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The Opposing Sex
by [?]

In the orchestration of mind woman’s instruments might have kept silence without injury to the volume and quality of the music; efface the impress of her touch upon the world and, by those who come after, the blank must be diligently sought. Go to the top of any large city and look about and below. It is not much that you will see, but it represents an amazing advance from the conditions of primitive man. No where in the wide survey will you see the work of woman. It is all the work of men’s hands, and before it was wrought into form and substance, existed as conscious creations in men’s brains. Concealed within the visible forms of buildings and ships–themselves miracles of thought–lie such wonder-worlds of invention and discovery as no human life is long enough to explore, no human understanding capacious enough to hold in knowledge. If, like Asmodeus, we could rive the roofs and see woman’s part of this prodigious exhibition–the things that she has actually created with her brain–what kind of display would it be? It is probable that all the intellectual energy expended by women from first to last would not have sufficed, if directed into the one channel, for the genesis and evolution of the modern bicycle.

I once heard a lady who had playfully competed with men in a jumping match gravely attribute her defeat to the trammeling of her skirt. Similarly, women are pleased to explain their penury of mental achievement by repressive education and custom, and therein they are not altogether in heresy. But even in regions where they have ever had the freedom of the quarries they have not builded themselves monuments. Nobody, for example, is holding them from greatness in poetry, which needs no special education, and music, in which they have always been specially educated; yet where is the great poem by a woman? where the great musical composition? In the grammar of literature what is the feminine of Homer, of Shakspere, of Goethe, of Hugo? What female names are the equivalents of the names of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Wagner? Women are not musicians–they “sing and play.” In short, if woman had no better claim to respect and affection than her brain; no sweeter charms than those of her reason; no means of suasion but her power upon men’s convictions, she would long ago have been “improved off the face of the earth.” As she is, men accord her such homage as is compatible with contempt, such immunities as are consistent with exaction; but whereas she is not altogether filled with light and is moreover, imperfectly reverent, it is but right that in obedience to Scriptural injunction she keep silence in our churches while we are worshipping Ourselves.

She will not have it so, the good, good girl; as moral as the best of us, she will be as intellectual as the rest of us. She will have out her little taper and set the rivers of thought all ablaze, legging it over the land from stream to stream till all are fired. She will widen her sphere, forsooth, herself no wider than before. It is not enough that we have edified her a pedestal and perform impossible rites in celebration of her altitude and distinction. It does not suffice that with never a smile we assure her that she is the superior sex–a whopper by the repetition whereof certain callow youth among us have incurred the divine vengeance of belief. It does not satisfy her that she is indubitably gifted with pulchritude and an unquestionable genius for its embellishing; that Nature has endowed her with a prodigious knack at accroachment, whereby the male of her species is lured to a suitable doom. No; she has taken unto herself in these evil days that “intelligent discontent” which giveth its beloved fits. To her flock of graces and virtues she must add our one poor ewe lamb of brains. Well, I tell her that intellect is a monster which devours beauty; that the woman of exceptional mind is exceptionally masculine in face, figure, action; that in transplanting brains to an unfamiliar soil God leaves much of the original earth about the roots. And so with a reluctant farewell to Lovely Woman, I humbly withdraw from her presence and hasten to overtake the receding periphery of her “sphere.”

One moment more. Mesdames: I crave leave to estop your disfavor–which were affliction and calamity–by “defining my position” in the words of one of yourselves, who has said of me (though with reprehensible exaggeration, believe me) that I hate woman and love women–have an acute animosity to your sex and adoring each individual member of it. What matters my opinion of your understandings so long as I am in bondage to your charms? Moreover, there is one service of incomparable utility and dignity for which I esteem you eminently fit–to be mothers of men.