The Fraud of Feminism/Chapter 6
|←the “chivalry” fake||The Fraud of Feminism (1913)
some feminist lies and fallacies
|the psychology of the movement→|
|London: Grant Richards Ltd pages 109-139|
By Feminist lies I understand false statements put forward by persons, many of whom should be perfectly well aware that they are false, apparently with the deliberate intention of misleading public opinion as to the real position of woman before the law. By fallacies I understand statements doubtless dictated by Feminist prepossessions or Feminist bias, but not necessarily suggesting conscious or deliberate mala fides.
Of the first order, the statements are made apparently with intentional dishonesty in so far as many of the persons making them are concerned, since we may reasonably suppose them to have intelligence and knowledge enough to be aware that they are contrary to fact. The talk about the wife being a chattel, for example, is so palpably absurd in the face of the existing law that it is nowadays scarcely worth making (although we do hear it occasionally even now). But it was not even true under the old common law of England, which, for certain disabilities on the one hand, conceded to the wife certain corresponding privileges on the other. The law of husband and wife, as modified by statute in the course of the nineteenth century, as I have often enough had occasion to point out, is a monument of legalised tyranny over the husband in the interests of the wife.
If in the face of the facts the word chattel, as applied to the wife, has become a little too preposterous even for Feminist controversial methods, there is another falsehood scarcely less brazen that we hear from Feminist fanatics every day. The wife, we are told, is the only unpaid servant! A more blatant lie could scarcely be imagined. As every educated person possessing the slightest acquaintance with the laws of England knows, the law requires the husband to maintain his wife in a manner according with his own social position; has, in other words, to feed, clothe and afford her all reasonable luxuries, which the law, with a view to the economic standing of the husband, regards as necessaries. This although the husband has no claim on the wife's property or income, however wealthy she may be. Furthermore, it need scarcely be said, a servant who is inefficient, lazy, or otherwise intolerable, can be dismissed or her wage can be lowered. Not so that privileged person, the legally wedded wife. It matters not whether she perform her duties well, badly, indifferently, or not at all, the husband's legal obligations remain just the same. It will be seen, therefore, that the wife in any case receives from the husband economic advantages compared with which the wages of the most highly paid servant in existence are a mere pauper's pittance. This talk we hear ad nauseum, from the Feminist side, of the wife being an "unpaid servant," is typical of the whole Feminist agitation. We find the same deliberate and unscrupulous dishonesty characterising it throughout. Facts are not merely perverted or exaggerated, they are simply turned upside down.
Another statement commonly made is that women's lower wages as compared with men's is the result of not possessing the parliamentary franchise. Now this statement, though not perhaps bearing on its face the wilful deception characterising the one just mentioned, is not any the less a perversion of economic fact, and we can hardly regard it otherwise than as intentional. It is quite clear that up to date the wages of men have not been raised by legislation, and yet sections of the working classes have possessed the franchise at least since 1867. What legislation has done for the men has been simply to remove obstacles in the way of industrial organisation on the part of the workman in freeing the trade unions from disabilities, and even this was begun, owing to working-class pressure from outside, long before—as long ago as the twenties of the last century under the auspices of Joseph Hume and Francis Place. Now women's unions enjoy precisely the same freedom as men's unions, and nothing stands in the way of working women organising and agitating for higher wages. Those who talk of the franchise as being necessary for working women in order to obtain equal industrial and economic advantages with working men must realise perfectly well that they are performing the oratorical operation colloquially known as "talking through their hat." The reasons why the wages of women workers are lower than those of men, whatever else may be their grounds, and these are, I think, pretty obvious, clearly are not traceable to anything which the concession of the franchise would remove. If it be suggested that a law could be enacted compulsorily enforcing equal rates of payment for women as for men, what the result would be the merest tyro in such matters can foresee—to wit, that it would mean the wholesale displacement of female by male labour over large branches of industry, and this, we imagine, is not precisely what the advocates of female suffrage are desirous of effecting.
Male labour, owing to its greater efficiency and other causes, being generally preferred by employers to female labour, it is not likely that, even for the sake of female beaux yeux, they are going to accept female labour in the place of male, on an equal wage basis. All this, of course, is quite apart from the question referred to on a previous page, as to the economic responsibilities in the interests of women, which our Feminist law-makers have saddled on the man—namely, the responsibility of the husband, and the husband alone, for the maintenance of his wife and family, obligations from anything corresponding to which the female sex is wholly free.
In a leaflet issued by the "Men's Federation for Women's Suffrage" it is affirmed that "many laws are on the statute book which inflict injustice on Women." We challenge this statement as an unmitigated falsehood. Its makers ought to know perfectly well that they cannot justify it. There are no laws on the statute book inflicting injustice on women as a Sex, but there are many laws inflicting injustice on men in the supposed interests of women. The worn-out tag which has so long done duty with Feminists in this connection—viz. the rule of the Divorce Court, that in order to procure divorce a wife has to prove cruelty as well as adultery on the part of a husband, whereas a husband has to prove adultery alone on the part of a wife—has already been dealt with and its rottenness as a specimen of a grievance sufficiently exposed in this work and elsewhere by the present writer. Is what the authors of the leaflet may possibly have in their mind (if they have anything at all) when they talk about statutes inflicting injustice on women, that the law does not carry sex vindictiveness against men far enough to please them? With all its flogging, penal servitude, hard labour and the rest, for offences against women, some of them of a comparatively trivial kind, does the law as regards severity on men not even yet satisfy the ferocious Feminist souls of the members Of the "Men's Federation for Women's Suffrage"? This is the only explanation of the statement in question other than that it is sheer bald bluff designed to mislead those ignorant of the law.
Another flagrant falsehood perpetually being dinned into our ears by the suffragists is the statement that women have to obey the same laws as men. The conclusion drawn from this false statement is, of course, that since they have to obey these laws equally with men, they have an equal claim with men to take part in the making or the modifying of them. Now without pausing to consider the fallacy underlying the conclusion, we would point out that it is sufficient for our present purpose to call attention to the falsity of the initial assumption itself. It needs only one who follows current events and reads his newspaper with impartial mind to see that to allege that women have to, in the true sense of the words (i.e. are compelled to), obey the same laws as men is a glaringly mendacious statement. It is unnecessary in this place to go over once more the mass of evidence comprised in previous writings of my own—e.g. in the pamphlet, "The Legal Subjection of Man" (Twentieth Century Press), in the article, "A Creature of Privilege" (Fortnightly Review, November 1911), and elsewhere in the present volume, illustrating the unquestionable fact that though in theory women may have to obey the law as men have, yet in practice they are absolved from all the more serious consequences men have to suffer when they disobey it. The treatment recently accorded to the suffragettes for crimes such as wilful damage and arson, not to speak of their previous prison treatment when convicted for obstruction, disturbance and minor police misdemeanours, is a proof, writ large, of the mendacity of the statement that women no less than men have to obey the laws of the country, so far, that is, as any real meaning is attached to this phrase.
Another suffragist lie which is invariably allowed to pass muster by default, save for an occasional protest by the present writer, is the assumption that the English law draws a distinction as regards prison treatment, etc., as between political and non-political offenders. Everyone with even the most elementary legal knowledge is aware that no such distinction has ever been recognised or suggested by the English law—at least until the prison ordinance made quite recently, expressly to please the suffragettes, by Mr Winston Churchill when Home Secretary. However desirable many may consider such a distinction to be, nothing is more indubitable than the fact that it previously obtained in the letter or practice of the law of England. And yet, without a word of contradiction from those who know better, arguments and protests galore have been fabricated on the suffragist side, based solely on this impudently false assumption.
Misdemeanours and crimes at common law when wilfully committed, have in all countries always remained misdemeanours and crimes, whatever motive can be conveniently put forward to account for them. A political offence has always meant the expression of opinions or the advocacy of measures or acts (not of the nature of common law crimes) which are in contravention of the existing law—e.g. a "libel" on the constituted authorities of the State, or the forcible disregard of a law or police regulation in hindrance of the right of public speech or meeting. This is what is meant by political offence in any country recognising such as a special class of offence entitling those committing it to special treatment. This is so where the matter refers to the internal legislation of the country. Where the question of extradition comes in the definition of political offence is, of course, wider. Take the extreme case, that of the assassination of a ruler or functionary, especially in a despotic State, where free Press and the free expression of opinion generally do not exist. This is undoubtedly a political, not a common law offence, in so far as other countries are concerned, and hence the perpetrator of such a deed has the right to claim immunity, on this ground, from extradition. The position assumable is, that under despotic conditions the progressive man is at war with the despot and those exercising authority under him; therefore, in killing the despot or the repositories of despotic authority, he is striking directly at the enemy. It would, however, be absurd for the agent in a deed of this sort to expect special political treatment within the jurisdiction of the State itself immediately concerned. As a matter of fact he never does so. Fancy a Russian Nihilist, when brought to trial, whining that he is a political offender and hence to be exempted from all harsh treatment! No, the Nihilist has too much self-respect to make himself ridiculous in this way. Hardly even the maddest Terrorist Anarchist would make such a claim. For example, the French law recognises the distinction between political and common law offences. But for all this the bande tragique, Bonnet and his associates, did not receive any benefit from the distinction or even claim to do so, though otherwise they were loud enough in proclaiming the political motives inspiring them. Even as regards extradition, running amuck at large, setting fire promiscuously to private buildings or injuring the ordinary non-political citizen, as a "protest," would not legally come into the category of political offences and hence protect their authors from being surrendered as ordinary criminals.
The real fact, of course, is that all this talk on the part of suffragettes and their backers about "political" offences and "political" prison treatment is only a mean and underhand way of trying to secure special sex privileges under false pretences. Those who talk the loudest in the strain in question know this perfectly well.
These falsehoods are dangerous, in spite of what one would think ought to be their obvious character as such, by reason of the psychological fact that you only require to repeat a lie often enough, provided you are uncontradicted, in order for the aforesaid lie to be received as established truth by the mass of mankind ("mostly fools," as Carlyle had it).
It is a preposterous claim, I contend, that any misdemeanour and a fortiori any felony has, law apart, and even from a merely ethical point of view, any claim to special consideration and leniency on the bare declaration of the felon or misdemeanant that it had been dictated by political motive. In no country, at any time, has the mere assertion of political motive been held to bring an ordinary crime within the sphere of treatment of political offences. According to the legal and ethical logic of the suffragettes, it is perfectly open for them to set on fire theatres, churches and houses, and even to shoot down the harmless passer-by in the street, and claim the treatment of first-class misdemeanants on the ground that the act was done as a protest against some political grievance under which they imagined themselves to be labouring. The absurdity of the suggestion is evident on its mere statement. And yet the above preposterous assumption has been suffered equally with the one last noted to pass virtually without protest, and what is more serious, it has been acted upon by the authorities as though it were indubitably sound law as well as sound ethics! It may be pointed out that what has cost many an Irish Fenian in the old days, and many a Terrorist Anarchist at a later date, a sentence of penal servitude for life, can be indulged in by modern suffragettes at the expense of a few weeks' imprisonment in the first or second division. Of course, this whole talk of "political offences," when they are, on the face of them, mere common crimes, is purely and simply a trick designed to shield the cowardly and contemptible female creatures who perpetrate these senseless and dastardly outrages from the punishment they deserve and would receive if they had not the good fortune to be of the privileged sex. In the case of men this impudent nonsense would, of course, never have been put forward, and, if it had, would have been summarily laughed out of court. That it should be necessary to point out these things in so many words is a striking illustration of the moral and intellectual atrophy produced by Feminism in the public mind.
There is another falsehood we often hear by way of condoning the infamous outrages of the suffragettes. The excuse is often offered when the illogical pointlessness of the "militant" methods of the modern suffragette are in question: "Oh! men have also done the same things: men have used violence to attain political ends!" Now the fallacy involved in this retort is plain enough.
It may be perfectly true that men have used violence to attain their ends on occasion. But to assert this fact in the connection in question is purely irrelevant. There is violence and violence. It is absolutely false to say that men have ever adopted purposeless and inane violence as a policy. The violence of men has always had an intelligible relation to the ends they had in view, either proximate or ultimate. They pulled down Hyde Park railings in 1866. Good! But why was this? Because they wanted to hold a meeting, and found the park closed against them, the destruction of the railings being the only means of gaining access to the park. Again, the Reform Bill riots of 1831 were at least all directed against Government property and governmental persons—that is, the enemy with whom they were at war. In most cases, as at Bristol and Nottingham, there was (as in that of the Hyde Park railings) a very definite and immediate object in the violence and destruction committed—namely, the release of persons imprisoned for the part they had taken in the Reform movement, by the destruction of the gaols where they were confined. What conceivable analogy have these things with a policy of destroying private property, setting fire to tea pavilions, burning boat-builders' stock-in-trade, destroying private houses, poisoning pet dogs, upsetting jockeys, defacing people's correspondence, including the postal orders of the poor, mutilating books in a college library, pictures in a public gallery, etc., etc.? And all these, bien entendu, not openly and in course of a riot, but furtively, in the pursuit of a deliberately premeditated policy! Have, I ask, men ever, in the course of the world's history, committed mean, futile and dastardly crimes such as these in pursuit of any political or public end? There can be but one answer to this question. Every reader must know that there is no analogy whatever between suffragettes' "militancy" and the violence and crimes of which men may have been guilty. Even the Terrorist Anarchist, however wrong-headed he may be, and however much his deeds may be deemed morally reprehensible, is at least logical in his actions, in so far as the latter have always had some definite bearing on his political ends and were not mere senseless "running amuck." The utterly disconnected, meaningless and wanton character signalising the policy of the "militant" suffragettes would of itself suffice to furnish a conclusive argument for the incapacity of the female intellect to think logically or politically, and hence against the concession to women of public powers, political, judicial or otherwise.
Another fallacy analogous to the preceding, inasmuch as it seeks to counterbalance female defects and weaknesses by the false allegation of corresponding deficiencies in men, is the Feminist retort sometimes heard when the question of hysteria in women is raised: "Oh! men can also suffer from hysteria!" This has been already dealt with in an earlier chapter, but for the sake of completing the list of prominent Feminist fallacies I restate it concisely here. Now as we have seen it is exceedingly doubtful whether this statement is true in any sense whatever. There are eminent authorities who would deny that men ever have true hysteria. There are others, of course, again, who would extend the term hysteria so as to include every form of neurasthenic disturbance. The question is largely, with many persons who discuss the subject, one of terminology. It suffices here to cut short quibbling on this score. For the nonce, let us drop the word hysteria and formulate the matter as follows:—Women are frequently subject to a pathological mental condition, differing in different cases but offering certain well-marked features in common, a condition which seldom, if ever, occurs in men. This I take to be an incontrovertible proposition based upon experience which will be admitted by every impartial person.
Now the existence of the so-called hysterical man I have hitherto found to be attested on personal experience solely by certain Feminist medical practitioners who allege that they have met with him in their consulting-rooms. His existence is thus vouchsafed for just as the reality of the sea-serpent is vouchsafed for by certain sea captains or other ancient mariners. Far be it from me to impugn the ability, still less the integrity, of these worthy persons. But in either case I may have my doubts as to the accuracy of their observation or of their diagnosis. It may be that the sea-serpent exists and it may be that hysteria is at times discoverable in male persons. But while a conclusive proof of the discovery of a single sea-serpent of the orthodox pattern would go far to justify the yarn of the ancient mariner, the proof of the occurrence, in an occasional case, of hysteria in men, would not by far justify the implied contention that hysteria is not essentially a female malady. If hysterical men are as common a phenomenon as certain hard-pressed Feminists would make out, what I want to know is: Where are they? While we come upon symptoms which would be commonly attributed to hysteria in well-nigh every second or third woman of whose life we have any intimate knowledge, how often do we find in men symptoms in any way resembling these! In my own experience I have come across but two cases of men giving indications of a temperament in any way analogous to that of the "hysterical woman." After all, the experience of the average layman, and in this I contend my own is more or less typical, is more important in the case of a malady manifesting itself in symptoms obvious to common observation, such as the one we are considering, than that of the medical practitioner, who by reason of his profession would be especially likely to see cases, if there were any at all, however few they might be. The possibility, moreover, at least suggests itself, that the latter may often mistake for hysteria (using the word in the sense commonly applied to the symptoms presented by women) symptoms resulting from general neurasthenia or even from purely extraneous causes, such as alcohol, drugs, etc. That this is sometimes the case is hardly open to question. That the pathological mental symptoms referred to as prevalent in the female, whether we attribute them to hysteria or not, are rarely if ever found in the male sex is an undoubted fact. The rose, it is said, is as sweet by any other name, and whether we term these affections symptoms of hysteria, or describe them as hysteria itself, or deny that they have anything to go with "true hysteria," their existence and frequency in the female sex remains nevertheless a fact. No! whether some of the symptoms of hysteria, "true" or "so-called," are occasionally to be found in men or not, every impartial person must admit: that they are extremely rare, whereas as regards certain pathological mental symptoms, common in women and popularly identified (rightly or wrongly) with hysteria, there is, I contend, little evidence of their occurring in men at all. Wriggle and prevaricate as they may, it is impossible for Suffragists and Feminists to successfully evade the undoubted truth that the mentality of women is characterised constitutionally by a general instability, manifesting itself in pathological symptoms radically differing in nature and in frequency from any that obtain in men.
Very conspicuous among the fallacies that have done yeoman service in the Feminist Movement is the assumption that women are constitutionally the "weaker sex." This has also been discussed by us in Chapter II., but the latter may again be supplemented here by a few further remarks, so deeply rooted is this fallacy in public opinion. The reason of the unquestioned acceptance of the assumption is partly due to a confusion of two things under one name. The terms, "bodily strength" and "bodily weakness" cover two distinct facts. The attribution of greater bodily weakness to the female sex than to the male undoubtedly expresses a truth, but no less does the attribution of greater bodily strength to the female than to the male sex equally express a truth. In size, weight and muscular development, average man has an unquestionable, and in most cases enormous, advantage over average woman. It is in this sense that the bodily structure of the human female can with some show of justice be described as frail. On the other hand, as regards tenacity of life, recuperative power and what we may term toughness of constitution, woman is without doubt considerably stronger than man. Now this vigour of constitution may, of course, also be described as bodily strength, and to this confusion the assumption of the general frailty of the female bodily organism as compared with the male has acquired general currency in the popular mind.
The most carefully controlled and reliable statistics of the Registrar-General and other sources show the enormously greater mortality of men than of women at all ages and under all conditions of life. Under the age of five the evidence shows that 120 boys die to every 100 girls. In adult life the Registrar-General shows that diseases of the chest are the cause of nearly 40 per cent of more deaths among men than among women. That violence and accident should be the occasion of 150 per cent more deaths amongst men than women is accounted for, partly, at least, by the greater exposure of men, although the enormous disparity would lead one to suspect that here also the inferior resisting power in the male constitution plays a not inconsiderable part in the result. The report of the medical officer to the Local Government Board proves that between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five there is a startling difference in numbers between the deaths of men and those of women. The details for the year 1910 are as follows:—
Various additional causes, connected with the more active and anxious life of men, the greater strain to which they are subjected, their greater exposure alike to infection and to accident, may explain a certain percentage of the excessive death-rate of the male population as opposed to the female, yet these explanations, even allowing the utmost possible latitude to them, really only touch the fringe of the difference, with the single exception of deaths from violence and accident above alluded to, where liability and exposure may account for a somewhat larger percentage. The great cause of the discrepancy remains, without doubt, the enormously greater potentiality of resistance, in other words of constitutional strength, in the female bodily organism as compared with the male.
We must now deal at some length with a fallacy of some importance, owing to the apparatus of learning with which it has been set forth, to be found in Mr Lester F. Ward's book, entitled "Pure Sociology," notwithstanding that its fallacious nature is plain enough when analysed. Mr Ward terms his speculation the "Gynœcocentric Theory," by which he understands apparently the Feminist dogma of the supreme importance of the female in the scheme of humanity and nature generally. His arguments are largely drawn from general biology, especially that of inferior organisms. He traces the various processes of reproduction in the lower departments of organic nature, subdivision, germination, budding, etc., up to the earlier forms of bi-sexuality, culminating in conjugation or true sexual union. His standpoint he thus states in the terms of biological origins: "Although reproduction and sex are two distinct things, and although a creature that reproduces without sex cannot properly be called either male or female, still so completely have these conceptions become blended in the popular mind that a creature which actually brings forth offspring out of its own body, is instinctively classed as female. The female is the fertile sex, and whatever is fertile is looked upon as female. Assuredly it would be absurd to look upon an organism propagating sexually as male. Biologists have proceeded from this popular standpoint and regularly speak of 'mother cells,' and 'daughter cells.' It, therefore, does no violence to language or to science to say that life begins with the female organism and is carried on a long distance by means of females alone. In all the different forms of a-sexual reproduction, from fission to parthenogenesis, the female may in this sense be said to exist alone and perform all the functions of life, including reproduction. In a word, life begins as female."
In the above remarks it will be seen that Mr Ward, so to say, jumps the claim of a-sexual organisms to be considered as female. This, in itself a somewhat questionable proceeding, serves him as a starting-point for his theory. The a-sexual female (?), he observes, is not only primarily the original sex, but continues throughout, the main trunk, though afterwards the male element is added "for the purposes of fertilisation." "Among millions of humble creatures," says Mr Ward, "the male is simply and solely a fertiliser." The writer goes on in his efforts to belittle the male sex in the sphere of biology. "The gigantic female spider and the tiny male fertiliser, the Mantis insect with its similarly large and ferocious female, bees, and mosquitoes," all are pressed into the service. Even the vegetable kingdom, in so far as it shows signs of sex differentiation, is brought into the lists in favour of his theory of female supremacy, or "gynæcocentricism," as he terms it.
This theory may be briefly stated as follows:—In the earliest organisms displaying sex differentiation, it is the female which represents the organism proper, the rudimentary male existing solely for the purpose of the fertilisation of the female. This applies to most of the lower forms of life in which the differentiation of sex obtains, and in many insects, the Mantis being one of the cases specially insisted upon by our author. The process of the development of the male sex is by means of the sexual selection of the female. From being a mere fertilising agent, gradually, as evolution proceeds, it assumes the form and characteristics of an independent organism like the original female trunk organism. But the latter continues to maintain its supremacy in the life of the species, by means chiefly of sexual selection, until the human period, i.e. more or less(!), for Mr Ward is bound to admit signs of male superiority in the higher vertebrates—viz. birds and mammals. This superiority manifests itself in size, strength, ornamentation, alertness, etc. But it is with man, with the advent of the reasoning faculty, and, as a consequence, of human supremacy, that it becomes first unmistakably manifest. This superiority, Mr Ward contends, has been developed under the ægis of the sexual selection of the female, and enabled cruel and wicked man to subject and enslave down-trodden and oppressed woman, who has thus been crushed by a Frankenstein of her own creation. Although in various earlier phases of human organisation woman still maintains her social supremacy, this state of affairs soon changes. Androcracy establishes itself, and woman is reduced to the role of breeding the race and of being the servant of man. Thus she has remained throughout the periods of the higher barbarism and of civilisation. Our author regards the lowest point of what he terms the degradation of woman to have been reached in the past, and the last two centuries as having witnessed a movement in the opposite direction—namely, towards the emancipation of woman and equality between the sexes. (Cf. "Pure Sociology," chap. xiv., and especially pp. 290-377.)
The above is a brief, but, I think, not unfair skeleton statement of the theory which Mr Lester Ward has elaborated in the work above referred to, in great detail and with immense wealth of illustration. But now I ask, granting the correctness of Mr Ward's biological premises and the accuracy of his exposition, and I am not specialist enough to be capable of criticising these in detail: What does it all amount to? The "business end" (as the Americans would say) of the whole theory, it is quite evident, is to afford a plausible and scientific basis for the Modern Feminist Movement, and thus to further its practical pretensions. What Mr Ward terms the androcentric theory, at least as regards man and the higher vertebrates, which is on the face of it supported by the facts of human experience and has been accepted well-nigh unanimously up to quite recent times, is, according to him, all wrong. The male element in the universe of living things is not the element of primary importance, and the female element the secondary, but the converse is the case. For this contention Mr Ward, as already pointed out, has, by dint of his biological learning, succeeded at least in making out a case in so far as lower forms of life are concerned. He has, however, to admit—a fatal admission surely—that evolution has tended progressively to break down the superiority of the female (by means, as he contends, of her own sexual selection) and to transfer sex supremacy to the male, according to Mr Ward, hitherto a secondary being, and that this tendency becomes very obvious in most species of birds and mammals. With the rise of man, however, out of the pithecanthropos, the homosynosis, or by whatever other designation we may call the intermediate organism between the purely animal and the purely human, and the consequent supersession of instinct as the dominant form of intelligence by reason, the question of superiority, as Mr Ward candidly admits, is no longer doubtful, and upon the unquestionable superiority of the male, in due course of time, follows the unquestioned supremacy. It is clear then that, granting the biological premises of our author that the lowest sexual organisms are virtually female and that in the hermaphrodites the female element predominates; that in the earliest forms of bi-sexuality the fertilising or male element was merely an offshoot of the female trunk and that this offshoot develops, mainly by means of sexual selection on the part of the female, into an organism similar to the latter; that not until we reach the higher vertebrates, the birds and the mammals, do we find any traces of male superiority; and that this superiority only becomes definite and obvious, leading to male domination, in the human species—granting all this, I say, what argument can be founded upon it in support of the equal value physically, intellectually and morally of the female sex in human society, or the desirability of its possessing equal political power with men in such society? On the contrary, Mr Ward's whole exposition, with his biological facts of illustration, would seem to point rather in the opposite direction. We seem surely to have here, if Mr Ward's premises be accepted as to the primitive insignificance of the male element—at first overshadowed and dominated by the female stem, but gradually evolving in importance, character and fruition, till we arrive at man the highest product of evolution up to date—a powerful argument for anti-Feminism. On Mr Ward's own showing, we find that incontestible superiority, both in size and power of body and brain, has manifested itself in Androcracy, when the female is relegated, in the natural course of things, to the function of child-bearing. This, it can hardly be denied, is simply one more instance of the general process of evolution, whereby the higher being is evolved from the lower, at first weak and dependent upon its parent, the latter remaining dominant until the new being reaches maturity, when in its turn it becomes supreme, while that out of which it developed, and of which it was first the mere offshoot, falls into the background and becomes in its turn subordinate to its own product.
Let us turn now to another scientific fallacy, the result of a good man struggling with adversity—i.e. a sound and honest scientific investigator, but one who, at the same time, is either himself obsessed with the principles of Feminism as with a religious dogma, or else is nervously afraid of offending others who are. His attitude reminds one of nothing so much as that of the orthodox geologist of the first half of the nineteenth century, who wrote in mortal fear of incurring the odium theologicum by his exposition of the facts of geology, and who was therefore nervously anxious to persuade his readers that the facts in question did not clash with the Mosaic cosmogony as given in the Book of Genesis. With Mr Havelock Ellis in his work, "Man and Woman," it is not the dogma of Biblical infallibility that he is concerned to defend, but a more modern dogma, that of female equality, so dear to the heart of the Modern Feminist. Mr Ellis's efforts to evade the consequences of the scientific truths he honestly proclaims are almost pathetic. One cannot help noticing, after his exposition of some fact that goes dead against the sex-equality theory as contended for by Feminists, the eagerness with which he hastens to add some qualifying statement tending to show that after all it is not so incompatible with the Feminist dogma as it might appear at first sight.
The pièce de résistance, however, of Mr Havelock Ellis is contained in his "conclusion." The author has for his problem to get over the obvious incompatibility of the truth he has himself abundantly demonstrated in the course of his book, that the woman-type, in every respect, physiological and psychological, approaches the child-type, while the man-type, in its proper progress towards maturity, increasingly diverges from it. The obvious implication of this fact is surely plain, on the principle of the development of the individual being a shorthand reproduction of the evolution of the species, or, to express it in scientific phraseology, of ontogeny being the abbreviated recapitulation of the stages presented by philogeny. If we proceed on this well-accredited and otherwise universally accepted principle of biology, the inference is clear enough—to wit, that woman is, as Herbert Spencer and others have pointed out, simply "undeveloped man"—in other words, that Woman represents a lower stage of evolution than Man. Now this would obviously not at all suit the book of Mr Ellis's Feminism. Explained away it has to be in some fashion or other. So our author is driven to the daring expedient of throwing overboard one of the best established generalisations of modern biology, and boldly declaring that the principle contained therein is reversed (we suppose "for this occasion only") in the case of Man. In this way he is enabled to postulate a theory consoling to the Feminist soul, which affirms that adult man is nearer in point of development to his pre-human ancestor than either the child or the woman! The physiological and psychological analogies observable between the child and the savage, and even, especially in early childhood, between the child and the lower mammalian types—analogies which, notably in the life of instinct and passion, are traceable readily also in the human female—all these count for nothing; they are not dreamt of in Mr Ellis's Feminist philosophy. The Modern Feminist dogma requires that woman should be recognised as equal in every respect (except in muscular strength) with man, and if possible, as rather superior to him. If Nature has not worked on Feminist lines, as common observation and scientific research alike testify on the face of things, naughty Nature must be "corrected," in theory, at least, by the ingenuity of Feminist savants of the degraded male persuasion. To this end we must square our scientific hypotheses!
The startling theory of Mr Havelock Ellis, which must seem, one would think, to all impartial persons, so out of accord with all the acknowledged laws and facts of biological science, appears to the present writer, it must be confessed, the very reductio ad absurdum of Feminist controversial perversity.
I will conclude this chapter on Feminist Lies and Fallacies with a fallacy of false analogy or false illustration, according as we may choose to term it. This quasi-argument was recently put forward in a defence speech by one of the prisoners in a suffragette trial and was subsequently repeated by George Bernard Shaw in a letter to The Times. Put briefly, the point attempted to be made is as follows:—Apostrophising men, it is said: "How would you like it if the historical relations of the sexes were reversed, if the making and the administrating of the laws and the whole power of the State were in the hands of women? Would not you revolt in such a condition of affairs?" Now to this quasi-argument the reply is sufficiently clear. The moral intended to be conveyed in the hypothetical question put, is that women have just as much right to object to men's domination, as men would have to object to women's domination. But it is plain that the point of the whole question resides in a petitio principie—to wit, in the assumption that those challenged admit equal intellectual capacity and equal moral stability as between the average woman and the average man. Failing this assumption the challenge becomes senseless and futile. If we ignore mental and moral differences it is only a question of degree as to when we are landed in obvious absurdity. In "Gulliver's Travels" we have a picture of society in which horses ruled the roost, and lorded it over human beings. In this satire Swift in effect put the question: "How would you humans like to be treated by horses as inferiors, just as horses are treated by you to-day?" I am, be it remembered, not instituting any comparison between the two cases, beyond pointing out that the argument as an argument is intrinsically the same in both.