Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/46

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36
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

conduce to social influence will become more attractive. Further, it is to be anticipated that the higher culture of women, carried on within such limits as shall not unduly tax the physique (and here, by higher culture, I do not mean mere language-learning and an extension of the detestable cramming-system at present in use), will in other ways reduce the contrast. Slowly leading to the result everywhere seen throughout the organic world, of a self-preserving power inversely proportionate to the race-preserving power, it will entail a less early arrest of individual evolution, and a diminution of those mental differences between men and women which the early arrest produces.

Admitting such to be changes which the future will probably see wrought out, we have meanwhile to bear in mind these traits of intellect and feeling which distinguish women, and to take note of them as factors in social phenomena—much more important factors than we commonly suppose. Considering them in the above order, we may note, first, that the love of the helpless, which in her maternal capacity woman displays in a more special form than man, inevitably affects all her thoughts and sentiments; and, this being joined in her with a less developed sentiment of abstract justice, she responds more readily when appeals to pity are made than when appeals are made to equity. In foregoing chapters we have seen how much our social policy disregards the claims of individuals to whatever their efforts purchase, so long as no obvious misery is brought on them by the disregard; but, when individuals suffer in ways conspicuous enough to excite commiseration, they get aid, and often as much aid if their sufferings are caused by themselves as if they are caused by others—often greater aid, indeed. This social policy, to which men tend in an injurious degree, women tend to still more. The maternal instinct delights in yielding benefits apart from deserts; and, being partially excited by whatever shows a feebleness that appeals for help (supposing antagonism has not been aroused), carries into social action this preference of generosity to justice, even more than men do. A further tendency, having the same general direction, results from the aptitude which the feminine intellect has to dwell on the concrete and proximate rather than on the abstract and remote. The representative faculty in women deals quickly and clearly with the personal, the special, and the immediate; but less readily grasps the general and the impersonal. A vivid imagination of simple direct consequences mostly shuts out from her mind the imagination of consequences that are complex and indirect. The respective behaviors of mothers and fathers to children sufficiently exemplify this difference: mothers thinking chiefly of present effects on the conduct of children, and regarding less the distant effects on their characters; while fathers often repress the promptings of their sympathies with a view to ultimate benefits. And this difference between their ways of estimating consequences, affecting their judgments on social affairs as on