Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/20

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10
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ments of its strength and permanency, as well as its weakness. It is created and made lasting as life, or as brief as a summer's day, by one and the same organic emotion. Otherwise marriage, which we may assume as the type of domesticity, would not seem of itself to exist as a factor in crime. As we study marriage in relation to crime in another part of this paper, we shall perceive some very singular facts in which its bearings upon society are not so healthy as might be expected. It cannot be charged, however, to marriage, which is the most perfect of all human relations, but to its underlying weakness, the changing sexual conditions upon which it is based. It is safe in a broad grouping of crime to say that the emotions and passions define offenses against persons, while those against property are characterized by processes of mental calculation and deliberation. The last needs opportunity and temptation; the first exists everywhere. The domestic relation affords a refuge to the one, and contains within itself the element of the other. For these reasons I believe that the restraint afforded by domesticity must be mainly limited to crime against property.

In connection with this division of our subject we are brought face to face with the fact that women are as capable of crime as men. "It is not the degree of crime which keeps a woman back," says Quetelet.... "Since parricides and wounding of parents are more numerous than assassinations, which again are more frequent than murder, and wounds and blows generally, it is not simply weakness, for then the ratio for parricide and wounding of parents should be the same as for murder and wounding of strangers."[1]

With opportunities equal to man's, with the way to crime made easy, instead of being hedged in by the limits of her occupations, woman may equal him in the tendency to crime. Infanticide, in view of the strength of woman's maternal emotions, of the acuteness of her sympathies, and the general attributes of her character, stands alone as a crime in its relations to the sex. Considering the violence done to emotions which are a part of her organic psychical life, it has no equivalent in degree in the range of crime. If we apply to it the theory that the degree of offense, to a certain extent, affords a measure of the tendency to crime in the individual, this crime would reveal in women such a tendency greatly in excess of the other sex. But we must bear in mind that this crime, more than any other, which tends to make woman appear unduly prominent as a criminal, is a natural outgrowth of social surroundings. It is a marked instance of the fact that society contains within itself, even in its normal conditions, the moral agencies that create crime. Society has raised for itself a gauge of conduct, by which the alternative may be presented to any woman, of either crime or disgrace. At the same time society has so organized itself that the chief aim

  1. Loc. cit., p. 91.