Among domestic animals this is made use of to multiply the better males to the exclusion of the others, a valuable biological expedient which we are denied in human groups because it would upset all our social institutions. So we do the next best thing and make the males do more than half in the extra-biological activities of society, since they are by their structure prevented from having an equal share in the reproductive burden. This is an absolutely necessary equation, and there will always be some sort of division of labour on the basis of it.
Since reproduction is a group, not an individual, necessity, whatever economic burden it entails must eventually be assumed by society and divided up among the individuals, like the cost of war or any other group activity. Ideally, then, from the standpoint of democracy, every individual, male or female, should bear his share as a matter of course. This attitude toward reproduction, as an individual duty but a group economic burden, would lead to the solution of most of the problems involved. Negative eugenics should be an immediate assumption—if the state must pay for offspring, the quality will immediately begin to be considered. A poor race-contribution, not worth paying for, would certainly be prevented as far as possible.
Some well-meaning radical writers mistakenly suppose that the emancipation of women means the withdrawal by the group of any interest in, or any attempt to regulate, such things as the hours and conditions of female labour. That would simply imply that the group takes no interest in reproduction—in its own survival. For if the group does not make some equation for the greater burden of reproduction upon women, the inevitable result will be that that particular service will not be rendered by those most desirable to be preserved.
Given the fundamental assumption that the group is to survive—to be perpetuated by the one possible means—if it withdraws all solicitude about the handicap this entails to women as a whole, introducing a spirit of laissez-faire competition between men and women, the women with sense enough to see the point will not encumber themselves with children. For each one of these who has no children, some other woman must have six instead of three. And some people encourage this in the name of democracy!
The most involved problems must inevitably centre around the women who, to quote Mrs. Hollingworth, “vary from the mode,” but are yet functional for sex. Some have no sex desires at all, some no craving for or attachment to children, some neither of these. It is a question still to be solved whether some of them ought, in the interest of the race, to be encouraged to reproduce themselves. In less individualized primitive society, seclusion, taboo and ignorance coerced them into reproduction. Any type of control involving the inculcation of “moral” ideas is open to the objection that it may work on those who should not reproduce themselves as well as those who should.