Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/16

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real good than anything which would urge them to extend their interests beyond the narrow circle of their homes. Why, men complain that women are bigoted, narrow-minded, prejudiced, impracticable. Wider interests would do much to remedy these defects. If you want your wife to be your toy, or your drudge, you do perhaps wisely in shutting up her ideas within the four walls of your house; but if you want one who will stand at your side through life, in evil report as well as in good, a strong, large-hearted woman, fit to be your comfort in trouble, your counsellor in difficulty, your support in danger, worthy to be the mother of your children, the wise guardian and trainer of your sons and your daughters, then seek to widen women's intellects and to enlarge their hearts by sharing with them your grander plans of life, your deeper thoughts, your keener hopes. Do not keep your brains and your intellects for the strife of politics and the conflicts for success, and give to your homes and to your wives nothing but your condescending carelessness and your thoughtless love. Further, do you look on women as your natural enemies, and suppose they are on the look-out for every chance of running away from their homes and their children? It says very little for you if you hope only to keep women's hearts by chaining their limbs, or limiting their range of action. What is it really worth, this compelled submission—this enforced devotion? Do you acknowledge that you make home-life so dull, so wearisome, that you dare not throw open the cage-door, lest the captive should escape? Do you confess that your service is so hard a one that she you call your friend is only longing to be free? You do yourselves an injustice, friends; you shame your own characters—you discredit your homes. A happy home, the centre of hopes and fears, the cherished resting-place from life's troubles, the sure haven from life's conflicts, the paradise brightened by children's prattle and children's laughter, the heaven where we see God in the faces of the little ones—this home is not a place where women must be chained down lest they should run away. Admitting, however, for argument's sake, the absurd idea that women would neglect their homes if they possessed the franchise, may I ask by what right men restrict women's action to the home? I can understand that, in Eastern lands, where the husband rules his wives with despotic authority, and woman is but the plaything