Author: Peter Wright
The following, rather long essay was written in 1920 as a recapitulation of the earlier gynocentric theory presented by Lester F. Ward. The theory, which was openly misandric, proved wildly popular among both feminists and laypersons in this early period of the modern era. Several notable men’s human rights activists, including Ernest B. Bax pushed back on the idea. – PW
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Published: Women’s Freedom League
Topic: Lester Ward’s Gynocentric Theory
A PERSONAL NOTE.
In the early days of the century I had the great pleasure of meeting at Oxford the late Professor Lester Ward, whom I had till then known through his scientific writings. In the course of several interesting conversations, I asked him if, in interests of the world-wide movements of women towards an equal share with men in social, political and economic freedom, he would republish in pamphlet form and at a democratic price those parts of Chapter XIV of his work, Pure Sociology, which set forth and give the evidence, for the Gynaecocentric theory of which he is the propounder.
He was much interested in my suggestion, but feared he could not at that time carry out my suggestion of the reprinting of the whole XIVth chapter as his Publisher would, no doubt consider that to republish a chapter of 125 pages out of a book of 575 pages might interfere seriously with the sale of the whole work. He, however, expressed the desire that a summary of the Gynaecocentric Theory would he put before the British Public, and I subsequently write two short articles on the subject, which were published in Justice and led to some correspondence, and requests for a fuller statement of the facts and data on which the theory is founded. At the present time (1920) it appears to me that the urgency of events caused by the recent waging of the World War calls for a reconstructive policy as regards the relations between androcentric and gynaecocentric influences and forces.
Mrs, Charlotte Perkins Gilman in her book ‘The Man Made World’ “grants to men to-day, a high pre-eminence over women in human development, but shows this development to be a distinction of humanity and not of sex, fully open to women if they use their human powers.” It is because it is daily borne in upon many of us with increasing force and intensity how impossible it will be to reconstruct out of the war’s chaos a civilisation worth the price we are now daily paying, if androcentric values and sanctions are still allowed unchallenged to prevail, that I desire to put before women and men a short popular statement of Professor Lester Ward’s specialist studies in the social relations and spheres of the sexes.
My special object in insisting at the present time on the study of the androcentric and gynaecocentric theories, and of the proofs deduced on either side in support of them is, that at no other time as far as I can see in the world’s history have things “centred round” the human male more than they have done during the world war resulting “Peace.” His militarist activities, his trade rivalries, carefully preserved political privileges are the only subjects that arouse any enthusiasm in the daily press of the countries of Europe. And every other subject, even the most intimately special function of the human female—childbearing, and child nurture is only of interest to the predominant male in so far as the supply of young males is concerned, who are to fill the ranks in the conscript armies of the world.
Women’s thoughts, their training, their activities are all to be centred on militarism and its kindred interests. A Russian General foretold in 1915 in the columns of a Times Supplement how during the next war 40,000,000 men will meet on the battlefields of the world; and women evidently are expected to supply, not only the men children who are to be trained for the ranks of this fantastic army, but are also, to help make the munitions which are eventually in a militarist orgy to maim and destroy their 40,000 000 sons. Never in any preceding war have women suffered the moral degradation of being exploited by men for the unworthy aims of militarism and of commercial rivalry.
Education is only valued in so far as it can beat commercially other nations. Art find literature are narrowed down in the estimation of the public to their financial success in portraying the prowess or the humour of the rival combatants; and what Professor Lester Ward calls “male efflorescence” is the key note of thought and action throughout the countries engaged in mutual extermination. Because it is hard,—well nigh impossible,—at such a moment to persuade men and women to think of anything but the indulgence of hatred or to listen to the calm voice of reason, therefore it is doubly necessary to work unceasingly in the field of right thought, because right thought eventually begets right action, and, though we of this generation may not live to see it, a revulsion of feeling must some day come, and things will have to centre round the nurture of life and of the race, instead of round its destruction.
Androcracy or a world ruled and administered entirely from the male point of view appears to be so helplessly incapable of solving the great life problems which androcentric war has thrust upon us, that it seems necessary to use every means to rouse women to the sense of their lost public opportunities and duties, and re-create in them that social consciousness which, when working with equal opportunity side by side with men, their brothers, shall eventually crown with success the twentieth century task of “the socialisation of achievement!”
The Gynaecocentric Theory of Life
Briefly to state the thesis of Professor Lester Ward:
“There has, till recently, been held universally by thinkers and writers the theory that the male sex is primary and the female secondary in the organic scheme, that all things centre, as it were, abut the male, and that the female, though necessary in carrying out the scheme, is only the means of continuing the life of the globe, but is otherwise an unimportant accessory, and incidental factor in the general result.”
This theory is called by Professor Ward the Androcentric Theory; and in the XIVth Chapter of “Pure Sociology” opposes it by a theory, the truth of which his studies had forced upon him, and which he calls the Gynaecocentric Theory, or that which holds that:
“The female sex is primary, and the male secondary in the organic scheme, that originally and normally all things centre, as it were, about the female, and that the male, though not necessary in carrying out the scheme, was developed under the operation of the principle of advantage, to secure organic progress through the crossing of strains.”
I have purposely placed the two theories quite baldly side by side, so that readers may see at a glance how absolutely opposed to one another they are, and how completely the gynaecocentric theory, if it can be proved to possess scientific value, sweeps away not only all the old cosmogonies, but the endless traditions, maxims, prejudices and sanctions of what is or is not, woman’s sphere.
In support of the Androcentric Theory the main evidencies Professor Ward admits are both weighty and numerous.
“In all the principal animals, including the classes of mammals and birds, at least, the males are usually larger, stronger, more varied in structure and organs, and more highly ornamented and adorned than the females.”
When we leave the regions of zoology, and begin to compare things in the human races:
“We find the same general class of facts somewhat emphasised … The difference in the brain of man and woman is quite as great as that of the rest of the body. Many measurements have been made of male and female brains, both of civilised and uncivilised races, and always with the same general result, at least, that the female brain is considerably leas than the male both in weight and cubic capacity.” 
As regards mental power, Ward adduces evidence in support of the androcentric theory to prove that women have but little inventive faculty.
“As invention is the great key to civilisation, and as the function of the intellect, this is a fundamental difference, and has great weight.”
Her creative genius is also stated to be inferior to that of men, even in the fine arts there are but few great women architects, sculptors, painters or musical composers.
“Still less,” writes Professor Ward can be said for the female side of speculative genius, the faculty by which the mind deals with abstract truth and rises by a series of ever widening generalisations from multiplicity to unity. Women care very little for truth for its own sake, take very little interest in the abstract, and even concrete facts fail to win their attention unless connected more or less directly with persons and with personal advantage, not necessarily to self, but to self or others.”
And finally to sum up appears to be a hopeless indictment against the possibility of women every playing an equal part with men in the affairs of the world, the American Professor writes, in order to put the whole case for the Androcentric Majority:
“A glance at the history and condition of the world in general is sufficient to show how small has been and is the role of woman in the most important affairs of life. … In political affairs she has been practically a cipher, except where hereditary descent has chanced to place a crown upon her head. In such cases, however, no one can say that it has not usually rested easily. But from a certain point of view it almost seems as if everything was done by men, and woman was only a means of continuing the race.”
And yet in spite of what, on a superficial judgment appears to be overwhelming testimony that the female is secondary in the organic scheme, Professor Lester Ward holds, and expounds on the evidence which I now desire to synthesise in a popular form, the Gynaecocentric Theory.
As regards the history of the theory, he writes:
“So far as I have ever heard, it is wholly my own, no one else having proposed or even defended it, scarcely anyone accepting it, and no one certainly coveting it … At the same time it must rest on facts that cannot be disputed, and the question of its acceptance or rejection must become one of interpreting the facts.”
The Professor then gives quotations from writers of different periods who have shadowed forth, in a more or less general way, without basing their reactions on specific facts, the gynaecocentric theory. Condorcet, in his “Tableau Historique des Progres de l’Esprit Humain” is the first writer quoted.
“If we try,” writes Condorcet, “to compare the moral energy of women with that of men, taking into consideration the necessary effects of the inequality with which the two sexes have been treated by laws, institutions, customs and prejudices, and fix our attention on the numerous examples that they have furnished of contempt for death and suffering, of constancy in their resolutions and their convictions, of courage and intrepidity, and of greatness of mind, we shall see that we are far from having the proof of their alleged inferiority. Only through new observations can a true light be shed upon the question of the natural inequality of the two sexes.”
This opinion of Condorcet’s is so allied in spirit to that of our own philosophic writer, Henry Thomas Buckle, that I cannot refrain (though not quoted by Professor Ward) from giving it here. In an address on the subject of “The Influence of Women in the Progress of Knowledge,” delivered by Buckle about the middle of the XIXth. century, the writer sets out to prove that in spite of the generally held opinion that women exercised little or no influence over the progress of knowledge, he held, and hoped to convince his audience that
“they have actually exercised an enormous influence … so great in fact, that it is hardly possible to assign limits to it; and that great as it is, it may with advantage be still further increased.”
After stating that knowledge has three divisions—method, science and art, he goes on to explain how the scientific enquirer has only two ways or methods of attaining his result.
“He may proceed from the external world to the internal; or he may begin with the internal and proceed to the external. In the former case he studies the facts presented to his senses in order to arrive at a true idea of them; in the latter case he studies the ideas already in his mind in order to explain the facts of which his senses are cognizant. If he begin with the facts his method is inductive; if he begin with the ideas it is deductive.
Both methods, of course, are valuable in the discovery of truth, and Buckle’s contention is that women, being by nature, more deductive, and men more inductive,
“women have rendered great, though unconscious service to science by encouraging and keeping alive this habit of deductive thought; and that if it were not for them scientific men would be much too inductive, and the progress of our knowledge would be hindered.”
Facts, as he implies, having merely a potential, and, as it were, subsequent value, the only advantage of possessing thorn being to draw conclusions from them, the sex that is intuitive and quick to grasp at an idea, is the sex which can use collected facts to advantage, and can act as a spur to the more laborious inductive investigator. He remarks on women’s greater quickness of thought and powers of deduction than that of men; and adds:
“Indeed, nothing could prevent its being universally admitted except the fact that the remarkable rapidity with which women think is obscured by that miserable, that contemptible, that preposterous system, called their education, in which valuable things are carefully kept from them, and trifling things continually taught to them, until their fine and nimble minds are often irretrievably injured.”
Of all modern writers Professor Ward holds that Mr. Havelock Ellis is the one most free from the androcentric bias; and he quotes the English writer’s statement-
“That because of woman’s permanent connection with the care of the young, she is of greater importance than the male from Nature’s point of view.” 
Bachofe, McLennan and Morgan have all brought to light valuable facts on the subject of the matriarchate, or period when name and property passed through the maternal parent, instead of, as it now does through the paternal. And Ratzenhofer, an ethnologist remarked:—
“It is probable that in the horde there existed a certain individual equality between man and woman; the results of our investigation leave it doubtful whether the man always had a superior position.” Professor Riley, an American entomologist, and a personal friend of Professor Ward, admits that the facts of entomology sustain the gynaecocentric theory; and in the botanical works of Professor Meehan our author finds adumbrations of the same theory, as when he calls attention to a certain form of female superiority in plants; or when he points out that:
“a male flower is an intermediate stage between a perfect leaf and a perfect, or we may say a female flower.”
These, and similar facts stand out, as Professor Ward explains, before the scientist.
“But not according with the accepted view of the relations of the sexes, they are brushed aside as worthless anomalies and exceptions that prove the rule. In fact in all branches of biology the progress of truth has been greatly impeded by this spirit … and we are probably in about the same position and stage with reference to the questions of sex, as were the men of the eighteenth century with reference to the question of evolution. Indeed the androcentric theory, may be profitably compared to the geocentric theory, and the gynaecocentric with the late heliocentric. The advancement of truth has always been in the direction of supplanting the superficial and apparent by the fundamental and real, and the gynaecocentric truth may be classed among the paradoxes of Nature.”
In order to prove this theory Professor Ward has to probe deeply into the question of Reproduction, which, as he points out is a very different thing from sexuality, and is in fact a biological process practically identical with nutrition. Lamarck wrote:-
“The superabundance of nutrition in giving rise to the growth of the body prepares the materials for a new being which organisation places in position to resemble this same body, and therefore furnishes it with the means of reproducing itself.”
Haeckel in 1866 gave this idea its scientific expression:
“Reproduction is a nutrition and a growth of the organism beyond its individual mass, which erects a part of it into a whole.”
The problem for Nature therefore was how to secure this continuous nutrition and keep the organism growing beyond the point where the original plastic structure tended to break down. This problem resulted in a variety of different modes of reproduction, which:
“Constitute a sort of ascending series from the point of view of complexity and adaptation to increasing development of structure—a series of steps from the more simple to the more complex.”
These various methods of reproduction independent of fertilisation are First: fission or a falling apart of living protoplasms taking the place of the parent one. Second: gemination or budding, when a small portion of the original substance protrudes and is then separated from the mother cell by a constriction that grows deeper and deeper, until the bud becomes entirely detached. This form of reproduction takes place not only in plants but in certain worms and other lower forms of animal life. Third: germinal budding, when within an individual composed of many cells a small group of cells, separates from the surrounding ones and gradually develops into an independent individual which sooner or later finds its way out of the mother. This is the process of reproduction of zoophytes; and of certain worms. The fourth step is—intermediate between germinal budding and the simplest forms of bisexuality, or reproduction in which fertilisation takes place. The fourth step is called germ cell formation or spore formation; and in this a single cell, instead of a group of cells becomes detached from the interior of the organism, but does not further develop until it has escaped from the latter. It then increases by division and forms a multicelular organism like its parent. This is the method of reproduction of certain low types of vegetation. There is still a fifth form of asexual reproduction (that is reproduction without fertilisation from the other sex) which is known as parthenogenesis or virgin reproduction.
“Here germ cells similar to all appearances to eggs, are capable of developing into new beings without the aid of any fertilising agent, The same cells may also be fertilised, and upon the fact of fertilisation or non-fertilisation usually depends the sex of the resulting creature.”
These last mentioned facts are known to bee keepers, as the unfertilized eggs of bees produce males, while the fertilised ones produce females.
Professor Ward considers that Nature, in the development of the principle of life-renewal up to this point, may have taken even other steps towards reproduction; but those already indicated point to a serial development from simpler to more complicated modes. After these a new principle enters into reproduction. From being a purely quantitative process a qualitative form of development now appears, and in order to improve and perfect this qualitative principle the advantageous process of fertilization or the crossing of one hereditary strain or stirp with another (an essentially dynamic principle of nature) appears.
“In any of the advanced stages of this process we have the phenomena of sex, but the use of this term for the earlier stages, if correct at all is at least misleading.”
We have, in following the thread of this most enthralling theory (which, if Professor Ward is correct in his deductions tends to prove that: “Woman is and remains the human race”) to remember that more than half of the organic beings on this earth have no sex at all or possess the dual character in an almost unrecognisably undeveloped state. Still sex remains, as we have seen, the dynamic principle in biology.
“Which is that of securing variation, and through variation the production of better and higher types of organic structure—in a word organic evolution.”
Having now brought the statement of facts relating to the gynaecocentiic theory down to the point of the origin of the male sex, which sex has not appeared in any of the reproductive processes yet described, Professor Ward enters on a statement that “life began as female.” The female being the fertile sex—whatever is fertile is looked upon as female.
“Assuredly,” he writes, “it would be absurd to look upon an organism propagating asexually, as male. Biologists have proceeded from this popular standpoint and regularly speak of ‘mother-cells’ and ‘daughter cells.’ It therefore does no violence to language or to science to say that life begins with the female organism, and is carried on a long distance by females alone … The further development of life serves to strengthen this gynaecocentric point of view … The female sex, which existed from the beginning, continues unchanged, but the male sex which did not exist at the beginning, made its appearance at a certain stage, and had a certain history and development but never became universal … The male is therefore, as it were, a mere after-thought of nature … Among millions of humble creatures the male is simply and solely a fertilizer.”
Female superiority Professor Ward postulates, continues in a more or less marked degree to prevail throughout the greater part of the invertebrates, and Darwin, in his first volume of “Descent of Man” has popularised the facts relating to the courtship of certain members of the Arachnidae or spider family when the relatively gigantic female seizes and devours the tiny male fertilizer immediately he has accomplished the act for which he exists. Milne Edwards, and other scientists have pointed out that in the case of certain male parasites the entire visceral cavity was occupied by the testicles, and no trace of digestive organs could be found. Professor Ward also considers that many of the facts relating to the animal Kingdom recorded in “Evolution of Sex” (Professors Geddes and Thompson) have a direct bearing on the gyncoceirtric theory; and that although the work is
“pervaded with the androcentric spirit the ‘thesis’ of it that the female is anabolic and the male catatolic is a long step in the direction of the gynaecocentric theory forced or wrested, as it were, from unwilling minds by the mass of evidence.”
Even in the lower vertebrates there are cases of female superiority; male fishes are usually smaller than female; the female hawk is usually the larger and finer bird, and among the rodents there is but little appreciable difference in size or, strength, and very little (sometimes not at all) in colour and adornment.
Professor Ward then approaches, the question of the reasons:
“Why the male has advanced at all beyond its primitive estate as neither a fertilizing organ attached to the female or at most a minute organism detached from her, but devoted exclusively to the same purpose.”
The answer to this question is, of course; that the female, through the principle of sexual selection, has used her privilege of choice and has selected each time the male possessing the highest value in size and strength for the continuance of the race. This quality of choice on the part of the female coincides with a subjective feeling of preference, a feeling which constitutes the distinctive interest (in sexual reproduction) of the female—She being the guardian of hereditary qualities she realises instinctively that variation requires regulation; and she acts unconsciously as
“the balance wheel of the whole machinery. As the primary ancestral trunk she stands unmoved amid the heated strife of rivals and holds the scales that decide their relative worth to the race. While the voice of Nature speaking to the male in the form of an intense appetitive interest says to him fecundate! It gives to the female a different command, and says: discriminate! The order to the male is; cross the strains! That to the female is: choose the best! Here the value of a plurality of males is apparent.”
Professor Ward considers that this distinctive interest of the female which connotes choice—which interest is lacking in plants and the lowest animals but which makes its appearance at a very early stage in the history of sentient beings is “the dawn of the aesthetic faculty.” Just as the advent of mind gave the world a new dispensation and seemed to reverse the whole policy of Nature, so now
“Another profound transformation is to be wrought by a special psychic faculty, viz., the faculty of taste. This transformation is nothing less than the work of raising that miniature speck of existence, the primordial fertilizing agent, to the rank of a fully developed animal organism, approaching in varying degrees, and actually reaching in few instances the status of the original specific trunk, then called the female.” 
Naturalists have been specially attracted by the superficial differences between the sexes in animals, particularly in the matter of ornamentation in the male; and the influences which have caused these superficial, differences, having been at work in all the types of animal life Since the dawn of this psychic faculty, it is not surprising that they have resulted in what Professor Ward designates as “Male Efflorescence” or spurious “Male Superiority.” The female exercising her power of selection (which power is never coerced by male animals) has, through countless ages selected male consorts for beauty, which gave her offspring certain decorative embellishments, and for courage which stood for success.
“The formidable weapons of the males of many animals acquired through sexual selection are employed exclusively fighting other males, and never in the serious work of fighting enemies. The female simply looks on and admires the victorious rival and selects him to continue the species, thus at each selection emphasizing the qualities selected and causing these qualities to tower up into greater and greater prominence. The whole phenomenon of so-called male superiority bears a certain stamp of spuriousness and sham. It is to natural history what chivalry was to human history. It is pretentious, meretricious, quixotic; a sort of make believe, play, or sport of nature of an airy unsubstantial character. The male side of nature shot up and blossomed out in an unnatural fantastic way, cutting loose from the real business of and attracting a share of attention wholly disproportionate to its real importance. I call it male efflorescence. It certainly is not male supremacy, for throughout the animal world below man, in all the serious and essential affairs of life, the female is still supreme. There is no male hegemony or andrarchy. Nevertheless it represents organic evolution of which both sexes have partaken. Its chief value lies in the fact that, in lifting the male from nothing to his present estate it has elevated all species and all life, and placed the organic world on a higher plane.”
In the larger apes, the group of animals most closely resembling man, male efflorescence is tolerably well marked, though not so much so as in other animals. Many of these apes have true beards like that of man; and the beard, which is the most prominent and typical sexual character of man was developed far back in the phylogenetic line.
“Nothing is known of the differences in the sexes Pithecanthropus (apeman) of which only part of one skeleton has been found, but it is a fair assumption that the males were larger and stronger than the females, and possessed other distinctively male characters.”
The arrival of the earliest rational beings capable of utilising the forces of Nature to their own advantage heralded the evolution of man. But the word ‘rational’ as employed above, does not mean reasonable, it simply means a being capable of reasoning about the simplest and most materiel things; its chief role was to supplant instinct.
“It is instinct which throughout the animal Kingdom below man, maintains female supremacy and prevents the destruction of animal races. But with man reason begins to gain the ascendant over instinct.”
Besides the comparatively unimportant characters, such as horns, spurs, bright colours, and musical powers as the products of sexual selection, increased bulk and strength with the assimilation of form to that of the primary organism or female, gained now in importance; and from the period that primitive man was evolved brain development gradually increased because:
“Success in rivalry for female favour became more and more dependent upon sagacity … But throughout the later geologic periods, and to some extent in all periods, the brain gained upon the body, as shown. By the phenomenon of cephalization, whereby the head, and especially the encephalon, has been growing larger in proportion to the body in all the great phylogenetic lines. Natural selection might bring this about to some extent, but the greater part of it is probably attributable to sexual selection, and the male brain has thus gained upon that of the female until we have the present state of things.”
It is this male brain development which places man as a being apart from the rest of creation, enables him to violate the restraints of instinct and develop a state of thing’s entirely different from that of his animal ancestors. In the dark recesses of the life of primitive man, the male; possessing only egoistic reasoning and destitute of either sympathy moral conceptions, used his superior strength to exact from women whatever satisfaction she could yield him and gradually the power of choice in sexual selection became transferred from the female to the male, thus causing distinct transformation in social evolution. To sum up therefore, to the period of primitive woman and man, Professor Ward writes:
“To the intelligent and sympathetic reader no apology is needed for having dwelt so long in the pre-human stage in the exposition of so unfamiliar a subject as a gynaecocentric theory. Long before we reach the human stage we find all the alleged evidence of the androcentrie theory, and without such a study of origins as we have been making there would be no counter-evidence, and in fact no data for understanding the real meaning of this evidence … It so happens that though the facts depended upon to support the androcenric theory are patent to all, those that support the gynaecocentric theory are latent and known to very few. But in this it does not differ at all from any of the great truths of science. The facts supposed to prove the apparent are on the surface, while those that prove the real, which is usually the reverse of the apparent, lie hidden and only come forth after prolonged investigation and reflection. The androcentric world view will prove as slow to give way as was the geocentric, or as is still the anthropocentric.”
In Professor Ward’s brief recapitulation of his gynaecocentric theory (page 373, Chapter XIV, Pure Sociology) sums up so succinctly and powerfully the main argument on which he bases his contention that “woman is and remains the human race,” that I feel I cannot do better in this attempt to summarise and popularise his theory than to quote fully from that recapitulation: for the oftener I read it the more, perfectly it seems to me to set forth the unorthodox scientific position he takes up. After summarising the various forms of reproduction (without fertilisation) by which natural selection obtains its object of the continuance of life, he proceeds
“In the second place the manifest advantage of crossing strains and infusing into life elements that come from outside the organism, or even from a specialised organ or the same organism, was seized upon by natural selection and a process was inaugurated that is called fertilisation,—first through an organ belonging to the organism itself (hermaphroditism), and then by the detachment of this organ, and its erection into an independent, but miniature organism wholly unlike the primary one. This last was at first parasitic upon the primary organism, then complementary to it, and carried about in a sac provided for the purpose. Its simplest form was a sac filled with spermatozoa in liquid or gelatinous medium. Later it was endowed with an ephemeral independent existence and so adjusted that its contained sperm cells were at the proper time brought into contact with the germ cells of the organism proper This fertilising organ or miniature sperm sac was the primitive form of what subsequently developed into the male sex, the female sex being the organism proper, which remained practically unchanged.
The remaining steps in the entire process consisted therefore in the subsequent modification and creation as it were of the male organism. The development of a male organism out of this formless sperm sac or testicle was accomplished through the continuous selection of the organism proper, ultimately called the female, of such forms among the many varying forms of the fertilising agent as best conformed to the tastes or vaguely felt preferences of the organism, and the exclusion of all other forms from any part in the process of fertilisation. The peculiarities of form thus selected are transmitted by heredity, and while they do not affect the female they transform the male in harmony with these preferences of the female or organism proper. As the male fertiliser is a product of reproduction by the organism, it naturally inherits the general qualities of the organism. The preferences of the organism are also likely to be a form similar to itself. The organism, or female, therefore literally creates the male in its own image, and from a shapeless sac it generally assumes a definite form, agreeing in general characteristics with that of the original organism. There is no other reason why the male should in the least resemble the female, and but for these causes a male animal might belong to an entirely different type from the female. Even as it is the resemblance is often not close, and in the sexes differ enormously.
The introduction of fertilisation in connection with reproduction was gradual, and was not at first at all necessary to it. It came at the outset as an occasional resort for infusing new elements after a long series of generations through normal reproduction. This occasional fertilisation is called the alternation of generations. It is common to many of the lower organisms, and to all plants, reproduction of buds being the normal form, and that by seeds being the result of fertilisation. So great was the advantage of fertilisation that in the animal kingdom it first came to accompany each separate act of reproduction, and finally became a condition to reproduction itself. From the fact that such is the case in the higher animals, which are the ones best known to all, the error arose that fertilisation is an essential part of reproduction and that sex is necessary to reproduction, an error difficult to dislodge.
The male having been thus created at a comparatively late period in the history of organic life, it soon advanced under the influences described, and began to assume more or less the form and character of the primary organism, which is then called the female. It lost its character of a formless mass of sperm cells and assumed definite shape. For a long time it did not exist for itself but simply for its function, was exceedingly small, frail and ephemeral, often possessing no organ of nutrition, or powers of self-preservation, as perishing as soon as it had performed its function, or without performing it, if not selected from among a multitude of males. This selection of the best examples and rejection of the inferior ones caused the male to rise in the scale, and resemble more and more the primary organism or female. But other qualities were also selected than those that the female possessed. This was due to the early development of the aesthetic faculty in the female; and these qualities were in the nature of embellishments. 
The male therefore, while approaching the form and stature of the female, began to differ from her in these aesthetic qualities. The result was that, in the two highest classes of animals, birds and mammals, the male became in many cases, but not in all, highly ornamental and endowed with numerous peculiar organs, called secondary sexual characters. To further selection, a plurality of males often occurred, and these became rivals for female favour. This led to battle among males which further developed the latter especially in the direction of size, strength, weapons of defence and general fighting capacity. These qualities were never used to force the female into submission, but always and solely to gain her favour, and ensure the selection of the successful rivals. In many birds and mammals these qualities became greatly over-developed, resulting in what I have called Male efflorescence. To a considerable extent but less than in many other species the immediate ancestor of man possessed this over-development of the male; and in most primates the male is larger, stronger and more highly ornamented than the female.
When the human race finally appeared through gradual emergence from the great simian stock, this difference the sexes existed, and sexual selection was still going on. Primitive woman, though somewhat smaller, physically weaker and aesthetically plainer than man, still possessed the power of selection, and was mistress of the kinship group. Neither sex had any more idea of the connection between fertilisation and reproduction than have animals and therefore the mother alone claimed and cared for the offspring, as is done throughout the animal kingdom below man. So long as this state of things endured the race remained in the stage called gynaecocracy, or female rule. That this was a very long stage is attested by a great number of facts, many of which have been considered.
“As it was brain development which alone made man out of an animal by enabling him to break over faunal barriers and overspread the globe, so it was brain development that finally suggested the causal nexus between fertilisation and reproduction, and led to the recognition by man of his paternity and joint proprietorship with woman in the offspring of their loins. This produced a profound social revolution, overthrew the authority of woman, destroyed her power of selection, and finally reduced her to the condition of a mere slave of the stronger sex, although that strength had been conferred by her. The stage of gynaecocracy was succeeded by the stage of androcracy, and the subjection of woman was rendered complete.”
Thus then is the evolutionary story of the Female “Fall” from that stage when “maternity was everything,” and all things centred round the female; and hers was the choice in sexual selection, to that patriarchal period which prevailed throughout the remainder of the proto-social stage, when “woman being reduced to a mere chattel, bought and sold, was enslaved and abused beyond any powers of description.”. As the various races among primitive hordes mixed, brain development increased, and when a leisured class was slowly evolved, the aesthetic sense in man led to a widespread system of male sexual selection, or andreclexis, through which the physical nature of woman was modified, and types of female beauty were produced. The effect of male sexual selection was, however, to lower the general status of woman by
“increasing her dependence upon man, while at the same time reducing her power to labour, or in any way protect or preserve herself.”
“There are many indications that woman was slow to surrender her sceptre, and that the gradual loss of her power of rejection and selection took place with all the irregularity that characterises all natural phenomena … Almost every conceivable form of marriage or union has been found: While most persons suppose that nothing is so certainly fixed by nature, and even by divine decree, as the particular form of marriage that happens to prevail in their own country, ethnologists know that nothing is so purely conventional as just this fact of the ways in which then and women arrange or agree to carry on the work of continuing the race.”
What is known as Amazonism, through which at some period or other most races have passed, is a strong proof of gynaecocracy having universally prevailed in the human race; while the group of facts in which Bachefen in 1861 based his pronouncement that the ancient laws and records, both written and hieroglyphic, indicated a widespread system of descent and inheritance in the female line among both Aryan and Semitic peoples, supports it still more strongly, and opens out new vistas of the early relations of the sexes.
A little later McLennan discovered that a large number of existing uncivilised races still reckon through the female line, and actually have a more or less complete system of mother-right. Just as with animals the sex relations are arranged on a basis which best subserves the different species, so was it with early man, as he slowly emerged from the animal state; “and properly viewed they have always been such since that date.” The many forms of marriage we find when we begin to study the question are all the result of the economic and other compelling conditions of existence. The Kaffir or Zulu of to-day buys his wife for so many yoke of oxen and the Kaffir woman looks down with contempt on the white wife, who has cost nothing in the white marriage market.
The reason for the market value placed on the Kaffir wife is that she is the agricultural labourer to a husband employer, who is one of the communal owners of a fertile land, and who loves to lie in the sunshine and smoke many pipes. The purchased wife toils loyally until enough oxen are obtained to buy wife No.2. who then shares the labours and eases the working burdens of No.1. Sometimes no.3 is added, but in every case each wife has her own hut, and own status as “wife,” and brings up her children in their own little separate group. They are very much in the stage of the wives of the early patriarchs we read about in some of the books of the Bible. But by the time this patriarchal system prevailed, gynaecocracy had long ceased to exist in the more advanced races, and androcracy was fully established.
The discovery of paternity gave the father the desire to exercise power over the child in equal authority with the mother. This led to a comparison of physical strength between the sexes; for women did not for ages lay down lightly their exclusive maternal privileges; and this fact appears to the writer of this synopsis, to give a clue to the reason for women being so fiercely and often selfishly anti-social as regards the children of the race as a whole.
Tens of thousands of women are devoted and unselfish mothers to their own offspring, for whom they think nothing in the way of education and nurture too good; while they have a ‘blind spot’ as regards the children of other women, and they seem incapable of what might be called ‘social motherhood.’ May it be that the struggle for equal authority over the children between father and mother was so intense and embittered in the past, and the mother was so completely worsted and enslaved by the time when law finally emerged, that her maternal vision was absolutely narrowed down to the individual struggle which each woman had for ages to carry on for the retention of some scrap or fragment of mother-right?
“Physical strength never comes in question in the gynaecocratic stage. The female dispenses her favours according to her choice, and the males acquiesce after venting their jealousy on one another. The idea of coercing the female or extorting her favour never so much as occurs to the male mind. The virtue of the female animal is absolute, for virtue does not consist, as many suppose, in refusal, but in selection. It is refusal of the unfit, and of all at improper times and places. This definition of virtue applies to human beings, even the most civilised, as well as to animals. The female animal, or the human female in the gynaecocratic state would perish before she would surrender her virtue.”
What a commentary is this on modern social conditions, in which woman’s virtue is one of the articles of commerce, bought by the highest bidder, either in or out of marriage, and where the “unfit,” if possessed of economic power, have perforce to be accepted by the human female! In the passage from the gynaecocratic to the audrocratic state, man therefore, according to Professor Ward, lost his normal respect for the preferences of women, and woman lost her virtue.
“He began to learn the economic value of woman, and, in proportion to his realisation of physical strength making him the master creature, he used her to contribute to his pleasure and to his wants.”
This, our author considers, is the darkest spot in the somewhat dreary journey down the stream of time; and he quotes Herbert Spencer in this indictment of androcracy in its worst material manifestations.
“In the history of humanity as written, the saddest part concerns the treatment of women. … The amount of suffering which has been and is borne by women is utterly beyond imagination.”
And Professor Ward adds to Spencer’s indictment the remark:
“Far too many human sins are attributed to the brute that still lurks in man, but in this case it is flagrantly unjust to do this, since, as has been seen, no male brute maltreats the female, and the abuse of females by males is an exclusively human virtue.”
“Man is more powerful in body and mind than woman, and in the savage state he keeps her in a far more abject state of bondage than does the male of any other animal.”
And when writing of the advances in the human mind, which are destroying ‘the prejudices that have produced between the sexes an inequality of rights injurious even to the favoured sex,’ he remarks:
“In vain is it sought to justify it by differences in their physical organisation, in the strength of their intellects, in their moral sensibilities. This inequality has had no other origin than the abuse of power, and it is in vain that men have since sought to excuse it by sophisms.”
While to wind up and synthesise the indictment of the general ill treatment and subjection, of women in the past, and the particular ill treatment and subjection of many women in the present, Lester Ward writes:
“The whole difficulty of understanding these abuses lies in the fact that civilised men cannot conceive of a state in which no moral sentiments exist, no sympathy for pain, no sense of justice. And yet every day, in every civilised country of the world, the public press informs us of wife beatings that are scarcely less horrid than those of savages, and these would of course be far more horrid and but for the restraints of law and police regulation.
At the stage in the history of any race at which the transition from gynaecocracy to androcacy took place, and for a long period afterwards, all men were morally below the level of the basest wife-beater of modern society, at a stage in which the first spark of sympathy for suffering in others had not yet kindled. It yet is this manner of man, man coming to consciousness through the dawn of a purely egoistic intellect, who suddenly, as it were, discovered that the physically inferior being, who had without his knowledge, endowed him with his superiority, was in his power, and could be made to serve him. Hence the subjection of woman.”
In pursuance of the setting forth of his theory of how andocracy reached its present phase of development, Professor Lester Ward then treats briefly of the primitive family as it passed through the stages of polygamy, to monogamy, and of marriage in its various phases of marriage by capture and of barter to the more legalised arrangements of modern times. We all know that the “sacred” institution of family, as it now exists, is based on the famulus or slave of Roman times. Over this group of slaves, which included the wife and children, the old Roman patriarch had power of life and death. The word “marriage” in the English language, Ward explains has three meanings:
“1. The mutual, voluntary union of a man and a woman. 2. The act of union of a man to a woman, or of a woman to a man. 3. The causing of a woman to unite with a man … These uses of the word ‘marriage’ represent an evolution, and the first meaning was the last to be developed, and represents the greatest mutuality and equality of the marrying parties that has been attained.”
The third meaning applied especially to marriage in patriarchal time, when the patriarch, who owned all the women of his family disposed of them as he saw fit. All women slaves taken in warfare were disposed of to the conquerors, the younger women as wives, the older as bond-slaves.
“With the origin of the State, and the establishment of more and more complete codes of law, marriage was legalised and regulated, and became more and more a human institution. But when we see how little advanced marriage was in Greece and Rome during what we call antiquity, we may easily imagine what it must have been at an earlier date, and among more backward races.”
But, through the varied forms of marriage, down to modern times they contain one point in common, the proprietorship of the husband in the wife, while the slave origin of the marriage state is betrayed in the word “obey,” which is to be found in the marriage ceremonies of most countries.
As regards male sexual selection Professor Ward holds that:
“The same aesthetic sense through which the female mind had created the male being, including man as we find him, was not extinguished, it was simply overwhelmed by the power of the new-born egoistic reason of man using the strength acquired through female selection in the subjugation and domination of the innocent and unconscious authoress of these gifts. Nor was this aesthetic sense an exclusively female attribute. It is au invariable concomitant of brain development … But the aesthetic sense is not intense … By the side of the sexual interest of the male, in animal and in earliest man, it is so feeble as scarcely to make itself felt … The only selection that took place down to the close of the proto-social stage was female selection. The females alone were sufficiently free from the violence of passion to compare, deliberate, and discriminate. This they did, and we have seen the result.”
But with the lapse of centuries and the introduction of the caste system, and later of a leisured class, female selection, or gynaeclexis entirely ceased; and polygamy was made possible for the leisured class, the nobility and the priesthood, causing an intensive form of male selection or andreclexis, which made “the large seraglios of oriental, Semitic and arian peoples stirpicultural nurseries of female beauty.” The process of male selection carried on for untold ages, produced, according to Professor Ward, the models for the exquisite specimens of Greek sculpture. He further points out that there is a certain amount of unreality, artificiality, and spuriousness about female as about male secondary sexual characters; that is to say man does not select woman generally for size, strength, intellectual, or moral qualities, or for fecundity; what he prefers is physical frailty, and ephemeral beauty. Woman therefore does not advance in any sterling mental or moral qualities; and under the same influence woman grows more sterile, rather than more fertile.
“The result is that, if this were to go on a sufficient length of time, without the neutralising and compensating effect of other more normal influences, woman might ultimately be reduced to a helpless parasite on society, comparable to the condition of the primitive male element, and, the cycle might be completed by the production of complemental females corresponding to Darwin’s complemental males in the cirripeds. There are certain women now, in what is regarded as high society, who are even less useful, since they contribute nothing to the quantity or quality of the human species … In fact most leisure class ideas tend in the direction of making the woman of that class as useless as possible.”
Thus is it that woman throughout historical times has occupied a position tending to fix in the human mind the idea of her eternal subjection and of man’s eternal superiority.
“So universal is this attitude that a presentation of the real and fundamental relation of the sexes is something new to those who are able to see it, and something preposterous to those who are not. The idea that the female is naturally and really the superior sex seems incredible, and only the most liberal and emancipated minds, possessed of a store of biological information; are capable of realising it.”
Oriental, Greek, Roman, and much of the literature of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries attribute to women every vile and despicable quality. In the fifteenth century, after Innocent VIII. had issued his Papal Bull against Witchcraft women who showed any special traits of mother-wisdom, or of intellectual self-expression were burnt in tens of thousands as witches.
All ancient cosmogonies, including the Hebrew, which still dominates European thought, describe woman as only a lower or secondary form of creation. The Indian Code of Manu places woman always in subjection; first to her father, then to her husband,—and if he dies then to her sons or other male relatives. In fact, taking into consideration the centuries of legal and social ostracism from most of the advantages which tend to foster mental and physical progress, the marvel is that women have accomplished as much as they have done.
The reason, no doubt, some comparatively few of them have always succeeded in rising above the dead level of the ordinary subjected woman, is that in cases where the male parent possessed special gifts of intellect or moral worth; these gifts have in many cases been handed down to the female offspring, and have enabled her in the teeth of tradition and conventions to prove herself an able woman—sometimes even a woman of genius. Of such, was Mary Wolstonecraft, who was described by a contemporary writer as “a hyena in petticoats.” But light was even then (when Mary Wolstonecraft in the XVIIIth century wrote not only, be it remembered, of “The Rights of Women,” but also “The Rights of Men”) breaking on the long drawn-out and dark night of the history of women. As Professor Ward writes:
“A single glance at the last two centuries of the historic period, compared with the centuries that preceded them shows such an immense change in woman’s condition as to suggest that the vast, downward curve has more than reached the lowest point, and that the ordinates have begun to shorten … Not only this, but a closer scrutiny reveals the fact that the curve does not lie wholly in the same plane, and that the figure has three dimensions. In other words, it is not a cycle or circle, but a spiral, and the ends will never meet and restore a true gynaecocracy. With the completion of a revolution, both man and woman will find themselves on a far higher plane, and in a stage that for want of a better term, may be called gyandrocratic, a stage in which both man and woman shall be free to rule themselves.”
Having now brought my synopsis of Professor Lester Ward’s gynaecocentric theory to a close, it is necessary to point out why it is so important that, at a time when life,—young, beautiful, healthy, life has been poured out on the battle-fields of Europe, Asia and Africa as if it were the dross, instead of the wealth of the world, we should begin to ask ourselves whether the androcracy, or man rule, which is still in the ascendant, is indeed the ideal rule, which is likely to guarantee the health, happiness and permanence of the human race?
Men have had for long ages now sole control of: the conditions of life. They make laws, not only about armaments, commerce, political and international questions, but also about social, domestic and economic questions, without consulting the subjected sex as to their wishes or interests. Childbearing, the education and rearing of children, questions of food purity, food supply and distribution (which questions all intimately concern the mother and the homemaker) are decided entirely by men, and are decided in a way to suit male commercial and military pursuits, not in a way which favours the highest development of the and consequently of the race.
It is true that women are being used daily more and more by men in public work and administration, but they are being used as tools for accomplishing men’s aims and schemes, not as free citizens, having a mandate from their men and women fellow-citizens to plan and work and spend for the benefit of the race. The wildest absurdities arc being committed in Great Britain in the way of appointments of men by men to all the superior posts, even in Department’s which are clearly indicated as being women’s special sphere.
Instances of ignorant interference by men in conditions which affect the Home could be multiplied ad infinitum; they, like other wrong conditions, become more glaring in war time, and in periods following war, and also, unfortunately, cause more harm than in times of peace. They are supreme instances of Androcracy carried to its extreme limits, and made the more dangerous and far-reaching, because it is using some few women, in the pay of a masculine Government as its mouthpiece The business of these paid women is to endorse the decrees of that Government, be they wise or foolish; and to help in every way to cover up the mistakes and perplexities of the androcracy.
What we sorely need during the long crisis produced by a man-made war (and that is no doubt needed in both enemy and neutral countries) is the gynadrocracy, of which Lester. Ward writes in his forecast the higher plane of social and economic conditions towards which evolution is tending, “when both man and woman shall be free to rule themselves.”
When that period comes the men and women who administer the affairs of each nation will be men chosen by a real democratic mandate, and if they allow the young life of the nation to be wasted, the agricultural resources of the nation to be frittered away or destroyed, the wealth of the nation in the necessaries of food, clothing, warmth and shelter to be so reduced that the nation as a whole suffers, then the community will deal with them as traitors to the common cause, who, having accepted heavy responsibility and high honour, have proved unworthy or unequal to carrying out their trust.
Security in the prosecution their daily work or business is what the nations demand, Security that the young sons for whom every sacrifice is being made by parents, shall not be trampled into the offal of a modern battle field, or live blinded or crippled for the rest of their days. Security that the young daughters, for whom also every sacrifice is made by parents shall not be used by an autocratic androcracy to manufacture horrible and ghastly weapons of slaughter, and be thus misused and prostituted for the war lusts of men, so that they became the destroyers instead of the nurturers of life. Security that the fields sown, and the flocks and herds raised shall not be destroyed by the red anarchy of modern warfare armed with every scientific contrivance and invention for wholesale wanton destruction. Security against the maiming and blasting of the moral life and conscience of millions of men and women, whom militarism and its attendant evils sweep off their feet into the ranks of the criminal the diseased, the outcasts of society.
Statistics show that every war has always resulted in an increase of venereal disease; and venereal disease is the arch enemy of the health of the race, and consequently of the Home. We women are always being reminded by men, when we ask to be allowed a share in public duties and responsibilities that our place is the Home. But in order to do our duty in the Home it is neccesary that we should have control over the conditions and influences that affect the Home. Food supply, food distribution, food purity and free freedom from adulteration. Health conditions, education, the moral conditions of our streets and towns, the industrial and other occupations in which our young people are employed, in all of these, we women as Home-makers, claim the right to legislate and to administer laws in order that the harmful influences to the race in these matters which are at present settled on a purely androcentric basis, may be removed.
Of what use we urge is it for us to strive to maintain in the Home an ideal of purity, grace and moral fragrance, if, immediately the boy or girl steps across the threshold of the Home, the very opposite influences are brought to bear, in all their vulgar commercial, crudity on the youth of the nation? No one who reflects on the conditions under which the race in any so-called civilised country is at present reared, can feel that the purely androcentric interests which rule and determine the environment, training and culture of the young are in scientific agreement with the knowledge and wisdom that are in the possession of both the woman and men of the race.
It is the man who decrees what money shall be spent on public education, though both men and women are taxed to supply that money. It is the man who decrees under what conditions the materials for food and clothing shall be raised, manufactured and distributed; though the functions, of feeding and clothing are the special functions of women; and the efficiency of Home administration is destroyed by the adulterated food, which it is to the commercial interests of the androcracy to supply; while short commons or starvation face the woman Home-maker and her children whenever androcentric national rivalries decree that War must take the place of Diplomacy, and that weapons for the destruction of the race must be produced in feverish haste throughout the world in the place of food, clothing, fuel and shelter.
It is the man who decrees what penal and civil laws shall be passed, though these laws affect equally the men and the women of the race. It is the man who decides the economic, social, sanitary and spiritual conditions under which the children of the race shall be born, and reared, though it is women who risk life to bear those children and who have to watch silently and bitterly the waste of infant life, because a bungling androcracy is interfering in matters which are outside its sex sphere.
Finally it is men who have decreed lately throughout the world that the supreme life-giving function of womanhood shall be exchanged for, or nullified by, the function of the destruction of life. In no previous war have women been in every country involved personally in the struggle, employed de facto as combatants in the making of the munitions which tear the limbs, put out the eyes, eviscerate and blow to bleeding atoms the sons of other women: Yet this has been going on daily in the most advanced and civilised countries in the world, while under the influence of artificially stimulated hatred, messages of derision and hate have been chalked on shells destined to make widows, orphans and childless mothers.
What the physical and psychic effects on the race will be of this inversion of female functions it is not hard to prognosticate. Psychic disturbances in the life of the human female have an immense influence on her child-bearing function. The tendency of the race under modern normal conditions is to become less and less prolific. Under the abnormal excitement, strain and hysterical hatred produced by being employed as active agents in a world war, we may expect, in the statistics of all the countries involved, not only a diminution in the birth rate, but also a lowering in the quality of the lives born.
The potential mothers of the race who have had placed upon them the unnatural strain of an active share in wholesale life destruction are likely to bear psychically ill-balanced, if not physically defective children.
In the days of gynaecocracy or mother-right, everything to do with the bearing and rearing of infants was a matter of important teaching, of religious initiation, the knowledge being passed on with formal observances from the elder to the younger women. It was not for nothing that the future mothers of the race were kept apart in the brooding quiet of the primitive home. Nature was working in the bodies of the maidens certain mysteries, preparing them for the nine months home of the yet-to-be-born. It was instinct and dawning woman wisdom in the care and nurture of the race which dictated foresight, this reasonable preparedness and helpfulness in Nature’s great reproductive aims.
But now that armed androcracy has culled every maid and wife from the home to help in a catastrophic struggle for world supremacy, it is possible that the very foundations of race life may be undermined and seriously threatened by the outburst of male rivalries which inspired the present world war.
It is for these reasons that I felt it might be at the present time of special interest to men and women to study in the past, what were the relations between the sexes,- in vegetable, insect, bird, mammal and human life, which led up to our present one-sided state of sex influence in all that vitally concerns the race. No fair minded woman or man can read the story of the gynaecocentric theory, as developed by Professor Lester Ward without finding therein the material to make her or him “furiously to think.” No fair minded woman or man can look at the world today as it groans and travails under andocentric rule without realising if gyandrocentric or equal rule between the sexes would give even an off chance of improvement in the condition under which the race has to live and develop, gyandrocracy should be given its chance.
Again I must make the point that gyandrocracy is not meant the choosing of a certain number of women by men as men’s mouthpieces, with authority absolutely restricted by the wishes and financial doles of men; neither does it mean the granting of political votes to some propertied women; but it means equal responsibility in law-making and in arranging the social and economic conditions that control everyday life and work.
The essence of the gynaecocentric theory is that “the female is the race,” and that under the long discipline of the period when all things centred round the female, she developed maternal courage and maternal efficiency; some of this courage and efficiency has necessarily been stultified since androcentric law usurped the place of gynaecocentric law.
May we not dare to hope that Nature may once more triumphantly bring good out of evil, and since men have elected to decimate their numbers and destroy: the flower of their youth in hecatombs of slaughter, women, being compelled by necessity to take the places of fallen men in the business and work of life, may insist on and succeed in obtaining equal power in the ordering and government of life and in the administration of affairs? Every material progress sets free more spiritual forces; and it is the spiritual life, the life of beauty, and of the whole synthetic range of Art, for lack of which the race at present starves, because it as no leisure to enjoy it: Till the present era the civilisation of a leisured class, whose existence has, in the long run, demoralised the leisured, and has led to disharmonies, and eventual decadence.
The slave class can now he replaced by applied modern machinery, which can produce wealth and do work, the story of which reads like a fairy tale. The scientific communal use of this machinery will set the world of women and men free to begin the struggle for the higher and more spiritual life, which in the future will be the goal of the race. The poets and thinkers have foreseen that day and have sung of its future glories; nations, like individuals may “rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things.”
When the murk and dust and refuse-heaps of war are cleared away, when towns and villages are rebuilt, and when grass and harvests grow once more on the tormented soil under which the sons of the rival nations sleep silently side by side; when the great ships sail once more in safety from port to port, carrying the necessities and the luxuries of life for all mankind to enjoy; when we can again look around us and count the costs,—the losses and the gains of the hurricane of passion and of death, which has swept through Europe, and has shaken with cyclonic devastation the four corners of the World,—then perhaps we may weigh and ponder with new wisdom and with clearer outlook the saying of Letourneau:
“The condition of women may even furnish a good criterion of the degree of development of a people.”
1. As regards the relative size and capacity of the brains of men and women, Mr. Havelock Ellis writes: “There is much better ground for the later view, according to which, relating to size, the nervous superiority belongs to women, just as all small animals have relatively large brains. Man and Woman, page 141.
2. As regards this quotation Mr. Havelock Ellis writes me that he does not recognise it as being in any of his works. In ‘Man and Woman,’ page 422 he has written, “The female animal everywhere is more closely, and for a longer period occupied with the process of reproduction, which is Nature’s main concern”. This is indeed more than a zoological fact; it is a biological fact; among plants we find that the stamens soon fall away, while the pistil remains.
3. This theory of the aesthetic faculty in the sexual selection of the female is of rare interest, and seems to be supported by one of the paradoxical, but probably one of correct poetic guesses of a literary genius of the nineteenth century. “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. This results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy. It is a theory which has never been put forward before, but it is extremely fruitful, and throws an entirely new light upon the history of Art Art “The decay of Lying. A Dialogue. “ Oscar Wilde.
4. This question of aesthetic selection of animals is still a controversial one. Mr. Havelock Ellis discusses the point in his third volume “Studies.”—D.B.M
Original Story on AVFM
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(Changing the cultural narrative)