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The Opposing Sex
by [?]

The fitness of women for political activity is not in present question; I am considering the fitness of political activity for women. For women as men say they are, wish them to be, and try to think them, it is unfit altogether–as unfit as anything else that “mixes them up” with us, compelling a communication and association that are not social. If we wish to have women who are different from ourselves in knowledge, character, accomplishments, manners; as different mentally as physically–and in these and in all odier expressible differences reside all the charms that they have for us–we must keep them, or they must keep themselves, in an environment unlike our own. One would think that obvious to the meanest capacity, and might even hope that it would be understood by the Daughters of Thunder. Possibly the Advanced One, hospitably accepting her karma, is not concerned to be charming to “the likes o’ we'”–would prefer the companionship of her blue gingham umbrella, her corkscrew curls, her epicene audiences and her name in the newspapers. Perhaps she is content with the comfort of her raucous voice. Therein she is unwise, for self-interest is the first law. When we no longer find woman charming we may find a way to make them more useful–more truly useful, even, than the speech-ladies would have them make themselves by competition. Really, there is nothing in the world between them and slavery but their power of interesting us; and that has its origin in the very differences which the Colonels are striving to abolish. God has made no law of miracles and none of His laws are going to be suspended in deference to woman’s desire to achieve familiarity without contempt. If she wants to please she must retain some scrap of novelty; if she desires our respect she must not be always in evidence, disclosing the baser side of her character, as in competition with us she must do (as we do to one another) or lamentably fail. Mrs. Edmund Gosse, like “Ouida,” Mrs. Atherton, and all other women of brains, declares that the taking of unfair advantages–the lack of magnanimity–is a leading characteristic of her sex. Mrs. Gosse adds, with reference to men’s passive acquiescence in this monstrous folly of “emancipation,” that possibly our quiet may be the calm before the storm; and she utters this warning, which, also, more strongly, “Ouida” has uttered: “How would it be with us if the men should suddenly rise en masse and throw the whole surging lot of us into convents and harems?”

It is not likely that men will “rise en masse” to undo the mischief wrought by noisy protagonists of Woman Suffrage working like beavers to rear their airy fad upon the sandy foundation of masculine tolerance and inattention. No rising will be needed. All that is required for the wreck of their hopes is for a wave of reason to slide a little farther up the sands of time, “loll out its large tongue, lick the whole labor flat” The work has prospered so far only because nobody but its promoters has taken it seriously. It has not engaged attention from those having the knowledge and the insight to discern beneath its cap-and-bells and the motley that is its only wear a serious menace to all that civilized men hold precious in woman. It is of the nature of men–themselves cheerful polygamists, with no penitent intentions–to set a high value upon chastity in woman. (We need not inquire why they do so; those to whom the reasons are not clear can profitably remain in the valley of the shadow of ignorance.) Valuing it, they purpose having it, or some considerable numerical presumption of it. As they perceive that in a general way women are virtuous in proportion to the remoteness of their lives and interests from the lives and interests of men–their seclusion from the influences of which men’s own vices are a main part–an easy and peaceful means will doubtless be found for the repression of the shouters.