Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/15

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
11
THE POLITICAL STATUS OF WOMEN.

fered with. They can't imagine what in the world these outsiders want pressing in upon their special domains. The nobleman cannot understand why the peasant should object to the Game Laws; it is so unreasonable of him. The farmer cannot make out why the labourer should not attend quietly to his hedging and ditching, instead of making all this fuss about a union. The capitalist cannot see the sense of the artisan banding himself with his brethren, instead of going on with his duty, and working hard. Men can't conceive why women do not attend to their household duties instead of fussing about Parliament. Unfortunately, each of these tiresome classes cares very little whether those to whom they are opposed can or cannot understand why they agitate. We may be told continually that we are sufficiently represented; we say that we do not think so, but that we mean to be.

"Political power would withdraw women from their proper sphere, and would be a source of domestic annoyance." Their proper sphere?—i.e., the home. This allegation is a very odd one. Men are lawyers, doctors, merchants; every hour of the day is pledged, engrossing speculations stretch the brain, deep questions absorb the mind, great ideas swell in the intellect. Yet men vote. If occupation be a fatal disqualification, let us pass a law that only idle people shall have votes. You will withdraw workers from their various spheres of work, if you allow them to take an interest in politics. For heaven's sake, do not go and take the merchant from the desk, the doctor from the hospital, the lawyer from the court; you will disorganise society—you will withdraw the workers. Do you say it is not so—that the delivery of a vote takes up a very short time at considerable intervals? that a man must have some leisure, and may very well expend it, if he please, in studying politics? that a change of thought is very good for the weary brain? that the alteration of employment is a positive and most valuable relaxation? You are quite right; outside interests are healthy, and prevent private affairs from becoming morbidly engrossing. The study of large problems checks the natural tendency to be absorbed in narrower questions. A man is stronger, healthier, nobler, when, in working hard in trade or in a profession for his home, he does not forget that he is citizen of a mighty nation. I can think of few things more likely to do women