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- The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage - 5/17 -

commands on the market, earn enough to give her any reasonable measure of financial freedom, the agitator will assure her that the suffrage would bring her more money, describing the woman suffrage cause to her as the cause of liberty. By juggling in this way with the two meanings of "liberty" she will draw her into her toils.

The vote, however, would not raise wages of the woman worker and bring to her the financial, nor yet the physiological freedom she is seeking.

The tactics of the suffragist agitator are the same when she is dealing with a woman who is living at the charges of a husband or relative, and who recoils against the idea that she lies under a moral obligation to make to the man who works for her support some return of gratitude. The suffragist agitator will point out to her that such an obligation is slavery, and that the woman's suffrage cause is the cause of freedom.

And so we find the women who want to have everything for nothing, and the wives who do not see that they are beholden to man for anything, and those who consider that they have not made a sufficiently good bargain for themselves--in short, all the ungrateful women--flock to the banner of Women's Freedom--the banner of financial freedom for woman at the expense of financial servitude for man.

The grateful woman will practically always be an anti-suffragist.

It will be well, before passing on to another class of arguments, to summarise what has been said in the three foregoing sections.

We have recognised that woman has not been defrauded of elementary natural rights; that Justice, as distinguished from egalitarian equity, does not prescribe that she should be admitted to the suffrage; and that her status is not, as is dishonestly alleged, a status of serfdom or slavery.

With this the whole case for recrimination against man, and _a fortiori [for greater reason]_ the case for [a] resort to violence, collapses.

And if it does collapse, this is one of those things that carries consequences. It would beseem man to bethink himself that to give in to an unjustified and doubtfully honest claim is to minister to the demoralisation of the claimant.



Complaint of Want of Chivalry--Complaint of "Insults"--Complaint of "Illogicalities"--Complaint of "Prejudices"--The Familiar Suffragist Grievance of the Drunkard Voter and the Woman of Property Who is a Non-Voter--The Grievance of Woman being Required to Obey Man-Made Laws.

We pass from the argument from elementary natural rights to a different class of arguments--intellectual grievances. The suffragist tells us that it is unchivalrous to oppose woman's suffrage; that it is insulting to tell woman that she is unfit to exercise the fran- chise; that it is "illogical" to make in her case an exception to a general rule; that it is mere "prejudice" to withhold the vote from her; that it is indignity that the virtuous and highly intelligent woman has no vote, while the drunkard has; and that the woman of property has no vote, while her male underlings have; and, lastly, that it is an affront that a woman should be required to obey "man-made" laws.

We may take these in their order.

Let us consider chivalry, first, from the standpoint of the woman suffragist. Her notion of _chivalry_ is that man should accept every disadvantageous offer which may be made to him by woman.

That, of course, is to make chivalry the principle of egalitarian equity limited in its application to the case between man and woman.

It follows that she who holds that the suffrage ought, in obedience to that principle of justice, to be granted to her by man, might quite logically hold that everything else in man's gift ought also to be conceded.

But to do the woman suffragist justice, she does not press the argument from chivalry. Inasmuch as life has brought home to her that the ordinary man has quite other conceptions of that virtue, she declares that "she has no use for it."

Let us now turn to the anti-suffragist view. The anti-suffragist (man or woman) holds that chivalry is a principle which enters into every reputable relation between the sexes, and that of all the civilising agencies at work in the world it is the most important.

But I think I hear the reader interpose, "What, then, is chivalry if it is not a question of serving woman without reward?"

A moment's thought will make the matter clear.

When a man makes this compact with a woman, "I will do you reverence, and protect you, and yield you service; and you, for your part, will hold fast to an ideal of gentleness, of personal refinement, of modesty, of joyous maternity, and to who shall say what other graces and virtues that endear woman to man," that is _chivalry_.

It is not a question of a purely one-sided bargain, as in the suffragist conception. Nor yet is it a bargain about purely material things.

It is a bargain in which man gives both material things, and also things which pertain perhaps somewhat to the spirit; and in which woman gives back of these last.

But none the less it is of the nature of a contract. There is in it the inexorable _do ut des; facio ut facias [give me this, and I will give you that; do this for me, and I will do that for you]._

And the contract is infringed when woman breaks out into violence, when she jettisons her personal refinement, when she is ungrateful, and, possibly, when she places a quite extravagantly high estimate upon her intellectual powers.

We now turn from these almost too intimate questions of personal morality to discuss the other grievances which were enumerated above.

With regard to the suffragist's complaint that it is _"insulting"_ for woman to be told that she is as a class unfit to exercise the suffrage, it is relevant to point out that one is not insulted by being told about oneself, or one's class, untruths, but only at being told about oneself, or one's class, truths which one dislikes. And it is, of course, an offence against ethics to try to dispose of an unpalatable generalisation by characterising it as "insulting." But nothing that man could do would be likely to prevent the suffragist resorting to this aggravated form of intellectual immorality.

We may now turn to the complaint that it is "illogical" to withhold the vote from women.

This is the kind of complaint which brings out in relief the logical endowment and legislative sagacity of the suffragist.

With regard to her logical endowment it will suffice to indicate that the suffragist would appear to regard the promulgation of a rule which is to hold without exception as an essentially logical act; and the admission of any class exception to a rule of general application as an illogicality. It would on this principle be "illogical" to except, under conscription, the female population from military service.

With regard to the suffragist's legislative sagacity we may note that she asks that we should put back the clock, and return to the days when any arbitrary principle might be adduced as a ground for legislation. It is as if Bentham had never taught:--

"What is it to offer a _good reason_ with respect to a law? It is to allege the good or evil which the law tends to produce; so much good, so many arguments in its favour; so much evil, so many arguments against it.

"What is it to offer a _false reason?_ It is the alleging for, or against a law, something else than its good or evil effects."

Next, we may take up the question as to whether an unwelcome generalisation may legitimately be got out of the way by characterising it as a prejudice. This is a fundamentally important question not only in connexion with such an issue as woman suffrage, but in connexion with all search for truth in those regions where crucial scientific experiments cannot be instituted.

In the whole of this region of thought we have to guide ourselves by generalisations.

Now every generalisation is in a sense a _prejudgment_. We make inferences from cases or individuals that have already presented themselves to such cases or individuals of the same class as may afterwards present themselves. And if our generalisation happens to be an unfavourable one, we shall of necessity have prejudged the case against those who are exceptions to their class.

Thus, for example, the proposition that woman is incapable of usefully exercising the parliamentary franchise prejudges the case against a certain number of capable women. It would none the less be absolutely anarchical to propose to abandon the system of guiding ourselves by prejudgments; and unfavourable prejudgments or prejudices are logically as well justified, and are obviously as indispensable to us as favourable prejudgments.

The suffragist who proposes to dispose of generalisations which are unfavourable to woman as prejudices ought therefore to be told to stand down.

It has probably never suggested itself to her that, if there were a mind which was not stored with both favourable prejudgments and prejudices, it would be a mind which had learned absolutely nothing from experience.

But I hear the reader interpose, "Is there not a grave danger that generalisations may be erroneous?"

And I can hear the woman suffragist interject, "Is there not a grave danger that unflattering generalisations about woman may be erroneous?"

The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage - 5/17

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