only 10.25% ceased their mental activity between the ages of forty and fifty; 20.75% between fifty and sixty; 35% between sixty and seventy; 22.5% between seventy and eighty; and 6% after eighty.[28]

[28] W.A. NEWMAN DORLAND, The Age of Mental Virility. New York: The Century Company, 1908.

The recognition of such facts as these has given us a new genetic sense of life, under the influence of which mothers and grandmothers have joined the younger women in the pursuit of culture. They have formed clubs—study clubs, current events clubs, camera clubs, art clubs, literary clubs, civic clubs. They have organized courses of university extension lectures; enrolled in Chicago University correspondence courses; and have flocked to Chautauqua by the thousand in the summer, when not abroad. It is not through the generosity of men that liberal culture has come into the possession of women; they have carried it by storm and have compelled capitulation.

Judging by the facts presented in the last chapter, women are pretty fully in possession of formal education. If we examine this monopoly a little more carefully, we shall find that while in the kindergarten and in the elementary schools boys furnish 51% of the enrollment, simply because more boys are born in civilized communities than girls, as soon as we reach the high schools, girls increasingly take the lead. In 1910, the girls formed 56.45% of the enrollment in high schools—or there were 110,249 more girls than boys. The proportion of girls increased through each of the four years of the course, and of the graduates, 60.8% were girls. In the public normal schools, 64.45% of the students were girls.

The universities, colleges and technical schools, which are massed together in our government reports, had hardly any women students in 1870; in 1880, 19.3% of the students were women; in 1890, 27%; in 1910, 30.4%. In all these institutions we had enrolled in 1910, 17,707 women. Of 602 institutions reported in 1910, 142 were for men only; 108 were for women only; and 352 were open to both sexes. But here again the influence of women increases during each of the four years for, as we have seen, the women took 41.1% of the A.B. degrees granted in 1910. It is surely not too much to say that, if present conditions continue, women will soon be in an overwhelming majority in all secondary and higher education in the United States.

If we examine the teaching force, we find this monopoly already established. In 1870, when our government records begin, 59% of the teachers were women; in 1880, 57.2% were women; in 1890, 65.5%; in 1900, 70.1%; in 1910, 78.6%. The more settled and intelligent the community the more rapid this advance has been. Thus Arkansas has 52.4% women teachers; but Massachusetts has 91.1% and Connecticut has 93%.

In cities, too, the women fill nearly all teaching positions. New York City has 89% women in its force; Boston, 89%; Philadelphia, 91.4%; Chicago, 93.3%. In many cities the proportion is even greater than this: Omaha has 97%; Wheeling, W. Va., 97.5%; Charleston, S.C., 99.3%; and in forty-six American towns of 4,000 to 8,000 inhabitants there is no man teaching. When we remember that many of the men indicated above are in high schools or in supervising posts, we are prepared for the statement in a report recently laid before the Board of Education of New York City that in half the cities of the United States there are virtually no men teaching.

In our high schools, 54% of the teachers are women; in public normal schools, 65%; and in institutions of higher learning 17.6% are women. Even in supervising positions, there are more women than men in the large centers of population. Certainly these figures justify us in saying that women have established a monopoly of education in the United States, except in the higher institutions.

In order to discuss the effects which this monopoly of education by women is having on the curriculum of the schools we must first agree on what constitutes the peculiarity of women's minds as compared with men's minds.[29] In our first chapter, it was asserted that women are more interested in the concrete, human, personal, conserving and emotional aspects of life; while men more easily turn to the abstract, material, impersonal, creative and rational aspects. To put it broadly, women are more interested in the humanities; men more readily pursue the sciences. Let us admit at once that there are many individual exceptions to this statement. Some women have reached great excellence in abstract studies; and some men are notoriously concrete and emotional; but nevertheless the general statement seems borne out by a wealth of common observations and detailed comparisons.

[29] See The Americans, by HUGO MUeNSTERBERG, pp. 558-589. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1901.

Personal observation must always be colored by prejudices and prepossessions, but my own have been so wide, and so uniformly in one direction, that it seems justifiable to report them.

* * * * *

For a quarter of a century I have been working in schools or with teachers, and my personal observations all agree with the above characterization. I have spent five years in Cornell University, New York; one year in Zurich University in Switzerland; two years in the State University of Indiana and seven years in Stanford University in California. These institutions are widely distributed; they were all fully co-educational; and they each had a wide range of elective studies. In all of them, class-rooms devoted to literature and modern languages had a large attendance of women, while lecture-rooms and laboratories devoted to abstract science were almost deserted by them. This could not have been due to commercial considerations, for many of these women were facing teaching; and during all this time the demand for women who could teach science has been much greater than for women who could teach literature.

In my work with teachers, both in the classroom and in the field, I have carried out many inductive, quantitative studies, based on measurements or returns from large numbers of children. I have never found women teachers taking up and carrying out this kind of work with any such enthusiasm as men apply to it, though it lies at the base of their professional life.

Institutional generalizations seem all to point in this same direction. For instance, the Girls' Evening High School in Philadelphia is managed by one of the best known scientific women in the country, Dr. L.L.W. Wilson, head of the biological department of the Philadelphia Normal School. With a thousand girls of high school grade, under the leadership of a scientific woman, the only science courses given in the school are those in domestic science. The reason is that the girls, most of them not being candidates for a degree, will not take up science work, though they form strong classes in literature and languages.

If, from such general facts of observation, one turns to exact comparisons, where quantities can be measured, the results are all the same. Of students enrolled in classical departments of universities, colleges and technical schools reporting to the United States Bureau of Education, in 1910, 36.5% were women, while of those enrolled in general science courses, but 17.2% were women. In 1,511 public and private high schools and seminaries, reporting to the Bureau of Education in 1909-1910, a larger percentage of boys than of girls was enrolled in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, physical geography, civil government and rhetoric, which is a scientific study of language. A larger proportion of girls enrolled in Latin, French, German, English literature and history, and there was a slightly greater enrollment of girls in botany, zoology and physiology.

In the further discussion of this subject it will then be taken for granted that in education, feminization means emphasis on languages, literature and history, as opposed to mathematics, physics, chemistry and civics. For the elementary schools we have no data capable of reduction to figures, but general observation, backed by an examination of courses of study and textbooks, will compel any one to say that in twenty years we have made wonderful progress in reading, language, stories, mythology, biography and history; while all our efforts to bring nature work into vital relation with the schools have borne little fruit. Our country schools need lessons in agriculture, and the children should gain a deep sense of country life. But how can celibate young women, longing toward the towns, give this? Any subjects well taught are sure to be increasingly taught, and it takes no extended study to see that our elementary schools are being feminized in the direction of literature. This is the more striking when we remember that these twenty years have been dominated, in the larger world, by scientific interests.

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse