The Business of Being a Woman eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 129 pages of information about The Business of Being a Woman.
circle rules the woman.  Here she breeds and trains the material for the outer circle, which exists only by and for her.  That accident may throw her into this outer circle is of course true, but it is not her natural habitat, nor is she fitted by nature to live and circulate freely there.  We underestimate, too, the kind of experience which is essential for intelligent citizenship in this outer circle.  To know what is wise and needed there one should circulate in it.  The man at his labor in the street, in the meeting places of men, learns unconsciously, as a rule, the code, the meaning, the need of public affairs as woman learns those of private affairs.  What it all amounts to is that the labor of the world is naturally divided between the two different beings that people the world.  It is unfair to the woman that she be asked to do the work of the outer circle.  The man can do that satisfactorily if she does her part; that is, if she prepares him the material.  Certainly, he can never come into the inner circle and do her work.

The idea that there is a kind of inequality for a woman in minding her own business and letting man do the same, comes from our confused and rather stupid notion of the meaning of equality.  Popularly we have come to regard being alike as being equal.  We prove equality by wearing the same kind of clothes, studying the same books, regardless of nature or capacity or future life.  Insisting that women do the same things that men do, may make the two exteriorly more alike—­it does not make them more equal.  Men and women are widely apart in functions and in possibilities.  They cannot be made equal by exterior devices like trousers, ballots, the study of Greek.  The effort to make them so is much more likely to make them unequal.  One only comes to his highest power by following unconsciously and joyfully his own nature.  We run the risk of destroying the capacity for equality when we attempt to make one human being like another human being.

The theory that the class of free women considered here would be fired to unselfish interest in uncared-for youth if they were included in the electorate of the nation is hardly sustainable.  The ballot has not prevented the growth of a similar class of men.  Something more biting than a new tool is needed to arouse men and women who are absorbed in self—­some poignant experience which thrusts upon their indolent minds and into their restricted visions the actualities of life.

It should be said, however, that the recent agitation for the ballot has served as such an experience for a good many women, particularly in the East.  Perhaps for the first time they have heard from the suffrage platform of the “little mother,” the factory child, the girl living on $6 a week.  They have done more than espouse the suffrage cause for the sake of the child; they have gone out to find where they could serve.

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The Business of Being a Woman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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