A baffling aspect of reality that reminds us that our abstract mapping of the world and perceiving agent brains are entrenched in biological reality is sex; like death peeking around a corner, it shows us that for all of our ideals and thoughts starchily removed into the mathematical, orthogonal worlds of logic, we are creatures and of the earth we must be. The sexes divide us into two groups but, contrary to modern “wisdom,” also reflect how we think and what we are. In bitter response to Schopenhauer’s “Of Women,” this article attempts to enumerate the natural wisdom of sexual differentiation and where it might go to avoid the kind of polemic hatred that characterizes both feminism and Schopenhauer’s derision of the female.
Let us take a moment to appreciate the beauty of woman. In her non-plasticized state, she is a nurturing antidote to the mania of man for accomplishment of abstract ideas. She does not deal in concepts of what might be, but in a practical bettering of what is; where a man looks to the horizon for his dreams, woman is busy examining what is in her hands and configuring it to be as pleasant as possible. When man comes to her in a state of duress, heartbroken at a failure of some small part of the dream and yet unable to cry, she is the one who empathic cries with him, if even silently, and sings him to sleep. If his dreams become too fantastic, she is the one to nod and point out that the house needs fixing. In its natural state, this is not sabotage (as it might be today), but a reminder that if he works outward from what he has, he might be happier and also clear his mind for the task he seeks. Woman is like man except that where he is deductive, and posits responses to observed tendencies in the world, she is inductive and becomes these tendencies in a bettering form. When the world is on fire and the devil coming up the pipes, it is woman not man who will lead the tribe to prevalence.
In saner times — not the Christianized years of Europe, when women were viewed as property — women were not exempt from the warrior tradition. Men as is fitting for projective mental technologies would wage war afar, and defend against the organized assaults on the homeland, but woman was the guardian, the gentle but proficient Athena who guided spears into the hearts of brigands and cutthroats. Where man will reach a point where he is ready for surrender, woman never does surrender by force; she will decide to surrender if it seems apt, and while man is a better gauge of that in most circumstances, she is often more realistic about what bravery can compensate and what it cannot. She is less prone to battle-lust and more prone to cold-eyed extermination, as her nature is practical (no snakes in the house that are not tamed). In her younger years she is idealistic and willing to believe in true love, and the marriages formed by sane people during these years are the most enduring, as they have never compromised their idealism and emotion with bitterness. Where man will tire of the arts of loving in the absence of love, woman will usually not, and will continue to give as she can, being more adept than man at accepting the finity of her lifespan and the inevitability of living decay. If love fails her, she will love herself and her children and seek pleasure in an entirely different category; the two are not linked as they are in men.
Of course, in a time when all things have a price tag on them, man becomes corrupt and starts to view his own sexuality as pleasure, because if everything has a price tag, there must be some way to compare values. Thus in his corruption he spreads this disease to woman and she, defending herself, perceives that there is no love inherent to life and thus seeks pleasure. In this state, women instantly become whores, and while we like to believe that both goddess and whore coexist in one person in the modern time, such ideas produce schizophrenia of a low grade through the indecision and underconfidence of those conjecturing substance where there is none. What leads them into whoredom is the whorelike proposition that we can assign an abstract value to real-world experience, when there is no such single valuation on romantic love or raising a family. Thus woman becomes corrupt, and like a coin with one side blank, becomes empty, and wages war against anything but her pleasure, because pleasure is all she has been left. Schopenhauer’s mother, the ambitious society whore, and most of Nietzsche’s proposed lovers fall into this category: politicized, plastic women. However, without the insanity of believing in a God outside of the world, this single valuation does not occur, women do not become corrupt, and the castes (intelligence-nobility rankings) remain unmixed.
Much as the penis invites its use as a probe, the man is that which launches into the world, where woman as a recessed genital organism is more focused on her sphere of influence. As a result the male brain operates from impulse to a quasi-scientific response to the world, projecting a counterpart to the natural laws it observes that, if applied, conjecturally seems a logical means to achieve an ideal formed of an ultimate archetype of that impulse. A man seeing cruelty formulates a theory of justice and then struggles to implement it, where a woman simply avoids the source of cruelty. This projective impulse is really the only use of the male, and it is the origin of all reasonable wars and defenses and idealisms; when society becomes plasticized, men lose their idealism and thus begin to seek pleasure, but must justify it and so denigrate reality as a concept in their minds and praise illusion. A man goes from hero to religious lunatic in three seconds if not properly balanced by a woman.
Much has been said about the active role of man versus the submissive role of woman, but this is somewhat delusional in that to be active requires a submissive, and thus must involve an exchange of submissions. In sensible times man submits to woman on emotional questions and regards her as the head of his household. He must guide the family on questions of idealism but she is its preserver, like Pallas Athena, and dispenser of wisdom to keep heroes from running amok into suicidal risks because they have ideals. Men are like children in the hands of women where women are like children in the hands of life. Properly balanced, the two keep each other from either reaching too far or not reaching at all. Not surprisingly, tests reveal that men and women have different sorts of brains: men tend to triumph at rational activities including spatial and mathematical reasoning, while women are better with language and emotional logic (emotion is a form of non-linear logic). This does not apply to every case, but exceptions should be reserved for the exceptional, or the recognition becomes cheap and the result mediocre.
After all, our minds reason, humans are the same at conception and only later are there visible signs of gender differences. However, these differentiated traits are formative and do not confine themselves to the genital and breast area. Women are made with a finer hand and seem to smell better, while males are given sturdier implements of hand and muscle. Nature seems to grant us with more men than women in percentages of births, but this is not insensible as any idealistic creature is going to be prone to moments of dramatic heroism or stupidity (“wouldn’t it be cool to strap a rocket to the car?” is a form of primitive idealism) and thus require a few extras to replace the casualties.
Schopenhauer does correctly note that men are better at abstract logic, but it would be foolish to assume this is the only property necessary to experience life. As we as humans are both logical minds and biological selves, we require more than pure abstract logic unless we live Buddha-like in a state of meditation, which might appeal to some but in healthy times seems superfluous. The balancing of male and female traits is intelligent because it guarantees that each has a counterpoint to absorb its extra energy and prevent it from becoming overbearing. Much as we are mind and body, we are man and woman, but both man and woman are both mind and body; this bonds us to a unity of mind and body by giving two views of each which are counterdependent. Men have a certain physical sensibility and an abstract mentality, while women have another of each, and together the two represent a whole view of mind/body relations. Either perspective in excess rapidly falls into the problem of using a single point of approach on too many problems, at which point it becomes predictable and the world responds with something outside its grasp.
All of the above can be said of the sexes in healthy times, and of course we live in an unhealthy time where we are not only unrealistic but in denial of it, thus where our forefathers sewed promising futures we create long-term devastation in exchange for short term gratification. This can be seen in both men and women: men turn inward and women turn outward in inversion of natural roles, but each has by denying its nature substituted for it a cheapened alternative. Men seek ideals within themselves, and lose their sense of optimistic heroism, and women seek physical acts to supplant emotional ones. While Schopenhauer’s “Of Women” is a mistake, the entirety of feminism is the same mistake crafted in the pseudo-science of individual politics. Feminism is not about doing right, but about getting as much power for women as can be had, which furthers the permanent alienation of the sexes. Interestingly, if we blame Schopenhauer’s terrible relationship with his “modern” mother for his attitudes, we can see that “Of Women” is a direct response to feminism.
One reason this breakdown occurs is that in a time where all things have a linear value outside of their position in the non-linear physical world, we no longer have a way to individually derive value and are dependent on third parties. This results in a lack of love for the world as there is always a controller-controlled relationship to blame when things go wrong, and since our society does not acknowledge its fundamental errors, we are at a sublime level constantly looking for someone to blame. Through the chain of errors that this attitude produces in society, compounded by our search for linear value, most of us have not known love. Our parents view us as possessions to be disciplined so they become promising future properties, and our teachers view us as obligations that might sue; our friends are transient when their parents change jobs. What we know of love is usually physical affection, but just as commonly control; it is no surprise that some sources estimate 40-60% of people have been sexually molested or raped by age 25. No sane society accepts such behavior, but it is convenient for our pornography to have a steady stream of sexually dysfunctional women.
We cannot quash the alienation between the sexes by simply denying “Of Women” or feminism, but by inventing a better alternative, starting with an end to valuing each other as flesh (a product of itself of the one God outside the world, which causes us to assign arbitrary universal single values to things of many values in different contexts). One step in this direction is to de-universalize humans by recognizing the differences between the sexes as not only inherent, but functional and necessary.
Translated by T. Bailey Saunders
You need only look at the way in which she is formed, to see that woman is not meant to undergo great labor, whether of the mind or of the body. She pays the debt of life not by what she does, but by what she suffers; by the pains of childbearing and care for the child, and by submission to her husband, to whom she should be a patient and cheering companion. The keenest sorrows and joys are not for her, nor is she called upon to display a great deal of strength. The current of her life should be more gentle, peaceful and trivial than man’s, without being essentially happier or unhappier.
Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted; in a word, they are big children all their life long–a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the full-grown man, who is man in the strict sense of the word. See how a girl will fondle a child for days together, dance with it and sing to it; and then think what a man, with the best will in the world, could do if he were put in her place.
With young girls Nature seems to have had in view what, in the language of the drama, is called a striking effect; as for a few years she dowers them with a wealth of beauty and is lavish in her gift of charm, at the expense of all the rest of their life; so that during those years they may capture the fantasy of some man to such a degree that he is hurried away into undertaking the honorable care of them, in some form or other, as long as they live–a step for which there would not appear to be any sufficient warranty if reason only directed his thoughts. Accordingly, Nature has equipped woman, as she does all her creatures, with the weapons and implements requisite for the safeguarding of her existence, and for just as long as it is necessary for her to have them. Here, as elsewhere, Nature proceeds with her usual economy; for just as the female ant, after fecundation, loses her wings, which are then superfluous, nay, actually a danger to the business of breeding; so, after giving birth to one or two children, a woman generally loses her beauty; probably, indeed, for similar reasons.
And so we find that young girls, in their hearts, look upon domestic affairs or work of any kind as of secondary importance, if not actually as a mere jest. The only business that really claims their earnest attention is love, making conquests, and everything connected with this–dress, dancing, and so on.
The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man reaches the maturity of his reasoning powers and mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight; a woman at eighteen. And then, too, in the case of woman, it is only reason of a sort–very niggard in its dimensions. That is why women remain children their whole life long; never seeing anything but what is quite close to them, cleaving to the present moment, taking appearance for reality, and preferring trifles to matters of the first importance. For it is by virtue of his reasoning faculty that man does not live in the present only, like the brute, but looks about him and considers the past and the future; and this is the origin of prudence, as well as of that care and anxiety which so many people exhibit. Both the advantages and the disadvantages which this involves, are shared in by the woman to a smaller extent because of her weaker power of reasoning. She may, in fact, be described as intellectually short-sighted, because, while she has an intuitive understanding of what lies quite close to her, her field of vision is narrow and does not reach to what is remote; so that things which are absent, or past, or to come, have much less effect upon women than upon men. This is the reason why women are more often inclined to be extravagant, and sometimes carry their inclination to a length that borders upon madness. In their hearts, women think that it is men’s business to earn money and theirs to spend it–if possible during their husband’s life, but, at any rate, after his death. The very fact that their husband hands them over his earnings for purposes of housekeeping, strengthens them in this belief..
However many disadvantages all this may involve, there is at least this to be said in its favor; that the woman lives more in the present than the man, and that, if the present is at all tolerable, she enjoys it more eagerly. This is the source of that cheerfulness which is peculiar to women, fitting her to amuse man in his hours of recreation, and, in case of need, to console him when he is borne down by the weight of his cares.
It is by no means a had plan to consult women in matters of difficulty, as the Germans used to do in ancient times; for their way of looking at things is quite different from ours, chiefly in the fact that like to take the shortest way to their goal, and, in general, manage to fix their eyes upon what lies before them; while we, as a rule, see far beyond it, just because it is in front of our noses. In cases like this, we need to be brought back to the right standpoint, so as to recover the near and simple view.
Then, again, women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than we are, so that they do not see more in things than is really there; whilst, if our passions are aroused, we are apt to see things in an exaggerated way, or imagine what does not exist.
The weakness of their reasoning faculty also explains why it is that women show more sympathy for the unfortunate than men do, and so treat them with more kindness and interest; and why it is that, on the contrary, they are inferior to men in point of justice, and less honorable and conscientious. For it is just because their reasoning power is weak that present circumstances have such a hold over them, and those concrete things, which lie directly before their eyes, exercise a power which is seldom counteracted to any extent by abstract principles of thought, by fixed rules of conduct, firm resolutions, or, in general, by consideration for the past and the future, or regard for what is absent and remote. Accordingly, they possess the first and main elements that go to make a virtuous character, but they are deficient in those secondary qualities which are often a necessary instrument in the formation of it.1 1 In this respect they may be compared to an animal organism which contains a liver but no gall-bladder. Here let me refer to what I have said in my treatise on The Foundation of Morals [section] 17.
Hence, it will be found that the fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice. This is mainly due to the fact, already mentioned, that women are defective in the powers of reasoning and deliberation; but it is also traceable to the position which Nature has assigned to them as the weaker sex. They are dependent, not upon strength, but upon craft; and hence their instinctive capacity for cunning, and their ineradicable tendency to say what is not true. For as lions are provided with claws and teeth, and elephants and boars with tusks, bulls with horns, and cuttle fish with its clouds of inky fluid, so Nature has equipped woman, for her defence and protection, with the arts of dissimulation; and all the power which Nature has conferred upon man in the shape of physical strength and reason, has been bestowed upon women in this form. Hence, dissimulation is innate in woman, and almost as much a quality of the stupid as of the clever. It is as natural for them to make use of it on every occasion as it is for those animals to employ their means of defence when they are attacked; they have a feeling that in doing so they are only within their rights. Therefore a woman who is perfectly truthful and not given to dissimlulation is perhaps an impossibility, and for this very reason they are so quick at seeing through dissimulation in others that it is not a wise thing to attempt it with them. But this fundamental defect which I have stated, with all that it entails, gives rise to falsity, faithlessness, treachery, ingratitude, and so on. Perjury in a court of justice is more often committed by women than by men. It may, indeed, be generally questioned whether women ought to be sworn in at all. From time to time one finds repeated cases everywhere of ladies, who want for nothing, taking things from shop-counters when no one is looking, and making off with them.
Nature has appointed that the propagation of the species shall be the business of men who are young, strong and handsome; so that the race may not degenerate. This is the firm will and purpose of Nature in regard to the species, and it finds its expression in the passions of women. There is no law that is older or more powerful than this. Woe, then, to the man who sets up claims and interests that will conflict with it; whatever he may say and do, they will be unmercifully crushed at the first serious encounter. For the innate rule that governs women’s conduct, though it is secret and unformulated, nay, unconscious in its working, is this: We are justified in deceiving those who think they have acquired rights over the species by paying little attention to the individual, that is, to us. The constitution and, therefore, the welfare of the species have been placed in our hands and committed to our care, through the control we obtain over the next generation, which proceeds from us; let us discharge our duties conscientiously. But women have no abstract knowledge of this leading principle; they are conscious of it only as a concrete fact; and they have no other method of giving expression to it than the way in which they act when the opportunity arrives. And then their conscience does not trouble them so much as we fancy; for in the darkest recesses of their heart, they are aware that in committing a breach of their duty towards the individual, they have all the better fulfilled their duty towards the species, which is infinitely greater.1
1 A more detailed discussion of the matter in question may be found in my chief work, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, vol. ii, ch. 44.
And since women exist in the main solely for the propagation of the species, and are not destined for anything else, they live, as a rule, more for the species than for the individual, and in their hearts take the affairs of the species more seriously than those of the individual. This gives their whole life and being a certain levity; the general bent of their character is in a direction fundamentally different from that of man; and it is this to which produces that discord in married life which is so frequent, and almost the normal state.
The natural feeling between men is mere indifference, but between women it is actual enmity. The reason of this is that trade-jealousy-odium figulium–which, in the case of men does not go beyond the confines of their own particular pursuit; but, with women, embraces the whole sex; since they have only one kind of business. Even when they meet in the street, women look at one another like Guelphs and Ghibellines. And it is a patent fact that when two women make first acquaintance with each other, they behave with more constraint and dissimulation than two men would show in a like case; and hence it is that an exchange of compliments between two women is a much more ridiculous proceeding than between two men. Further, whilst a man will, as a general rule, always preserve a certain amount of consideration and humanity in speaking to others, even to those who are in a very inferior position, it is intolerable to see how proudly and disdainfully a fine lady will generally behave towards one who is in a lower social rank (I do not mean a woman who is in her service), whenever she speaks to her. The reason of this may be that, with women, differences of rank are much more precarious than with us: because, while a hundred considerations carry weight in our case, in theirs there is only one, namely, with which man they have found favor; as also that they stand in much nearer relations with one another than men do, in consequence of the one-sided nature of their calling. This makes them endeavor to lay stress upon differences of rank.
It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual impulses that could give the name of the fair sex to that under-sized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race; for the whole beauty of the sex is bound up with this impulse. Instead of calling them beautiful, there would be more warrant for describing women as the unaesthetic sex. Neither for music, nor for poetry, nor for fine art, have they really and truly any sense or susceptibility: it is a mere mockery if they make a pretence of it in order to assist their endeavor to please. Hence, as a result of this, they are incapable of taking a purely objective interest in anything; and the reason of it seems to me to be as follows. A man tries to acquire direct mastery over things, either by understanding them, or by forcing them to do his will. But a woman is always and everywhere reduced to obtaining this mastery indirectly, namely, through a man; and whatever direct mastery she may have is entirely confined to him. And so it lies in a woman’s nature to look upon everything only as a means for conquering man; and if she takes an interest in anything else, it is simulated–a mere roundabout way of gaining her ends by coquetry, and feigning what she does not feel. Hence, even Rousseau declared: Women have, in general, no love for any art; they have no proper knowledge of any; and they have no genius.1
1 Lettre a d’Alembert. Note xx.
No one who sees at all below the surface can have failed to remark the same thing. You need only observe the kind of attention women bestow upon a concert, an opera, or a play–the childish simplicity, for example, with which they keep on chattering during the finest passages in the greatest masterpieces. If it is true that the Greeks excluded women from their theatres they were quite right in what they did; at any rate you would have been able to hear what was said upon the stage. In our day, besides, or in lieu of saying, Let a woman keep silence in the church, it would be much to the point to say Let a woman keep silence in the theatre. This might, perhaps, be put up in big letters on the curtain.
And you cannot expect anything else of women if you consider that the most distinguished intellects among the whole sex have never managed to produce a single achievement in the fine arts that is really great, genuine, and original; or given to the world any work of permanent value in any sphere. This is most strikingly shown in regard to painting, where mastery of technique is at least as much within their power as within ours–and hence they are diligent in cultivating it; but still, they have not a single great painting to boast of, just because they are deficient in that objectivity of mind which is so directly indispensable in painting. They never get beyond a subjective point of view. It is quite in keeping with this that ordinary women have no real susceptibility for art at all; for Nature proceeds in strict sequence–non facit saltum. And Huarte1 in his Examen de ingenios para las scienzias–a book which has been famous for three hundred years–denies women the possession of all the higher faculties. The case is not altered by particular and partial exceptions; taken as a whole, women are, and remain, thorough-going Philistines, and quite incurable. Hence, with that absurd arrangement which allows them to share the rank and title of their husbands they are a constant stimulus to his ignoble ambitions.
And, further, it is just because they are Philistines that modern society, where they take the lead and set the tone, is in such a bad way.
1 Translator’s Note.– Juan Huarte (1520?-1590) practised as a physician at Madrid. The work cited by Schopenhauer is well known, and has been translated into many languages.
Napoleon’s saying–that women have no rank–should be adopted as the right standpoint in determining their position in society; and as regards their other qualities Chamfortl makes the very true remark: They are made to trade with our own weaknesses and our follies, but not with our reason. The sympathies that exist between them and men are skin-deep only, and do not touch the mind or the feelings or the character. They form the sexus sequior– the second sex, inferior in every respect to the first; their infirmities should be treated with consideration; but to show them great reverence is extremely ridiculous, and lowers us in their eyes. When Nature made two divisions of the human race, she did not draw the line exactly through the middle. These divisions are polar and opposed to each other, it is true; but the difference between them is not qualitative merely, it is also quantitative.
1 Translator’s Note.– See Counsels and Maxims, p.12, Note.
This is just the view which the ancients took of woman, and the view which people in the East take now; and their judgment as to her proper position is much more correct than ours, with our old French notions of gallantry and our preposterous system of reverence–that highest product of Teutonico-Christian stupidity. These notions have served only to make women more arrogant and overbearing; so that one is occasionally reminded of the holy apes in Benares, who in the consciousness of their sanctity and inviolable position, think they can do exactly as they please.
But in the West, the woman, and especially the lady, finds herself in a false position; for woman, rightly called by the ancients, sexus sequior, is by no means fit to be the object of our honor and veneration, or to hold her head higher than man and be on equal terms with him. The consequences of this false position are sufficiently obvious. Accordingly, it would be a very desirable thing if this Number-Two of the human race were in Europe also relegated to her natural place, and an end put to that lady nuisance, which not only moves all Asia to laughter, but would have been ridiculed by Greece and Rome as well. It is impossible to calculate the good effects which such a change would bring about in our social, civil and political arrangements. There would be no necessity for the Salic law: it would be a superfluous truism. In Europe the lady, strictly so-called, is a being who should not exist at all; she should be either a housewife or a girl who hopes to become one; and she should be brought up, not to be arrogant, but to be thrifty and submissive. It is just because there are such people as ladies in Europe that the women of the lower classes, that is to say, the great majority of the sex, are much more unhappy than they are in the East. And even Lord Byron says: Thought of the state of women under the ancient Greeks–convenient enough. Present state, a remnant of the barbarism of the chivalric and the feudal ages–artificial and unnatural. They ought to mind home–and be well fed and clothed–but not mixed in society. Well educated, too, in religion –but to read neither poetry nor politics–nothing but books of piety and cookery. Music–drawing–dancing–also a little gardening and ploughing now and then. I have seen them mending the roads in Epirus with good success. Why not, as well as hay-making and milking?
The laws of marriage prevailing in Europe consider the woman as the equivalent of the man–start, that is to say, from a wrong position. In our part of the world where monogamy is the rule, to marry means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties. Now, when the laws gave women equal rights with man, they ought to have also endowed her with a. masculine intellect. But the fact is, that just in proportion as the honors and privileges which the laws accord to women, exceed the amount which nature gives, is there a diminution in the number of women who really participate in these privileges; and all the remainder are deprived of their natural rights by just so much as is given to the others over and above their share. For the institution of monogamy, and the laws of marriage which it entails, bestow upon the woman an unnatural position of privilege, by considering her throughout as the full equivalent of the man, which is by no means the case; and seeing this, men who are shrewd and prudent very often scruple to make so great a sacrifice and to acquiesce in so unfair an arrangement.
Consequently, whilst among polygamous nations every woman is provided for, where monogamy prevails the number of married women is limited; and there remains over a large number of women without stay or support, who, in the upper classes, vegetate as useless old maids, and in the lower succumb to hard work for which they are not suited; or else become filles de joie, whose life is as destitute of joy as it is of honor. But under the circumstances they become a necessity; and their position is openly recognized as serving the special end of warding off temptation from those women favored by fate, who have found, or may hope to find, husbands. In London alone there are 80,000 prostitutes. What are they but the women, who, under the institution of monogamy have come off? Theirs is a dreadful fate: they are human sacrifices offered up on the altar of monogamy. The women whose wretched position is here described are the inevitable set-off to the European lady with her arrogance and pretension. Polygamy is therefore a real benefit to the female sex if it is taken as a whole. And, from another point of view, there is no true reason why a man whose wife suffers from chronic illness, or remains barren, or has gradually become too old for him, should not take a second. The motives which induce so many people to become converts to Mormonism1 appear to be just those which militate against the unnatural institution of monogamy.
1 Translator’s Note.–The Mormons have recently given up polygamy, and received the American franchise in its stead.
Moreover, the bestowal of unnatural rights upon women has imposed upon them unnatural duties, and, nevertheless, breach of these duties makes them unhappy. Let me explain. A man may often think that his social or financial position will suffer if he marries, unless he makes some brilliant alliance. His desire will then be to win a woman of his own choice under conditions other than those of marriage, such as will secure her position and that of the children. However fair, reasonable, fit and proper these conditions may be, and the woman consents by foregoing that undue amount of privilege which marriage alone can bestow, she to some extent loses her honor, because marriage is the basis of civic society; and she will lead an unhappy life, since human nature is so constituted that we pay an attention to the opinion of other people which is out of all proportion to its value. On the other hand, if she does not consent, she runs the risk either of having to be given in marriage to a man whom she does not like, or of being landed high and dry as an old maid; for the period during which she has a chance of being settled for life is very short. And in view of this aspect of the institution of monogamy, Thomasius’ profoundly learned treatise, de Concubinatu, is well worth reading; for it shows that, amongst all nations and in all ages, down to the Lutheran Reformation, concubinage was permitted; nay, that it as an institution which was to a certain extent actually recognized by law, and attended with no dishonor. It was only the Lutheran Reformation that degraded it from this position. It was seen to be a further justification for the marriage of the clergy; and then, after that, the Catholic Church did not dare to remain behind-hand in the matter.
There is no use arguing about polygamy; it must be taken as de facto existing everywhere, and the only question is as to how it shall be regulated. Where are there, then, any real monogamists? We all live, at any rate, for a time, and most of us, always, in polygamy. And so, since every man needs many women, there is nothing fairer than to allow him, nay, to make it incumbent upon him, to provide for many women. This will reduce woman to her true and natural position as a subordinate being; and the lady–that monster of European civilization and Teutonico-Christian stupidity–will disappear from the world, leaving only women, but no more unhappy women, of whom Europe is now full.
In India, no woman is ever independent, but in accordance with the law of Manu,1 she stands under the control of her father, her husband, her brother or her son. It is, to be sure, a, revolting thing that a widow should immolate herself upon her husband’s funeral pyre; but it is also revolting that she should spend her husband’s money with her paramours–the money for which he toiled his whole life long, in the consoling belief that he was providing for his children. Happy are those who have kept the middle course–medium tenuere beati.
1 Ch. V., v. 148.
The first love of a mother for her child is, with the lower animals as with men, of a purely instinctive character, and so it ceases when the child is no longer in a physically helpless condition. After that, the first love should give way to one that is based on habit and reason; but this often fails to make its appearance, especially where the mother did not love the father. The love of a father for his child is of a different order, and more likely to last; because it has its foundation in the fact that in the child he recognizes his own inner self; that is to say, his love for it is metaphysical in its origin.
In almost all nations, whether of the ancient or the modern world, even amongst the Hottentots,2 property is inherited by the male descendants alone; it is only in Europe that a departure has taken place; but not amongst the nobility, however. 2 Leroy, Lettres philosophiques sur l’intelligence et la perfectibilite des animaux, acec quelques lettres sur l’homme, p. 298, Paris, 1802.
That the property which has cost men long years of toil and effort, and been won with so much difficulty, should afterwards come into the hands of women, who then, in their lack of reason, squander it in a short time, or otherwise fool it away, is a grievance and a wrong as serious as it is common, which should be prevented by limiting the right of women to inherit. In my opinion, the best arrangement would be that by which women, whether widows or daughters, should never receive anything beyond the interest for life on property secured by mortgage, and in no case the property itself, or the capital, except where all male descendants fail [to exist]. The people who make money are men, not women; and it follows from this that women are neither justified in having unconditional possession of it, nor fit persons to be entrusted with its administration. When wealth, in any true sense of the word, that is to say, funds, houses or land, is to go to them as an inheritance they should never be allowed the free disposition of it. In their case a guardian should always be appointed; and hence they should never be given the free control of their own children, wherever it can be avoided. The vanity of women, even though it should not prove to be greater than that of men, has this much danger in it, that it takes an entirely material direction. They are vain, I mean, of their personal beauty, and then of finery, show and magnificence. That is just why they are so much in their element in society. It is this, too, which makes them so inclined to be extravagant, all the more as their reasoning power is low. Accordingly we find an ancient writer describing woman as in general of an extravagant nature–[Greek writing].1 But with men vanity often takes the direction of non-material advantages, such as intellect, learning, courage. 1 Brunck’s Gnomici poetae graeci, v. 115.
In the Politics2 Aristotle explains the great disadvantage which accrued to the Spartans from the fact that they conceded too much to their women, by giving them the right of inheritance and dower, and a great amount of independence; and he shows how much this contributed to Sparta’s fall. May it not be the case in France that the influence of women, which went on increasing steadily from the time of Louis XIII., was to blame for that gradual corruption of the Court and the Government, which brought about the Revolution of 1789, of which all subsequent disturbances have been the fruit? However that may be, the false position which women occupy, demonstrated as it is, in the most glaring way, by the institution of the lady, is a fundamental defect in our social scheme, and this defect, proceeding from the very heart of it, must spread its baneful influence in all directions.
2 Bk. I., ch.9.
That woman is by nature meant to obey may be seen by the fact that every woman who is placed in the unnatural position of complete independence; immediately attaches herself to some man, by whom she allows herself to be guided and ruled. It is because she needs a lord and master. If she is young, it will be a lover; if she is old, a priest.