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Chivalry feminism

E.B. Bax talks of a large segment of first-wave feminists advocating male chivalry for the benefit of women. His assessment below underscores how “chivalry feminists” have continued to advocate chivalry through both second and third-wave feminism. Indeed it can be argued that feminism’s most effective source of agency has always been chivalry. – PW

Knight Templar1

“THE justification for the whole movement of Modern Feminism in one of its main practical aspects – namely, the placing of the female sex in the position of privilege, advantage and immunity – is concentrated in the current conception of “chivalry.” It behoves us, therefore, to devote some consideration to the meaning and implication of this notion. Now this word chivalry is the dernier ressort of those at a loss for a justification of the modern privileging of women.

[…]

“It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward.

[…]

“Every outrageous pretension of Sentimental Feminism can be justified by the appeal to chivalry, which amounts (to use the German expression) to an appeal from Pontius to Pilate. This Sentimental Feminism commonly called chivalry is sometimes impudently dubbed by its votaries, “manliness.” It will presumably continue in its practical effects until a sufficient minority of sensible men will have the moral courage to beard a Feminist public opinion and shed a little of this sort of “manliness.”

[…]

“Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men.

[…]

But these considerations afford only one more illustration of the utter irrationality of the whole movement of Sentimental Feminism identified with the notion of “chivalry.” For the rest, we may find illustrations of this galore. A very flagrant case is that infamous “rule of the sea” which came so much into prominence at the time of the Titanic disaster. According to this preposterous “chivalric” Feminism, in the case of a ship foundering, it is the unwritten law of the seas, not that the passengers shall leave the ship and be rescued in their order as they come, but that the whole female portion shall have the right of being rescued before any man is allowed to leave the ship. Now this abominable piece of sex favouritism, on the face of it, cries aloud in its irrational injustice.

Source: Chapter-5 ‘The Chivalry Fake’ in The Fraud of Feminism, 1913

_________________________

 

“Chivalry, as understood by Modern Sentimental Feminism, means unlimited licence for women in their relations with men, and unlimited coercion for men in their relations with women. To men all duties and no rights, to women all rights and no duties, is the basic principle underlying Modern Feminism, Suffragism, and the bastard chivalry it is so fond of invoking. The most insistent female shrieker for equality between the sexes among Political Feminists, it is interesting to observe, will, in most cases, on occasion be found an equally insistent advocate of the claims of Sentimental Feminism, based on modern metamorphosed notions of chivalry. It never seems to strike anyone that the muscular weakness of woman has been forged by Modern Feminists into an abominable weapon of tyranny. Under cover of the notion of chivalry, as understood by Modern Feminism, Political and Sentimental Feminists alike would deprive men of the most elementary rights of self-defence against women and would exonerate the latter practically from all punishment for the most dastardly crimes against men. They know they can rely upon the support of the sentimental section of public opinion with some such parrot cry of’ “What! Hit a woman!”

Why not, if she molests you?

“Treat a woman in this way!” “Shame!” responds automatically the crowd of Sentimental Feminist idiots, oblivious of the fact that the real shame lies in their endorsement of an iniquitous sex privilege. If the same crowd were prepared to condemn any special form of punishment or mode of treatment as inhumane for both sexes alike, there would, of course, be nothing to be said. But it is not so. The most savage cruelty and vindictive animosity towards men leaves them comparatively cold, at most evoking a mild remonstrance as against the inflated manifestation of sentimental horror and frothy indignation produced by any slight hardship inflicted by way of punishment (let us say) on a female offender.”

[…]

“In the foregoing pages we have endeavoured to trace some of the leading strands of thought going to make up the Modern Feminist Movement. Sentimental Feminism clearly has its roots in sexual feeling, and in the tradition of chivalry, albeit the notion of chivalry has essentially changed in the course of its evolution. For the rest, Sentimental Feminism, with its double character of man-antipathy and woman-sympathy, as we see it to-day, has assumed the character of one of those psychopathic social phenomena which have so often recurred in history. It can only be explained, like the latter, as an hypnotic wave passing over society.

Source: The Fraud of Feminism – Chapter VII: The Psychology of the Movement

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Feminists argue both sameness and difference

Ernest B. Bax describes how feminists argued for difference between males and females, while on other occasions argued for sex-sameness. The difference narrative was especially exploited, proving that sentimental appeals to sex-difference gained women the most.

Why? – Because differences, especially those implying weakness and vulnerability, evoke chivalry.

***

Modern Feminism would fain achieve the feat of eating its cake and having it too. When political and economic rights are in question, such as involve gain and social standing, the assumption of inferiority magically disappears before the strident assertion of the dogma of the equality of woman with man – her mental and moral equality certainly! When, however, the question is of a different character – for example, for the relieving of some vile female criminal of the penalty of her misdeeds-then Sentimental Feminism comes into play, then the whole plaidoyer is based on the chivalric sentiment of deference and consideration for poor, weak woman.” [Chapter V: The “Chivalry” Fake, in The Fraud of Feminism 1913]

Feminists only claim equality with men in so far as it has agreeable consequences for women. And this applies all along the line… I would advise woman’s-righters to choose the one side or the other. If they stick to the weakness of woman physically as ground for woman’s privileges and immunities, let them give up prating of equality otherwise. If they contend for equality let it at least be an even equality all round. [‘Female Suffrage’ – in Social Democrat, Vol.8, no.9, pp.533-545 1904].

The bulk of the advocates of woman’s rights are simply working, not for equality, but for female ascendency. It is all very well to say they repudiate chivalry. They are ready enough to invoke it politically when they want to get a law passed in their favour – while socially, to my certain knowledge, many of them claim it as a right every whit as much as ordinary women. [‘No Misogyny But True Equality’ – in To-day, pp.115-121 1887]

For an analysis of this feminist duplicity today, see Feminism, sex-differences and chivalry

Criminal Law and Sex (1893)

The following is an excerpt from The Ethics of Socialism (p.65-66) – PW

In the Middle Ages “benefit of clergy” might be claimed by offenders who could read and write, such “benefit” consisting in exemption from the ordinary punishment for an offence. In the modern world all such wicked and unenlightened distinctions are abolished. The law nowadays makes no distinction of persons between men. True; but it makes distinctions between men and women, and where law draws no distinction, practice does. “Benefit of clergy” is superseded by “benefit of sex.” Not only are all the more brutal features of “penal discipline” still practised on men abolished as regards women, but the chances of prosecution, of conviction, and if convicted, of heavy sentences, are at least a hundred to one in favour of women.

Of course we know that the principle of equality between the sexes, as understood in the present day, demands this, and has been, and is, continually pushing legislation forward in this direction. Unless the social upheaval obliterates current lines of progress beforehand, we may yet live to see “equality between the sexes” realised in laws, whereby no female may be prosecuted for any offence whatever, the nearest male relation being substituted, and where the quiet London wayfarer in a lonely street will be in as dangerous a position as the “unprotected male” in the railway-carriage with a lone woman is now. Of course, any one that points this out is not treated seriously.

The sentiment is still on the ascendant, and will have (as things go) to work out its own absurdity by its very excess before it begins to dawn upon the average British intellect that the distinction between the cohorts of Ormuszd and Ahriman is not invariably based on sex—and that persons who would legislate on this assumption are not quite fit to be at large. Meanwhile our Ormiston Chants, Garrett Andersons, and Co., will probably have the opportunity of celebrating, in after-dinner speeches, new triumphs of the sexual inequality they apparently have at heart.

Source: Ernest Belfort Bax, Chapter 6. ‘Criminal Law Under Socialism,’ in Ethics of Socialism, Published 1893 by Swan Publishing, London.

6. Analysis Of Cases

“In this way I have now reported in all upon nearly a hundred cases, and I have advised prosecution in only six, and in all of these have convictions been obtained. It has, of course, been left to the police to prosecute as they chose on my report in twenty-two cases, and they have refrained from the prosecution in all but seven cases, and of these the bills were ignored in two cases by grand juries, in four light sentences were passed summarily or at sessions for com- mon assaults, and in one case punishment, probably well deserved, was obtained on a charge of wounding another person. In the remainder, about sixty-six, I have advised that no effort at prosecution should be entertained for a moment, and the police have aquiesced in my advice. I say, concerning the number of the last class, ‘about sixty-six,’ because a number of the cases involved charges concerning two children, so that reckoning from the number of plaintiffs there would be a larger number of cases than if the statistics were taken from a list of defendants, and one case in particular will show how curiously important this may be.” In a further analysis he says:–

“Excluding the special groups I have already alluded to, and a few others, to be excepted for various but not important reasons, I find I am left with a list of nearly fifty, in which there was not the slightest surgical evidence of an assault of any kind having been committed; and from the fact that only in some five or six was the question of a charge on the reduced count even entertained, it must be clear that the amount of manufactured charges of this kind is most alarmingly large. In twenty-six cases there was evidence quite satisfactory that the charges were trumped up from evil motive and in twenty-one the evidence was all in favour of accidental inducements, the children having been seen to be fondled by men of suspicious appearance The first fact that strikes one about these cases is that the average age of the first group of children was within a small fraction of twelve years, whilst the average age of the second group is only seven years. A second material fact is that whilst the second group contains a considerable proportion of children of respectable and even well-to-do people, the former group is entirely composed of children of the lowest class of the population.”

BLACKMAIL.

HE further states:–

“There are at least twenty cases on my list where no assault was committed, nor could have any been, consistently with the story and the appearances found, in which blackmailing was deliberately attempted; and I regret to say in many it was successful. One of the most outrageous was a charge of completely successful assault on a girl of fifteen, alleged to have been accomplished at 11 a.m. on one of the iron spiral staircases in the Municipal Art Gallery. The complainant described the place and gave the date and hour with a precision which was remarkable, as also was her description of what took place. She described accurately the attendant, whom she charged by name. Only two things were against her–she was uninjured, and the attendance books of the institution showed conclusively that the defendant had not been at the gallery that day.”

“WANDERING SERVANTS” AND FEMALE VIGILANCE COMMITTEES.

THE following passage from his paper throws some light on the origin of many of these charges:–

“The charges in a very large proportion of cases were distinctly based on motives sometimes of the most extraordinary kind, and in the great bulk these motives were malevolent. The ‘wandering servant’ motive is one of the least harmful, and accounts for a small number. To those who do not understand the phrase I may explain that it simply means that a girl who may have been quite innocently dawdling about till past the hour of return rigidly enforced by a strict mistress, does not go home, but wanders about all night or sleeps in an outhouse. She is either found by the police or goes back home in the morning and concocts on the way a story of rape, particularised by the most minute details, not one of which is corroborated on examination, nor can the police find a scrap of evidence in support of her story. Yet she becomes the interesting prey of some Vigilance Committee, and it is more by good luck than by good guiding, as the Scotch say, that she does not pick out and name some unfortunate man for the gratification of the prurient curiosity of the fussy women who have taken up her case. In one of these cases brought to me the interesting wanderer by misfortune, selected as her victim the husband of the chairwoman of her committee, and thus trouble came upon her and the committee was dissolved.”

FORCING A MAN TO MARRY.

IN the following cases the facts are instructive as showing the use to which such charges may be put:–

“In one of the cases I regret having advised a prosecution, though technically I was quite right in doing so and bound to do it; but now I have no doubt whatever that the assault was arranged and encouraged, and but for an untimely interruption something more would have followed. The charge preferred was laid solely for the purpose of bringing an unwilling bridegroom to the altar. This effect it had, for on the prosecutrix declaring in the witness-box that if he would keep his engagement and marry her she would with- draw the charge, a sympathetic judge advised him to take the offer, which he unwillingly did under pressure of receiving a nominal sentence. The subsequent history of this couple has convinced me the whole thing was a plant on the unfortunate man.”

SPECULATIVE ATTORNEYS AND MILLINERS [TRIFLERS.]

IN some of the cases he examined the question of age was important:–

“In a very few of these cases prosecution was not advised and not undertaken by the police on the question of either real or apparent age. The wording of the Criminal Law Amendment Act is made to supply a few of the omissions of the old law concerning rape, and in raising the age under which the consent of the female participator is not recognised, the Act puts the dangerous weapon into the hands of that person of showing that she des not appear to be sixteen. This is a fertile source of blackmailing, because a girl of fifteen and a half has only to get a man to have connection with her, or to attempt it, and he is at her mercy. If he will pay up his defence is easily arranged by the speculative attorney who is always at the back door of such cases. He has only to plead that he had a discussion with the girl about her age, that he reasonably believed she was over sixteen, and a little skilful millinery displayed in the witness-box settles the release of the defendant. But if he won’t pay up then the milliner can make the prosecutrix look much under sixteen, and a heavy sentence is the result. To give an opinion on the part of a skilled expert that a girl is or is not under fourteen, the usual molimenal [puberty] age, is a matter of infinite ease compared to giving an opinion that the girl is or is not under sixteen. Maturity has been reached, and the changes at fifteen and sixteen are far less than at thirteen and fourteen, a very important fact which has been forgotten.”

THE MOTIVE OF MALICE.

THE following passages show that spite is often as potent a motive in these charges as blackmail:–

“There is another and still more dangerous element in these cases, and that is the malice of persons, always women, who practically get up the cases or provoke them, and with this may be placed a few subsidiary influences which may well be classed with this. A few examples of some of them will be given in detail.

“Two children were brought to me (case 56), aged fourteen and eleven and a-half respectively, living in the same set of back houses in a well-known and fairly respectable street, the elder girl looking much older than her ascertained age. The person against whom the charge was made was the father of the older girl, and she made the charge that she found her father indecently assaulting the younger girl. She told the neighbours and the neighbours brought in the police. The younger girl proved to be quite uninjured, but it speedily came out that the elder girl was her own father’s regular mistress for more than two years. The girl who was the cause of this action was one of the most virulent little minxes I ever saw, and she made no secret of her reason for splitting [ratting] on her father being the fact that she found him taking up with another girl. I have included this little wretch as one of the habitual prostitutes, but I do not believe she comes under the definition. She does afford, however, a perfect example of how the great bulk of these charges are brought about.”

FEMALE REVENGE ON FATHER OR HUSBAND.

THE following shows that a similar horrible charge may be brought against an innocent man:–

“Two little wretches, of ten and twelve, who had been thrashed by their father for stealing, promptly turned round on him with a charge of having ‘seduced’ them both, giving here an interesting example of female revenge of the direst kind, attempted at an unusually early age. The charge had not the slightest foundation, and they admitted as much when they found they were not believed. Stepmothers give frequent examples of the same abominable attempts to punish their husbands by trumping up such charges, and in three instances mothers used even their own children as the instruments of their diabolical designs.”

PREJUDICE AGAINST ACCUSED.

As to the prejudice accusations of sexual crime incite, Dr. Lawson Tait says:–

“Matters are such under this unrighteous combination that how- ever men may laugh at it and make jokes, they do not willingly travel with single unknown female companions in railway carriages. They know very well that for a man to have the finger of a woman pointed at him with a charge of a sexual offence is to secure that man’s extinction, no matter what the verdict of a jury may be. In 1881 (Lond. Med. Gazette ) a case was tried in which a girl, to shield herself against her equal share of guilt, charged her partner in it with the crime of rape. The jury could hardly be got to acquit the innocent man even though the prosecutrix had to admit that she never called out, her mother sleeping in the next room, because she was afraid her cries would waken the old lady.”

The following indicates strongly one of the disadvantages the undefended prisoner labours under:

DANGER OF RULE ALLOWING UNDEFENDED PRISONER TO GIVE EVIDENCE.

“This new arrangement by which a defendant is allowed to go into the box and give evidence on his own behalf is most mischievous when a poor prisoner is undefended. His poverty involves ignorance, of necessity, and in the hands of a prosecuting barrister his slightest slip in cross-examination will be made to tell against him mercilessly. That is the case if he elects to be sworn. If, on the contrary, he declines, either from ignorance or fear, the jury invariably reckons the fact against him. “I sat through a case quite lately and saw a poor ignorant wretch who, being undefended, did not understand the purport of the invitation, neglected this opportunity. The judge charged clearly in his favour–indeed, there was hardly any evidence against him. But the jury brought him in guilty, and in talking the matter over with one of them after I learned that they were much impressed by the fact that he did not give evidence.”

In considering the results arrived at by Dr. Lawson Tait we must bear in mind that the series of charges he analysed had all been brought under the notice of the police. The vast number of charges compromised for money, without any appeal to the police, must be added to form any fair estimate of the situation. The foregoing catalogue as regards specific crimes is striking enough, but it does not quite exhaust the criminal law privileges of women. As regards punishment, prison treatment and pardon, there are come additional immunities.

1. PRIVILEGE AS TO PUNISHMENT.

(a) Flogging.

The sacrosanct hide of female fiends must not he touched with the lash. Consequently, a wretch who tortures for years innocent children–like the Montague wild beast–must not be flogged. The female garrotter must not be flogged. By express enactment no one but a male call he sentenced to corporal punishment.

(b) Hanging.

As has already been shown the punishment of hanging has been practically abolished for women who murder mere men. If they murder some other woman or babies of some other woman it is quite a different thing. They are, however, exempt from hangings if they murder their own babies.

(c) Duration of Imprisonment.

In every case the duration of the term of imprisonment passed on a female offender is, as everyone knows, enormously less than the punishment imposed on a man for a similar or a lesser offence.

2. PRIVILEGE AS TO PRISON TREATMENT.

(a) Flogging.

Under no circumstances can a female prisoner he flogged for breaches of prison discipline. Men and boys can be, and are, flogged like dogs for the most trivial disrespect to the governor and other officials.

(b) Less Rigid Discipline.

In one of the convict prisons a strike of female prisoners was announced against some disciplinary regulation to which they objected. The obnoxious regulation was rescinded. If they had been men they would have been flogged into submission. (Riot at Wormwood Scrubbs, 1894.)

(c) Lighter Labour.

This is quite apart from the fact that they are assigned much less toilsome forms of labour.

3. PRIVILEGE AS REGARDS PARDON.

The comparative facility with which remission or commutation of sentence on female criminals can be procured is known to every solicitor conversant with Criminal Law Procedure –not merely in cases of infanticide– but in all cases of crimes of violence, the chances of pardon are immeasurably greater than in the case of a male.

Mr. Belfort Bax Replies to his Feminist Critics (1908)

Amid the various writers who have favoured THE NEW AGE with their views on the question of Female Suffrage, none have really traversed my original contention, as contained in my first article. That contention was, that occupying as they do a privileged position before the law – not only in itself, but still more in its administration – as against men, women have no just claim to the franchise. That the votaries of Female Suffrage feel this, is proved by the fact that their most serious efforts at arguments turn upon the iniquity of subjecting women to “man-made laws,” their staple policy throughout their agitation being, by dint of lying assertions and insinuations, ceaselessly repeated, to create the impression on the public mind that the existing state of the law and its administration not only does not favour women, but is actually unfair to “the sex.” Now, as I have pointed out, to anyone in the least acquainted with the theory and practice of the English law, there can be no doubt whatever that the latter, in theory and still more in practice, is entirely and without any exception whatever, one-sided and partial to women and against men.

The only correspondent of THE NEW AGE who has really touched the point at issue at all, while admitting the substantial truth of my remarks, confines himself to suggesting exaggeration on my part and observing that our infamous anti-man marriage laws were unjust “not on one side only.” But I must deny the charge of exaggeration, a denial that can be substantiated by illustrative cases galore. As regards the marriage laws, I insist that the unfairness is wholly and solely on one side. But I must here make an explanation. There does exist on paper one slight concession of fairness towards the husband. The divorce law, namely, ordains that an adulterous wife, owing to the fact that by her adultery she can introduce into the family, and compel her husband to support, a bastard child, can be divorced by the husband on proof of adultery alone, whereas for a wife to obtain divorce from her husband (in which case, of course, the above reason does not obtain), it is necessary to prove cruelty in addition to adultery. Now, believer as I am that marriage ought to be an absolutely free union, it is certainly not my case to defend the existing marriage laws as a system. But I do say that, given that system and our present property and family relations generally, nothing can be more reasonable or more equitable as between the man and the woman than this provision of the English law respecting divorce.

Yet when brought to book and challenged to give a concrete instance of the unfairness of “man-made laws “ to woman anent which the woman’s righter is perennially blathering at large, it is invariably this very innocent and natural provision of the divorce law that is trotted out, it being the solitary instance in which the law does not overtly favour the woman at the expense of the man. But I have said that this provision exists on paper merely, and so it does, since in practice it remains a dead letter. For the discrimination in question is now practically abolished, anything which the wife objects to – coming home late at night, going out to a party without taking her with him, holding her hands when she attempts to scratch or bite him – being adjudged technical cruelty by the husband within the meaning of the law. Per contra, the Act of 1895 condones expressly the adultery of the wife, providing she can successfully plead “neglect” (an elastic term) on the part of the husband. So much for this solitary case in which the Feminist, to his horror and indignation, finds that the law does not for once avowedly favour women at the expense of men. But apart from this isolated example, the whole marriage law is one tissue of favouritism to the woman and injustice to the man, as I have already shown.

And yet we find in “advanced” journals tirades like the following: “Any fool, any blackguard, any coward, is wise enough and worthy enough to be allowed a legal and a holy licence to torture and insult a woman. Anything with the title of husband in his pocket may goad and stab and lash and sear the soul of the slave we call a wife” (Clarion, July 17) Unfortunately, the champion liar who can gush forth the mendacious, sentimental slush, of which the foregoing is a sample, does not stand alone. His performance is but part of an anti-man crusade of misrepresentation and falsehood carefully organised and skilfully engineered, the object of which is, and has been, to inflame public opinion against men in the interests of female privilege and of female domination. Feminists well know that the most grotesquely far-fetched cry anent the injustice of man to woman will meet with a ready ear. They well know that they get here fond and foolish man on his soft side. Looking at the matter impartially, it is quite evident that man’s treatment of woman is the least vulnerable point in his moral record. Woman, as such, he has always treated with comparative generosity. But it is, of course, to the interests of the abettors of female domination to pretend the contrary. Accordingly everything has been done to excite prejudice in favour of woman as the innocent and guileless victim of man’s tyranny, and the maudlin Feminist sentiment of the “brute” man has been carefully exploited to this end. The result of two generations’ agitation in the above sense is seen in the existing state of the law, civil and criminal, in which the “Woman’s Movement” has succeeded in effecting the violation of every principle of rectitude towards the male side of the sex-equation. The existing laws connected with marriage which place the husband practically in the position of legal slavery as regards the wife is typical of the whole.

That the present “Votes for Women” movement is only a phase of the anti-man crusade which Feminism has been carrying on for nigh two generations past with the aid of the Press, is shown, not only by the persistent efforts to represent “ man-made laws “ as unjust to women, but by the incidental remarks of Suffragette leaders in which the sex animus is shown, no concealment being made of the intention to use the suffrage for rivetting on man the chains of legalised female oppression. For example, Mrs. Pankhurst recently represented one of the functions of emancipated “Womanhood” to be the handing over of the luckless male to the Female blackmailer by raising the “age of consent” above sixteen!! The allusion made at the same time to the “daughters of the working class “ is a piece of demagogy too thin to deceive anyone as to the venomous sex-spite animating this outrageous proposal.

Again, in the Daily News for July 30 a suffragette objects to a woman being punished for murdering her child, protesting that the father, who had had nothing to do with the crime, ought to have been in the dock in her place!

In the present agitation we see merely the culmination of a Feminist campaign organised with scarcely any attempt at concealment, as I have said, on the basis of a sex-war. But this sex-war is at present one-sided, the man’s case goes by default. There is no sex-conscious man’s party to be appealed to and to engineer public opinion in favour of the claims of the most elementary justice for him, as here is a sex-conscious woman’s party to further any and every iniquitous claim of the female sex. So long as the present state of things lasts, organised determination on the one side and indefinite gullibility on the other, are likely to maintain the ascendancy of the Feminist cult and increase the sphere of female privilege.

It has often been remarked that even if the suffrage were granted, the enforcement of the laws decreed by a female majority would be dependent on the goodwill of men. This observation we are accustomed to find greeted by Feminist jeers. The jeers may be justified for the moment, but the intrinsic truth of the observation remains none the less. So long, namely, as the Woman’s Party can continue to bulldose men as they have done up to the present, so long will they be able to make men obey and enforce their behests, whether formulated directly through the suffrage or indirectly by hoodwinking public opinion as they do now. But when once men get tired of this, when once the reaction sets in and a sex-conscious Man’s Party forms itself, then Heaven help the women!! The anti-man ranting sisterhood do not seem to realise what the position of their sex would be if men took to refusing to act against their “brothers.” They think it the most natural thing in the world for women to talk and act in this strain as regards their “sisters.” The explanation, to my mind, is simple. They instinctively feel that man is more than sex, that he stands for humanity in the concrete, whereas woman stands, par excellence, for sex and sex alone. As I have often pointed out before, common phraseology recognises that while man has a sex woman is a sex. The hollowness of the sham of the modern dogma of equality between the sexes is shown by the fact that the assumption of inferiority is called into requisition without any hesitation when there is anything to be gained by it for the cause of female privilege. The dogma of equality is reserved for pleading for the franchise, for the opening up of the professions, and similar occasions. According to the current theory, while women are fully equal to men in capacity for government, administration, etc., and hence, while justice demands that these spheres should be accessible to them, they are so inferior to men in the capacity to control their actions and to distinguish right from wrong, that it is not to be thought of that they, poor weak women, should be treated with the same impartiality or severity by the law as is dealt out to men. Women nowadays “want it,” not “both ways” merely, but all ways. At least as good arguments may be produced to prove that the apparent muscular inferiority of women to men is not fundamental, as are adduced to prove that the apparent intellectual inferiority is not fundamental. There are plenty of instances of extraordinary bodily strength in women. And yet we never hear these arguments. Why? Because Feminists have no interest, but quite the contrary, in perverting the truth on this side, whereas on the other, their demands require that they shall prove equality – the aim being to ensure for women all honourable, agreeable, and lucrative occupations in life, while guarding them carefully from all rough and disagreeable work and from all unpleasant responsibilities. Hence it suits their book to admit the physical, while denying the mental, inferiority. My constitutional objection to privileged classes extends also to a privileged sex. Hence my (as some deem it, intemperate) zeal in exposing the hollow humbug on which the practical demands of the “Woman’s Movement” rest.

Turning again to the present agitation, it is noteworthy how the evidence as to the numerical strength of the Suffrage movement adduced by its advocates is about on a level with the arguments advanced in support of the general principle of Feminism. A stage army, the vanguard of which probably amounts to some five hundred, which can on occasion, from all England, be raised to ten thousand (among these, girlish youth and innocence being particularly prominent), such is all that has yet been achieved, and such it is that we are asked to regard as representing the public opinion of England. However, one may suppose that the Feminists are so accustomed to their statements otherwise being allowed to pass by default, that they have come to regard the supineness and gullibility of public opinion in these matters as a safe speculation. Hence, at the beginning of the twentieth century the figure of British Womanhood rises up before us, reeking with privilege, and, in alternate strophes, tearfully whimpering and threateningly shrieking that she has not enough, that she wants more! Such, at least is the Womanhood of the Feminist agitation. In concluding this controversy, I can only reaffirm my original position unshaken, and that is, that whatever other arguments there may be for or against “Votes for Women,” certain it is, under any ordinarily recognised standard of fairness and equality, that so long as women enjoy those privileges before the law at the expense of men which they now do, it is unjust that they should be given facilities for increasing, them by the concession of the franchise.

 
Source: New Age, 8 August 1908, p. 287-288