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4 Woman And Democracy
 
4 Woman And Democracy
of humanizing and rationalizing it, so as to make it serve the true purpose of all GOvern'ment, the good of the people. That cake of custom which was necessary in the beginning had to be broken in the course of time. It was not a product of reason and hence was largely irrational. And hence again it needed to be modified and adjusted to advancing human needs. It served its purpose, but it could not endure. A crab without a shall will not live long, but a crab with a shell it cannot get rid of will not live much longer. In the same way society without a fixed social order could not endure, but a society which cannot grow is also in a bad day. If discussion and criticism being too soon we have anarchy. If they are delayed too long we have stagnation. The progress of humanity has consisted in breaking the cake of custom and casting the shell; and the implicit aim has been to secure the rights of humanity and to lift the individual to a position of moral and political self-control. This is the meaning of the great democratic movement which has been going on and gathering force for ages. In some quarters it is complete for men, in distinction from women, and in many places it is still incomplete even for men, but the movement is gaining so rapidly that its final success is sure.  
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of humanizing and rationalizing it, so as to make it serve the true purpose of all Government, the good of the people. That cake of custom which was necessary in the beginning had to be broken in the course of time. It was not a product of reason and hence was largely irrational. And hence again it needed to be modified and adjusted to advancing human needs. It served its purpose, but it could not endure. A crab without a shall will not live long, but a crab with a shell it cannot get rid of will not live much longer. In the same way society without a fixed social order could not endure, but a society which cannot grow is also in a bad day. If discussion and criticism being too soon we have anarchy. If they are delayed too long we have stagnation. The progress of humanity has consisted in breaking the cake of custom and casting the shell; and the implicit aim has been to secure the rights of humanity and to lift the individual to a position of moral and political self-control. This is the meaning of the great democratic movement which has been going on and gathering force for ages. In some quarters it is complete for men, in distinction from women, and in many places it is still incomplete even for men, but the movement is gaining so rapidly that its final success is sure.  
 
Nor from this brief hint at social origins we readily understand the political subjection of women. In such a social stage, because of her physical weakness, woman was necessarily subordinate, and through the formation of religious superstitions she became more utterly subordinate still. She did not count in the conflict of physical strength and she did not count religiously. Hence for a long time a woman did not own herself, but belonged to her husband or her male relatives; and De Coulanges, in his work, "The Ancient City," has clearly traced this fact to the religious notions of early society. Here in early savagery and crude superstition we find the real source of the subjection of women.
 
Nor from this brief hint at social origins we readily understand the political subjection of women. In such a social stage, because of her physical weakness, woman was necessarily subordinate, and through the formation of religious superstitions she became more utterly subordinate still. She did not count in the conflict of physical strength and she did not count religiously. Hence for a long time a woman did not own herself, but belonged to her husband or her male relatives; and De Coulanges, in his work, "The Ancient City," has clearly traced this fact to the religious notions of early society. Here in early savagery and crude superstition we find the real source of the subjection of women.
 
Democracy, as we have seen, was impossibly at the beginning of society. There was a time when a harsh social orthodoxy was necessary for social safety. Men could not be allowed to think for themselves, until they had learned the lesson of law and social co-operation. There must be a fixed social order as a barrier against social chaos before thinking becomes safe. But without progress the social orders becomes destructive, like the shell the growing crab cannot throw off. The cave-man could not be expected to make a social order that would be ideal, and his work must be revised to adjust it to human needs. We have now reached a time when that early social orthodoxy is to be relaxed in the interest of social progress. Not the wisdom of the fathers, but the rights of humanity and the needs of to-day are the present standard of judgement. Thus the great democratic movement begins and gathers force, and the movement for the emancipation of women is but a part of the more general democratic movement. It is based upon the same reasons and is resisted by the same arguments of conservatism, fear, social risk and so forth.
 
Democracy, as we have seen, was impossibly at the beginning of society. There was a time when a harsh social orthodoxy was necessary for social safety. Men could not be allowed to think for themselves, until they had learned the lesson of law and social co-operation. There must be a fixed social order as a barrier against social chaos before thinking becomes safe. But without progress the social orders becomes destructive, like the shell the growing crab cannot throw off. The cave-man could not be expected to make a social order that would be ideal, and his work must be revised to adjust it to human needs. We have now reached a time when that early social orthodoxy is to be relaxed in the interest of social progress. Not the wisdom of the fathers, but the rights of humanity and the needs of to-day are the present standard of judgement. Thus the great democratic movement begins and gathers force, and the movement for the emancipation of women is but a part of the more general democratic movement. It is based upon the same reasons and is resisted by the same arguments of conservatism, fear, social risk and so forth.
 
In proceeding to consider some of these arguments, I do so only with expressions of apology. Ex-Governor Long once said that he had never heard an argument against equal suffrage that would not be an insult to the intelligence of a child twelve years old; and Mr. Howells declares that there are no arguments, but only prejudices in opposition. It seems, then, like an affront to intelligence to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument often has little to do with its logic. Edmund Burke used to say that he was most afraid of the weakest arguments, as they commonly indicate the strongest prejudices. It is this psychological fact that makes it necessary for us to keep on repeating familiar arguments in the hope of finally winning a hearing for the truth. And first of all let us inquire what this equal suffrage means.
 
In proceeding to consider some of these arguments, I do so only with expressions of apology. Ex-Governor Long once said that he had never heard an argument against equal suffrage that would not be an insult to the intelligence of a child twelve years old; and Mr. Howells declares that there are no arguments, but only prejudices in opposition. It seems, then, like an affront to intelligence to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument often has little to do with its logic. Edmund Burke used to say that he was most afraid of the weakest arguments, as they commonly indicate the strongest prejudices. It is this psychological fact that makes it necessary for us to keep on repeating familiar arguments in the hope of finally winning a hearing for the truth. And first of all let us inquire what this equal suffrage means.
 
If we are to believe the opponents of equal suffrage the community is menanced by some fearful danger. Homes are to be broken up, domestic ties broken, woman is to be unsexed and society itself to be overturned by something called suffrage. Bugbears and intimidations of this sort are quite effective with persons of a certain class. But others, more intelligent, and with some experience of the tactics of prejudice, before giving way to shudders and alarms, bethink themselves to ask what this terrible thing is that is to work all this ruin; and then it turns out that all that equal suffrage proposes is this, namely, that women of ordinary character and intelligence who are interested in the well-being of the community and in the laws that govern it should form an opinion upon these topics of social interest and be allowed to express that opinion in a vote which should count in the making up of the social verdict. That is, it means that they should have a voice in school matters, municipal matters, matters
 
If we are to believe the opponents of equal suffrage the community is menanced by some fearful danger. Homes are to be broken up, domestic ties broken, woman is to be unsexed and society itself to be overturned by something called suffrage. Bugbears and intimidations of this sort are quite effective with persons of a certain class. But others, more intelligent, and with some experience of the tactics of prejudice, before giving way to shudders and alarms, bethink themselves to ask what this terrible thing is that is to work all this ruin; and then it turns out that all that equal suffrage proposes is this, namely, that women of ordinary character and intelligence who are interested in the well-being of the community and in the laws that govern it should form an opinion upon these topics of social interest and be allowed to express that opinion in a vote which should count in the making up of the social verdict. That is, it means that they should have a voice in school matters, municipal matters, matters

Latest revision as of 07:50, 2 September 2020

4 Woman And Democracy of humanizing and rationalizing it, so as to make it serve the true purpose of all Government, the good of the people. That cake of custom which was necessary in the beginning had to be broken in the course of time. It was not a product of reason and hence was largely irrational. And hence again it needed to be modified and adjusted to advancing human needs. It served its purpose, but it could not endure. A crab without a shall will not live long, but a crab with a shell it cannot get rid of will not live much longer. In the same way society without a fixed social order could not endure, but a society which cannot grow is also in a bad day. If discussion and criticism being too soon we have anarchy. If they are delayed too long we have stagnation. The progress of humanity has consisted in breaking the cake of custom and casting the shell; and the implicit aim has been to secure the rights of humanity and to lift the individual to a position of moral and political self-control. This is the meaning of the great democratic movement which has been going on and gathering force for ages. In some quarters it is complete for men, in distinction from women, and in many places it is still incomplete even for men, but the movement is gaining so rapidly that its final success is sure. Nor from this brief hint at social origins we readily understand the political subjection of women. In such a social stage, because of her physical weakness, woman was necessarily subordinate, and through the formation of religious superstitions she became more utterly subordinate still. She did not count in the conflict of physical strength and she did not count religiously. Hence for a long time a woman did not own herself, but belonged to her husband or her male relatives; and De Coulanges, in his work, "The Ancient City," has clearly traced this fact to the religious notions of early society. Here in early savagery and crude superstition we find the real source of the subjection of women. Democracy, as we have seen, was impossibly at the beginning of society. There was a time when a harsh social orthodoxy was necessary for social safety. Men could not be allowed to think for themselves, until they had learned the lesson of law and social co-operation. There must be a fixed social order as a barrier against social chaos before thinking becomes safe. But without progress the social orders becomes destructive, like the shell the growing crab cannot throw off. The cave-man could not be expected to make a social order that would be ideal, and his work must be revised to adjust it to human needs. We have now reached a time when that early social orthodoxy is to be relaxed in the interest of social progress. Not the wisdom of the fathers, but the rights of humanity and the needs of to-day are the present standard of judgement. Thus the great democratic movement begins and gathers force, and the movement for the emancipation of women is but a part of the more general democratic movement. It is based upon the same reasons and is resisted by the same arguments of conservatism, fear, social risk and so forth. In proceeding to consider some of these arguments, I do so only with expressions of apology. Ex-Governor Long once said that he had never heard an argument against equal suffrage that would not be an insult to the intelligence of a child twelve years old; and Mr. Howells declares that there are no arguments, but only prejudices in opposition. It seems, then, like an affront to intelligence to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument to propose to consider them. But the actual force of an argument often has little to do with its logic. Edmund Burke used to say that he was most afraid of the weakest arguments, as they commonly indicate the strongest prejudices. It is this psychological fact that makes it necessary for us to keep on repeating familiar arguments in the hope of finally winning a hearing for the truth. And first of all let us inquire what this equal suffrage means. If we are to believe the opponents of equal suffrage the community is menanced by some fearful danger. Homes are to be broken up, domestic ties broken, woman is to be unsexed and society itself to be overturned by something called suffrage. Bugbears and intimidations of this sort are quite effective with persons of a certain class. But others, more intelligent, and with some experience of the tactics of prejudice, before giving way to shudders and alarms, bethink themselves to ask what this terrible thing is that is to work all this ruin; and then it turns out that all that equal suffrage proposes is this, namely, that women of ordinary character and intelligence who are interested in the well-being of the community and in the laws that govern it should form an opinion upon these topics of social interest and be allowed to express that opinion in a vote which should count in the making up of the social verdict. That is, it means that they should have a voice in school matters, municipal matters, matters