Tag Archives: men’s human rights

3. The Anti-Man Crusade

WE have already pointed out that Modern Feminism has two sides or aspects. The first formulates definite political, juridical and economic demands on the grounds of justice, equity, equality and so forth, as general principles; the second does not formulate in so many words definite demands as general principles, but seems to exploit the traditional notions of chivalry based on male sex sentiment, in favour of according women special privileges on the ground of their sex, in the law, and still more in the administration of the law. For the sake of brevity we call the first Political Feminism, for, although its demands are not confined to the political sphere, it is first and foremost a political movement, and its typical claim at the present time, the Franchise, is a purely political one; and the second Sentimental Feminism, inasmuch as it commonly does not profess to be based on any general principle whatever, whether of equity or otherwise, but relies exclusively on the traditional and conventional sex sentiment of Man towards Woman. It may be here premised that most Political Feminists, however much they may refuse to admit it, are at heart also Sentimental Feminists. Sentimental Feminists, on the other hand, are not invariably Political Feminists, although the majority of them undoubtedly are so to a greater or lesser extent. Logically, as we shall have occasion to insist upon later on, the principles professedly at the root of Political Feminism are in flagrant contradiction with any that can justify Sentimental Feminism.

Now both the orders of Feminism referred to have been active for more than a generation past in fomenting a crusade against the male sex – an Anti-Man Crusade. Their efforts have been largely successful owing to a fact to which attention has, perhaps, not enough been called. In the case of other classes, or bodies of persons, having com munity of interests this common interest invariably interprets itself in a sense of class, caste, or race solidarity. The class or caste has a certain esprit de corps in its own interest. The whole of history largely turns on the conflict of economic classes based on a common feeling obtaining between members of the respective classes; on a small scale, we see the same thing in the solidarity of a particular trade or profession. But it is unnecessary to do more than call attention here to this fundamental sociological law upon which alike the class struggles of history, and of modern times, the patriotism of states from the city-state of the ancient world to the national state of the modern world, is based. Now note the peculiar manner in which this law manifests itself in the sex question of the present day. While Modern Feminism has succeeded in establishing a powerful sex-solidarity amongst a large section of women as against men, there is not only no sex-solidarity of men as against women, but, on the contrary, the prevalence of an altogether opposed sentiment. Men hate their brother-men in their capacity of male persons. In any conflict of interests between a man and a woman, male public opinion, often in defiance of the most obvious considerations of equity, sides with the woman, and glories in doing so. Here we seem to have a very flagrant contradiction with, as has already been said, one of the most fundamental sociological laws. The explanations of the phenomena in question are, of course, ready to hand:– Tradition of chivalry, feelings, perhaps inherited, dating possibly back to the pre-human stage of man’s evolution, derived from the competition of the male with his fellow-male for the possession of the coveted female, etc.

These explanations may have a measure of validity, but I must confess they are to me scarcely adequate to account for the intense hatred which the large section of men seem to entertain towards their fellow-males in the world of to-day, and their eagerness to champion the female in the sex war which the Woman’s “sex union,” as it has been termed, has declared of recent years. Whatever may be the explanation, and I confess I cannot find one completely satisfactory, the fact remains. A Woman’s Movement unassisted by man, still more if opposed energetically by the public opinion of a solid phalanx of the manhood of any country, could not possibly make any headway. As it is, we see the legislature, judges, juries, parsons, specially those of the non-conformist persuasion, all vie with one another in denouncing the villainy and baseness of the male person, and ever devising ways and means to make his life hard for him. To these are joined a host of literary men and journalists of varying degrees of reputation who contribute their quota to the stream of anti-manism in the shape of novels, storiettes, essays, and articles, the design of which is to paint man as a base, contemptible creature, as at once a knave and an imbecile, a bird of prey and a sheep in wolfs clothing, and all as a foil to the glorious majesty of Womanhood. There are not wanting artists who are pressed into this service. The picture of the Thames Embankment at night, of the drowned unfortunate with the angel’s face, the lady and gentleman in evening dress who have just got out of their cab – the lady with uplifted hands bending over the dripping form, and the callous and brutal gentleman turning aside to light a cigarette – this is a typical specimen of Feminist didactic art. By these means, which have been carried on with increasing ardour for a couple of generations past, what we may term the anti-man cultus has been made to flourish and to bear fruit till we find nowadays all recent legislation affecting the relations between the sexes carrying its impress, and the whole of the judiciary and magistracy acting as its priests and ministrants.

On the subject of Anti-man legislation, I have already written at length elsewhere [1], but for the sake of completeness I state the case briefly here.

1. The marriage laws of England to-day are a monument of Feminist sex partiality. If I may be excused the paradox, the partiality of the marriage laws begins with the law relating to breach of promise, which, as is well known, enables a woman to punish a man vindictively for refusing to marry her after having once engaged himself to her. I ought to add, and this, oftentimes, however good his grounds may be for doing so. Should the woman commit perjury, in these cases, she is never prosecuted for the offence. Although the law of breach of promise exists also for the man, it is well known to be totally ineffective and practically a dead letter. It should be remarked that, however gross the misrepresentations or undue influences on the part of the woman may have been to induce the man to marry her, they do not cause her to lose her right to compensation. As, for instance, where an experienced woman of the world of thirty or forty entraps a boy scarcely out of his teens.

2. Again, according to the law of England, the right to maintenance accrues solely to the woman. Formerly this privilege was made dependent on her cohabitation with the man and generally decent behaviour to him. Now even these limitations cease to be operative, while the man is liable to imprisonment and confiscation of any property he may have. A wife is now at full liberty to leave her husband, while she retains her right to get her husband sent to gaol if he refuses to maintain her – to put the matter shortly, the law imposes upon the wife no legally enforceable duties whatever towards her husband. The one thing which it will enforce with iron vigour is the wife’s right of maintenance against her husband. In the case of a man of the well-to-do classes, the man’s property is confiscated by the law in favour of his wife. In the case of a working man the law compels her husband to do corvée for her, as the feudal serf had to do for his lord. The wife, on the other hand, however wealthy, is not compelled to give a farthing towards the support of her husband, even though disabled by sickness or by accident; the single exception in the latter case being should he become chargeable to the parish, in which case the wife would have to pay the authorities a pauper’s rate for his maintenance. In a word, a wife has complete possession and control over any property she may possess, as well as over her earnings; the husband, on the other hand, is liable to confiscation of capitalised property or earnings at the behest of the law courts in favour of his wife. A wife may even make her husband bankrupt on the ground of money she alleges that she lent him; a husband, on the other hand, has no claim against his wife for any money advanced, since a husband is supposed to give, and not to lend, his wife money, or other valuables.

3. The law affords the wife a right to commit torts against third parties – e.g. libels and slanders – the husband alone being responsible, and this rule applies even although the wife is living apart from her husband, who is wholly without knowledge of her misdeeds. With the exception of murder, a wife is held by the law to be guiltless of practically any crime committed in the presence of her husband.

4. No man can obtain a legal separation or divorce from his wife (save under the Licensing Act of 1902, a Police Court separation for habitual drunkenness alone) without a costly process in the High Court. Every wife can obtain, if not a divorce, at least a legal separation, by going whining to the nearest police court, for a few shillings, which her husband, of course, has to pay. The latter, it is needless to say, is mulcted in alimony at the “discretion of the Court.” This “discretion” is very often of a queer character for the luckless husband. Thus, a working man earning only twenty shillings a week may easily find himself in the position of having to pay from seven to ten shillings a week to a shrew out of his wages

In cases where a wife proceeds to file a petition for divorce, the way is once more smoothed for her by the law, at the husband’s expense. He has to advance her money to enable her to fight him. Should the case come on for hearing the husband finds the scale still more weighted against him; every slander of his wife is assumed to be true until he has proved its falsity, the slightest act or a word during a moment of irritation, even a long time back, being twisted into what is termed “legal cruelty,” even though such has been provoked by a long course of ill treatment and neglect on the part of the wife. The husband and his witnesses can be indicted for perjury for the slightest exaggeration or inaccuracy in their statements, while the most calculated falsity in the evidence of the wife and her witnesses is passed over. Not the grossest allegation on the part of the wife against the husband, even though proved in court to be false, is sufficient ground for the husband to refuse to take her back again, or from preventing the court from confiscating his property if he resists doing so. Knowledge of the unfairness of the court to the husband, as all lawyers are aware, prevents a large number of men from defending divorce actions brought by their wives. A point should here be mentioned as regards the action of a husband for damages against the seducer of his wife. Such damages obviously belong to the husband as compensation for his destroyed home life. Now these damages our modern judges in their feminist zeal have converted into a fund for endowing the adulteress, depriving the husband of any compensation whatever for the wrong done him. He may not touch the income derived from the money awarded him by the jury, which is handed over by the court to his divorced wife. It would take us too long to go through all the privileges, direct and indirect, conferred by statute or created by the rulings of judges and the practice of the courts, in favour of the wife against the husband. It is the more unnecessary to go into them here as they may be found in detail with illustrative cases in the aforesaid pamphlet in which I collaborated, entitled The Legal Subjection of Men (mentioned in the footnote to p.55).

At this point it may be well to say a word on the one rule of the divorce law which Feminists are perennially trotting out as a proof of the shocking injustice of the marriage law to women: that to obtain her divorce the woman has to prove cruelty in addition to adultery against her husband, while in the case of the husband it is sufficient to prove adultery alone. Now to make of this rule a grievance for the woman is, I submit, evidence of the destitution of the Feminist case. In default of any real injustice pressing on the woman the Feminist is constrained to make as much capital as possible out of the merest semblance of a grievance he can lay his hand on. The reasons for this distinction which the law draws between the husband and the wife, it is obvious enough, are perfectly well grounded. It is based mainly on the simple fact that while a woman by her adultery may foist upon her husband a bastard which he will be compelled by law to support as his own child, in the husband’s case of having an illegitimate child the wife and her property are not affected. Now in a society such as ours is, based upon private property-holding, it is only natural, I submit, that the law should take account of this fact. But not only is this rule of law almost certainly doomed to repeal in the near future, but in even the present day, while it still nominally exists, it is practically a dead letter in the divorce court, since any trivial act of which the wife chooses to complain is strained by the court into evidence of cruelty in the legal and technical sense. As the matter stands, the practical effect of the rule is a much greater injustice to the husband than to the wife, since the former often finds himself convicted of “cruelty” which is virtually nothing at all, in order that the wife’s petition may be granted, and which is often made the excuse by Feminist judges for depriving the husband of the custody of his children. Misconduct on the wife’s part, or neglect of husband and children, does not weigh with the court which will not on that ground grant relief to the husband from his obligation for maintenance, etc. On the other hand, neglect of the wife by the husband is made a ground for judicial separation with the usual consequences – alimony, etc.

“Thus,” as it has been put, “between the upper and the nether millstone, cruelty on the one hand, neglect on the other, the unhappy husband can be legally ground to pieces, whether he does anything or whether he does nothing.”

Personal violence on the part of the husband is severely punished; on the part of wife she will be let off with impunity. Even if she should in an extreme case be imprisoned, the husband, if a poor man, on her release will be compelled to take her back to live with him. The case came under the notice of the writer a few years ago in which a humane magistrate was constrained to let off a woman who had nearly murdered a husband on the condition of her graciously consenting to a separation, but she had presumably still to be supported by her victim.

The decision in the notorious Jackson case precluded the husband from compelling his wife to obey an order of the court for the restitution of conjugal rights. The persistent Feminist tendency of all case-law is illustrated by a decision of the House of Lords in 1894 in reference to the law of Scotland constituting desertion for four years a ground ipso facto for a divorce with the right of remarriage. Here divorce was refused to a man whose wife had left him for four years and taken her child with her. The Law Lords justified their own interpretation of the law on the ground that the man did not really want her to come back. But inasmuch as this plea can be started in every case where it cannot be proved that the husband had absolutely grovelled before his wife, imploring her to return, and possibly even then – since the sincerity even of this grovelling might conceivably be called in question – it is clear that the decision practically rendered this old Scottish law inoperative for the husband.

As regards the offence of bigamy, for which a man commonly receives a heavy sentence of penal servitude, I think I may venture to state, without risking contradiction, that no woman during recent years has been imprisoned for this offence. The statute law, while conferring distinct privileges upon married women as to the control of their property, and for trading separately and apart from their husbands, renders them exempt from the ordinary liabilities incurred by a male trader as regards proceedings under the Debtors Acts and the Bankruptcy Law. See Acts of 1822 (45 & 46 Vict. c.75); 1893 (56 & 57 Vict. c.63), and cases Scott v. Morley, 57 L.J.R.Q.B. 43. L.R. 20 Q.B.D. In re Hannah Lines exparte Lester C.A. (1893), 2. 2. B. 113.

In the case of Lady Bateman v. Faber and others reported in Chancery Appeal Cases (1898 Law Reports) the Master of the Rolls (Sir N. Lindley) is reported to have said:

“The authorities showed that a married woman could not by hook or by crook – even by her own fraud – deprive herself of restraint upon anticipation. He would say nothing as to the policy of the law, but it had been affirmed by the Married Woman’s Property Act” (the Act of 1882 above referred to) “and the result was that a married woman could play fast and loose to an extent to which no other person could.” (N.B. – Presumably a male person.)

It has indeed been held, to such a length does the law extend its protection and privileges to the female, that even the concealment by a wife from the husband at the time of marriage that she was then pregnant by another man was no ground for declaring the marriage null and void.

The above may be taken as a fair all-round, although by no means an exhaustive, statement of the present one-sided condition of the civil law as regards the relation of husband and wife. We will now pass on to the consideration of the relative incidence of the criminal law on the two sexes. We will begin with the crime of murder. The law of murder is still ostensibly the same for both sexes, but in effect the application of its provisions in the two cases is markedly different. As, however, these differences lie, as just stated, not in the law itself but rather in its administration, we can only give in this place, where we are dealing with the principles of law rather than with their application, a general formula of the mode in which the administration of the law of murder proceeds, which, briefly stated, is as follows: The evidence even to secure conviction in the case of a woman must be many times stronger than that which would suffice to hang a man. Should a conviction be obtained, the death penalty, though pronounced, is not given effect to, the female prisoner being almost invariably reprieved. In most cases where there is conviction at all, it is for manslaughter and not for murder, when a light or almost nominal sentence is passed. Cases confirming what is here said will be given later on. There is one point, however, to be observed here, and that is the crushing incidence of the law of libel. This means that no case of any woman, however notoriously guilty on the evidence, can be quoted, after she has been acquitted by a Feminist jury, as the law holds such to be innocent and provides them with “a remedy” in a libel action. Now, seeing that most women accused of murder are acquitted irrespective of the evidence, it is clear that the writer is fatally handicapped so far as confirmation of his thesis by cases is concerned.

Women are to all intents and purposes allowed to harass men, when they conceive they have a grievance, at their own sweet will, the magistrate usually telling their victim that he cannot interfere. In the opposite case, that of a man harassing a woman, the latter has invariably to find sureties for his future good behaviour, or else go to gaol. One of the most infamous enactments indicative of Feminist sex bias is the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1886. The Act itself was led up to with the usual effect by an unscrupulous newspaper agitation in the Feminist and Puritan interest, designed to create a panic in the public mind, under the influence of which legislation of this description can generally be rushed through Parliament. The reckless disregard of the commonest principles of justice and common-sense of this abominable statute may be seen in the shameless sex privilege it accords the female in the matter of seduction. Under its provisions a boy of fourteen years can be prosecuted and sent to gaol for an offence to which he has been instigated by a girl just under sixteen years, whom the law, of course, on the basis of the aforesaid sex privilege, holds guiltless. The outrageous infamy of this provision is especially apparent when we consider the greater precocity of the average girl as compared with the average boy of this age.

We come now to the latest piece of Anti-man legislation, the so-called White Slave Trade Act of 1912 (Criminal Law Amendment Act 1912, 2 & 3 Geo. V. c.20). This statute was, as usual, rushed through the legislature on the wave of factitious public excitement organised for the purpose, and backed up by the usual faked statements and exaggerated allegations, the whole matter being three parts bogus and deliberate lying. The alleged dangers of the unprotected female were, for the object of the agitation, purposely exaggerated in the proverbial proportion of the mountain to the molehill. But as regards many of those most eager in promoting this piece of Anti-man legislation, there were probably special psychological reasons to account for their attitude. The special features of the Bill, the Act in question, are (1) increased powers given to the police in the matter of arrest on suspicion, and (2) the flogging clauses.

Up till now the flogging of garrotters was justified against opponents, by its upholders, on the ground of the peculiarly brutal nature of the offence of highway robbery with violence. It should be noted that in the Act in question no such excuse can apply, for it is appointed to be indicted for offences which, whatever else they may be, do not in their nature involve violence, and hence which cannot be described as brutal in the ordinary sense of the term. The Anti-man nature of the whole measure, as of the agitation itself which preceded it, is conclusively evidenced by the fact that while it is well known that the number of women gaining a living by “procuration” is much greater than the number of men engaged therein, comparatively little vituperation was heard against the female delinquents in the matter, and certainly none of the vitriolic ferocity that was poured out upon the men alleged to participate in the traffic. A corresponding distinction was represented in the measure itself by the allocation of the torture of the lash to men alone. It is clear, therefore, that the zeal for the suppression of the traffic in question was not the sole motive in the ardour of the flogging fraternity. Even the Anti-manism at the back of the whole of this class of legislation seems insufficient to account for the outbreak of bestial blood-lust, for the tigerish ferocity, of which the flogging clauses in the Act are the outcome. There is, I take it, no doubt that psychical sexual aberration plays a not inconsiderable part in many of those persons – in a word, that they are labouring under some degree of homosexual Sadism. The lustful glee on the part of the aforesaid persons which greets the notion of the partial flaying alive, for that is what the “cat” means, of some poor wretch who has succumbed to the temptation of getting his livelihood by an improper method, is hardly to be explained on any other hypothesis. Experts allege that traces of psycho-sexual aberration are latent in many persons where it would be least expected, and it is, prima facie, likely enough that these latent tendencies in both men and women should become active under the cover of an agitation in favour of purity and anti-sexuality, to the point of gratifying itself with the thought of torture inflicted upon men. A psycho-sexual element of another kind doubtless also plays a not unimportant rôle in the agitation of “ladies” in favour of that abomination, “social purity,” which, being interpreted, generally means lubricity turned upside down. The fiery zeal manifested by many of those ladies for the suppression of the male sex is assuredly not without its pathological significance.

The monstrosity of the recent White Slave Traffic enactment and its savage anti-male vindictiveness is shown not merely, as already observed, in the agitation which preceded it, with its exaggerated vilification of the male offenders in the matter of procuration and its passing over with comparative slight censure the more numerous female offenders, or in the general spirit animating the Act itself, but it is noticeable in the very preposterous exaggeration of its provisions. For example, in the section dealing with the souteneur, the framers of this Act, and the previous Criminal Law Amendment Acts to which this latest one is merely supplementary, are not satisfied with penalising the man who has no other means of subsistence beyond what he derives from the wages of some female friend’s prostitution, but they strike with impartial rigour the man who knowingly lives wholly or in part from such a source. If, therefore, the clause were taken in its strict sense, any poor out-at-elbow man who accepted the hospitality of a woman of doubtful virtue in the matter of a drink, or a dinner, would put himself within the pale of this clause in the Act, and might be duly flayed by the “cat” in consequence. The most flagrant case occurred in a London police court in March 1913, in a youth of eighteen years, against whose general character nothing was alleged and who was known to be in employment as a carman, was sentenced to a month’s hard labour under the following circumstances: – It was reported that he had been living with a woman apparently considerably older than himself, whom admittedly he had supported by his own exertions and, when this was insufficient, even by the pawning of his clothes, and whom as soon as he discovered she was earning money by prostitution he had left. Would it be believed that a prosecution was instituted by the police against this young man under the iniquitous White Slave Traffic Act? But what seems still more incredible is that the magistrate, presumably a sane gentleman, after admitting that the poor fellow was “more sinned against than sinning,” did not hesitate to pass on him a sentence of one month’s hard labour!!! Of course the woman, who was the head and front of the offending, if offending there was, remained untouched. The above is a mild specimen of “justice” as meted out in our police courts, “for men only”! Quite recently there was a case in the north of England of a carter, who admittedly worked at his calling but who, it was alleged, was assisted by women with whom he had lived. Now this unfortunate man was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment plus flogging. For the judges, of course, any extension of their power over the prisoner in the dock is a godsend. It is quite evident that they are revelling in their new privilege to inflict torture. One of them had the shamelessness recently to boast of the satisfaction it gave him and to sneer at those of his colleagues who did not make full use of their judicial powers in this direction.

The bogus nature of the reasons urged in favour of the most atrocious clauses of this abominable Act came out clearly enough in the speeches of the official spokesmen of the Government in its favour. For example, Lord Haldane in the House of Lords besought the assembled peers to bethink themselves of the unhappy victim of the souteneur. He drew a picture of how a heartless bully might beat, starve and otherwise ill treat his victim, besides taking away her earnings. He omitted to explain how the heartless bully in a free country could coerce his “victim” to remain with him against her will. He ignored the existence of the police, or of a whole army of social purity busy- bodies, and vigilance societies for whom her case would be a tasty morsel only too eagerly snapped at. If the “victim” does not avail herself of any of those means of escape, so ready to her hand, the presumption is that she prefers the company of her alleged brutal tyrant to that of the chaste Puritan ladies of the vigilance societies. To those who follow the present state of artificially fomented public opinion in the matter, Lord Haldane’s suggestion that there was any danger of the precious “victim” not being sufficiently slobbered over, will seem to be not without a touch of humour. Furthermore, as illustrating the utter illogicality of the line taken by the promoters of the Act, for whom Lord Haldane acted as the mouthpiece, we have only to note the fact that the measure does not limit the penalties awarded to cases accompanied by circumstances of aggravation such as Lord Haldane pictures, which it might easily have done, but extends it impartially to all cases whether accompanied by cruelty or not. We can hardly imagine that a man of Lord Haldane’s intellectual power and general humanity should not have been aware of the hollowness of the case he had to put as an official advocate, and of the rottenness of the conventional arguments he had to state in its support. When confronted with the unquestionably true contention that corporal punishments, especially such as are of a savage and vindictive kind, are degrading alike to the inflicters of them and to those who are their victims, he replied that criminals in the cases in question were already so degraded that they could not be degraded further. One would imagine he could hardly have failed to know that he was talking pernicious twaddle. It is obvious that this argument, in addition to its being untrue, in fact opens the flood-gates to brutal penal legislation all round, so far at least as the more serious offences are concerned. One could equally well assert of murder, burglary, even abus de confidence in some cases, and other offences, that the perpetrators of them must be so degraded that no amount of brutal punishment could degrade them further. Everybody can regard the crime to which he has a pet aversion more than other crimes as indicating the perpetrator thereof to be outside the pale of humanity.

But as regards the particular case in point, let us for a moment clear our minds of cant upon the subject. Procuration and also living on the proceeds of prostitution may be morally abominable methods of securing a livelihood, though even here, as in most other offences, there may be circumstances of palliation in individual cases. But after all [is] said and done, it is doubtful whether, apart from any fraud or misrepresentation, which, of course, places it altogether in a different category, these ought to be regarded as criminal offences. To offer facilities or to act as an agent for women who are anxious to lead a “gay life,” or even to suggest such a course to women, so long as prostitution itself is not recognised by the law as crime, however reprehensible morally, would scarcely seem to transcend the limits of legitimate individual liberty. In any case, the constituting of such an action a crime must surely open out an altogether new principle in jurisprudence, and one of far-reaching consequences. The same remarks apply even more forcibly to the question of sharing the earnings of a prostitute. Prostitution per se is not in the eyes of the law a crime or even a misdemeanour. The woman who makes her living as a prostitute is under the protection of the law, and the money she receives from her customer is recognised as her property. If she, however, in the exercise of her right of free disposition of that property, gives some of it to a male friend, that friend, by the mere acceptance of a free gift, becomes a criminal in the eyes of the law. Anything more preposterous, judging by all hitherto recognised principles of jurisprudence, can scarcely be imagined. Even from the moral point of view of the class of cases coming under the purview of the Act, of men who in part share in the proceeds of their female friends’ traffic, must involve many instances in which no sane person – i.e. one who is not bitten by the rabid man-hatred of the Feminist and social purity monger – must regard the moral obliquity involved as not very serious. Take, for instance, the case of a man who is out of work, who is perhaps starving, and receives temporary assistance of this kind. Would any reasonable person allege that such a man was in the lowest depths of moral degradation, still less that he merited for this breach, at most, of fine delicacy of feeling, the flaying alive prescribed by the Act under consideration. Besides all this, it is well known that some women, shop assistants and others, gain part of their living by their reputable avocation and part in another way. Now presumably the handing over of a portion of her regular salary to her lover would not constitute the latter a flayable criminal, but the endowment of him with a portion of any of the “presents” obtained by her pursuit of her other calling would do so. The process of earmarking the permissible and the impermissible gift strikes one as very difficult even if possible.

The point last referred to leads us on to another reflection. If the man who “in whole or in part” lives on the proceeds of a woman’s prostitution is of necessity a degraded wretch outside the pale of all humanity, as he is represented to be by the flogging fraternity, how about the employer or employeress of female labour who bases his or her scale of wages on the assumption that the girls and women he or she employs, supplement these wages by presents received after working hours, for their sexual favours – in other words, by prostitution? Many of these employers of labour are doubtless to be found among the noble band of advocates of White Slave Traffic Bills, flogging and social purity. The above persons, of course, are respectable members of society, while a souteneur is an outcast.

In addition to the motives before alluded to as actuating the promoters of the factitious and bogus so-called “White Slave” agitation, there is one very powerful political and economic motive which must not be left out of sight. In view of the existing “labour unrest,” it is highly desirable from the point of view of our possessing and governing classes that popular attention should be drawn off labour wrongs and labour grievances on to something less harassing to the capitalist and official mind. Now the Anti-man agitation forms a capital red herring for drawing the popular scent off class opposition by substituting sex antagonism in its place.

If you can set public opinion off on the question of wicked Man and down-trodden Woman, you have done a good deal to help capitalistic enterprise to tide over the present crisis. The insistence of public opinion on better conditions for the labourer will thus be weakened by being diverted into urging forward vindictive laws against men, and for placing as far as may be the whole power of the State at the disposal of the virago, the shrew and the female sharper, in their designs upon their male victim. For, be it remembered, it is always the worst type of woman to whom the advantage of laws passed as the result of the Anti-man campaign accrues. The real nature of the campaign is crucially exhibited in some of the concrete demands put forward by its advocates.

One of the measures proposed in the so-called Woman’s Charter drawn up with the approval of all prominent Feminists by Lady M’Laren (now Lady Aberconway) some four or five years back, and which had been previously advocated by other Feminist writers, was to the effect that a husband, in addition to his other liabilities, should be legally compelled to pay a certain sum to his wife, ostensibly as wages for her housekeeping services, no matter whether she performs the services well, or ill, or not at all. Whatever the woman is, or does, the husband has to pay all the same. Another of the clauses in this precious document is to the effect that a wife is to be under no obligation to follow her husband, compelled probably by the necessity of earning a livelihood for himself and her, to any place of residence outside the British Islands. That favourite crank of the Feminist, of raising the age of consent with the result of increasing the number of victims of the designing young female should speak for itself to every unbiassed person. One of the proposals which finds most favour with the Sentimental Feminist is the demand that in the case of the murder by a woman of her illegitimate child, the putative father should be placed in the dock as an accessory! In other words, a man should be punished for a crime of which he is wholly innocent, because the guilty person was forsooth a woman. That such a suggestion should be so much as entertained by otherwise sane persons is indeed significant of the degeneracy of mental and moral fibre induced by the Feminist movement, for it may be taken as typical. It reminds me of a Feminist friend of mine who, challenged by me, sought (for long in vain) to find a case in the courts in which a man was unduly favoured at the expense of a woman. At last he succeeded in lighting upon the following from somewhere in Scotland: A man and woman who had been drinking went home to bed, and the woman caused the death of her baby by “overlaying it.” Both the man and the woman were brought before the court on the charge of manslaughter, for causing the death, by culpable negligence, of the infant. In accordance with the evidence, the woman who had overlaid the baby was convicted and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and naturally the man, who had not done so, was released. Now, in the judgment of my Feminist friend, in other matters sane enough, the fact that the man who had not committed any offence was let off, while his female companion, who had, was punished, showed the bias of the court in favour of the man!! Surely this is a noteworthy illustration, glaring as it is, of how all judgment is completely overbalanced and destroyed in otherwise judicial minds – of how such minds are completely hypnotised by the adoption of the Feminist dogma. As a matter of fact, of course, the task my friend set himself to do was hopeless. As against the cases, which daily occur all over the country, of flagrant injustice to men and partiality to women on the part of the courts, there is, I venture to assert, not to be found a single case within the limits of the four seas of a judicial decision in the contrary sense – i.e. of one favouring the man at the expense of the woman.

This sex hatred, so often vindictive in its character, of men for men, which has for its results that: “man-made” laws invariably favour the opposite sex, and that “man-administered justice” follows the same course, is a psychological problem which is well worth the earnest attention of students of sociology and thinkers generally.

______________________

Footnote:

1. Cf. Fortnightly Review, November 1911, A Creature of Privilege, also a pamphlet (collaboration) entitled The Legal Subjection of Men, Twentieth Century Press, reprinted by New Age Press, 1908.

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2. The Main Dogma of Modern Feminism

WE have pointed out in the last chapter that Modern Feminism has two sides, the positive, definite, and articulate side, which ostensibly claims equality between the sexes, the chief concern of which is the conferring of all the rights and duties of men upon women, and the opening up of all careers to them. The justification of these demands is based upon the dogma, that, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, women are endowed by nature with the same capacity intellectually and morally as men. We have further pointed out that there is another side in Modern Feminism which in a vague way claims for women immunity from criminal law and special privileges on the ground of sex in civil law. The basis of this side of Feminism is a sentimentalism – i.e. an unequally distributed sentiment in favour of women, traditional and acquired. It is seldom even attempted to base this sentimental claim for women on argument at all. The utmost attempts in this direction amount to vague references to physical weakness, and to the claim for special consideration deriving from the old theory of the mental and moral weakness of the female sex, so strenuously combated as out of date, when the first side of Modern Feminism is being contended for. The more or less inchoate assumptions of the second or sentimental side of the modern “Woman’s Movement” amounts practically, as already stated, to a claim for women to be allowed to commit crimes without incurring the penalties imposed by the law for similar crimes when committed by men. It should be noted that in practice the most strenuous advocates of the positive and articulate side of Feminism are also the sincerest upholders of the unsubstantial and inarticulate assumptions of the sentimental side of the same creed. This is noticeable whenever a woman is found guilty of a particularly atrocious crime. It is somewhat rare for women to be convicted of such crimes at all, since the influence of sentimental Feminism with judges and juries is sufficient to procure an acquittal, no matter how conclusive the evidence to the contrary. Even if women are found guilty it is usual for a virtually nominal sentence to be passed. Should, however, a woman by any chance be convicted of a heinous crime, such as murder or maiming, under specially aggravated circumstances, and a sentence be passed such as would be unanimously sanctioned by public opinion in the case of a man, then we find the whole Feminist world up in arms. The outcry is led by self-styled upholders of equality between the sexes, the apostles of the positive side of Feminism, who bien entendu claim the eradication of sex boundaries in political and social life on the ground of women being of equal capacity with men, but who, when moral responsibility is in question, conveniently fall back on a sentiment, the only conceivable ground for which is to be found in the time-honoured theory of the mental and moral weakness of the female sex. As illustrations of the truth of the foregoing, the reader may be referred to the cases of Florence Doughty in 1906, who shot at and wounded a solicitor with whom she had relations, together with his son; to Daisy Lord in 1908, for the murder of her new-born child; to the case of the Italian murderess, Napolitano in Canada, convicted of the cold-blooded butchery of her husband in his sleep in 1911, for whose reprieve a successful agitation was got up by the suffrage societies!

Let us first of all consider the dogma at the basis of the positive side of Modern Feminism, which claims rational grounds of fact and reason for itself, and professes to be able to make good its case by virtue of such grounds. This dogma consists in the assertion of equality in intellectual capacity, in spite of appearances to the contrary, of women with men. I think it will be admitted that the articulate objects of Modern Feminism, taking them one with another, rest on this dogma, and on this dogma alone. I know it has been argued as regards the question of suffrage, that the demand does not rest solely upon the admission of equality of capacity, since men of a notoriously inferior mental order are not excluded from voting upon that ground, but the fallacy of this last argument is obvious. In all these matters we have to deal with averages. Public opinion has hitherto recognised the average of women as being intellectually below the voting standard, and the average man as not. This, if admitted, is enough to establish the anti-suffrage thesis. The latter is not affected by the fact that it is possible to find certain individual men of inferior intelligence and therefore less intrinsically qualified to form a political judgment than certain specially gifted women. The pretended absurdity of “George Eliot having no vote, and of her gardener having one” is really no absurdity at all. In the first place, given the economic advantages which conferred education upon the novelist, and not upon the gardener, there is not sufficient evidence available that his judgment in public affairs might not have been even superior to that of George Eliot herself. Moreover, the possession of exceptionally strong imaginative faculty, expressing itself as literary genius or talent in works of fiction, does not necessarily imply exceptional power of political judgment. But, be this as it may, where averages are in question, exceptions obviously do not count.

The underlying assumption of the suffrage movement may therefore be taken to be the average equality of the sexes as regards intellectual value. [1]

An initial difficulty exists in proving theoretically the intellectual inferiority of women to men, or even their relative unsuitability for fulfilling functions involving a special order of judgment. There are such things as matters of fact which are open to common observation and which none think of denying or calling in question unless they have some special reason for doing so. Now it is always possible to deny a fact, however evident it may be to ordinary perception, and it is equally impossible to prove that the person calling in question the aforesaid evident fact is either lying (or shall we say “prevaricating”), or even that he is a person hopelessly abnormal is his organs of sense-perception.

At the time of writing, the normal person who has no axe to grind in maintaining the contrary, declares the sun to be shining brightly, but should it answer the purpose of anyone to deny this obvious fact, and declare that the day is gloomy and overcast, there is no power of argument by which I can prove that I am right and he is wrong. I may point to the sun, but if he chooses to affirm that he doesn’t see it I can’t prove that he does. This is, of course, an extreme case, scarcely likely to occur in actual life. But it is in essence similar to those cases of persons (and they are not seldom met with) who, when they find facts hopelessly destructive of a certain theoretical position adopted by them, do not hesitate to cut the knot of controversy in their own favour by boldly denying the inconvenient facts. One often has experience of this trick of controversy in discussing the question of the notorious characteristics of the female sex. The Feminist driven into a corner endeavours to save his face by flatly denying matters open to common observation and admitted as obvious by all who are not Feminists. Such facts are the pathological mental condition peculiar to the female sex, commonly connoted by the term hysteria; the absence, or at best the extremely imperfect development of the logical faculty in most women; the inability of the average woman in her judgment of things to rise above personal considerations; and, what is largely a consequence of this, the lack of a sense of abstract justice and fair play among women in general. The aforesaid peculiarities of women, as women, are, I contend, matters of common observation and are only disputed by those persons – to wit Feminists – to whose theoretical views and practical demands their admission would be inconvenient if not fatal. Of course these characterisations refer to averages, and they do not exclude partial or even occasionally striking exceptions. It is possible, therefore, although perhaps not very probable, that individual experience may in the case of certain individuals play a part in falsifying their general outlook; it is possible – although, as I before said not perhaps very probable – that any given man’s experience of the other sex has been limited to a few quite exceptional women and that hence his particular experience contradicts that of the general run of mankind. In this case, of course, his refusal to admit what to others are self-evident facts would be perfectly bona fide. The above highly improbable contingency is the only refuge for those who would contend for sincerity in the Feminist’s denials. In this matter I only deal with the male Feminist. The female Feminist is usually too biassed a witness in this particular question.

Now let us consider the whole of the differentiations of the mental character between man and woman in the light of a further generalisation which is sufficiently obvious in itself and which has been formulated with special clearness by the late Otto Weininger in his remarkable book, Geschlecht und Charakter (Sex and Character). I refer to the observations contained in Section II., Chaps. 2 and 3. The point has been, of course, previously noted, and the present writer, among others, has on various occasions called special attention to it. But its formulation and elaboration by Weininger is the most complete I know. The truth in question consists in the fact, undeniable to all those not rendered impervious to facts by preconceived dogma, that, as I have elsewhere put it, while man has a sex, woman is a sex. Let us hear Weininger on this point.

“Woman is only sexual, man is also sexual. Alike in time and space this difference may be traced in man, parts of his body susceptible to sexual excitement are small in number and strictly localised. In woman sexuality is diffused over the whole body, every contact on whatever part excites her sexually.”

Weininger points out that while the sexual element in man, owing to the physiological character of the sexual organs, may be at times more violent than that in woman, yet that it is spasmodic and occurs in crises separated by intervals of quiescence. In woman, on the other hand, while less spasmodic, it is continuous. The sexual instinct with man being, as he styles it, “an appendix” and no more, he can raise himself mentally entirely outside of it.

“He is conscious of it as of something which he possesses but which is not inseparate from the rest of his nature. He can view it objectively. With woman this is not the case; the sex element is part of her whole nature. Hence, it is not as with man, clearly recognisable in local manifestations, but subtly affects the whole life of the organism. For this reason the man is conscious of the sexual element within him as such, whereas the woman is unconscious of it as such. It is not for nothing that in common parlance woman is spoken of as ‘the sex.’ In this sexual differentiation of the whole life-nature of woman from man, deducible as it is from physiological and anatomical distinctions, lies the ground of those differentiations of function which culminate in the fact that while mankind in its intellectual moral and technical development is represented in the main by Man, Woman has continued to find her chief function in the direct procreation of the race.”

A variety of causes, notably modern economic development, in their effect on family life, also the illegitimate application of the modern democratic notion of the equality of classes and races, to that of sex, has contributed to the modern revolt against natural sex limitations.

Assuming the substantial accuracy of the above statement of fact, the absurdity and cheapness of the clap-trap of the modern “social purity” monger, as to having one and the same sexual morality for both sexes will be readily seen. The recognition of the necessity of admitting greater latitude in this respect to men than to women is based clearly on physiology and common-sense. With men sexual instinct manifests itself locally, and at intervals its satisfaction is an urgent and pressing need. With woman this is not so. Hence the recognised distinction between the sexes in this respect is, as far as it goes, a thoroughly sound one. Not that I am championing the severity of the restrictions of the current sexual code as regards women. On the contrary, I think it ought to be and will be, in a reasonable society of the future, considerably relaxed. I am only pointing out that the urgency is not so great in the one case as in the other. And this fact it is which has led to the toleration of a stringency, originally arising mainly from economic causes (questions of inheritance and the like), in the case of women, which would not have been tolerated in that of men, even had similar reasons for its adoption in their case obtained. Any successful attempt of social purity mongers to run counter to physiology in enforcing either by legislation or public opinion the same stringency on men in this respect as on women could but have the most disastrous consequences to the health and well-being of the community.

It was a saying of the late Dr Henry Maudsley: “Sex lies deeper than culture.” By this we may understand to be meant that sex differences are organic. All authorities on the physiological question are agreed that woman is less well-organised, less well-developed, than man. Dr de Varigny asserts that this fact is traceable throughout the whole female organism, throughout all its tissues, and all its functions. For instance, the stature of the human female is less than that of the man in all races. As regards weight there is a corresponding difference. The adult woman weighs, on the average, rather more than 11 lbs. less than the man; moreover as a rule a woman completes her growth some years earlier than a man. The bones are lighter in the woman than in the man; not absolutely but in proportion to the weight of the body. They are, it is stated, not merely thinner but more fragile. The difference may be traced even to their chemical composition. The whole muscular development is inferior in woman to that in man by about one-third. The heart in woman is smaller and lighter than in man – being about 10½ oz. in man as against slightly over 8 oz. in woman. In the woman the respiratory organs show less chest and lung capacity. Again, the blood contains a considerably less proportion of red to white corpuscles. Finally, we come to the question of the size and constitution of the brain. (It should be observed that all these distinctions of sex show themselves more or less from birth onwards.)

Specialists are agreed that at all ages the size of the brain of woman is less than that of man. The difference in relative size is greater in proportion according to the degree of civilisation. This is noteworthy, as it would seem as though the brain of man grew with the progress of civilisation, whereas that of woman remains nearly stationary. The average proportion as regards size of skull between the woman and man of to-day is as 85 to 100. The weight of brain in woman varies from 38½ oz. to 45½ oz.; in man, from 42 oz. to 49 oz. This represents the absolute difference in weight, but, according to Dr de Varigny, the relative weight – i.e. the weight in proportion to that of the whole body – is even more striking in its indication of inferiority. The weight of the brain in woman is but one-forty-fourth of the weight of the body, while in man it is one-fortieth. This difference accentuates itself with age. It is only 7 per cent in favour of man between twenty and thirty years; it is 11 per cent between thirty and forty years. As regards the substance of the brain itself and its convolutions, the enormous majority of physiologists are practically unanimous in declaring that the female brain is simpler and smoother, its convolutions fewer and more superficial than those of the male brain, that the frontal lobes, generally associated with the intellectual faculties, are less developed than the occipital lobes, which are universally connected with the lower psychological functions. The grey substance is poorer and less abundant in woman than in man, while the blood vessels of the occipital region are correspondingly fuller than those supplying the frontal lobes. In man the case is exactly the reverse. It cannot be denied by any sane person familiar with the barest elements of physiology that the whole female organism is subservient to the functions of child-bearing and lactation, which explains the inferior development of those organs and faculties which are not specially connected with this supreme end of Woman.

It is the fashion of Feminists, ignoring these fundamental physiological sex differences, to affirm that the actual inferiority of women, where they have the honesty to admit such an obvious fact, is accountable by the centuries of oppression in which Woman has been held by wicked and evil-minded Man. The absurdity of this contention has been more than once pointed out. Assuming its foundation in fact, what does it imply! Clearly that the girls inherit only through their mothers and boys only through their fathers, an hypothesis plainly at variance with the known facts of heredity. Yet those who maintain that distinction of intelligence, etc., between the sexes are traceable to external conditions affecting one sex only and inherited through that sex alone, cannot evade the above assumption. Those, therefore, who regard it as an article of their faith that Woman would show herself not inferior in mental power to man, if only she had the chance of exercising that power, must find a surer foundation for their opinion than this theory of the centuries of oppression, under which, as they allege, the female sex has laboured.

We now come to the important question of morbid and pathological mental conditions to which the female sex is liable and which are usually connected with those constitutional disturbances of the nervous system which pass under the name of hysteria. The word is, as everyone knows, derived from hystera – the womb, and was uniformly regarded by the ancients as directly due to disease of the uterus, this view maintaining itself in modern medicine up till well-nigh the middle of the nineteenth century. Thus Dr J. Mason Good (in his Study of Medicine, 1822, vol.iii., p.528, an important medical text-book during the earlier half of the nineteenth century) says:

“With a morbid condition of this organ, hysteria is in many instances very closely connected, though it is going too far to say that it is always dependent upon such condition, for we meet with instances, occasionally, in which no possible connexion can be traced between the disease and the organ,” etc.

This is perhaps the first appearance, certainly in English medicine, of doubts being thrown on the uterine origin of the various symptoms grouped under the general term, hysteria. Towards the latter part of the nineteenth century the prevalent view tended more and more to dissociate hysteria from uterine trouble. Lately, however, some eminent pathologists have shown a tendency to qualify the terms of the latter view. Thus Dr Thomas Stevenson in 1902 admits that “it frequently accompanies a morbid state of the uterus,” especially where inflammation and congestion are present, and it is not an uncommon thing for surgeons at the present time to remove the ovaries in obstinate cases of hysteria. On the other hand Dr Thomas Buzzard, in an article on the subject in Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine, 1902, states that hysteria is only exceptionally found in women suffering from diseases of the genital organs, and its relation to uterine and ovarian disturbances is probably neither more nor less than that which pertains to the other affections of the nervous system which may occur without any obvious material cause. Dr Thomas Luff (Text-Book on Forensic Medicine,” 1895) shows that the derangements of the reproductive functions are undoubtedly the cause of various attacks of insanity in the female. Dr Savage, in his book On Neuroses, says that acute mania in women occurs most frequently at the period of adult and mature life, and may occasionally take place at either extreme age. Acute mania sometimes occurs at the suppression of the menses. The same is true of melancholia and other pathological mental symptoms. Dr Luff states that acute mania may replace hysteria; that this happens at periods such as puberty, change of life and menstruation. These patients in the intervals of their attacks are often morbidly irritable or excitable, but as time goes on their energies become diminished and their emotions blunted (Forensic Medicine, ii. 307). Such patients are often seized with a desire to commit violence; they are often very mischievous, tearing up clothes, breaking windows, etc. In this mental disorder the patient is driven by a morbid and uncontrollable impulse to such acts. It is not accompanied by delusions, and frequently no change will have been noticed in the individual prior to the commission of the act, and consequently, says Dr Luff, “there is much difference of opinion as to the responsibility of the individual” (ii. 297). Among the acts spoken of Dr Luff mentions a propensity to set fire to furniture, houses, etc. All this, though written in 1895, might serve as a commentary on the Suffragette agitation of recent years. The renowned French professor, Dr Paul Janet (Les Hysteriques, 1894) thus defined hysteria:

“Hysteria is a mental affection belonging to the large group of diseases due to cerebral weakness and debility. Its physical symptoms are somewhat indefinite, consisting chiefly in a general diminution of nutrition. It is largely characterised by moral symptoms, chief of which is an impairment of the faculty of psychological synthesis, an abolition and a contraction of the field of consciousness. This manifests itself in a peculiar manner and by a certain number of elementary phenomena. Thus sensations and images are no longer perceived, and appear to be blotted out from the individual perception, a tendency which results in their persistent and complete separation from the personality in some cases and in the formation of many independent groups. This series of psychological facts alternate the one with the other or co-exist. Finally this synthetic defect favours the formation of certain independent ideas, which develop complete in themselves, and unattached from the control of the consciousness of the personality. These ideas show themselves in affections possessing very various and unique characteristics.”

According to Mr A.S. Millar, F.R.C.S.E. (Encyclopædia Medica, vol.v.),

“Hysteria is that … condition in which there is imagination, imitation, or exaggeration …. It occurs mostly in females and persons of nervous temperament, and is due to some nervous derangement, which may or may be pathological.”

Sir James Paget (Clinical Lectures on Mimicry) says also that hysterical patients are mostly females of nervous temperament.

“They think of themselves constantly, are fond of telling everyone of their troubles and thus court sympathy, for which they have a morbid craving. Will power is deficient in one direction, though some have it very strongly where their interests are concerned.”

He thinks the term “hysteria” in the sense now employed incorrect, and would substitute “mimicry.” “The will should be controlled by the intellect,” observes Dr G.F. Still of King’s College Hospital, “rather than by the emotions and the lack of this control appears to be at the root of some, at least, of the manifestations of hysteria.”

Dr Thomas Buzzard, above mentioned, thus summarises the mental symptoms:

“The intelligence may be apparently of good quality, the patient evincing sometimes remarkable quickness of apprehension; but carefully tested it is found to be wanting in the essentials of the highest class of mental power. The memory may be good, but the judgment is weak and the ability to concentrate the attention for any length of time upon a subject is absent. So also regard for accuracy, and the energy necessary to ensure it in any work that is undertaken, is deficient. The emotions are excited with undue readiness and when aroused are incapable of control. Tears are occasioned not only by pathetic ideas but by ridiculous subjects and peals of laughter may incongruously greet some tragic announcement, or the converse may take place. The ordinary signs of emotion may be absent and replaced by an attack of syncope, convulsion, pain or paralysis. Perhaps more constant than any other phenomenon in hysteria is a pronounced desire for the sympathy and interest of others. This is evidently only one of the most characteristic qualities of femininity, uncontrolled by the action of the higher nervous centres which in a healthy state keep it in subjection. There is very frequently not only a deficient regard for truthfulness, but a proneness to active deception and dishonesty. So common is this, that the various phases of hysteria are often assumed to be simple examples of voluntary simulation and the title of disease refused to the condition. But it seems more reasonable to refer the symptoms to impairment of the highly complex nervous processes which form the physiological side of the moral faculties (Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine, 1902).”

“It is not uncommon to find hysteria in females accompanied by an utter indifference and insensibility to sexual relations. Premature cessation of ovulation is a frequent determining cause. In cases where the ovaries are absent, the change from girl to woman, which normally takes place at puberty, does not occur. The girl grows but does not develop, a masculine appearance supervenes, the voice becomes manly and harsh, sexual passion is absent, the health remains good. The most violent instances of hysteria are in young women of the most robust and masculine constitution” (John Mason Good, M.D., Study of Medicine, 1822).

Other determining causes are given, as painful impressions, long fasting, strong emotions, imitation, luxury, ill-directed education and unhappy surroundings, celibacy, where not of choice but enforced by circumstances, unfortunate marriages, long-continued trouble, fright, worry, overwork, disappointment and such like nervous perturbations, all which causes predispose to hysteria. “It attacks childless women more frequently than mothers and particularly young widows,” and, says Dr J. Mason Good, “more especially still those who are constitutionally inclined to that morbid salacity which has often been called nymphomania … the surest remedy is a happy marriage” (Study of Medicine, 1822, iii. 531). Hysteria is, in common with other nervous disorders, essentially a hereditary malady, and. Briquet (Traité de l’hysterie, 1899) gives statistics to show that in nine cases out of ten hysterical parents have hysterical children. Dr Paul Sainton of the Faculty of Medicine, Paris, says:

“The appearance of a symptom of hysteria generally proves that the malady has already existed for some time though latent. The name of a provocative agent of hysteria is given to any circumstance which suddenly reveals the malady but the real cause of the disorder is a hereditary disposition. If the real cause is unique, the provocative agents are numberless. The moral emotions, grief, fright, anger and other psychic disturbances are the most frequent causes of hysterical affections and in every walk of life subjects are equally liable to attacks.”

Hysteria may appear at any age. It is common with children, especially during the five or six years preceding puberty. Of thirty-three cases under twelve years which came under Dr Still’s notice, twenty-three were in children over eight years. Hysteria in women is most frequent between the ages of fifteen and thirty, and most frequently of all between fifteen and twenty. As a rule there is a tendency to cessation after the “change.” It frequently happens, however, that the disease is continued into an advanced period of life.

“There is a constant change,” says Professor Albert Moll (Das nervöse Weib, p.165), “from a cheerful to a depressed mood. From being free and merry the woman in a short time becomes sulky and sad. While a moment before she was capable of entertaining a whole company without pause, talking to each member about that which interested him, shortly afterwards she does not speak a word more. I may mention the well- worn example of the refusal of a new hat as being capable of converting the most lively mood into its opposite. The weakness of will shows itself here in that the nervous woman [by “nervous” Dr Moll means what is commonly termed “hysterical”] cannot, like the normal one, command the expression of her emotions. She can laugh uninterruptedly over the most indifferent matter until she falls into veritable laughing fits. The crying fits which we sometimes observe belong to the same category. When the nervous woman is excited about anything she exhibits outbreaks of fury wanting all the characteristics of womanhood, and she is not able to prevent these emotional outbursts. In the same way just as the emotions weaken the will and the woman cannot suppress this or that action, it is noticeable in many nervous women that quite independently of these emotions there is a tendency to continuous alterations in their way of acting. It has been noticed as characteristic of many nervous persons that their only consistency lies in their inconsistency. But this must in no way be applied to all nervous persons. On this disposition, discoverable in the nature of so many nervous women, rests the craving for change as manifested in the continual search for new pleasures, theatres, concerts, parties, tours, and other things (p.147). Things that to the normal woman are indifferent or to which she has, in a sense, accustomed herself, are to the nervous woman a source of constant worry. Although she may perfectly well know that the circumstances of herself and her husband are the most brilliant and that it is unnecessary for her to trouble herself in the least about her material position as regards the future, nevertheless the idea of financial ruin constantly troubles her. Thus if she is a millionaire’s wife she never escapes from constant worry. Similarly the nervous woman creates troubles out of things that are unavoidable. If in the course of years she gets more wrinkles, and her attraction for man diminishes, this may easily become a source of lasting sorrow for the nervous woman.”

We now have to consider a point which is being continually urged by Feminists in the present day when confronted with the pathological mental symptoms so commonly observed in women which are usually regarded as having their origin in hysteria. We often hear it said by Feminists in answer to arguments based on the above fact: “Oh, but men can also suffer from hysteria!” “In England,” says Dr Buzzard, “hysteria is 42 comparatively rarely met with in males, the female sex being much more prone to the affection.” The proportion of males to females in hysteria is, according to Dr Pitré (Clinical Essay on Hysteria, 1891), 1 to 3; according to Bodensheim, 1 to 10; and according to Briquet, 1 to 20. The author of the article on Hysteria in The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th edition, 1911) also gives 1 to 20 as the numerical proportion between male and female cases. Dr Pitré, in the work above cited, gives 82 per cent of cases of convulsions in women as against 22 in men. But in all this, under the concept hysteria are included, and indeed chiefly referred to, various physical symptoms of a convulsive and epileptic character which are quite distinct from the mental conditions rightly or wrongly connected, or even identified, with hysteria in the popular mind, and by many medical authorities. But even as regards hysteria in the former sense of the word, a sharp line of distinction based on a diagnosis of cases was long ago drawn by medical men between hysteria masculina and hysteria fœminina, and in the present day eminent authorities – e.g. Dr Bernard Holländer – would deny that the symptoms occasionally diagnosed as hysteria in men are identical with or due to the same causes as the somewhat similar conditions known in women under the name.

After all, this whole question in its broader bearings is more a question of common-sense observation than one for medical experts.

What we are here chiefly concerned with as “hysteria” (in accordance with popular usage of the term) are certain pathological mental symptoms in women open to everybody’s observation, and denied by no one unprejudiced by Feminist views. Every impartial person has only to cast his eye round his female acquaintance, and to recall the various women, of all classes, conditions and nationalities, that he may have come in contact with in the course of his life, to recognise those symptoms of mental instability commonly called hysterical, as obtaining in at least a proportion of one to every four or five women he has known, in a marked and unmistakable degree. The proportion given is, in fact, stated in an official report to the Prussian Government issued some ten years back as that noticeable among female clerks, post office servants and other women employed in the Prussian Civil Service. Certainly as regards women in general, the observation of the present writer, and others whom he has questioned on the subject, would seem to indicate that the proportions given in the Prussian Civil Service report as regards the number of women afflicted in this way are rather under than over stated. [2] There are many medical men who aver that no woman is entirely free from such symptoms at least immediately before and during the menstrual period. The head surgeon at a well-known London hospital informed a friend of mine that he could always tell when this period was on or approaching with his nurses, by the mental change which came over them.

Now these pathological symptoms noticeable in a slight and more or less unimportant degree in the vast majority, if not indeed in all women, and in a marked pathological degree in a large proportion of women, it is scarcely too much to say do not occur at all in men. I have indeed known, I think, two men, and only two, in the course of my life, exhibiting mental symptoms analogous to those commonly called “hysterical” in women. On the other hand my own experience, and it is not alone, is that very few women with whom I have come into more or less frequent contact, socially or otherwise, have not at times shown the symptoms referred to in a marked degree. If, therefore, we are to admit the bare possibility of men being afflicted in a similar way it must be conceded that such cases represent such raræ aves as to be negligible for practical purposes.

A curious thing in pronounced examples of this mental instability in women is that the symptoms are often so very similar in women of quite different birth, surroundings and nationality. I can recall at the present moment three cases, each different as regards birth, class, and in one case nationality, and yet who are liable to develop the same symptoms under the influence of quite similar idées fixes.

But it seems hardly necessary to labour the point in question at greater length. The whole experience of mankind since the dawn of written records confirmed by, as above said, that of every living person not specially committed to the theories of Modern Feminism, bears witness alike to the prevalence of what we may term the hysterical mind in woman and to her general mental frailty. It is not for nothing that women and children have always been classed together. This view, based as it is on the unanimous experience of mankind and confirmed by the observation of all independent persons, has, I repeat, not been challenged before the appearance of the present Feminist Movement and hardly by anyone outside the ranks of that movement.

It is not proposed here to dilate at length on the fact, often before insisted upon, of the absence throughout history of the signs of genius, and, with a few exceptions, of conspicuous talent, in the human female, in art, science, literature, invention or “affairs.” The fact is incontestable, and if it be argued that this absence in women, of genius or even of a high degree of talent, is no proof of the inferiority of the average woman to the average man the answer is obvious.

Apart from conclusive proof, the fact of the existence in all periods of civilisation, and even under the higher barbarism, of exceptionally gifted men, and never of a correspondingly gifted woman, does undoubtedly afford an indication of inferiority of the average woman as regards the average man. From the height of the mountain peaks we may, other things equal, undoubtedly conclude the existence of a tableland beneath them in the same tract of country whence they arise. I have already, in the present chapter, besides elsewhere, referred to the fallacy that intellectual or other fundamental inferiority in woman existing at the present day is traceable to any alleged repression in the past, since (Weissmann and his denial of transmission of acquired characteristics apart), assuming for the sake of the argument such repression to have really attained the extent alleged, and its effects to have been transmitted to future generations, it is against all the laws of heredity that such transmission should have taken place through the female line alone, as is contended by the advocates of this theory. Referring to this point, Herbert Spencer has expressed the conviction of most scientific thinkers on the subject when he declares a difference between the mental powers of men and women to result from “a physiological necessity, and no amount of culture can obliterate it.” He further observes (the passages occur in a letter of his to John Stuart Mill) that “the relative deficiency of the female mind is in just those most complex faculties, intellectual and moral, which have political action for their sphere.”

One of the points as regards the inferiority of women which Feminists are willing and even eager to concede, and it is the only point of which this can be said, is that of physical weakness. The reason why they should be particularly anxious to emphasise this deficiency in the sex is not difficult to discern. It is the only possible semblance of an argument which can be plausibly brought forward to justify female privileges in certain directions. It does not really do so, but it is the sole pretext which they can adduce with any show of reason at all. Now it may be observed (1) that the general frailty of woman would militate coetaris paribus, against their own dogma of the intellectual equality between the sexes; (2) that this physical weakness is more particularly a muscular weakness, since constitutionally the organism of the human female has enormous power of resistance and resilience, in general, far greater than that of man (see below, pp.125-128). It is a matter of common observation that the average woman can pass through strains and recover in a way few men can do. But as we shall have occasion to revert to these two points at greater length later on, we refrain from saying more here.

How then, after consideration, shall we judge of the Feminist thesis, affirmed and reaffirmed, insisted upon by so many as an incontrovertible axiom, that woman is the equal, intellectually and morally, if not physically, of man? Surely that it has all the characteristics of a true dogma. Its votaries might well say with Tertullian, credo quia absurdum. It contradicts the whole experience of mankind in the past. It is refuted by all impartial observation in the present. The facts which undermine it are seriously denied by none save those committed to the dogma in question. Like all dogmas, it is supported by “bluff.” In this case the ‘“bluff” is to the effect that it is the “part, mark, business, lot” (as the Latin grammars of our youth would have had it) of the “advanced” man who considers himself up to date, and not “Early Victorian,” to regard it as unchallengeable. Theological dogmas are backed up by the bluff of authority, either of scriptures or of churches. This dogma of the Feminist cult is not vouchsafed by the authority of a Communion of saints but by that of the Communion of advanced persons up to date. Unfortunately dogma does not sit so well upon the community of advanced persons up to date – who otherwise profess to, and generally do, bring the tenets they hold to the bar of reason and critical test – as it does on a church or community of saints who suppose themselves to be individually or collectively in communication with wisdom from on high. Be this as it may, the “advanced man” who would claim to be “up to date” has to swallow this dogma and digest it as best he can. He may secretly, it is true, spew it out of his mouth, but in public, at least, he must make a pretence of accepting it without flinching.

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Footnotes:

[1] I believe there are some Feminist fanatics who pretend to maintain the superiority of the female mind, but I doubt whether this thesis is taken seriously even by those who put it forward. In any case there are limits to the patent absurdities which it is worth while to refute by argument.

[2] The insanities mentioned above are the extremes. There are mental disturbances of less severity constantly occurring which are connected with the regular menstrual period as well as with disordered menstruation, with pregnancy, with parturition, with Lactation, and especially with the change of life.

1. Historical

THE position of women in social life was for a long time a matter of course. It did not arise as a question, because it was taken for granted. The dominance of men seemed to derive so obviously from natural causes, from the possession of faculties physical, moral and intellectual, in men, which were wanting in women, that no one thought of questioning the situation. At the same time, the inferiority of woman was never conceived as so great as to diminish seriously, much less to eliminate altogether, her responsibility for crimes she might commit. There were cases, of course, such as that of offences committed by women under coverture, in which a diminution of responsibility was recognised and was given effect to in condonation of the offence and in mitigation of the punishment. But there was no sentiment in general in favour of a female more than of a male criminal. It entered into the head of no one to weep tears of pity over the murderess of a lover or husband rather than over the murderer of a sweetheart or wife. Similarly, minor offenders, a female blackmailer, a female thief, a female perpetrator of an assault, was not deemed less guilty or worthy of more lenient treatment than a male offender in like cases. The law, it was assumed, and the assumption was acted upon, was the same for both sexes. The sexes were equal before the law. The laws were harsher in some respects than now, although not perhaps in all. But there was no special line of demarcation as regards the punishment of offences as between men and women. The penalty ordained by the law for crime or misdemeanour was the same for both and in general applied equally to both. Likewise in civil suits, proceedings were not specially weighted against the man and in favour of the woman. There was, as a general rule, no very noticeable sex partiality in the administration of the law.

This state of affairs continued in England till well into the nineteenth century. Thenceforward a change began to take place. Modern Feminism rose slowly above the horizon. Modern Feminism has two distinct sides to it: (1) an articulate political and economic side embracing demands for so-called rights; and (2) a sentimental side which insists in an accentuation of the privileges and immunities which have grown up, not articulately or as the result of definite demands, but as the consequence of sentimental pleading in particular cases. In this way, however, a public opinion became established, finding expression in a sex favouritism in the law and even still more in its administration, in favour of women as against men.

These two sides of Modern Feminism are not necessarily combined in the same person. One may, for example, find opponents of female suffrage who are strong advocates of sentimental favouritism towards women in matters of law and its administration. On the other hand you may find, though this is more rare, strong advocates of political and other rights for the female sex, who sincerely deprecate the present inequality of the law in favour of women. As a rule, however, the two sides go together, the vast bulk of the advocates of “Women’s Rights” being equally keen on the retention and extension of women’s privileges. Indeed, it would seem as though the main object of the bulk of the advocates of the “Woman’s Movement” was to convert the female sex into the position of a dominant sexe noblesse. The two sides of Feminism have advanced hand in hand for the last two generations, though it was the purely sentimental side that first appeared as a factor in public opinion.

The attempt to paint women in a different light to the traditional one of physical, intellectual and moral inferiority to men, probably received its first literary expression in a treatise published in 1532 by Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim entitled De Nobilitate et Praecellentia Feminei Sexus and dedicated to Margaret, Regent of the Netherlands, whose favour Agrippa was at that time desirous of courting. The ancient world has nothing to offer in the shape of literary forerunners of Modern Feminism, although that industrious collector of historical odds and ends, Valerius Maximus, relates the story of one Afrania who, with some of her friends, created disturbances in the Law Courts of ancient Rome in her attempt to make women’s voices heard before the tribunals. As regards more recent ages, after Agrippa, we have to wait till the early years of the eighteenth century for another instance of Feminism before its time, in an essay on the subject of woman by Daniel Defoe. But it was not till the closing years of the eighteenth century that any considerable expression of opinion in favour of changing the relative positions of the sexes, by upsetting the view of their respective values, founded on the general experience of mankind, made itself noticeable.

The names of Mary Wollstonecraft in English literature and of Condorcet in French, will hardly fail to occur to the reader in this connection. During the French Revolution the crazy Olympe de Gouges achieved ephemeral notoriety by her claim for the intellectual equality of women with men.

Up to this time (the close of the eighteenth century) no advance whatever had been made by legislation in recognising the modern theory of sex quality. The claims of women and their apologists for entering upon the functions of men, political, social or otherwise, although put forward from time to time by isolated individuals, received little countenance from public opinion, and still less from the law. What I have called, however, the sentimental aspect of Modern Feminism undoubtedly did make some headway in public opinion by the end of the eighteenth century, and grew in volume during the early years of the nineteenth century. It effectuated in the Act passed in 1820 by the English Parliament abolishing the punishment of flogging for female criminals. This was the first beginning of the differentiation of the sexes in the matter of the criminal law. The parliamentary debate on the Bill in question shows clearly enough the power that Sentimental [1] Feminism had acquired in public opinion in the course of a generation, for no proposal was made at the same time to abolish the punishment of flogging so far as men were concerned. Up to this time the criminal law of England, as of other countries, made no distinction whatever between the sexes in the matter of crime and punishment, or at least no distinction based on the principle or sentiment of sex privilege. (A slight exception might be made, perhaps, in the crime of “petty treason,” which distinguished the murder of a husband by his wife from other cases of homicide.) But from this time forward, legislation and administration have diverged farther and farther from the principle of sex equality in this connection in favour of female immunity, the result being that at the present day, assuming the punishment meted out to the woman for a given crime to represent a normal penalty, the man receives an additional increment over and above that accorded to the crime, for the offence of having been born a man and not a woman.

The Original Divorce Law of 1857 in its provisions respecting costs and alimony, constitutes another landmark in the matter of female privilege before the law. Other measures of unilateral sex legislation followed in the years ensuing until the present state of things, by which the whole power of the State is practically at the disposal of woman to coerce and oppress men. But this side of the question we propose to deal with later on.

The present actual movement of Feminism in political and social life may be deemed to have begun in the early sixties, in the agitation which preceded the motion of John Stuart Mill in 1867, on the question of conferring the parliamentary franchise upon women. This was coincident with an agitation for the opening of various careers to women, notably the medical faculty. We are speaking, of course, here of Great Britain, which was first in the field in Europe, alike in the theory and practice of Modern Feminism. But the publication by the great protagonist of the movement, John Stuart Mill, of his book, The Subjection of Women, in 1868, endowed the cause with a literary gospel which was soon translated into the chief languages of the Continent, and corresponding movements started in other countries. Strangely enough, it made considerable headway in Russia, the awakening of Russia to Western ideas having, recently begun to make itself felt at the time of which we are speaking. The movement henceforth took its place as a permanent factor in the political and social life of this and other countries. Bills for female suffrage were introduced every year into the British House of Commons with, on the whole, yearly diminishing majorities against these measures, till a few years back the scale turned on the other side, and the Women’s Enfranchisement Bill passed every year its second reading until 1912, when for the first time for many years it was rejected by a small majority. Meanwhile both sides of the Feminist movement, apart from the question of the franchise, had been gaining in influence. Municipal franchise “on the same terms as for men” had been conceded. Women have voted for and sat on School Boards, Boards of Guardians, and other public bodies. Their claim to exercise the medical profession has been not merely admitted in law but recognised in public opinion for long past. All the advantages of an academic career have been opened to them, with the solitary exception of the actual conferment of degrees at Oxford and Cambridge. Such has been the growth of the articulate and political side of the theory of Modern Feminism.

The sentimental side of Feminism, with its practical result of the overweighting of justice in the interests of women in the courts, civil as well as criminal, and their practical immunity from the operation of the criminal law when in the dock, has advanced correspondingly; while at the same time the sword of that same criminal law is sharpened to a razor edge against the man even accused, let alone convicted, of any offence against the sacrosanct majesty of “Womanhood.” Such is the present position of the Woman question in this country, which we take as typical, in the sense that in Great Britain, to which we may also add the United States of America and the British Colonies, where – if possible, the movement is stronger than in the mother country itself – we see the logical outcome of Feminist theory and sentiment. It remains to consider the existing facts more in detail, and the psychological bearings of that large number of persons who have been in the recent past, and are being at the present time, influenced to accept the dogmas of Modern Feminism and the statements of alleged facts made by its votaries. Before doing so it behoves us to examine the credibility of the dogmas themselves, and the nature of the arguments used to support them and also the accuracy of the alleged facts employed by the Feminists to stimulate the indignation of the popular mind against the pretended wrongs of women.

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Footnote:

[1] I should explain that I attach a distinct meaning to the word sentimental; as used by me it does not signify, as it does with most people, an excess of sentiment over and above what I feel myself, but a sentiment unequally distributed. As used in this sense, the repulsion to the flogging of women while no repulsion is felt to the flogging of men is sentimentalism pure and simple. On the other hand the objection to flogging altogether as punishment for men or women could not be described as sentimentalism, whatever else it might be. In the same way the anti-vivisectionist’s aversion to “physiological” experiments on animals, if confined to household pets and not extended to other animals, might be justly described as sentimentalism; but one who objected to such experiments on all animals, no matter whether one agreed with his point of view or not, could not be justly charged with sentimentalism (or at least, not unless, while objecting to vivisection, he or she were prepared to condone other acts involving an equal amount of cruelty to animals).

Introduction

IN the following pages it is not intended to furnish a treatise on the evolution of woman generally or of her place in society, but simply to offer a criticism on the theory and practice of what is known as Modern Feminism.

By Modern Feminism I understand a certain attitude of mind towards the female sex. This attitude of mind is often self-contradictory and illogical. While on the one hand it will claim, on the ground of the intellectual and moral equality of women with men, the concession of female suffrage, and commonly, in addition thereto, the admission of women to all professions, offices and functions of public life; on the other it will strenuously champion the preservation and intensification of the privileges and immunities before the law, criminal and civil, in favour of women, which have grown up in the course of the nineteenth century.

The above attitude, with all its inconsistencies, has at its back a strong sex-conscious party, or sex union, as we may term it, among women, and a floating mass of inconsequent, slushy sentiment among men. There is more than one popular prejudice which obscures the meaning and significance of Modern Feminism with many people. There is a common theory, for instance, based upon what really obtained to some extent before the prevalence of Modern Feminism, that in any case of antagonism between the two sexes, women always take the man’s side against the woman. Now this theory, if it ever represented the true state of the case, has long ceased to do so.

The powerful female sex union spoken of, in the present day, exercises such a strong pressure in the formation of public opinion among women, that it is rapidly becoming next to impossible, even in the most flagrant cases, where man is the victim, to get any woman to acknowledge that another woman has committed a wrong. On the other hand it may be noted, that the entire absence of any consciousness of sex antagonism in the attitude of men towards women, combined with an intensification of the old-world chivalry prescribed by tradition towards the so-called weaker sex, exercises, if anything, an increasing sway over male public opinion. Hence the terrific force Feminism has obtained in the world of the early twentieth century.

It is again often supposed, and this is also a mistake, that in individual cases of dispute between the sexes, the verdict, let us say of a jury of men, in favour of the female prisoner or the female litigant is solely or even mainly determined by the fact of the latter’s good looks. This may indeed play a part; but it is easy to show from records of cases that it is a subordinate one – that, whatever her looks or her age may be, the verdict is given her not so much because she is a pretty woman as because she is a woman. Here again the question of attractiveness may have played a more potent part in determining male verdicts in the days before Feminist sentiment and Feminist views had reached their present dominance. But now the question of sex alone, of being a woman, is sufficient to determine judgment in her favour.

There is a trick with which votaries of Feminism seek to prejudice the public mind against its critics, and that is the “fake” that any man who ventures to criticise the pretensions of Feminism, is actuated by motives of personal rancour against the female sex, owing to real or imaginary wrongs suffered by him at the hands of some member or members of the sex. I suppose it may be possible that there are persons, not precisely microcephalous idiots, who could be made to believe such stuff as this in disparagement of him who ventures an independent judgment on these questions; otherwise the conduct of Feminists in adopting this line of argument would be incomprehensible. But we would fain believe that the number of these feebleminded persons, who believe there is any connection between a man having independent judgement enough to refuse to bend the knee to Modern Feminist dogma, and his having quarrelled with any or all of his female friends or relations, cannot be very numerous. As a matter of fact there is not one single prominent exponent of views hostile to the pretensions of what is called the “Woman’s Movement” of the present day, respecting whom there is a tittle of evidence of his not having lived all his life on the best of terms with his womankind. There is only one case known of indirectly by the present writer, and that not of a prominent writer or speaker on the subject, that would afford any plausible excuse whatever for alleging anti-Feminist views to have been influenced by personal motives of this kind. I am aware, of course, that Feminists, with their usual mendacity, have made lying statements to this effect respecting well-nigh every prominent writer on the anti-Feminist side, in the hope of influencing the aforesaid feeble-minded members of the public against their opponents. But a very little investigation suffices to show in every case the impudent baselessness of their allegations. The contemptible silliness of this method of controversy should render it unworthy of serious remark, and my only excuse for alluding to it is the significant sidelight it casts upon the intellectual calibre of those who resort to it, and of the confidence or want of confidence they have in the inherent justice of their cause and the logical strength of their case.

Preface

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.

 

Preface

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.

The Legal Subjection of Men

THE LEGAL SUBJECTION OF MEN (1896)
by Ernest Belfort Bax

Legal subjection of menThe Legal Subjection of Men was co-written by Bax and an unnamed Irish barrister in 1896 as a response and rejoinder to John Stuart Mill’s 1869 essay “The Subjection of Women.” The 1908 reissue of the book includes the new subtitle, “A Reply to the Suffragettes.”

12. “The Oppressed Woman”

As regards the occasional cases of the ill-treatment of women by men, especially wife assaults and such like, these may by traced largely to the infamous state of the law we have described. Where the law practically refuses justice to one section of the community against another, it is only “human nature” (if we may employ that much-abused phrase) that occasionally members of the section to which justice is refused should be found to take the matter into their own hands, and attempt to redress the balance, by acts, amounting sometimes to brutality. It were surely more reasonable, rather than to expend indignation and ferocity on the individual offender, to seek out and remedy the underlying cause of the offence. Give men reasonable justice as against women, cease to trample underfoot every principle of equity and fair play at the behest of feminine shrieks, and the excuse, or at least, palliation which now undoubtedly for any sporadic brutality on the part of men, and especially husbands, of which women may be the victims, would be done away with. Whilst the law remains as it is women deserve scant pity if they do on rare occasions get the worst of it in their dealings with men. In the foregoing pages we have set forth the respective legal position of the sexes as it now stands. Our aim in doing so has been, by spreading knowledge of the facts of the case, to prevent uninformed though otherwise fair-minded persons from falling a prey to the maudlin rant of demagogic charlatans (male and female), ignorant of law and as destitute of the capacity of independent judgment on any subject as they are of any impartial sense of justice, who so frequently deliver themselves in press and on platform on the subject the “wrongs of woman.”