Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/213

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
201
BIOLOGY AND "WOMAN'S RIGHTS."

to feel it. If the language is poor in expressions it can be made richer. Coining of words ought not to be condemned a priori. It is self-regulating. If a person thinks something worth thinking, or feels something worth feeling, and cannot find an adequate expression, let him coin a word—if possible, one which manifestly conveys his meaning. He will have to be careful, for the public will reject what is useless, ridicule a blunder, but perhaps adopt what is suitable.

 
Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Flare Left - 12px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 5px.svg Rule Segment - Circle - 6px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 5px.svg Rule Segment - Flare Right - 12px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg Rule Segment - Span - 40px.svg

BIOLOGY AND "WOMAN'S RIGHTS."

SINCE natural history was remodeled by Mr. Darwin it has been found capable of throwing valuable lights, previously little anticipated, upon topics quite unconnected with the origin and attributes of zoological or botanical species. Of this solidarity of the sciences—one supplying another with methods of inquiry—a striking instance is afforded by a recent work,[1] in which the doctrine of natural selection is successfully utilized in the study of certain political subjects. That further applications more or less analogous are still possible will scarcely be doubted. There is in particular one question now agitating human society which seems particularly to require such treatment. Every one knows that of late years a movement has sprung up to secure for women, as contradistinguished from men, certain rights, liberties, and powers, of which it is contended they have been arbitrarily and wrongfully deprived. To define this movement, and to formulate distinctly the demands of its supporters, is a scarcely possible task. Innovators and agitators of all kinds enjoy the advantage that they cannot be tied down to any fixed set of propositions by which and by whose logical consequences they are prepared to stand or fall. On the contrary, if one ground is found untenable, another is instantly taken up; what satisfies one champion of the cause is rejected by another; and what to-day is accepted as final—as in the case of the anti-vivisection movement—is to-morrow proclaimed a mere installment, and made the basis of fresh demands.

Perhaps we may best describe the movement as an attempt to obliterate all—save the purely structural—distinctions between man and woman, and to establish between them a complete identity of duties and functions in place of that separation which has more or less hitherto always existed. That certain speakers and writers, not content with mere identification, go on to inversion, and would assign to men the particular tasks now allotted to women, though a significant fact, need not detain our attention.

It is of no use laughing at this agitation as the outcome of a mere

  1. "Physics and Politics," by Walter Bagehot. ("International Scientific Series.")