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Now, it does not seem that this should lead to any social catastrophe, or any great domestic disturbance, or to any unsexing of women; it rather appears to be something eminent right and proper and quite in line with the great democratic movement which gives those who obey the laws a voice in their making. If this unpleasant and rather obscure phrase about the "unsexing of women" means nothing more serious than this, only persons in an advanced stage of hysteria (for whom the bromides are plainly indicated) will be much disturbed by it. Indeed, such arguments are never to be taken seriously; they are only traditional ways of talking that run on mechanically, like a talking-machine with a speech in it. No intelligent man, when he stops to think, really believes that any social or domestic damage would be done if his wife should interest herself and have a voice in the social questions that underlie the management of the school, the municipality, public charities, and so forth. The prominence of women in the social activities of the day is one of the most marked features of our time, and every one takes it as a matter of course, unless some one raises the question of voting. Women are already doing some great service on our most important State and Municipal Boards, but, oddly enough, they do not know enough to vote. A woman is now markedly successful, in comparison with her masculine predecessors, as superintendent of the Chicago public schools, but she does not know enough to vote. The managers of our Women's Foreign Missionary Boards certainly show no less ability than the men in similar positions, but they do not know enough to vote. In social service it would often be hard to find their equals, but when it comes to voting the veriest male riffraff is superior. The Church could not endure without them, but they do not know enough to vote. The average wife manages the domestic budget quite as well as the average husband manages his budget but she does not know enough to vote. It would seem that only a man in whom prejudice had had its perfect work could fail to be ashamed of such a position as this. He can only fall back on the conservatism of hysteria and prophecy--in the same way in which the conservative Hindu defends child marriage and similar abominations.
 
Now, it does not seem that this should lead to any social catastrophe, or any great domestic disturbance, or to any unsexing of women; it rather appears to be something eminent right and proper and quite in line with the great democratic movement which gives those who obey the laws a voice in their making. If this unpleasant and rather obscure phrase about the "unsexing of women" means nothing more serious than this, only persons in an advanced stage of hysteria (for whom the bromides are plainly indicated) will be much disturbed by it. Indeed, such arguments are never to be taken seriously; they are only traditional ways of talking that run on mechanically, like a talking-machine with a speech in it. No intelligent man, when he stops to think, really believes that any social or domestic damage would be done if his wife should interest herself and have a voice in the social questions that underlie the management of the school, the municipality, public charities, and so forth. The prominence of women in the social activities of the day is one of the most marked features of our time, and every one takes it as a matter of course, unless some one raises the question of voting. Women are already doing some great service on our most important State and Municipal Boards, but, oddly enough, they do not know enough to vote. A woman is now markedly successful, in comparison with her masculine predecessors, as superintendent of the Chicago public schools, but she does not know enough to vote. The managers of our Women's Foreign Missionary Boards certainly show no less ability than the men in similar positions, but they do not know enough to vote. In social service it would often be hard to find their equals, but when it comes to voting the veriest male riffraff is superior. The Church could not endure without them, but they do not know enough to vote. The average wife manages the domestic budget quite as well as the average husband manages his budget but she does not know enough to vote. It would seem that only a man in whom prejudice had had its perfect work could fail to be ashamed of such a position as this. He can only fall back on the conservatism of hysteria and prophecy--in the same way in which the conservative Hindu defends child marriage and similar abominations.
 
I have never seen any argument against equal suffrage of any significance that was not rather an argument against universal suffrage, and, indeed, nicely considered, much of anti-suffrage, especially in "cultured circles," is really anti-democracy. We have all sorts and conditions of men voting now, it is said, and we cannot afford to have matters made worse by the admission of women, for then the community would be swamped in the great mass of ignorance, now all too large for the public good. But arguments against universal suffrage are irrelevant against woman suffrage. Let the suffrage be limited, if need be, but let it be limited by some rational test and not by mere accidents of sex, which have no rational connection whatever with the right of the moral person to express an opinion concerning social interests and the laws under which he lives.
 
I have never seen any argument against equal suffrage of any significance that was not rather an argument against universal suffrage, and, indeed, nicely considered, much of anti-suffrage, especially in "cultured circles," is really anti-democracy. We have all sorts and conditions of men voting now, it is said, and we cannot afford to have matters made worse by the admission of women, for then the community would be swamped in the great mass of ignorance, now all too large for the public good. But arguments against universal suffrage are irrelevant against woman suffrage. Let the suffrage be limited, if need be, but let it be limited by some rational test and not by mere accidents of sex, which have no rational connection whatever with the right of the moral person to express an opinion concerning social interests and the laws under which he lives.
For form's sake, however, we must say a word about the time-worn, but not time-honored, arguments against equal suffrage. Women are still declared, when the phonograph is running, to be unable to fight; as if fighting were the great service society demands, instead of being the lowest and cheapest of all forms of public service.
+
For form's sake, however, we must say a word about the time-worn, but not time-honored, arguments against equal suffrage. Women are still declared, when the phonograph is running, to be unable to fight; as if fighting were the great service society demands, instead of being the lowest and cheapest of all forms of public service. Many distinguished and useful members of society would be ruled out of this test if impartially applied. The clergy, teachers, men over forty-five and a host of invalids are not included in the fighting reserve, but that does not matter. The phonograph was wound up so as to stop at women without any regard to logic.

Revision as of 13:41, 17 February 2020

6 WOMAN AND DEMOCRACY. of taxation, and so forth, and should have their opinion count in the public decision upon them. Now, it does not seem that this should lead to any social catastrophe, or any great domestic disturbance, or to any unsexing of women; it rather appears to be something eminent right and proper and quite in line with the great democratic movement which gives those who obey the laws a voice in their making. If this unpleasant and rather obscure phrase about the "unsexing of women" means nothing more serious than this, only persons in an advanced stage of hysteria (for whom the bromides are plainly indicated) will be much disturbed by it. Indeed, such arguments are never to be taken seriously; they are only traditional ways of talking that run on mechanically, like a talking-machine with a speech in it. No intelligent man, when he stops to think, really believes that any social or domestic damage would be done if his wife should interest herself and have a voice in the social questions that underlie the management of the school, the municipality, public charities, and so forth. The prominence of women in the social activities of the day is one of the most marked features of our time, and every one takes it as a matter of course, unless some one raises the question of voting. Women are already doing some great service on our most important State and Municipal Boards, but, oddly enough, they do not know enough to vote. A woman is now markedly successful, in comparison with her masculine predecessors, as superintendent of the Chicago public schools, but she does not know enough to vote. The managers of our Women's Foreign Missionary Boards certainly show no less ability than the men in similar positions, but they do not know enough to vote. In social service it would often be hard to find their equals, but when it comes to voting the veriest male riffraff is superior. The Church could not endure without them, but they do not know enough to vote. The average wife manages the domestic budget quite as well as the average husband manages his budget but she does not know enough to vote. It would seem that only a man in whom prejudice had had its perfect work could fail to be ashamed of such a position as this. He can only fall back on the conservatism of hysteria and prophecy--in the same way in which the conservative Hindu defends child marriage and similar abominations. I have never seen any argument against equal suffrage of any significance that was not rather an argument against universal suffrage, and, indeed, nicely considered, much of anti-suffrage, especially in "cultured circles," is really anti-democracy. We have all sorts and conditions of men voting now, it is said, and we cannot afford to have matters made worse by the admission of women, for then the community would be swamped in the great mass of ignorance, now all too large for the public good. But arguments against universal suffrage are irrelevant against woman suffrage. Let the suffrage be limited, if need be, but let it be limited by some rational test and not by mere accidents of sex, which have no rational connection whatever with the right of the moral person to express an opinion concerning social interests and the laws under which he lives. For form's sake, however, we must say a word about the time-worn, but not time-honored, arguments against equal suffrage. Women are still declared, when the phonograph is running, to be unable to fight; as if fighting were the great service society demands, instead of being the lowest and cheapest of all forms of public service. Many distinguished and useful members of society would be ruled out of this test if impartially applied. The clergy, teachers, men over forty-five and a host of invalids are not included in the fighting reserve, but that does not matter. The phonograph was wound up so as to stop at women without any regard to logic.