WOMAN INFERIOR? SOCIETY AT
Prof. Thomas Says She Might Surpass Man if Given a Fair Chance.
HE ISSUES A BOOK
Thinks Marriage on Wrong Basis with Too Big Demands on the Husband.
Prof. William I. Thomas of the University of Chicago, author of several startling books on women, has chrystallized his ideas in a volume, "Sex and Society," which banishes woman from man’s intellectual work and blames social conditions for her inferior position.
Woman is the victim of artificial social influences and has been deprived of "normal stimulation," he holds. She is not on the same plane with man in thought, but possess great, if not greater, possibilities than man, and "might prove that ‘the gray mare is the better horse’" if given a chance.
Prof. Thomas presents the view also that present civilization is not the highest type possible on account of the nonparticipation of woman, and declares that it will not ascend to a higher plane until it "adds to the intelligence of its men the intelligence of its women."
Two chapters of the book have been published previously.
Woman’s Great Possibilities.
Prof. Thomas deplores the present position of woman and present his view of her ability as follows:
"When we take into consideration the superior cunning as well as the superior endurance of women, we may even raise the question whether their capacity for intellectual work is not, under equal conditions, greater than in men. Cunning is the analogue for constructive thought — an indirect, mediated, and intelligent approach to a problem — and characteristic of the female in contrast with the more direct and open procedure of the male.
"Endurance is also a factor of prime importance in intellectual performance, for her as in business, it is doggedness as does it’; and if woman’s endurance and natural ingenuity were combined in intellectual pursuits it might prove that the ‘gray mare is the better horse.’"
Woman in primitive times was the social nucleus, according to Prof. Thomas, and around her was built the family. She owned the abode, engaged in agriculture, and invented manufactures. Gradually man, whose chief occupation was hunting, fishing,or fighting, for want of game to kill, usurped her duties in this respect. Then began the "domestication" of man.
Demands on Husbands Too Great.
In modern times woman has been dependent on man economically, he hold, and as a result many artificial and superficial social conditions have arisen. He believes in economic independence of woman. His analysis of the present conditions of marriage is as follows;
"Some kind of practical activity for women would relieve the strain on the matrimonial situation — a situation which at present is abnormal and almost impossible. The demands for attention from husbands on the part of wives are greater than is compatible with the matrimonial situation — a situation which at present is abnormal and almost impossible. The demands for attention from husbands on the part of wives are greater than is compatible with the absorbing general activities of the latter, and woman are not only neglected by the husband in manner which did not happen in the case of the lover, but they are jealous of men in a more general sens then men are jealous of women.
"An examination also of so-called happy marriages shows generally that they do not, except from the common interest of children, rest on the true comradeship of like minds, but represents an equilibrium reached through an extension of the material interest of the woman to the man, whereby she looks after his personal needs as she does after those of the children — cherishing him in fact as a child — or in an extension to woman on the part of the man of that nurture and affection which are in his nature to give to pets and helpless (and preferably dumb) creatures.
"Obviously a more solid basis of association is necessary than either of these two instinctively based compromises, and the practice of an occupational activity of her own choosing by woman, and a generous attitude toward this on the part of man would contribute to relieve the strain and to make marriage more frequently successful."
Psychology of Exogamy.
In his chapter on "The Psychology of Exogamy" Prof. Thomas declares family life is not favorable to the genesis of romantic love, and explains the real meaning of "falling in love" and "love at first sight," as follows:
"I think, therefore, we have every reason to conclude that exogamy is one expression of the more restless and more energetic habit of the male. It is psychologically true that only the unfamiliar and not commonly controlled is interesting. This is the secret of the interest of modern scientific pursuit of scientific knowledge and of games.
"States of high emotional tension are due to the presentation of the unfamiliar — that is, the unanalyzed, the uncontrolled — to the attention. And although the intimate association and daily familiarity of family life produce affection, they are not favorable to the genesis of romantic love.
"Cognition is so complete that no place is left for emotional appreciation. Our common expressions, ‘falling in love’ and ‘love at first sight,’ imply, in fact, unfamiliarity; and there can be no question that men and women would prefer at present to get mates away from home, even if there were no traditional prejudice against the marriage of near kin."
Clothing Ornament Not Covering
Prof. Thomas also goes deep into the psychology of modesty and clothing and reaches a conclusion, in opposition to the popular theory, that clothing is not worn for the sake of modesty, but for purposes of ornament.
"The original covering of the body was in the nature of ornament rather than clothing," he writes. "The waist, the neck, the wrists, and the ankles are smaller than the portion of the body immediately below them, and are from this anatomical accident a suitable place to tie ornaments, and the ornamentation of the body results incidentally in giving some degree of covering to the body.
"The most suggestive use of clothing is the use of just a sufficient amount to call attention to the person without completely concealing it. I need not refer to the fact that in modern society this is accomplished by, or perhaps we should better say, transpires, in connection with diaphanous fabrics décolleté dresses."
Man Make Codes of Morality
Man has a greater tendency to be a criminal than a woman, according to Prof. Thomas, and yet he has been responsible for the codes of morality rather than woman.
"On our assumption that morality is dependent on strains and that its development is due to the advantage of regulating these strains we may readily understand why most of the canons of morality are functions of the katabolic male activity.
"Theft, arson, murder, burglary, highway robbery, treason and the like, are natural accompaniments of the more aggressive male disposition; the male is, par excellence, both the hero and the criminal.
"But on the side of sex we might expect to find the female disposition setting the standards of morality since reproduction is even a greater part of her nature than man’s. On the contrary, however, we find the male standpoint carried over and applied to the reproductive process, and the regulation of sex practices transpiring on the basis of force.
The volume will be issued from the University of Chicago press on Tuesday.