Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/192

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180
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ever, I observe in actual life that " advanced " women are chary of either putting forward or accepting modifications in this mat- ter. They dread the frown of their Grundian deity. They usually content themselves with vague declamation and with erecting female celibacy into a panacea for the ills that woman is heir to, while they refuse to meddle at all in definite terms with the ques- tion of marriage or its substitute in the future. "While denouncing loudly the supremacy of man, they seem ready to shake off that supremacy only for the celibate minority of their sex, without at- tempting to do anything for the married majority.

To sum up the point whither this long, and I confess discursive, argument is tending. There is, and ought to be, a genuine Wom- an Question and a genuine Woman Movement. But that move- ment, if it is ever to do any good, must not ignore nay, on the contrary, must frankly and unreservedly accept and embrace the fact that the vast majority of adult women are and will always be wives and mothers (and when I say " wives," I say so only in the broadest sense, subject to all possible expansions or modifications of the nature of wifehood). It must also recognize the other fact that in an ideal community the greatest possible number of women should be devoted to the duties of maternity, in order that the average family may be kept small, that is to say, healthy and ed- ucable. It must assume as its goal, not general celibacy and the independence of women, but general marriage and the ample sup- port of women by the men of the community. While allowing that exceptional circumstances call for exceptional tenderness toward those women who are now compelled by untoward con- ditions to earn their own livelihood, it will avoid creating that accident into a positive goal, and it will endeavor to lessen the necessity for the existence of such exceptions in the future. In short, it will recognize maternity as the central function of the mass of women, and will do everything in its power to make that maternity as healthy, as noble, and as little burdensome as possible.

If the " advanced " women will meet us on this platform, I be- lieve the majority of " advanced " men will gladly hold out to them the right hand of fellowship. As a body we are, I think, prepared to reconsider, and to reconsider fundamentally, without prejudice or preconception, the entire question of the relations be- tween the sexes which is a great deal more than the women are prepared to do. We are ready to make any modifications in those relations which will satisfy the woman's just aspiration for per- sonal independence, for intellectual and moral development, for physical culture, for political activity, and for a voice in the ar- rangement of her own affairs, both domestic and national. As a matter of fact, few women will go as far in their desire to eman-