Preface to the 1921 Reissue
THE following essay was published at the end of 1913 and is now reissued as originally written. Since the year before the World War the situation of woman has, of course, changed. Feminism in this and in some other countries has won well-nigh all its formal demands. Mr Asquith, who before the war declared he would have nothing to do with a House of Commons elected by a female vote, during the war, for no assignable reason, suddenly made a volte-face and became a strong advocate of female franchise. The acquisition of the suffrage has as its result carried with it the right to all occupations and offices, as decreed by the “Sex-Disability Repeal Act,” and so the pitch-forking of women into administrative posts proceeds galore. But the main contentions of The Fraud of Feminism have not been affected by the change in question. Though women have been conceded all the rights of men, their privileges as females have remained untouched, while the sentimental “pull” they have over men, and the favouritism shown them in the courts, civil and criminal, often in flagrant violation of elementary justice, continues as before. The result of their position on juries, as evinced in certain trials, has rather confirmed the remarks made in Chapter II anent hysteria than otherwise. The sex-bias of men in favour of women and the love of the advanced woman towards her sex-self show no sign of abatement. Proposals to the effect that in the event of infanticide by a mother the putative father should be placed in the dock merely because he is a man are received with applause. The other day, at a court held in a fashionable town of the south coast, on a prostitute being brought up charged with soliciting, a female “justice,” recently appointed, declaimed against the wickedness of punishing prostitutes for soliciting while men were never brought up charged with the offence. (Needless to say, there was the usual male fool to be found in the body of the court, who shouted: “Hear! Hear!”) Now is it conceivable, I ask, that anybody can be so infatuated with Feminism as not to see that a prostitute who solicits nightly in the exercise of her trade – i.e. for the purpose of money-making – is in a different position from a man who, once in a way, may, urged by natural passion, make advances to a woman? Such a person must be unable to see distinctions in anything, one would think. Besides, it is not true that men, if charged with the annoyance or molestation of women, cannot be, and have not been, prosecuted for the offence. The lady “justice” in question would probably like to see a man paired with a prostitute in the dock every time the latter gave occasion for police action. Such is the Feminist notion of justice.
There are a vast number of men who cultivate the pretence of having a contempt for, or a prejudice against, their own sex. The idea seems to be to pander to the sex-vanity of the “New Woman.” Every popular writer caters for this prejudice. No one can have failed to notice the persistent journalistic and literary “stunt” by which the man is portrayed in the light of a miserable and abject living creature as a foil to the “noble animal” woman. There is scarcely a play, short story or novel the plot of which in any way admits of it where this now stale device is not dragged in some form or shape. Even Shaw, with all his somewhat ostentatious flouting of convention, cannot resist the temptation of yielding to it in one or two of his plays – e.g. Catherine the Great. This sort of thing is not without its influence on the course of justice, as the daily papers still continue to show us.
Times have not changed in this respect. The war, which has altered the face of things otherwise and in the matter of the social and political aspect of sex-relations, has been the occasion of revolutionary transformation in the shape of political sex-equality, has left female privilege, civil and criminal, as it was in 1913. There is no indication that the general public has a dawning sense that, to adapt the common metaphor, “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Everywhere we hear the same old bogus grievances of the female sex trotted out as crying for remedy, but never the injustice of a man being compelled, whatever his economic position, to keep his wife, while a woman is under no corresponding obligation to keep her husband. No urgency is suggested for removing the anomaly that a husband is amenable for his wife’s libels and slanders; none that a boy of fourteen is punishable for a sexual offence to which he has been incited by a girl of sixteen, who gets off scot-free; none that the obligation of a husband, whose wife wishes to bring an action for divorce against him, to furnish her with the money to fight him, should be abolished. On the other hand, every law, every judicial decision, every case in the courts, civil and criminal, that on the most superficial view can be exploited by the conventional Feminist claptrap to prove the wickedness of “man-made law” to woman, is gripped by the beak of the Feminist harpy to help build up her nest of lying sex-prejudice, whence she and her confraternity may sally forth and by their raids on male sentiment not merely help to buttress up existing female privilege, but wherever possible to increase the already one-sided injustice of the law and its administration towards men in the interest of the other sex.
The present volume aims at furnishing a succinct exposure of the pretensions of the Modern Feminist Movement. It aims at presenting the case against it with an especial view to tracking down and gibbetting the infamous falsehoods, the conventional statements, which are not merely perversions of the truth, but which are directly and categorically contrary to the truth, but which pass muster by sheer force of uncontradicted repetition. It is by this kind of bluff that the claims of Feminism are sustained. The following is a fair example of the statements of Feminist writers:– “As for accusing the world at large of fatuous indulgence for womanhood in general, the idea is too preposterous for words. The true ‘legends of the Old Bailey’ tell, not of women absurdly acquitted, but of miserable girls sent to the gallows for murders committed in half delirious dread of the ruthlessness of hypocritical Society.” Now it is this sort of legend that it is one of the chief objects of the following pages to explode. Of course the “fatuous indulgence” for “womanhood in general,” practised by the “world at large,” is precisely one of the most conspicuous features of our time, and the person who denies it, if he is not deliberately prevaricating, must be a veritable Rip van Winkle awakening out of a sleep lasting at least two generations. Similarly the story of the “miserable girls sent to the gallows,” etc., is, as far as living memory is concerned, a pure legend. It is well known that in the cases referred to of the murder of their new-born children by girls, at the very outside a year or two’s tight imprisonment is the only penalty actually inflicted.
The acquittal of women on the most serious charges, especially where the victims are men, in the teeth of the strongest evidence, is, on the other hand, an every-day occurrence. Now it is statements like the above on which, as already said, the Feminist Movement thrives; its most powerful argumentative weapon with the man in the street is the legend that woman is oppressed by man. It is rarely that anyone takes the trouble to refute the legend in general, or any specific case adduced as an illustration of it. When, however, the bluff is exposed, when the real facts of the case are laid bare to public notice, and woman is shown, not only as not oppressed but as privileged, up to the top of her bent, then the apostles of feminism, male and female, being unable to make even a plausible case out in reply, with one consent resort to the boycott, and by ignoring what they cannot answer, seek to stop the spread of the unpleasant truth so dangerous to their cause. The pressure put upon publishers and editors by the influential Feminist sisterhood is well known.
For the rest, it must not be supposed that this little book makes any claim to exhaust the subject or to be a scientific treatise. It is, and is meant to be, a popular refutation of the current arguments in favour of Feminism, and a brief statement of the case against Feminism. Sir Almroth Wright’s short treatise, The Unexpurgated Case against Woman’s Suffrage, which deals with the question from a somewhat different standpoint, may be consulted with advantage by the reader.
An acknowledgment should be made to the editor of The New Age for the plucky stand made by that journal in the attempt to dam the onrush of sentimental slush set free by the self-constituted champions of womanhood. I have also to thank two eminent medical authorities for reading the proofs of my second chapter.