Woman and the Occupations
Author of "The Adventitious Character of Woman," "Eugenics," "Votes for Women," etc.
THE appalling conditions in our competitive industrial system are at first sight almost sufficient to make us doubt the fundamental goodness of human nature and the "integrity of mind." The mind has indeed made the inorganic world and the animal and plant worlds wonderfully and almost completely tributary to the wants of man, and we cannot have too much admiration for the ingenuity it has shown in these fields, but in respect to the welfare and happiness of the totality of society and in the recognition of even the right to live it has shown itself either incompetent or careless to a degree unknown in savagery.
Now I do not for a moment believe that the present social situation is beyond the powers of the mind, or that there is not enough of the milk of human kindness in us to remedy it, nor do I wish here to go into the enumeration of the ills of society. We know that the very rich are colossally rich and that the very poor are terribly poor -- some of them so poor and so debauched by their poverty that they rely on the work of their children for their own support and regret the loss of a child not only as a human loss but as an economic misfortune. And we know that the insurance companies are very careful about writing instance on the lives of children, lest the death of the child should become a temptation to the parent. That these conditions exist is, I believe, universally admitted. I wish to refer to them only incidentally and mainly with a view to determining the states of mind which arc behind our present industrial system, what relation woman has to the situation at present, and whether she should attempt to remain out of it or to get into it.
An Error of the Suffragists
The women who are interested in suffrage for their sex, and who have shown themselves keen in utilizing all the arguments in favor of this movement, have grasped at the idea set forth by anthropologists that the women of early society occupied a prominent place in ; the political life of those times. And it is certainly true that the women of savage and barbarous societies and even the women of our own historical times have sometimes had a more honorable and functional if not a more romantic position than the women of to-day. But I notice that the women who are using this argument for the advancement of woman's suffrage are ignoring the fact that the women had even a more important relation to the occupational than to the political life of those times. It is true that the women of the Wyandot tribe of Indians constituted four fifths of the civil council of that tribe, but they had no voice in the military council, and the recognition which they had was due to the fact that about four-fifths of the tribal industries were in their hands, in addition to the main care of the children. Tacitus states that the ancient Germans "consulted their women in all grave matters," but it is also true that in these times the women performed all the labors which built up society, except only the fighting. Before the Roman law had modified the German life, the woman was in possession of all the household goods, and in fact these could be inherited only by women, never by men. In somewhat later times, as we see from a collection of laws called the Sachsenspiegel, the man's goods were his sword, his harness and his horse. As a further concession he had two dishes, a towel, a table-cloth and a piece of bedding, which had originally been his war-blanket.
Women Were Better Off When They Worked
The women of these times built the houses, cultivated and owned the land, and did the manufacturing, with such assistance as they could get from the men. They created the goods, and men had as yet devised no means of dislodging them from the position of importance to which their labors had elevated
(464) them. No one would wish to restore a state of society where the women bore the whole industrial burden, but it is noticeable that the effect of these varied occupational activities on early women was excellent, both in respect to their character and their social position. They were functional, strong, and normal, and they had a dignity and respect worthy of their work. And it is also significant that wherever women have some definite occupational interests in the society of to-day, they still retain this real dignity and respect, and they retain them nowhere else. In colonial and frontier life, and likewise in the poor and the not-very rich classes of society in general, woman is still functional and is more likely to be accepted as an individual. The four states in this country where women vote are, in a sense, frontier states. Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, where women vote, are colonies. It is said that the Boer women of South Africa will be given the suffrage whenever they ask for it. The most pitiful and the most just cry which I have heard from women comes from peasant Russia. The women of the three villages of Tver recently sent a message to the Duma begging that they should have the same rights as the men. " Till now," they said, " even though we were beaten sometimes, still we decided various matters together. .... Have pity on us, in the name of God! We had formerly the same rulers as our husbands. Now our husbands are going to write the laws for us." These women are not supported by their husbands and they cannot apprehend why they should be ruled by them.
It appears to be a fact, as I have already pointed out, that women have lost their importance in society and their natural character as they have been withdrawn from the real work of society, and they have been particularly and wholly excluded from politics because politics has been and continues to be a continuation of those fighting activities with which women have never had anything to do. And they will regain and maintain their normal position in society in just the proportion that they regain their relation to the activities of society. The glorification of fighting, with its attendant contempt for labor, is one of the worst turns taken in the development of our society. As early as Tacitus the German warrior considered it " a dull and stupid thing to painfully accumulate by the sweat of his brow what might be won with a little blood." And some centuries later we find the sentiment commonly accepted that work was not "honest" in a "gentleman." War was the gentlemanly occupation -- the "great game', it is constantly called in the old literature -- and not only the laborer but the scholar, the "clerk" as they called him, was "a thing of naught." This sentiment was also the direct forerunner of that distemper which we call romanticism toward women. The lines of Guido Guinicelli,
Before the gentle heart in Nature's scheme
Love was not, nor the gentle heart ere Love,
express the general sentiment that refined feeling and passion were a monopoly of the aristocracy, and it was demanded that the women of the aristocracy should be as delicate as this sentiment. The true lady was the prize of the true gentleman, and that must remain her only occupation.
But in the meantime our ideas of value have been revolutionized. We now appreciate intelligence more highly than fighting, and creative activity more than " conspicuous leisure," and we have a growing conception of the dignity of labor. In America, particularly, the conception of the value and even the obligation of labor has grown until the son of the rich man is beginning to be ashamed not to work, just as he was formerly ashamed to work. The old feeling has survived only in the tendency to exempt women from labor where this is economically possible, to keep them at any rate as the sign of an aristocratic grade. We are still ashamed of the mention of work in connection with the women for whom we are responsible.
At the same time the spirit of democracy and individualism is not a thing of applicability to men alone. Without any logical de sign we have been educating our girls as well as our boys, and women are beginning to wish to resume their personality in precisely the same way that "the masses" yearned for this and achieved it. Indeed the well-born or . educated women who have so far freed them selves from habit and tradition as to enter the world as individuals, no longer find any serious opposition, and they are succeeding in the arts and professions at least as well as men would succeed if they had been to the same degree deprived of personality and limited in opportunity.
Woman's Factory Work -- Their Destruction
But the question of woman's work is no longer one of sentiment alone. Under our individualistic and competitive industrial system men are no longer able to keep their women
(465) or even their children at home. Both Mr. Booth and Mr. Rountree estimate that out of a population of 40,000,000 in Great Britain, 12,000,000 are either under or on the poverty line. The women and even the children are forced to work, because the present organization of society is no longer able to feed them. And just here transpires one of the saddest chapters in human history. The machine which man invented to relieve him of labor and to produce value more rapidly has led to the factory system of industry, and the women and children are forced to follow the work to the factory. The machine is a wonderful expression of man's ingenuity, of his effort to create an artificial workman, to whom no wages have to be paid, but it falls just short of human intelligence. It has no discriminative judgment, no control of the work as a whole. It can only finish the work handed out to it, but it does this with superhuman energy. The manufacturer has, then, to purchase enough intelligence to supplement the machine, and he secures as low a grade of this as the nature of the machine will permit. The child, the immigrant and the woman are frequently adequate to furnish that oversight and judgment necessary to supplement the activity of the machine, and the more ignorant and necessitous the human being the more the profit to the industry. But now comes the ironical and pitiful part. The machine which was invented to save human energy, and which is so great a boon when the individual controls it, is a terrible thing when it controls the individual. Power-driven it has almost no limit to its speed, and no limit whatever to its endurance, and it has no nerves. When, therefore, under the pressure of business competition the machine is speeded up and the girl operating it is speeded up to its pace, we have finally a situation in which the machine destroys the worker.
Mrs. Kelley says of the sewing trade: "In the best factories the speed of the sewing-machines has been increased so that they set, in 1905, twice as many stitches in a minute as they did in 1899. Machines which formerly carried one needle now carry from two to ten, sewing parallel seams.... Thus a girl using one of these machines is now responsible for twice as many stitches at the least and for twenty times as many at the most as in 1899. Some girls are not capable of the sustained speed involved in this improvement, and are no longer eligible for this occupation. Those who continue in the trade are required to feed twice as many garments to the machine as were required five years ago. The strain upon their eyes is, however, far more than twice what it was before the improvement. In the case of machines carrying multiple needles this is obvious; but it is true of the single needle machines also. It is the duty of the operator to watch the needle so intently as to discern the irregularity caused by a broken thread or broken needle, and to stop the machinery by pressing an electric button before any threads are cut by the broken needle or any stitches of the seam are omitted because of the broken thread. Now when the machine was 2,200 stitches a minute, as was the case in 1899, the writer, whose eyes are unusually keen, could see the needle when the machine was in motion. At the present speed the writer, whose eyes have remained unimpaired, is wholly unable to see the needle, discerning merely the steady gleam of light where it is in motion. To meet this difficulty . . . it is now the custom to suspend an electric light directly above the machine, so that a ray strikes the needle. The strain upon the eyes of the operators is almost intolerable, and a further winnowing out of the women eligible for this occupation follows." When a girl cannot keep the pace she is thrown out. The manufacturer cannot afford to keep a girl at a costly machine when the machine is not producing at a maximum rate. This would be to have a part of his plant lying idle. The manufacturers say: " If a girl cannot earn six dollars a week at machine work, after she has been doing it from six weeks to three months, she is not adapted to the work, and it is better to put another girl at her machine." And on the other hand, a comment frequently made by the girls is: " She got too slow. She couldn't keep up with her machine any longer." It amounts to this, that the girl can earn a living wage, if she is unusually gifted, until she is worn out.
Our Treatment of the Factory Girl is Outrageous
It is, I believe, considered good business policy in some cases to work a horse to death, to wear him out fast, and take another. Certainly it would be a good policy to do so if horses had a- very trifling value and could be had in unlimited quantities. At any rate it is good business to wear girls out in this way, for the initial outlay in their case is nothing at all, and they can be had in unlimited numbers. Professor James's theory of "getting your second wind," and " tapping unused reservoirs of energy" is doubtless sound psychology, up to the point where he leaves it,
(466) but there is a limit to it, and evidently working under great strain is advantageous only if the strain is relieved by considerable intervals of rest and recuperation. This is the condition under which the artist works preferably, and is the most favorable one for creative work. But the girl paced by the machine has no considerable interval, and is doomed to break down, or to pushed to a lower economic level. Her only other chance is marriage. The machine is the most effective device for "speeding up," because it puts more strain on the worker than he can put on himself without it, but in all "piece work" the operator is under heavy strain. There are factories in Chicago where the rate of pay per hundred pieces is one cent. Of course, the wore passes through many hands, and each operation is simple, but a hundred operations of any kind for one cent is a great deal. A humane employer in Chicago recently looked into the case of a girl who had quit work in his factory, and found that she had been earning ninety-eight cents a week. And machine or no machine, our treatment of the working girl, particularly the factory girl, is scandalously out of harmony not only with our romanticism but with our plain human sentiments. I will not go into the budget which I have before me of a French working girl whose annual wage is $80, nor refer to the small earnings of the English factory girls whose wage is lower than that in this country, and usually about half that received by men for the same work.
"In Perth and Bungay, for instance, the women put in a bill at the end of each week, worked out on the men's scale. The cashier then divides the total by two, and pays the women accordingly." In London women are still working nineteen hours for one shilling, and shirts are still being made for seven and a half pence per dozen. These distressing conditions are well known, and they are actually a source of great concern to employers.
The employer under the competitive system is as helpless as the operative. He does not profit by the low wages, but the public, the "innocent bystander," gets the benefit. The employer of the girl who had received only ninety-eight cents a week allowed the operatives on a large contract of long standing to run their wages up to $16 and $18 a week (they had become so expert in the course of time), with result that another firm bid in the contract, amounting to many thousands of dollars annually.
Admitting, then, that conditions are very bad in certain of the occupations and that they are particularly and horribly bad for woman, is it wise for her to push out into this world? Is it not rather a world with which she should have nothing to do except to stay out of it or get away from it as fast as possible? Or admitting that certain women are being forced into work and even that they have complicated the industrial situation, should not the women of leisure and social position, who arc economically provided for refrain from entering or meddling?
Woman's Position the Result of Greed and Helpless Ignorance
Well, this is not fundamentally a part of the woman question at all, except to the extent that women have always been subject to exploitation by men, and that they are particularly helpless at present because our traditions and their training make them of little economic worth when they are thrown on the world. A woman has no safe and recognized place in society except as a dependent. But the whole question is broader than woman. When we come to examine society as a whole, and particularly our-great industrial centers -- the long hours and inadequate pay for both men and women, the sweating system, "unsanitary housing, poisonous sewage, contaminated water, infant mortality, the spread of contagion, adulterated food, impure milk, smoke-laden air, ill-ventilated factories, dangerous occupations, juvenile crime, unwholesome crowding, prostitution and drunkenness" -- we must conclude that no one of these conditions stands alone but all are symptoms of a very bad general social situation -- that society has not been looked after in these points wisely, affectionately and honestly. This is due partly to greed, partly to helpless ignorance, and partly to sheer neglect of what was no one's particular business.
One of the standard arguments of those who believe in the low and essentially unimprovable mental condition of the savage that he has no foresight, that he kills the emu chicken when it weighs only three pounds' that he fails to throw back the small fry when fishing, that with him it is either a feast or a famine, and that in general he thoughtlessly depletes his environment. But when we talk in this way we fail to recognize that a sense of thrift, an ability to spare and save, and to postpone an immediate satisfaction for the sake of improved conditions in the future, in one of the hardest and latest lessons learned by the white race, and one only incompletely
(467) learned as yet. How much game have we spared in order to let it grow up ? The wanton destruction of game and wholesale denudation of forests in this country represent heedlessness on a scale unexampled among the savages. And while we have learned the lesson of economy in a particularistic and industrial way we have failed to develop the idea that the individual has a social value which we cannot afford to destroy, and that in using up the life of the working girl and in the tolerance of an evil and destructive environment we are playing havoc with our own property. In certain of our great industrial organizations, indeed, the employer is already beginning to recognize that it is bad business to put the employee under an unendurable strain. The engineers on the eighteen-hour trains of the Pennsylvania road between Chicago and New York work only ten days in a month, and only reasonable hours on those days. The operative in this case is a valuable part of a valuable plant, not easily replaced and too precious to be wantonly destroyed or worked out in the shortest possible time.
The Remedy in " Civic Housekeeping "
By taking a temporary and shortsighted advantage of the numerosity, cheapness and helplessness of women and girls we are in fact doing business on a ruinous principle. I do not believe that anyone in the world has a program that would immediately set these matters right, nor that any committee of persons could offhand formulate such a program. The only way is to work point by point, by legislation, sentiment, experiment, education, by the development of good will, and the substitution of simpler standards of living among the more fortunate classes. And I think that even more women than men, entirely uninvited and often unwelcome, have been working for some years at these questions, and they have displayed a wonderful amount of energy, good will, patience and ability. As a matter of fact that occupation or rather that complex of activities which would conserve those interests of society so sadly neglected by politics has been called by Miss Addams "civic housekeeping." She says: "A city is in many respects a great business corporation, but in other respects it is enlarged housekeeping,. If American cities have failed in the first, partly because office-holders have carried with them the predatory instinct learned in competitive business, and cannot help 'working a good thing,' when they have an opportunity, may we not say that city housekeeping has failed partly because women, the traditional housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities? The men of the city have been carelessly indifferent to much of this civic housekeeping, as they have always been indifferent to the details of the household."
It is idle, indeed, to speak of the exclusion of women from the occupations. They are entering them from the top and from the bottom. The ill-conditioned are being forced into them and the well-conditioned -- those whom men have been educating while deploring the use of their education -- are already entering them in considerable numbers at the top. And they are finding new and characteristic ways of giving to society that reserve of affection and nurture which they have heretofore reserved for the child and the home.
In the year 1900 there were more than 5,000,000 women gainfully employed in the United States (as against 23,753,836 men), the rate of increase between 1890 and 1900 of the number of women so employed was much greater than the corresponding increase for the employment of men (for women 32.8 per cent.; for men 21.9 per cent.), and the number of women gainfully employed increased more rapidly in the decade than the female population. So, whether we wish it or not the old order is already changing rapidly. It is too late to theorize on this point. It means simply that the old idea that all women should live on the activities of men and should limit their own interests to the bearing and rearing of children has gone to pieces.
Man's Treatment of Woman is Vicious
But what of the home? Shall the married woman and the mother undertake anything seriously outside the home ? Yes, I think it is psychologically, if not economically, necessary that she should be no exception. Let us for a moment assume that woman's participation in industry and the professions is of no importance from the economic standpoint, that men and machines are capable of producing enough wealth for the family. And let us recognize that from the human standpoint nature has been very unfair to woman, that her life is not a thing of her own but is imperiously demanded by the coming generation, that "bearing the torch of life" is a more important social function than nature has entrusted to any man, and that there is nothing
(468) good enough for woman within the power of man to confer on her. Yet incarceration within the home is the greatest curse that could overtake the nervous system and the mind of woman.
The question is, in fact; fundamentally one of psychology, and from this standpoint there is no doubt that our girls and women are viciously treated, or, let us say, they are in a vicious psychological situation, for nobody bears them any ill will. A principle firmly established in modern psychology is that there can be no high order of intelligence without a preponderating number of voluntary acts. The lower forms of life have no real choice. They have habitual reactions to a somewhat uniform outside world, but the outside world controls them, in the sense that they are obliged to respond to all stimulations. The moth does not plan to fly into the flame, but it is drawn in as the iron filing is drawn by the magnet. It has no mental machinery and no will to choose or resist -- and this we may call the fatalistic stage of animal life. At the other end of the scale, the human mind legislates on all suggestions coming from without And it is only on this principle of selecting some stimulations and rejecting others, of sit tiny still and picking and choosing, that you have freedom of action , and a situation which the individual controls the outside world instead of being controlled by it.
Now it is possible to view the whole of human history from the standpoint of the proportion of willed over unwilled acts, of the preponderance of liberty over authority. The savage is popularly regarded as enjoying a state of freedom and irresponsibility, but it would be possible to show, as it has often been shown, that he is the most unfree person in the world. His obligation to the customs of his society, his magical ideas of what he must do and what he may not do, and his positive horror of departure from the usual are very nearly absolutely binding. He views all nonconformity from the same standpoint of prejudice and habituation from which we view such a matter as carrying food to the mouth with a knife. All of his acts have been socially predetermined for him. With the growth of great states and great religious systems, -- with their absolutism, despotism, aristocracy, omniscience, omnipotence, predestination, fore-ordination, will of god, will of the king, will of the pope, will of the priest, will of the master, -- we have the power of choice assumed by a few members of society and negatived and paralyzed in the minds of the masses. The most attractive formulation of this practice in politics was that the best form of government is a wise and benevolent despotism, and that the history of the world is the fulfilling of the will of God. For these views we have substituted others -- that the best government is a government of the people, for the people, by the people, and that the history of the world is a record of the mind and will of man. And we have gone so far as revolutions to establish these newer ideals. To man we grant a free personality and a free choice, but to woman we conceded only the status of infancy and tutelage -- affectionate but psychologically as vicious as political or ecclesiastical absolutism.
There is a comfortable side to the theory that the wise and beneficent ruler will see that you suffer nothing in this world, on the sole condition of your obedience, and that holy men will mediate for you an eternal bliss on the sole condition of conformity to the will and doctrine of the church, and this sentiment of attaining the good for others, of conferring it on them instead of letting them work it out for themselves, has lived on in our patronage of the poor, of the working man and of woman, even after our formal repudiation of the principle. But this attitude is a slur on the mind, and its persistence in any form is an admission that society has failed to provide conditions within which the mind can freely realize itself.
The Law That the Mind is Not a Private Matter
I hope it is not demanding too much of the attention of the reader to point out also an other psychological principle -- that the ideally wise and sound choice is one in which all possible alternatives are considered, that any choice, in fact, involves the rejection of al other possible choices which present them selves, and that consequently the most important principle in mental life and the essential to wisdom is to know the conditions of the world as completely as possible. In this sense there is no such thing as a private mind. The mind must be open to all sorts of intrusions from the outside world. There is no possibility of determining beforehand what information may go into the formation of judgment, and there is the certainty that if full information is absent the judgment will be imperfect. The content of the mind all comes, in fact, from the outside, and the mind must be open to the outside world in all possible ways -- in freedom of motion, in freedom of conversation, and in freedom to explore all
(469) territories -- even the outlawed territory of sex it would be possible also to go hack to the be- inning and show that the grade of mind of any species or organism corresponds with its restricted or free power of exploration. The vegetable which does not move at all has no mind at all. The animal mind, which is closed to all but the simple and monotonous stimulations connected with food and sex, remains a simple and monotonous type of mind. That period of history when the mind was not tree to explore certain questions is called the dark ages." And the period of democracy, which is from the psychological standpoint the period of free mental exploration, is also the period of invention, not alone of the mechanical invention which is so conspicuous, but of such inventions as free public schools, preventive medicine, eugenics, and the evolutionary view of the world.
Nor is the case of illustrious men who have withdrawn themselves from society and worked in seclusion an exception to the law that the mind is not a private matter. The materials of knowledge are so vast and so various that out of mere economy of attention and time we have been compelled to resort to specialization, in which a man is supposed to know "something of everything and everything of something." The specialist is often very ill informed about things in general, and our schools attempt to anticipate this defect by supplying him with a body of "cultural'' materials before allowing him to specialize. But the narrowest specialist is not only filling in his consciousness through experiment, reflection and classification, but he lives in a world of books which are a short cut to the opinions of millions of men. He can virtually converse with any man, living or dead who has anything of importance to say to him, by resort to the printed page. And it is even an economy of time to do this through books rather than conversation.
Industry Impeded by Woman's Exclusion
And if I should here indicate the steps in the development of human consciousness, which I will refrain from doing, I think it would appear that mental improvement in both the individual and the race as a whole is closely associated with the development of the occupations. The mind is a product of activity, and the occupations are merely a formulation of activities along definite and habitual lines. The mind of man, indeed, is not radically improved, but the intensive and unremitting application of attention by men to special subjects gives in the aggregate more, and more varied results, than could be had if the attention of all played loosely over the whole field.
The progress of the world is dependent on the emergence of what we call useful ideas and these ideas almost invariably emerge in connection with the occupations. We cannot control or predict their appearance, we can only increase the number of chances of their appearance by opening the field of competition to the maximum number of minds. Galton has pointed out that if a genius by any chance appears in a community of say 100,000,000 people, the value of his work, of the ideas which he may originate, is out of all proportion to his numerical relation to the whole of the population. Such an idea as electricity sets thousands to work along lines which they would otherwise never have entered, or gives a particular and socially valuable direction to their efforts. And thus the sum of knowledge is built up through those specialized pursuits which we call occupational. To exclude women from the occupations is therefore not only to exclude them from those forms of activity which most stimulate the mind, but to deprive society of the benefits which would follow both from their work and from those ideas which they would thus be put in the way of developing And if there is any value in that variety of personality which compels men to different fields of interest, it is evident that women differing from men in personality more than men differ from one another, are sure to contribute unanticipated results. Their admission is to increase the probability of the emergence of genius.
Women Need Occupations
But I do not contend that women should go into the occupations so much because the occupations need them, though that is also true, as because of the need women hare of the occupations. No one is altogether either male or female. The life of men and women corresponds more than it differs. There is no mental function absent in either sex. The occupations represent modes in which the mind expresses itself. They are the moral field, the field of will, of experience, of practice, and of concrete purpose. In this sense work is not a duty but a right. Society may not only claim service from the individual, but the individual may claim the right to function.
At present the strain on women even in the well-to-do families is intolerable. Their isola-
(470)-tion, the triviality of their interests and their dependence on the will of another make them nervous and intensely personal, and merely to relieve the tension, if for nothing else, they should prepare themselves for an occupation which they can practice before marriage, continue to practice if they do not enter marriage, which they may intermit in those intervals when the child is entirely helpless and which they can resume when the child is adult and departed. Such a preparation would not only overcome their feeling of dependence but would tend to make their choice in marriage more rational. And I do not think the ideals of eugenics can be realized until woman is as free as man in the choice of a mate.
Nor would I give a very definite meaning to the term occupation. There is no possible doubt that the lines containing the occupations will continue to shift and that the participation of women will continue to create new occupations. If the women of enforced leisure, for instance, would shift their interests from dress and fashionable functions and standards, that would constitute an occupation engaging their attention for some years. It is even certain that motherhood will become one of the occupations. The occupations imply a preparation and a purpose, and we cannot regard reproduction and the traditional home life of women as occupational, because mere reproduction is an organic act, frequently inadvertent, and the traditional home life has involved no adequate preparation for motherhood. We may fairly set down eugenic motherhood among the occupations, but even then a part of the mother's occupation will be to continue her concrete purposes and practices in the world at large, and to make excursions from the home for the sake of the home.
Child-bearing Paramount But Not Overwhelming
And, after all, it is not fair play to say that woman's whole life is demanded by the child, and let it go at that. Already the nurture of the child is carried on to a large extent outside of the home. And if those newer ideals of the home and the sentiment of eugenics to which I have referred are realized, if the child is not only in theory but in practice recognized as the main interest of society, the family and society will more and more assist the mother in his nurture. We must remember also than when women are naturally reared they hay' an astonishing amount of energy. The records of savage society and of peasant life still demonstrate this, as did the home before the coming of the machine. It may seem un gracious to say so, but we indulge a good deal in what the rhetoricians call the ''pathetic fallacy" in connection with the bearing of children by women. Nature has given then an energy and disposition in proportion to this very serious function, so that under nor mal conditions it may be classed among the pleasures, almost among the intoxications normal woman can bear children and still retain more energy and more tenacity of life than nature usually gives to man. The close association which we find between marriage and the abandonment of concrete purposes is not therefore a sacrifice to motherhood but habit. The ordinary woman instantly and utterly abandons all occupational preparation or practice at the altar, and this is quite aside from the anticipation of children. And the university women succumb almost as completely. Women indeed have improved their mental attitude toward life since the early Victorian period to this extent, that the actually make a preparation for life, which they can use in case they do not accept marriage. But they keep only a wavering eye on the occupational outlook as a makeshift in case of their failure to realize on their matrimonial anticipations. Or at any rate when marriage is proposed to them they are unable to abandon the traditional view that marriage means a retirement from the world only less complete than retirement to a convent.
Woman's responsibility to the race may well be regarded as paramount, but it is not overwhelming, and it is neither wise nor kind to, regard her life as a total loss in all points but this single one. It would indeed seem that opposition to woman's participation in the totality of life is a romantic subterfuge, resting not so much on a belief in the disability of woman as on the disposition of man to appropriate conspicuous and pleasurable objects for his sole use and ornamentation. "A little thing, but all mine own," was one of the remarks of Achilles to Agamemnon in their quarrel over the two maidens, and it contains the secret of man's world-old disposition to overlook the intrinsic worth of woman