How far off we are in the case of woman from an unselective mirroring of the world in the mind is shown by the fact that large and important factors of life may be represented in woman’s mind by lacunae [gaps] of which she is totally unconscious.
Thus, for instance, that not very unusual type of spinster who is in a condition of retarded development (and you will find this kind of woman even on County Council’s), is completely unconscious of the sexual element in herself and in human nature generally. Nay, though one went from the dead, he could not bring it home to her that unsatisfied sexuality is an intellectual disability.
Sufficient illustration will now have been given of woman’s incapacity to take a complete or objective view of any matter in which she has a personal, or any kind of emotional interest; and this would now be the place to discuss those other aspects of her mind which are relevant to her claim to the suffrage. I refer to her logical endowment and her political sagacity.
All that I might have been required to say here on these issues has, however, already been said by me in dealing with the arguments of the suffragist. I have there carefully written it in between the lines.
One thing only remains over.—We must, before we pass on, consider whether woman has really, as she tells us, given earnest for the future weeding out of these her secondary sexual characters, by making quite phenomenal advances within the lifetime of the present generation; and, above all, whether there is any basis for woman’s confident assurance that, when for a few generations she shall have enjoyed educational advantages, she will at any rate pull up level with man.
The vision of the future may first engage our attention; for only this roseate prospect makes of any man a feminist.
Now the basis that all this hope rests upon is the belief that it is a law of heredity that acquired characteristics are handed down; and, let it be observed, that whereas this theory found, not many decades ago, under the influence of Darwin, thousands of adherents among scientific men, it finds to-day only here and there an adherent.
But let that pass, for we have to consider here, not only whether acquired characteristics are handed down, but further whether, “if we held that doctrine true,” it would furnish scientific basis for the belief that educational advantages carried on from generation to generation would level up woman’s intellect to man’s; and whether, as the suffragist also believes, the narrow education of past generations of women can be held responsible for their present intellectual shortcomings.
A moment’s consideration will show—for we may here fix our eyes only on the future—that woman could not hope to advance relatively to man except upon the condition that the acquired characteristics of woman, instead of being handed down equally to her male and female descendants, were accumulated upon her daughters.