Tag Archives: The Legal Subjection of Men

Preface

THE LEGAL SUBJECTION OF MEN (1908)

Preface To New Edition.

I HAVE been usually credited with being the chief author of the following brochure. Such, however, is not the case. “The Legal Subjection of Men” is in great part the work of an Irish barrister and LL.D. of Dublin, who died a few years ago. That portions here and there are from my pen is true, but for the bulk of the pamphlet I am not directly responsible, as any expert in literary style will probably detect. I mention the circumstance in writing the few words of preface for the new edition asked of me by the publishers, not with a view to any disclaimer, but simply in the interests of literary truth and accuracy. For though, as stated, only myself directly responsible for short sections, I none the less, in the main, heartily endorse the whole. The present edition has been carefully corrected and the Law brought up to date, though the illustrative cases necessarily remain as in the original edition. There have been few agitations in history which have been characterised by such hard lying and shameless perversion of fact as the so-called “Woman’s Movement.” Unfortunately, continually-reiterated assertions in direct contravention with the real state of the case have only too well succeeded. The public mind has been bull-dozed into assuming the reverse of what actually obtains to represent the truth, and has sympathised and given effect to its sympathies on the basis of these false representations. I need scarcely say that the advocates of “Woman’s Rights” and female suffrage, whose whole credit is based upon the tissue of falsehood it is the mission of this little work to expose, have done their best to boycott and ignore the exposure. All honour then to the Twentieth Century Press for originally publishing, and to the New Age Press for having the courage to risk offending certain sections of “advanced” opinion by reprinting, the following unvarnished statement of Law and fact.

E. Belfort Bax.

Preface

IT seemed to the authors of the following pamphlet that the time had fairly come for confronting the false assumptions underlying the conventional whining cant of the Feminist advocate with a plain and unvarnished statement of Law and fact. The “Woman’s rights” (?) agitator has succeeded by a system of sheer impudent, brazen, “bluff,” alternately of the whimpering and the shrieking order, in inducing a credulous public to believe that in some mysterious way the female sex is groaning under the weight of the tyranny of him whom they are pleased to term “man the brute.” The facts show these individuals to be right in one point and only one, namely, that sex-injustice and sex-inequality exist; for it so happens that the facts further show the said injustice and inequality to exist wholly and solely in favour of women as against men. In short, they disclose a state of things in which, down to the minutest detail of law and administration, civil and criminal, women are iniquitously privileged at the expense of men. As it is, many an unhappy male victim of modern sex-prerogative would doubtless be only delighted to be allowed to partake of a little of the oppression under which he is told unfortunate Woman is groaning, but from any share in which he sees himself to his detriment excluded. Mr. Hardcastle [1] found his guest’s new-fashioned shyness bore a strong resemblance to old-fashioned impudence, and our male victim of pro-feminist laws and tribunals may well he excused for failing to distinguish between this new-fashioned oppression and old-fashioned domination. In conclusion, we would advise the Feminist guild ignore our pamphlet with its tale of infamy. It is their only chance of gulling their sentimental dupes any longer. Let the latter once know of our sketch, and their game is up. For those who have read it, and a retain the vestiges of open mind on the subject, the maundering [grumbling] farce of “down-trodden woman and the brute man” will be played out.

[1] A character in “She Stoops To Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith, 1773.

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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.”

Below is an old avdertizement for Ernest Belfort Baxs’ book ‘The Legal Subjection of Men’ in an 1896 newspaper entitled Justice:

Publication- Justice - Saturday 05 December 1896 [ Ernest Belfort Bax ]

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.”

11. Socialists and Feminists

Certain Socialist writers are fond of describing the Social-Democratic State of the future as implying the “emancipation of the proletarian and the woman.” As regards the latter point, however, if emancipation is taken to include domination, we have not to wait so long. The highest development of modern capitalism, as exemplified in the English-speaking countries, has placed man to all intents and purposes, legally under the heel of woman. So far as the relations of the sexes are concerned, it would be the task of Socialism to emancipate man from this position, if sex-equality be the goal aimed at. The first step on the road towards such equality would necessarily consist in the abolition of modern female privilege.

THE SUFFRAGE.

It is absurd for feminist advocates to trot out their threadbare grievance of the want of the suffrage as a serious disability in the face of all the privileges we have been discussing.. It may be right, or it may he wrong, for women to have the suffrage. Respecting this we say nothing here. But, whether right or wrong, we deny that the lack of it, by an otherwise privileged class, constitutes a grievance. Electoral disqualifica- tions are often attendant on special privilege. The Royal Family of this realm, with all their branches, are debarred from the exercise of both the passive and the active franchise. And yet no one pleads that, say, the prince of Wales, is, in consequence, a cruelly oppressed personage. Similarly the clergy of the Established Church are debarred at least from the passive franchise (i.e., they may not sit in Parliament), and yet we have never heard it contended that on this account they are a solely hard-done-by section of the community. Where women have parliament, law courts, police magistrates, judges as their obsequious humble servants, what more could they expect to obtain, even if they had the suffrage?

10. A Sex Noblesse

From all we have said, it will now be evident, one would think, to the most prejudiced reader that modern English Law, following obsequiously a deluded or apathetic stage of public opinion, has solved the problem of the division of rights and duties between the sexes, by conceding to woman all rights, and imposing on man all duties. It would not be difficult to show, were it worth while , that even the disabilities of women in past times have been grossly exaggerated by apostles of the feminist cultus who have, of course, taken a brief to prove the wickedness of “horrid man” to the poor downtrodden female. Such disabilities as really obtained were for the most part the necessary outcome of women’s position as non-combatants in a rude fighting age, and certainly did not originate, as is generally represented, in any deep- laid scheme of male devising. In return for a certain formal subjection, in some respects, they obtained not only the blessing of protection, then an important matter, but valuable privileges in other directions. An impartial student of history must admit that, however badly men have treated their fellow-men, they have always treated women with comparative generosity. The change from feudal to modern capitalist conditions, as regards the position of women, is characterised, however, not only by, at one and the same time, the abolition of every vestige of subordination or disability, but, in addition to that, by the extension of the old compensating privileges, which were the counterpart of the former, and by the further heaping up on the top of these of new privileges, the result having finally saddled us with the institution of that sex-noblesse the leading features of which we have sketched out in the foregoing pages.

9. Muscular Inferiority and Sex-privilege

We must once more refer, on account of its wide-spreading popularity, to the cheap sneer by which some small but gallant wits may endeavour to turn the edge of the foregoing observations, namely, the attempt to play of the muscular inferiority of women to men as an answer to any allegation of oppression exercised on behalf of the so-called weaker sex. When looked at fairly in the face, the point in question will he seen so preposterously absurd as to be hardly worth answering. But, nevertheless, absurd as it is, it undoubtedly plays a part, half unconsciously, in the apathy of most men on the question of female privilege. Because men are muscularly stronger than women, it is felt by many, and the feeling is supported by the class of cheap witticism above referred to, that therefore it is impossible for men to be seriously oppressed by women. A moment’s reflection suffices to show that the question of muscular strength or weakness is absolutely immaterial to the issue. It would be just as reasonable to suppose that because the Czar of Russia and his high officials were less muscularly developed than the average Russian peasant, that the possibility of the Russian peasant being seriously oppressed by the Czar or his government was a proposition to be laughed at. The weakest and most frail woman, backed by the whole power of the State, may easily annihilate by the State forces summoned by her scream, a legion of Samsons or Hercules.

8. The Actual Exercise Of Women’s Sex Privileges

The most curious of all concomitants of the legal subjection of men in England arise, first, that many men are not conscious of the real state of the law, and secondly, that a very loud-voiced minority of women, reinforced by sycophantic males, represent the law as being the apotheosis of unjust sex-privileges on the part of men. The last phenomonen is, no doubt, in great part one cause of the first, but other causes for men’s unconsciousness contribute. A survival of the days when the physical force of the man was allowed by the State to play a part in his quarrels with women, survive in the public delusion that it is impossible for man to be oppressed by women. How can men be legally oppressed by women? Are not men, if worthy of the name, able to defend themselves? This objection, once categorically stated, is seen to be ridiculous. A legal defence is not a matter of strength or courage, but of skill. Even a skilled defence is a poor protection before a biased tribunal. But lastly, the whole question of muscular strength is absurdly and outrageously irrelevant. The bravest and strongest man is as weak as a child before the over- whelming force of the State. Any woman can at will summon to her aid a power no man can resist. And behind this force of law rests the equally irresistible force of public opinion. All this, under the present dispensation, is arrayed against the man accused by a woman. The woman accuser wields the whole power of the Courts and the community, backed up by the press and public opinion. Her physical strength is an irrelevant matter, her real force lies in the state of public opinion before which the man becomes helpless. The power of the autocrat lies not in his physical strength, but in his ability to summon at a beck the resources of the State. The Czar of Russia is, and the Emperor Nero was, physically no stronger than the merest beggar. Catherine of Russia was physically weaker than the lowest of her grenadiers.

1. The law is not generally known by the vulgar, and lawyers, unless paid, are not usually accustomed to be expansive to the public at large on the subject of their information. Ignorance by the public of the law promotes litigation, and lawyers individually are not particularly oppressed by or frightened at the legal privileges of women. The technical skill of the lawyer and his powerful trade union usually enables him to get the best of the woman who contends with him in the law courts. Similarly, in former days, the lawyer took care to guard himself from being hurt by the feudal privileges of the noble, which weighed so heavily on the rest of the community.

2. Most women in England are still under the in- fluence of the earlier polity of the Church and of Christendom. They do not dispute the duty of female subordination, and do not in fact as yet think of exercising the more flagrant of these new-fangled legal sex-privileges. The utmost pitch of domination that the majority have reached to is a noticeable increase in the display of overbearing manners towards their husbands, and other male dependents, and the palpable consciousness that the threat of a public scene will bring the scene-hating Englishman to his knees.

3. A large minority of women influenced by kindness and self-respect and all amiable qualities, do not exercise any of these iniquitous sex-privileges at all. If an insignificant minority of women are oppressed by individual men, it is merely because, from any reason, economic or other, the woman does not for a considerable time, choose to go to the Police Courts. When a fact of this kind comes to be published, it is trumpeted forth in the press–the press which carefully excludes stories of male slavery–with the object of producing a false impression as to the side on which the balance of injustice is to he found.

4. The more flagrant of these privileges are in practice resorted to chiefly by the more profligate of the female sex. Happily every man does not fall a victim. But those who do find it convenient to keep concealed the story of their wrongs. Their friends might believe in their innocence, but their enemies or the public at large would not. The man injured by a woman has no sex-conscious “man’s party” to appeal to. Every brawling wife and shrieking termagant or cold-blooded blackmailer has a sex-conscious propaganda ready to her hand. It is therefore all the more important to remember that these privileges conferred by the law of England on the woman against the man, are no dead letter. They are actually enforced with rigour that increases every day. Judge, jury, counsel and press vie with each other in driving the iron into the soul of the unfortunate man who is forced to contend with a woman in the law courts. Such an extreme of squalid unrighteousness has been reached that it has become a commonplace of the legal profession that no justice is to be had in the Courts against a woman–unless in some case of outrageous atrocity, and not always even then. The origin of this singular phenomenon–a revival of barbaric gynocracy among the English-speaking people in the British Islands, America and the British Colonies is a subject of the deepest interest, but not one lending itself to cursory treatment. A photograph of the outer surface–a picture of the facts of the law is all that has been attempted here. To confine our attention to the strictly necessary, it will suffice to remind the reader that the ordinary motives which induce the more selfish members of any privileged class to use a privilege, exist in the case of women. Many slave-owners were as indulgent as St. Clair, but many were like [Simon] Legree [“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”]. The chief impelling motives appear to be:– 1. A desire for economic advantage to get money without trouble; to exploit the labour of the male slave, enthralled by the law–this works quite as well to impel a woman as well as a man to use an unjust power. It is the predatory instinct present in pirates, robbers and criminals of all classes. 2. A desire to domineer and oppress. This impulse as distinguished from ordinary revengefulness is, some think, stronger in women than in men. No one will deny its existence in both men and women, whatever be its special cause. 3. Malignity and vindictiveness. Inordinate revenge for real or fancied wrongs, disproportioned vindictiveness for the chance slights of a complex social life may he safely reckoned on to actuate the bitterer section of a female noblesse as well as a male one. If power does not corrupt, at least it gives room for corruption to spread. Modern life among English speaking people, while releasing women from male guidance, has, by individu- alising women, multiplied the occasions of conflict between members of the two sexes. Different ideals and tests of action (women judge men by one standard and men judge women by another), the result of natural divergencies, as well as of education, absence of sex- illusion on the female side and its presence on the male side, add to these occasions.

4. Many women who, of their own accord, being still under the influence of the earlier policy of Christendom, would not think of exercising the force of public opinion, or the privileges of a one-sided law against their husbands or other men, are influenced to do so in various ways. The incessant clamour of a hysterical press leads them to suppose that in any quarrel with a man, the man must be wrong, the woman never can be wrong. The shrieks of the “new woman” propaganda suggest to women that in making most infamous use of her weapons she is upholding the cause of her “sisters.” Furthermore the new mammon-worship which has infected all modern English life has produced among the average middle class woman an unspoken theory–that the sole duty of man is to make money for his wife. The revolutionary theory of equality, dating from 1789–is applied only on one side, and it is assumed as an axiom that a wife is kept and has a right to do precisely as she pleases. At the same time it is taken as quite self-evident that she is emancipated from any duty of obedience or even civility to him. Added to the conclusions of the feminist spirit of domination, the final position is that the man is to submit to all insolences and outrages without redress. This conception of the relative positions of men and women is urged in a thousand different ways on any woman who has a quarrel with her husband, and must inevitably influence the average woman. 5. Many women, themselves ignorant of the modern law, are instigated by lawyers to bring suits, relying on their iniquitous legal privileges. Not merely are men’s reputations, lives and fortunes thus endangered, but in this way the present state of.the law has become a powerful solvent of the historic basis of the family relations of Christendom, by encouraging disputes between wives and husbands. Sir Walter Phillimore in a recent speech has pointed out what a part is played by solicitors in the promotion of divorce suits. The essential thing, therefore, to remember is that the the subjection of women in England, if it ever existed, has gone, and long gone. It is succeeded by a state of sordid subjection of the man to a biased public opinion, to a hysterical press, and to sentimental administrators of a corrupted law. There are, however, some signs that the legal subjec- tion of men in England is not destined to live for ever. The law, after all, is the shadow of public opinion.

7. The Civil Law

As every litigant who has to contend with a woman knows to his cost, feminine privilege is not confined to matrimonial matters, nor to the Criminal Courts. The purse of the male is hit in the Civil Courts quite as heavily as his person in the exercise of the criminal privileges of the female sex. Anyone who has any relations, even of the most innocent character, with a woman, from a tenant or a trader who contracts with her to a casual guest at a friend’s house who makes her acquaintance in a social way, may have occasion to discover that absence of intimacy does not necessarily shield him from unpleasant consequences. The chief privileges of women in the Civil Courts are as follows (they cannot be paralleled [equalled] by those of a peer or a member of the House of Commons):–

1. Freedom from Arrest for Debt if Married.

2. Property Of Married Woman Exempt from Seizure.

3. Privilege to Commit Breaches of Contract.

4. Privilege to Defraud.

5. Privilege to Seduce.

6. Privilege to Commit Adultery.

7. Privilege to Insult.

8. Privilege to Assault.

9. Privilege to Waylay.

10. Privilege to Libel and Slander.

1. FREEDOM FROM ARREST FOR DEBT.

The process of imprisonment for debt (nominally for contempt of Court in not paying an instalment of a debt) is retained in England under the Debtors Acts, 1869 and 1882. But not in the case of the married female. No married woman is to be punished for non-payment of debt, and the Court is incapable of being contemned by a married woman. This superiority to Common Law standard, for the mere male, yet again marks out the woman as a member of an inviolable noblesse. A woman can obtain goods and not be compelled to pay for them, may use all her arts of persuading the chivalrous trader– but no compulsory power of imprisonment need disturb her. This may or may not be a good rule, if applied as in certain American States, to both men and women. But when reserved to women, it is an obvious sex privilege.

2 . PROPERTY EXEMPT FROM SEIZURE.

A married woman, as already pointed out, although rolling in wealth and owning tens of thousands a year, even when separated and released from all duty to her husband and children, retains her privilege of having her property exempt from seizure for debt. Some very amusing cases–amusing that is to all except the male litigant–of rich women refusing to pay traders and solicitors will be present to the public mind. When a rich woman develops a taste for litigation, the wisdom of the legislature has found no way of protecting the defendant from ruinous costs. Even if she quarrels with her solicitor, he is powerless to protect himself against being mulcted in costs–perhaps a happy stroke of poetic justice, as lawyers have largely created these oppressive sex-privileges of women. (See the many ramifications of the Cathcart Case.)

3. BREACH OF CONTRACT.

The absence of any compulsory power over a woman’s person or a married woman’s property and the bias of the courts amounts practically to a licence for her to break any contract at pleasure. This is quite apart from the peculiar privilege of women to waste a man’s time and money in a pretended engagement, possibly to lure on a more wealthy lover–and to he exempt from penalty. Their privilege to commit per- jury and slander with impunity plays a great part in the decision of any case in which a woman’s contract is concerned. All stock brokers, insurance agents, solicitors, and bankers, and business men generally, know how hopeless, as a rule, is any prospect of getting a contract enforced against a woman. As a rule it is best to compromise or submit to injustice rather than try it out with an adversary privileged to use loaded dice.

4. PRIVILEGE TO DEFRAUD.

Precisely as in the Criminal Law, there is no real remedy against any fraud not of extraordinary magnitude and clearness of proof, perpetrated by a woman on a man. A notorious female blackmailer brings lying accusations, suing on breach of promise of marriage, against a prominent Conservative member of Parliament. She loses her suit as she has to admit on cross-examination that she a few months previously, had extorted £5,000 from another victim of a similar suit, which was hushed up. But her victim could not get back his £5,000– and no one suggested civil or criminal process against her.

5. PRIVILEGE TO SEDUCE.

The feminine privilege of seduction extends also to the civil Courts. No civil action lies against any woman of full age or the seduction of a minor, not even if her doings be a device to entrap him by threats of scandal into marriage, and the attainment of title and fortune by her inducements to lead him astray. The male minor in France has some protection. The consent of cooler heads is required to his marriage. In England he has no protection from the terrible consequences of succumbing to the wiles of a female seducer. Contrast the law of England on the seduction of the female, minor or adult. Vindictive damages are to be had for the asking from the indignant jury. Legal fictions of “loss of service” by parents, are laid under requisition to prevent the operation of the maxim volenti non fit injuria [No injury is done to a consenting party].

6. PRIVILEGE TO COMMIT ADULTERY.

No action, civil or criminal, lies against a woman who induces a married man to have illicit relations with her. She may succeed in stripping the man of all his fortune, blackmail him for years, break up his home, cause him to be deprived of the custody of his children, and cap the climax of her crimes by appearing as a willing wit- ness for his wife in the Courts. No penalty awaits her. A man who seduces or is seduced by a wife has the satisfaction of being held up to public odium as a traitorous scoundrel, and at the same time of paying enormous costs and damages–the latter being settled on the delinquent wife.

7. PRIVILEGE TO INSULT.

For some mysterious reason a woman is supposed to be incapable of insulting a man. She may use most insolent language in a public assembly, waylay him at his office, or place of business, and adopt any other method of annoyance that malignity can devise, and the law refuses to protect him, and sends him to hard labour if he is goaded into retort. Jeremy Bentham proposed a century ago that women insulting other citizens should be punished by being exposed to public ridicule in a pillory. But we are now a long way off from the adoption of such a remedy as that. The sturdier Englishmen of former times restrained feminine provocation to violence by the summary methods of the cucking school and the indictment at the assizes of the “common scold [shrew],” not to mention the domestic discipline of the husband.

8. PRIVILEGE TO ASSAULT.

In a similar mysterious way a woman is supposed incapable of assaulting a man–at least in such a way as to deserve, not to say criminal punishment but even the exaction of pecuniary recompense. It is true that a woman with a weapon can cause grievous bodily harm. But the mere man has to put up with the consequences of such displays of feminine independence, inasmuch as the privilege holds good in civil as well as in criminal law.

9. PRIVILEGE TO WAYLAY.

In civil as well as criminal Courts this offence in women is unpunished. Let a man protect himself is the general rule on the subject. But as he is punished if he attempts to protect himself, he has simply to submit to the outrage.

10. PRIVILEGE TO LIBEL AND SLANDER.

To bring unfounded charges against any man –not against a fellow women– is now a well-established legal privilege of the fair sex. However, originally it was restrained in earlier days by legal process and domestic discipline. Exactly as in breaches of contract, it is usually wise to submit to the injustice. But the rising wave of pro-feminist sentiment has reached a curious height of late years. A woman can accuse a man of sexual irregularities with absolute impunity. But it is not to be supposed that he is to have a like privilege. A special statute (Slander of Women Act) passed a few years ago, makes such slander of a woman actionable. But she retains her privilege of slandering a man. If this be not a statutory sex-privilege words must have lost their meaning. The grim irony of making a man responsible for his wife’s slanders, and other misdeeds–although the law has deprived him of all control over her person or property, has been already referred to.

5. The Criminal Law

The express wording of the law–and, much more, the tacit warping of the Criminal Law in favour of women by the bias of judge, jury, and the press–has created a regular system of conferring privileges on women as against men, or against the community in general :– 1. As regards Trial. 2. As regards Sentence. 3. As regards Prison Treatment. 4. As regards Pardon.

The only exceptions to these privileges are:–

(a) If the offence has been committed by one woman against another.

(b) If the offence is by a baby farmer [caretaker], committed against other women’s babies. The reasons for these exceptions are, of course, obvious, and need not be dwelt upon here.

1. TRIAL AND SENTENCE.

The rules are substantially the same as those affecting wives in particular, already enumerated.

(a) The least excuse is sufficient to exonerate any woman from penal consequences.

(b) All the women’s statements against a man are assumed to be true until they are proved to be false.

(c) The proof of the actual deed of crime must be much more conclusive than in the case of a man.

(d) The jury almost invariably recommends to mercy on the rare occasions when they convict.

(e) A shamefully inadequate or even a nominal sentence Is imposed.

2. LIST OF CRIMES.

The list of the wife’s exemptions from punishment for crimes against her husband may nearly all be repeated as enjoyed, though possibly in a somewhat less degree, by all women (other men’s wives or not) against a man, or against the community at large. (1) In cases of drunkenness this offence against the safety of the community is visited on the woman with a trifling fine. The matter is looked on rather as a joke than an offence. (2) In cases of libel and slander, a criminal prosecution against a woman is practically unknown. A nominal penalty, such as a promise not to repeat the offence, is the usual ending to such a prosecution. (3) Crimes of 34 assault and violence generally are almost as privileged in the case of an ordinary woman as of a wife against a husband. (4) Murder is similarly reduced to man-slaughter, no matter who the woman may be, provided the victim is a man. (5) Waylaying, injuring business, or procuring dismissal, is similarly a pastime to be indulged in by any vindictive woman with absolute impunity. (6) Perjury is similarly a perquisite of the female litigant–whether perjury of the defensive or offensive type. (7) Turning wife’s evidence after seduction of husband is, of course, open to all women without punishment. (8) Conspiracy to procure the husband’s seduction, as has already been stated, goes unpunished if committed on the wife’s side. The class of offences more peculiarly effected by women ill general, apart from wives, are due either to revenge or a desire to extort money. Violence, culminating in murder, has been sufficiently dealt with in considering the wife’s privilege. Economic motive is displayed in crimes of Fraud, Libel and Slander, Way- laying, Seduction and Perjury, to levy blackmail– though sometimes libel and slander, waylaying, and perjury are due to motives of revenge. Sometimes the law expressly discriminates between men and women; for instance, in the case of seduction: sometimes the administrators, for instance, in the case of fraud and perjury.

(a) Fraud.

Generally speaking, fraud by a woman against a man, by which he is deprived of all or a portion of his property, is not punishable–if the woman has been in intimate relations with him; it is her payment. If she be his wife fraud on her part is unnecessary, since the law expropriates him at her least request. Other women have an impunity to commit fraud. In case the man has not been in intimate relations, then the woman’s offence is, if punished at all, visited by a tenth part of the sentence which would be inflicted if a man were the offender.

(b) Libel and Slander.

Cases are innumerable of men being sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for libel. No case is ever heard of a woman being similarly sentenced. The following are typical cases:– At the Essex Assizes, February 2nd, 1895, before Mr. Justice Mathew, Agnes Ellen Royce, a boarding- house keeper, pleaded guilty to demanding L 300 Dr. Edwin Worts, of Colchester, by menaces and threats. Mr. Avory, on behalf of the prisoner, stated that the letters and telegram in which she threatened the doctor were written while she was in a hysterical condition, and he suggested that she should be bound over under the First Offenders Act. Mr. C. F. Gill, who prosecuted, said that the prisoner accused the doctor of having ruined her, and made many serious allegations against him. No doubt she was labouring under very great excitement when she made these charges. She was discharged under the First Offenders Act. “Catharine Matilda Gordon, forty-six, described as having no occupation, and living at Mardon’s Croft, Moseley, near Birmingham, was charged on remand, before Mr. Newton, at Malhorough Street Police Court, on Saturday, with unlawfully and maliciously publishing a defamatory libel concerning Mr Thomas James Hooper, on March 27th last, at the Badminton Club, Piccadilly. The accused was not legally represented. The prosecutor is a solicitor, and acts as Clerk to the Justices of the Peace at Biggleswade. Mr. William Vyse, an independent gentleman and member of the Badminton Club, living at Wickham Road, Brockley, deposed that on or about the 27th of March last he received from prisoner the postcard produced. Mrs. Gordon: ‘I wish very much to apologise publicly, and 36 to withdraw everything I have said about Mr. Hooper.’ Mr. Hooper, in reply to the magistrate, said he regretted to say that he could not believe Mrs. Gordon, as he had received similar promises in writing which had been broken; in fact, since the summons, which was issued before the warrant was taken out. She had written to him enclosing a letter from her solicitors recommending her to withdraw. Mr. Newton said that a woman who sent postcards of the nature referred to did the cruellest act imaginable. The prisoner had done a most wicked act, and had endeavoured to blacken the character of the prosecutor, apparently without any reason whatever. Probably there was not a single word of truth in her statements. To the prosecutor: ‘Do you think, Mr. Hooper, alter this caution, you may give her another chance?’ Mr. Hooper: ‘ I think so, sir.’ Mrs. Gordon having assured the magistrate that she would not repeat her conduct, Mr. Newton bound her over in her recognisances in the sum of £20 to be of good behaviour in the future.”– Daily Chronicle , May 4th, 1896.

(c) Waylaying, Injuring Business, and Procuring Dismissal .

This method of extortion is practically open to all women, wives or not. Medical men are peculiarly subject to this infliction, and even solicitors do not escape. But persons in humbler station are not exempt. The case of a police constable hanged for the murder of a woman some years ago brought the practice vividly, although temporarily, before the public mind. The woman had for years waylaid him, called at the police commissioner’s office, obtained the suspension of the constable, and boasted of her intention of procuring his dismissal. The man had no remedy. In a fit of passion he killed the woman, when waylaying him at midnight on his beat, and was hanged for the crime. (Case of Constable Cook, June, 1894)

(d) Murder.

The rule of the Common Law which prescribes hanging as the punishment for murder is practically abolished for females who murder men. The best illustration of the extent of the women’s privilege to murder men will be found in the consideration of the number of cases in which women have been hanged during the last quarter of a century for the offence when, by a mere chance, they were convicted. As has been stated, a woman who kills a man is usually acquitted. If she be convicted, it is almost invariably of manslaughter, not murder. If she be by some off- chance convicted of murder, an agitation for her release is usually started. So the murderess escapes the gallows, except once or twice in a quarter of a century.

(e) Seduction.

The woman’s privilege of seduction is twofold–in the Criminal Courts and in the Civil Courts. In the Criminal Courts there is no punishment of an abandoned woman in society, or out of it, who corrupts the morals of a minor. Even when disease is the result, there is no case on record of a prosecution, not to speak of punishment. A contrary rule prevails in France. So far has this revolting sex privilege been pushed that a boy of 14 can he convicted for committing an act to which he was incited by a girl just under 16, although, as is well known, a girl of that age is often a woman, while a boy of 14 is usually a child. This, however, does not exhaust the women’s privilege of seduction. Not merely a female minor, but female adults are protected by exceptional law. Any person who, by false representations, procures immoral relations with a woman not of known immoral character –though the woman be 35 and the male culprit 14–is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for two years. All lying representations on the part of a woman are permissible, though her sole motive for procuring the connection is to obtain a hold over the man by which to blackmail him. When this statute was passed in 1887 it was said to be directed merely against criminal conspiracies of persons who, for purposes of gain, induced daughters of the people to have illicit relations with immoral rich men. A judge has thoughtfully extended the statute to the undreamt-of case of a man inducing a woman of mature age to have connection with himself–not with a third party. The whip of the blackmailer has thus been humanely turned into a whip of scorpions. (R. v. King, Monmouth Summer Assizes, 1890.) As an instance of the utter absence of the most elementary sense of impartial justice in the men and women who “run” this pro-feminist agitation, the following may be taken:–One of.the latest suggestions of this worthy crew is an enactment by which men who shall infect their wives with any venereal disease (which they may, of course, have contracted before marriage) should be made liable to severe penal consequences. Now, we make no remark on the justice or injustice per se of this proposed extension of the criminal code. But it is not proposed to make it an offence in the wife; and it comes from the very people who are loudest in bawling at the wicked violation of the rights of holy womanhood involved in the Contagious Diseases Acts, by which it is sought (not to punish women for infecting men, oh, dear, no!) but simply to prevent the spread of infection by women who make a trade of the sale of their bodies by compelling them to submit to examination, and, if necessary, medical treatment. No cases can, of course, he cited from the records of the Criminal Courts of the adult woman’s privilege of seduction, for the sufficient reason that the law does not regard it as an offence.

But the minor woman’s privilege is abundantly illustrated because it is an offence for a male to allow himself to be seduced by her. One wretch was produced as witness against several boys younger than herself whom she had induced to commit the offence. The Court of Appeal held that she could not be punished, but her victims were consigned to prison. (Central Criminal Court and Court for Crown Cases Reserved, June, 1894.)

FALSE CHARGES ON OATH (EXTORTION OR REVENGE).

It is not merely wives who are privileged to make false charges on oath, and to commit and to suborn [incite] perjury. An extensive trade in such charges is pursued by an increasing number of women, encouraged by the absolute impunity which attends their profitable crimes. Revenge for slighted claims plays a real though a very minor part in the manufacture of these accusations. Potiphar’s wife has no monopoly of her methods of vengeance. These cowardly criminals know that the worst they have to fear is the charitable conclusion that they are poor hysterical women. Within the last few years there has been a large growth of enactments rendering legally punishable various offences against women and girls, and the zeal of the legislature for their protection has found an echo in the energy of the courts in the conviction of the accused. It is in such cases as these that injustice is readily wrought by sex-bias. There are no charges so easy to bring and so difficult to refute as accusations of sexual crime. So well is this recognised that the most innocent man would gladly pay any sum rather than face such a charge. The only defence is the proof of a negative, always difficult and sometimes impossible, even to 40 sexual crime. the most innocent. A moral and well-spent life, a high character, the esteem of friends alike wither before this blasting charge; they even add fuel to it. This is shown by the extraordinary remark of one of our judges: “A good character only means that a man has not yet been found out.” To the intrinsic difficulty of defence presented by the very nature of the alleged offence, the poverty of the man accused often adds a terrible aggravation. The rich man can protect himself by all the resources of legal defence; the poor man is left to the mercy of the wolves by his poverty; which, although it may protect him from blackmail, yet gives him no security against malignant spite–perhaps the most fruitful source of false accusations. England, unlike continental countries, provides no legal defence for accused persons. This is serious enough in ordinary cases, but, in any trial in which a woman is concerned, it amounts to a refusal to a man of the commonest conditions of fairplay. The public prosecution of alleged offences against women devolves on the Treasury–in other words, on the skilled advocates of the Crown, with the resources of the English tax-payer at their disposal in the preparation of cases and the procuring of witnesses. The accused is left undefended, to contend alone against the prejudice of juries. Public opinion and the press, which so ably voices it, are arrayed against him. It is not, therefore, a matter for surprise that to be accused by a woman means, practic- ally, in the vast majority of cases, to be condemned. The necessity for careful inquiries into the character and antecedents of witnesses is nowhere so great as in cases of offences against women and girls. Charges so easy to make, so difficult to refute, ought to be regarded with the greatest suspicion, and not be accepted with ready credulity. The bona fides [good faith] of all witnesses, the character of the accuser ought to he carefully scrutinised. To the undefended prisoner this is impossible. And even if the prisoner is defended, sentimental juries are deaf. Even where the character of the accuser is good, she may very well happen to be a woman of highly hysterical temperament. The eminent French scientist, M. Brouardel, says of this type of woman: “She is essentially a liar, that is the true criterion of the hysterical woman. Such a one has been known to keep at bay for several years law courts, doctors, her own family, with a rampart built of lies upon lies.” Accusations of sexual offences are readily forced by such women, and unless the juries can be convinced of the irresponsible character of their statements, the liberty and honour of the most innocent man may be destroyed. That distinguished judge, the late Baron Huddleston, in his charge to the jury on one occasion, referring to the Criminal Law Amendment Acts, stated that in his opinion, after an extensive experience of the Acts, men stood far more in need of protection against women than women against men. The total oppression inflicted by charges of sexual crime must not be measured by the cases which come into Court. It is a commonplace of the legal profession that for one such case ten are settled out of Court. In other words, a system of blackmail of the worst type finds its direct incentive and opportunity in the present state of legal administration. The following selection of a few of the cases arising in the years 1894 and 1895 gives some idea of the widespread evils of the present system. It must not be thought for a moment that because these cases have resulted in acquittals no reform is necessary. In view of the law of libel only cases where the accusations have failed can be cited, but every criminal lawyer knows that failure occurs in only a small minority of cases. It must also be borne in mind that such charges entail social infamy unless triumphantly rebutted; a mere acquittal will not suffice.

1.–Dr. Patrick Lyons Blewith (West Ham) was charged with a serious assault on Bessie Page (age 16). On cross-examination she said she “did not consent, but never murmured,” “too frightened.” Did not even tell the other people in the outer waiting-room. Acquittal. July 8th, 1894 2.–Alfred Lee, a vestryman, was charged on remand at Bow Street, with indecent behaviour in a public thoroughfare and in the presence of three females. From the report of the officer who made enquiries it appeared that the witnesses bore very indifferent characters [were impartial]. Three gentlemen deposed to the high moral reputation of the accused, who was discharged. April 24th, 1895. 3.–Sarah Adams (West London) at night met R. B. Pearson in the street, and picked his pocket. When he attempted to retake the money she screamed and made “accusations against him. She got one month. August 19th, 1894. 4.–Joseph Barker (52),” coster [produce seller], was charged by his daughter Eliza (age 14) with indecently assaulting her. Medical evidence revealed no trace of assault. The prisoner denied the accusation, but was nevertheless committed for trial (Islington). April 29th, 1894. The Grand Jury threw out the bill [charge]. 5.–William Hughes and his son, colliers [coal workers] at Pontypridd, were accused of having violated Maggie, aged 12, daughter of the elder prisoner. The child swore she had been put up to make the charge by Ellen Haines, the prisoner’s housekeeper, and the doctors found no medical evidence. The case was dismissed. April 8th, 1894. 6.–Dr. Thos. D. Griffiths, of Swansea, was accused by Mrs. Gwynne-Vaughan of committing adultery with her, also of perform- ing upon her an illegal operation and inducing abortion. All charges proved false. April 8th and 15th, 1894 7.–Thos. Moore (44), manager to a tea merchant, was charged with disgraceful conduct to a young girl. He alleged that she began first by kissing him and poking him in the ribs. He was acquitted. May 27th, 1894. 8.–Walter Hill was charged at the Old Bailey with indecent assault by Louisa Smart, and Ellen Windram was charged with aiding and abetting him. Hill and Windram were also charged 43 with conspiring to incite Maria Wakefield, a married woman, to commit adultery. The jury stopped the case and acquitted the prisoners. It is to be noted that Mrs. Smart was prosecutrix about the same time in another indecent assault case, and that Ada Wakefield was prosecutrix in a similar case against her uncle which was dismissed. September, 1894. In a paper read before the Birmingham and Midland Counties Branch of the British Medical Association, on November 9th, 1893, the eminent surgeon, Dr. Lawson Tait, F.R.C.S., thus sums up a large number of cases brought under his notice by the police authorities:–

4. Non-matrimonial Privileges Of Women

As already been stated, the division of our subject into the Matrimonial, Civil, and Criminal and Non- Matrimonial Privileges of Women, although obviously convenient, necessitates some over-lapping. This, however, is unavoidable, as, for many reasons, it is well to keep the promised or actual wife’s privileges against her husband and others clear from those of other women. But women in general have many and serious privileges besides those affecting the matrimonial or quasi-matrimonial relations.