Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/204

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observation is applicable to painting and the culinary art. Why is it that, while all the men who devote themselves to the latter art become good cooks, there are among the thousands of women who exercise it as a profession so few of the first quality?

We have already seen that in mixed schools, where children of both sexes receive precisely the same education till they are fifteen years old, the girls at first are ahead by virtue of their natural precocity, but, on passing twelve years, fall behind the boys. The arrest in the development that takes place in woman at about this time is the real cause of the growing pre-eminence of man, who continues to develop till an advanced age. If the girl begins thus to fall behind the boy at a certain point after having enjoyed the same training, it must be that her inferiority is real, and can not be ascribed to a difference in education that does not exist.

Thus equality in the instruction of individuals of the two sexes, the equal working of the brain, instead of re-establishing equality between them, increases the pre-eminence of the males, and this explains why woman is less perfectible than man. The equality of the sexes dreamed of by the philosophers is, then, not near being realized. On the contrary, that equality which existed among the primitive races, and still exists among some savages, is tending more and more to disappear with the progress of civilization. The pre-eminence of man over woman, which is a product of the evolution of individuals and races, is rather increased by instruction, the effect of which, far from re-establishing the equality of the sexes, is to assure definitively the supremacy of man.

It would be interesting to investigate the effect of the environment on the differences between the sexes. I am inclined to believe that the differences diminish as we go south. In Italy, for example, according to statistics covering a period of fourteen years, published by the Minister of Agriculture, the excess in the height of men over women falls from forty-two millimetres (1·63 inch) in the northern provinces to twenty-nine millimetres (1·13 inch) in the southern provinces. According to Broca, women are more nearly of the same size as men in mountainous than in flat countries. To summarize our argument, the pre-eminence of the female sex over the male, occurring only in certain inferior species and races, and in children of the superior races, marks an inferior degree of evolution. The same may be said of equality of the sexes, which is observable only among individuals little advanced in evolution: inferior races and species, youth, aged persons, and the lower classes. On the contrary, the pre-eminence of the male over the female represents a superior phase of evolution, for it characterizes superior species and races, the adult age, and the higher classes. In the moral as in the physical point of view, evolution appears to me, then, to advance from the pre-eminence of the female sex to that of the male sex; equality of the sexes would thus be a stage in the natural transition between the two opposite phases of evolution.