Now if that be a law of heredity, it is a law which is as yet unheard of outside the sphere of the woman suffrage societies. Moreover, one is accustomed to hear women, when they are not arguing on the suffrage, allege that clever mothers make clever sons.
It must, as it will have come home to us, be clear to every thoughtful mind that woman’s belief that she will, through education and the cumulation of its effects upon her through generations, become a more glorious being, rests, not upon any rational basis, but only on the physiological fact that what is congenial to woman impresses itself upon her as true. All that sober science in the form of history and physiology would seem to entitle us to hope from the future of woman is that she will develop pari passu [step by step] with man; and that education will teach her not to retard him overmuch by her lagging in the rear.
In view of this larger issue, the question as to whether woman has, in any real sense of the word, been making progress in the course of the present generation, loses much of interest.
If to move about more freely, to read more freely, to speak out her mind more freely, and to have emancipated herself from traditionary beliefs—and, I would add, traditionary ethics—is to have advanced, woman has indubitably advanced.
But the educated native too has advanced in all these respects; and he also tells us that he is pulling up level with the white man.
Let us at any rate, when the suffragist is congratulating herself on her own progress, meditate also upon that dictum of Nietzsche, “Progress is writ large on all woman’s banners and bannerets; but one can actually see her going back.”
WOMAN’S DISABILITY IN THE MATTER OF PUBLIC MORALITY
Standards by which Morality can be Appraised—Conflict between Different Moralities—The Correct Standard of Morality—Moral Psychology of Men and Woman—Difference between Man and Woman in Matters of Public Morality.
Yet a third point has to come into consideration in connexion with the woman voter. This is, that she would be pernicious to the State also by virtue of her defective moral equipment.
Let me make clear what is the nature of the defect of morality which is here imputed to woman.
Conduct may be appraised by very different standards.
We may appraise it by reference to a transcendental religious ideal which demands that the physical shall be subordinated to the spiritual, and that the fetters of self should be flung aside.
Or again, we may bring into application purely mundane utilitarian standards, and may account conduct as immoral or moral according as it seeks only the happiness of the agent, or the happiness of the narrow circle of humanity which includes along with him also his relatives and intimate friends, or again, the welfare of the wider circle which includes all those with whom he may have come into contact, or whom he may affect through his work; or again, the welfare of the whole body-politic of which we are members; or lastly, that of the general body of mankind.