The Feminist propaganda–which should not be confounded with the Suffrage agitation–rests upon a revolutionary biological principle. Substantially, the Feminists argue that there are no men and that there are no women; there are only sexual majorities. To put the matter less obscurely, the Feminists base themselves on Weininger’s theory, according to which the male principle may be found in woman, and the female principle in man. It follows that they recognize no masculine or feminine ” spheres “, and that they propose to identify absolutely the conditions of the sexes.
Now there are two kinds of people who labor under illusions as regards the Feminist movement, its opponents and its supporters: both sides tend to limit the area of its influence; in few cases does either realize the movement as revolutionary. The methods are to have revolutionary results, are destined to be revolutionary; as a convinced but cautious Feminist, I do not think it honest or advisable to conceal this fact. I have myself been charged by a very well-known English author (whose name I may not give, as the charge was contained in a private letter) with having “let the cat out of the bag” in my little book, Woman and To-morrow. Well, I do not think it right that the cat should be kept in the bag. Feminists should not want to triumph by fraud. As promoters of a sex war, they should not hesitate to declare it, and I have little sympathy with the pretenses of those who contend that one may alter everything while leaving everything unaltered.
An essential difference between “Feminism” and “Suffragism” is that the Suffrage is but part of the greater propaganda; while Suffragism desires to remove an inequality, Feminism purports to alter radically the mental attitudes of men and women. The sexes are to be induced to recognize each other’s status, and to bring this recognition to such a point that equality will not even be challenged. Thus Feminists are interested rather in ideas than in facts; if, for instance, they wish to make accessible to women the profession of barrister, it is not because they wish women to practice as barristers, but because they want men to view without surprise the fact that women may be barristers. And they have no use for knightliness and chivalry.
Therein lies the mental revolution: while the Suffragists are content to attain immediate ends, the Feminists are aiming at ultimate ends. They contend that it is unhealthy for the race that man should not recognize woman as his equal; that this makes him intolerant, brutal, selfish, and sentimentally insincere. They believe likewise that the race suffers because women do not look upon men as their peers; that this makes them servile, untruthful, deceitful, narrow, and in every sense inferior. More particularly concerned with women, it is naturally upon them and their problems that they are bringing their first attention to bear.
The word “inferior” at once arouses comment, for here the Feminist often distinguishes himself from the Suffragist. He frequently accepts woman’s present inferiority, but he believes this inferiority to be transient, not permanent. He considers that by removing the handicaps imposed upon women, they will be able to win an adequate proportion of races. His case against the treatment of women covers every form of human relation: the arts, the home, the trades, and marriage. In every one of these directions he proposes to make revolutionary changes.
The question of the arts need not long detain us. It is perfectly clear that woman has had in the past neither the necessary artistic training, nor the necessary atmosphere of encouragement; that families have been reluctant to spend money on their daughter’s music, her painting, her literary education, with the lavishness demanded of them by their son’s professional or business career. Feminists believe that when men and women have been leveled, this state of things will cease to prevail.