**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Opposing Sex
by [?]

The frosty truth is that except in the home the influence of women is not elevating, but debasing. When they stoop to uplift men who need uplifting, they are themselves pulled down, and that is all that is accomplished. Wherever they come into familiar contact with men who are not their relatives they impart nothing, they receive all; they do not affect us with their notions of morality; we infect them with ours.

In the last forty years, in this country, they have entered a hundred avenues of activity from which they were previously debarred by an unwritten law. They are found in the offices, the shops, the factories. Like Charles Lamb’s fugitive pigs, they have run up all manner of streets. Does any one think that in that time there has been an advance in professional, commercial and industrial morality? Are lawyers more scrupulous, tradesmen more honest? When one has been served by a “saleslady” does one leave the shop with a feebler sense of injury than was formerly inspired by a transaction at the counter–a duller consciousness of being oneself the commodity that has changed hands? Have actresses elevated the stage to a moral altitude congenial to the colder virtues? In studios of the artists is the “sound of revelry by night” invariably a deep, masculine bass? In literature are the immoral books–the books “dealing” with questionable “questions”–always, or even commonly, written by men?

There is one direction in which “emancipation of woman” and enlargement of her “sphere” have wrought a reform: they have elevated the personnel of the little dinner party in the “private room.” Formerly, as any veteran man-about-town can testify, if he will, the female contingent of the party was composed of persons altogether unspeakable. That element now remains upon its reservation; among the superior advantages enjoyed by the man-about-town of today is that of the companionship, at his dinner in camera, of ladies having an honorable vocation. In the corridors of the “French restaurant” the swish of Pseudonyma’s skirt is no longer heard; she has been superseded by the Princess Tap-tap (with Truckle & Cinch), by my lady Snip-snip (from the “emporium” of Boltwhack & Co.), by Miss Chink-chink, who sits at the receipt of customs in that severely un-French restaurant, the Maison Hash. That the man-about-town has been morally elevated by this Emancipation of Girl from the seclusion of home to that of the “private room” is too obvious for denial. Nothing so uplifts Tyrant Man as the table talk of good young women who earn their own living.

I do not wish to be altogether ironical about this rather serious matter–not so much so as to forfeit anything of lucidity. Let me state, then, in all earnestness and sobriety and simplicity of speech, what is known to every worldly-wise male dweller in the cities, to every scamp and scapegrace of the clubs, to every reformed sentimentalist and every observer with a straight eye–namely, that in all the various classes of young women in our cities who support, or partly support, themselves in vocations which bring them into personal contact with men, female chastity is a vanishing tradition. In the lives of the “main and general” of these, all those considerate which have their origin in personal purity, and cluster about it, and are its signs and safeguards, have almost ceased to cut a figure. It is needless to remind me that there are exceptions–I know that. With some of them I have personal acquaintance, or think I have, and for them a respect withheld from any woman of the rostrum who points to their misfortune and calls it emancipation–to their need and calls it a spirit of independence. It is not from these good girls that you will hear the flippant boast of an unfettered life, with “freedom to develop;” nor is it they who will be foremost and furious in denial and resentment of my statements regarding the morals of their class. They do not know the whole truth, thank Heaven, but they know enough for a deprecation too deep to find relief in a cheap affirmation of woman’s purity, which is, and always has been, the creature of seclusion.