New York Times

Women and "Savages."

Mrs. J. H. Judge, President of the Society for Political Study in this city, resented rather hastily the discussion in The American Journal of Sociology of "The Mind of Woman and the Lower Races," by Prof. W. I. Thomas, when she said at the societyís meeting last week:

I am at a loss to see how the accident of sex should make such a difference between two persons born of the same mother — why one should be a savage and the other Prof. Thomas, for instance. I think we have been in the habit of assuming that differences exist naturally, when in reality we have made them ourselves.

But that is Prof. Thomasís view. He declares that there is "no ground for the assumption that the brain of woman is inferior to that of man," and questions "whether the average brain weight of woman is smaller in proportion to body weight." He notes, what is implied in Mrs. Judgeís utterance, that women have historically been excluded from certain specialized bodies of knowledge, and necessarily have remained ignorant through no defect of native talent. Prof. Carl Vogtís complaint forty years ago, when the University of Zurich first admitted women to its classes, that though distinguished by good memories they had poor powers of generalization and were awkward in handling experimental apparatus, ignored their previous lack of training. A woman holds the world record for roping steers, which requires a maximum of manual dexterity. Woman cashiers at Christmas time make change as a professional gambler shuffles cards. Although still deficient in the power of abstract thinking, many women have met the most exacting standards of professional scholarship. "The scientific imagination which characterizes man in contrast to woman is not a distinctive male trait," Prof. Thomas observes, "but represents a constructive habit of attention associated with freer movement and the pursuit of evasive animal forms."

The theme of the Professorís paper, which endeavors to show that the minds not only of women, but of the so-called "lower" races, are potentially as capable as those of the most enlightened whites, is expressed in this sentence:

The mind and the personality are largely built up by suggestion from the outside and if the suggestions are limited and particular, so will be the mind.

And in this:

The group, tribe, or nation which by hook or crook comes into possession of the best technique and the best copies will make the best show of intelligence and march at the head of civilization.

He remarks that while the brains of the black race show a slight inferiority in weight as compared with white brains, "the yellow race shows more than a corresponding superiority to the white: in the Chinese, about 70 grams." No race views another race with that generosity with which it views itself, rather with an ingrained sense of superiority. That is why Western nations fail to understand that the Orientals regard us with "a contempt in comparison with our contempt for them is feeble." The gulf we have fixed between ourselves and other races persists after scores of Japanese have taken high rank in our schools, and after Hindus have repeatedly been among the wrangler in mathematics at Cambridge. "It is only when one of the Far Eastern nations has come bodily to the front that we ask ourselves whether there is not an error in our reckoning.

 

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