Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/10

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by giving women a share in the power of the State, will also make them more respected. Hitherto, law, declaring women to be weak, has carefully put all advantages into the hands of those who are already the powerful. Instead of guarding and strengthening the feeble, it has bound them hand and foot, and laid them helpless at the feet of the strong. To him that hath, it has indeed been given; and from her that hath not, has been taken away even the protection she might have had.

"Women are naturally unfit for the proper exercise of the franchise." It has been remarked, more than once, that in this contest about the voting of women, men and women have exchanged their characteristics. Women appeal to reason, men to instincts; women rely on logic, men on assumptions; women are swayed by facts, men by prejudices. To all our arguments, to all our reasoning, men answer, "It is unfeminine—it is contrary to nature." If we press them, How and why? we are only met with a re-assertion of the maxim. I am afraid that we women sadly lack the power of seeing differences. It is unfeminine to be a doctor, but feminine to be a nurse. It is unfeminine to mix drugs, but feminine to administer them. It is unfeminine to study political economy, but feminine to train the future Statesmen. It is unfeminine to study sanitary laws, but feminine to regulate the atmosphere of the nursery, whose wholesomeness depends on those laws. It is unfeminine to mingle with men at the polling-booth, but feminine to labour among them in the field and the factories. In a word, it is unfeminine to know how to do a thing, and to do it comprehendingly, wisely, and well; it is feminine to do things of whose laws and principles we know absolutely nothing, and to do them ignorantly, foolishly, and badly. We do not see things in this light. I suppose it is because we, as women, have "the poetical power of seeing resemblances," but lack the "philosophical power of seeing differences." We must, however, analyse this natural inferiority of women; it is shown, we are told, in their mental weakness, their susceptibility to influence, their unbusiness-like habits. If this natural mental inferiority of women be a fact, one cannot but wonder how nature has managed to make so many mistakes. Mary Somerville, Mrs. Lewes (better known as George Eliot), Frances Power Cobbe, Harriet Martineau, were made, I suppose, when nature