The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 79 pages of information about The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage.

Applying the above axiom to the issue before us, it is clear that we ought to confine ourselves here to the discussion of the question as to whether the State would, or would not, suffer from the admission of women to the electorate.

We can arrive at a judgment upon this by considering, on the one hand, the class-characters of women so far as these may be relevant to the question of the suffrage; and, on the other hand, the legislative programmes put forward by the female legislative reformer and the feminist.

In connexion with the class-characters of woman, it will be well, before attempting to indicate them, to interpolate here the general consideration that the practical statesman, who has to deal with things as they are, is not required to decide whether the characters of women which will here be considered are, as the physiologist (who knows that the sexual products influence every tissue of the body) cannot doubt, “secondary sexual characters”; or, as the suffragist contends, “acquired characters.”  It will be plain that whether defects are “secondary sexual characters” (and therefore as irremediable as “racial characters"); or whether they are “acquired characters” (and as such theoretically remediable) they are relevant to the question of the concession of the suffrage just so long as they continue to be exhibited.[1]

[1] This is a question on which Mill (vide Subjection of Women, last third of Chapter I) has endeavoured to confuse the issues for his reader, first, by representing that by no possibility can man know anything of the “nature,” i.e., of the “secondary sexual characters” of woman; and, secondly, by distracting attention from the fact that “acquired characters” may produce unfitness for the suffrage.

The primordial argument against giving woman the vote is that that vote would not represent physical force.

Now it is by physical force alone and by prestige—­which represents physical force in the background—­that a nation protects itself against foreign interference, upholds its rule over subject populations, and enforces its own laws.  And nothing could in the end more certainly lead to war and revolt than the decline of the military spirit and loss of prestige which would inevitably follow if man admitted woman into political co-partnership.

While it is arguable that such a partnership with woman in government as obtains in Australia and New Zealand is sufficiently unreal to be endurable, there cannot be two opinions on the question that a virile and imperial race will not brook any attempt at forcible control by women.

Again, no military foreign nation or native race would ever believe in the stamina and firmness of purpose of any nation that submitted even to the semblance of such control.

The internal equilibrium of the State also would be endangered by the admission to the register of millions of electors whose vote would not be endorsed by the authority of physical force.

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The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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