Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/17

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

and the slave of man, woman's sphere is the home, for the very simple reason that she cannot get outside it. So, in this sense, in the Zoological Gardens, is the den the sphere of the lion and the cage of the eagle. Shut any living creature up, and its prison becomes its sphere. But if the prisoner becomes restless—if nature beats strongly at the captive's heart—if he yearns for the free air and the golden sunshine, you may, indeed, keep him in the sphere you have built for him; but he will break his heart, and will die in your hands. Many women now, educated more highly than they used to be—women with strong brains and loving hearts, are being driven into bitterness and into angry opposition, because their ambition is thwarted at every step, and their eager longings for a fuller life are forced back and crushed. A tree will grow, however you may try to stunt it. You may disfigure it, you may force it into awkward shapes, but grow it will. One would fain hope that it is in thoughtlessness and in ignorance that men try to push women back. Surely they do not appreciate the injury they are doing, both to themselves and to women, if they turn their homes into prison-houses and the little children into incumbrances. In the strong, true, woman, there is a tender motherhood which weaker natures cannot reach; but if these women are to be told that domestic cares only are to fill their brains, and the prattle of children to be the only satisfaction of their intellect, you run a terrible risk of making them break free from home and child. Allow them to grow freely, to develop as nature bids them, and they will find room for home-cares in their minds, and the warmest nestling-place in their bosom will be the haven of the little child. But if you check, and fret, and carp, at them, you will not succeed in keeping them back, but you will succeed in souring them and in making them hard and bitter. Oh, for the sake of English home life—for the sake of the tender ties of motherhood—for the sake of the common happiness, do not turn into bitter opponents the women who are still anxious to be your friends and your fellow-workers. This is no imaginary danger; it is a thunder-cloud brooding over many English homes. I can scarcely believe that men and women would be so unreasonable as to make the power of voting into a domestic annoyance. Of course, if a married couple want to quarrel, there are sure to be plenty of differences of opinion between them