Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/47

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37
PSYCHOLOGY OF THE SEXES.

domestic affairs, makes women err still more than men do in seeking what seems an immediate public good without thought of distant public evils. Once more, we have in women the predominant awe of power and authority, swaying their ideas and sentiments about all institutions. This tends toward the strengthening of governments, political and ecclesiastical. Faith in whatever presents itself with imposing accompaniments is, for the reason above assigned, especially strong in women. Doubt, or criticism, or calling in question of things that are established, is rare among them. Hence in public affairs their influence goes toward the maintenance of controlling agencies, and does not resist the extension of such agencies; rather, in pursuit of immediate promised benefits, it urges on that extension; since the concrete good in view excludes from their thoughts the remote evils of multiplied restraints. Reverencing power more than men do, women, by implication, respect freedom less—freedom, that is, not of the nominal kind, but of that real kind which consists in the ability of each to carry on his own life without hindrance from others, so long as he does not hinder them.

As factors in social phenomena, these distinctive mental traits of women have ever to be remembered. Women have in all times played a part, and, in modern days, a very notable part, in determining social arrangements. They act both directly and indirectly. Directly, they take a large, if not the larger, share in that ceremonial government which supplements the political and ecclesiastical governments; and as supporters of these other governments, especially the ecclesiastical, their direct aid is by no means unimportant. Indirectly, they act by modifying the opinions and sentiments of men first, in education, when the expression of maternal thoughts and feelings affects the thoughts and feelings of boys, and afterward in domestic and social intercourse, during which the feminine sentiments sway men's public acts, both consciously and unconsciously. Whether it is desirable that the share already taken by women in determining social arrangements and actions should be increased, is a question we will leave undiscussed. Here I am concerned merely to point out that, in the course of a psychological preparation for the study of Sociology, we must include the comparative psychology of the sexes; so that, if any change is made, we may make it knowing what we are doing.

Assent to the general proposition set forth in this chapter does not depend on assent to the particular propositions unfolded in illustrating it. Those who, while pressing forward education, are so certain they know what good education is, that, in an essentially Papal spirit, they wish to force children through their existing school-courses under penalty on parents who resist, will not have their views modified by what has been said. I do not look, either, for any appre-