IN the course of his essay on emancipation—black and white—written at the close of our civil war, Huxley says that with few exceptions the ideal of womanhood in his generation seemed to oscillate between Clärchen, on the one hand, and Beatrice, on the other. That women are intended neither as guides nor as playthings, but as comrades, fellows and equals, in so far as nature herself raises no bar to equality, at that time had not penetrated the minds of those entrusted with the education of girls. But even the densest media are ultimately permeable, and if we can now point with pride to certain accomplished results, it is because the underlying principles have not only been discovered and understood, but practically applied.
At heart these principles are biological, and the success which has attended their application depends on the fact that women share the senses, perceptions, feelings, emotions and reasoning powers of men, and that the average woman deviates less in these respects from the standard of men, than one brother differs from another. But problems are fatefully linked together, and the answer to one is invariably the herald of others. If the education of women has demonstrated both its feasibility and value, the inevitable next question clamors for solution no less insistently than its progenitor. Now that she is educated, what shall we do with her? Perhaps at this point biology can aid us anew and point the moral to a tale which itself may have proceeded no farther than the opening paragraph.
Whoever has sufficient temerity to read all that has been written on the subject of sex in twenty years, is likely, sooner or later, to revert with a sense of freedom to Geddes and Thompson's splendid work, there to rejoice in a view by no means out of harmony with recent results, and so comprehensive that the truth, though still "in block," lies well within the field of vision.
Beginning with the simplest cases, and ending with the almost hopelessly complex sexual life of man himself, these writers reduce all to elementary terms in physiology, and find the fundamental difference between the sexes in the essentially disruptive diathesis of the male, and the essentially constructive diathesis of the female.
- Patrick Geddes and J. Arthur Thompson, "The Evolution of Sex," American edition published by Scribners.