August Bebel. Woman and Socialism
Woman at the Present Day
The social dependence of a race, class, or sex, always finds expression in the laws and political conditions of the country in question. The laws of a country are the
formulated expression of its ruling interests. Women, being the dependent and oppressed sex, find their legal status mapped out to them accordingly. Laws are both negative and positive. They are negative by failing to take notice of the oppressed in the distribution of rights. They are positive inasmuch as they point out his dependent position and denote whatever exceptions there may be.
Our common law is founded on the Roman law, which considers the human being solely in his quality as a propertied being. The old German law, that dealt more favorably with women, has maintained its influence only to a slight extent. In the French language, as in the English language, human being and the male are denoted by the same word, “l’homme” – man. In the same way, the French law only recognizes the man as a human being, and, until a few decades ago, this was true also of England, where women were maintained in abject dependence. It was the same in ancient Rome. There were Roman citizens and wives of Roman citizens, but no Roman citizenesses.
In Germany the legal status of women has been somewhat improved, inasmuch as the great variety of existing laws have been replaced by a uniform law – whereby rights enjoyed by women here and there have been made general. Thereby, unmarried women were admitted to guardianship; women were permitted to act as witnesses, to sign contracts, and to carry on a business independently. Both husband and wife are entitled to the common ownership of each other’s property, unless the demands made by either party may be regarded as an abuse of his or her rights. If there are conflicting opinions between them on this subject, the decision rests with the husband, who also is entitled to determine the place of residence. If the husband should abuse this right, the wife is exempt from obedience. The sole management of the household rests with the wife. She has the so-called power of the keys, which empowers her, within her domestic sphere, to attend to her husband’s affairs and to represent him. The husband is liable for his wife’s debts. But the wife’s power of the keys may be restricted, or entirely abolished, by her husband. Should he abuse his power, this limitation may be annulled by the courts. The wife is obliged to do the housework and to perform tasks in her husband’s business, but only where such occupations are customary, in accordance with the husband’s standard of living. A demand to establish, as the rule, separate rights of ownership by husband and wife, was declined by the Diet. This can only be obtained by means of the marriage contract, which is usually neglected, and may lead to disagreements later on. Instead, community of management was established. The husband is thereby entitled to dispose of his wife’s property, while she is limited to her dowry. On the other hand, the wife has unrestricted control over whatever she may earn during marriage, by personal labor or in business. The husband has no right to deprive the wife of her earnings or her dowry. The wife may also demand security, in case she has good reason to fear that her property is endangered, which she may sometimes learn too late. She may also enter a complaint to have the common ownership abolished, if her husband should fail to provide for her and her children. The husband is liable for damage resulting from mismanagement.
The wife may be grievously wronged by the existing divorce laws. For, in case of divorce, the joint earnings of husband and wife belong to the husband, even if he is the guilty party, and if most of their common property has been earned by the wife. But the woman is entitled to alimony, according to her station, only if it can be shown that she is not able to maintain her standard of living by means of her own property or earnings.
Paternal control has been replaced by the joint control of both parents, but in case of disagreement between the parents, the decision rests with the father. In case of the father’s death, parental control, including the management and use of the child’s property, devolves on the mother. A divorced woman has no right to represent her children legally, or to control their property, even if the children have been awarded to her, while the father continues to enjoy full parental rights.
In England, until 1870, according to the common law, husband was entitled to all the personal property of his wife. Only real estate remained her property by law, but even this the husband was entitled to manage and to use. The English woman was a mere cipher before the law. She could not sign any legal document, not even a will. She was her husband’s chattel. If she committed any crime in her husband’s presence, he was held responsible for it, since she was regarded as a minor. In case she damaged any one’s property, the damage was viewed as if done by a domestic animal; her husband was answerable for it. In 1888 Bishop J. N. Wood delivered a lecture in the chapel at Westminster, in which he said, among other things, that as late as a century ago English women had not been permitted to eat at their husbands’ table, nor to speak until they were spoken to. As a symbol of his marital power, a whip hung above the bed, that the husband was permitted to wield when the wife was not as docile as her lord desired her to be. Only her daughters were obliged to obey her. By her sons she was regarded as a servant.
By the laws of 1870, 1882 and 1893, the woman is not only entitled to all the property brought into marriage by her, she is also entitled to everything she may obtain during marriage by her earnings, by inheritance, or by gift. This legal relation can be modified only by special agreement between husband and wife. In this respect English legislation has followed the example set by the United States. By the Custody of Infants’ Act, of 1886, in case of the father’s death, parental control devolves on the mother. The Intestate Estates Act, of 1890, still gives the man a privileged position. Both husband and wife are free to dispose of their property by their last will and testament. But if the wife dies intestate, all her personal property belongs to her husband; while, if the husband dies intestate, his widow is entitled to only one-third of his personal property and income on real estate; the remainder belongs to his children. Many remnants of the old mediaeval law remain in force that greatly impair the legal status of married women. As we have seen, the divorce laws are still highly unfavorable to women. If a man commits adultery, that alone is no ground for divorce for the woman, but only in connection with cruelty, bigamy, rape, etc.
The civil law is especially unfavorable to women in France, and in all those countries – mostly Romanic countries – that are strongly influenced by the French “code civil,” or where it has been adopted in full, with some modifications. This is the case in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russian Poland, vie Netherlands, and in most of the cantons of Switzerland. There is a saying by Napoleon 1. that is characteristic of his conception of the position of women, and that still holds true; it is.. “One thing is not French, a woman who may do as she pleases.” As soon as a French woman marries she is placed under the guardianship of her husband. According to the Code Civil, she may not appear in court without the consent of her husband, not even if she is connected with a lawsuit. The husband shall protect his wife, and the wife shall obey her husband. He controls the property brought into marriage by his wife; he may sell, rent, or mortgage same, without being obliged to ask her consent. The result is, that women frequently live in a condition of absolute servitude. A man may spend his wife’s earnings on drink, or on frivolous women; he may gamble and run into debt, leaving his wife and children in want; he is even entitled to demand from an employer the wages his wife has earned. Under such circumstances it is not to be wondered at that many women prefer to desist from marriage, as was frequently seen in France.
In most Romanic countries women cannot act as witnesses to legal documents, contracts, wills, etc. In France this was the case until 1897. But they are permitted – by a strange inconsistency – to act as witnesses at court in all criminal cases, where their testimony may perhaps lead to the execution of a human being. In criminal law woman is everywhere regarded as man’s equal, and crimes and transgressions committed by her are measured by the same standard as those committed by man. Our law-makers seem blissfully unconscious of this glaring inconsistency. As a widow, a woman may make her will, but in a great many states she is not admitted as a witness to a will, yet she may be appointed as executrix. In Italy women are admitted as witnesses in civil law since 1877.
The privileged position of men is especially manifest in the divorce laws. According to the “Code Civil,” in France a man might obtain a divorce if his wife committed adultery; but a woman could not obtain it, unless her husband had brought his concubine into their home. This article has been changed by the divorce law of July 27, 1884, but in French criminal law the distinction has been maintained, which is very characteristic of the French law-makers. If a woman has been convicted of adultery she is punishable by imprisonment of from three months to two years. But the man is punishable only if he has maintained a concubine in his own household, as per the former article of the “Code Civil.” If found guilty, his only punishment is a fine of from 100 to 2,000 francs. Such inequality before the law would be impossible if there were women in the parliament of France. Similar laws are in force in Belgium. The penalty for adultery when committed by a woman is the same as in France. The man goes unpunished, unless adultery has been committed by him in his and his wife’s domicile; in that event he may be punished by imprisonment of from one month to one year. In Belgium the injustice is not quite as glaring as in France, but in both countries we find one standard of law for the man and another one for the woman. Under the influence of French law similar provisions have been made in Spain and Portugal. According to the civil law of Italy, enacted in 1865, a woman cannot obtain a divorce on the ground of adultery, unless her husband maintains his concubine in his own home, or in a place where her presence appears as a particular insult to the wife. In 1907, together with the enactment of June 21, which has modified a number of articles of the Code Civil in regard to marriage, both chambers finally adopted the law of July 13, whereby the wife became the sole owner of property earned by her, or obtained by inheritance or gift. The husband has been deprived of his former control over the personal property of his wife. That is the first breach in French law, and thereby French women have obtained the same legal status that was obtained for English women by the law of 1870.
Much more advanced than the “Code Civil” and more advanced also than German civil law, is the new civil law of Switzerland that was adopted on December 10, 1907, and will come into force on January 1, 1912. Until now the various cantons of Switzerland had their own laws. In Geneva, Waadt, and Italian Switzerland they were partly founded on the “Code Civil.” In Bern and Lucerne they were founded on Austrian law, and in Schwytz, Uri, Unterwalden, etc., the old common law prevailed. Now Switzerland is to have a uniform code of laws. The freedom of the wife and the children is assured. The new law provides that the wife is entitled to one-third of her husband’s income, even if she is only occupied as his assistant or housekeeper. In regard to inheritance, also, the laws are more favorable to women than the German laws. When a man dies, his wife is not only entitled to one-half of his property, but also, together with the man’s parents, to the lifelong use of the income from the other half. If people owe money to a man who fails to provide for his wife and children, the judge may instruct them to pay these debts, not to the man himself, but to his wife. The law no longer forbids a divorced person to marry the person with whom he has committed adultery. The property rights of married per. sons are mainly determined by the marriage contract that may be drawn up by both before and during marriage. Illegitimate children – in cases where the mother had been given a promise of marriage – are not only entitled to alimony from their father, as according to the new German law, but they are also entitled to their father’s name, and thereby obtain the full rights of legitimate children.
Swedish women are given full control over their own earnings by a law of Dec. 11, 1874. In Denmark a similar law was enacted in 1880. According to Danish law no claims may be made on a woman’s property for the payment of her husband’s debts. The Norwegian law of 1888 and the Finnish law of 1889 are quite similar. The married woman has the same control over her property as the unmarried woman; only some exceptions are provided for that are stated in the law. In the Norwegian law it is clearly stated, that the woman becomes a dependent by marriage.
“In the Scandinavian countries, as elsewhere, this universal movement to extend the property rights of women originated in the same way as it did in England: through the gainful employment of married women. The ruling classes were far more willing to abandon the patriarchial superiority of the common man over his working wife, than that of the man from their own ranks over his propertied wife.”
In the law of May 27, 1908, Danish legislation advanced still another step. If a husband and father fails to provide for his family, the wife and children may have the sum, awarded to them by the authorities, advanced out of the public funds.
In most countries the father has the sole control over the children and the right to determine their education. Only in some countries the mother is given joint control with the father in a more or less subordinate way. The old Roman principle, whereby the father had complete power over his children, everywhere forms the key-note of legislation.
In Russia married women have some control over their property, but as bread-winners they remain utterly subservient to their husbands. No pass – which is absolutely essential for any change of residence – is ever issued to a married woman without her husband’s consent. In order to accept a position or to practice any trade or profession, she must also have her husband’s permission. Divorce is made so difficult, that it can be obtained only in very rare cases. The position of Russian women was much more independent formerly in the old peasant communities, which was due to the remaining communistic institutions or to the reminiscences of these institutions. The peasant woman was the manager of her own estate. Communism is the most favorable social condition for women. We have seen this from our exposition of the matriarchal period.
In the United States the women have succeeded in winning almost complete equality before the law; they have also prevented the introduction of English and other laws regulating prostitution.
The evident inequality of women before the law has caused the more advanced among them to demand political rights, in order to attain their equality by means of legislation. The same thought has also led the working class to direct their agitation toward the conquest of political power. What is right for the working class, cannot be wrong for the women. Being oppressed, devoid of rights and, in many instances, disregarded, it is not only their right, but their duty to defend themselves and to adopt any method that appears good to them, so that they may win an independent position. Of course these endeavors are opposed by the usual reactionary croakings. Let us see to what extent these are justified.
Women possessing eminent intellectual abilities have influenced politics at all times and among all peoples, even where they were not endowed with the power of sovereigns. Even the papal court was not exempt from this. If they could not exert any influence by means of the rights conceded to them, they did so by their intellectual superiority, even by intrigues. For many centuries their influence was particularly strong at the court of France, as also at the Spanish and Italian courts. At the close of the seventeenth century, at the court of Philip V of Spain, Marie of Tremonille, Countess of Bracciano and Princess of Ursin, was the prime-minister of Spain for thirteen years, and during this time very ably conducted Spanish politics. As the mistresses of rulers, many women have succeeded in obtaining a great political influence; we need but mention the well-known names of Maintenon, the mistress of Louis XIV, and Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. The great intellectual awakening of the eighteenth century, that produced men like Montesquieu, Voltaire, d’Allembert, Holbach, Helvetius, La Mettrie, Rousseau, and many others, did not fail to affect the women. This great movement, which questioned the justification of the fundamental principles of the state and feudal society and helped to undermine them, may have been joined by some women to follow the fashion, to satisfy their love of intrigue, or for other unworthy motives. But a great many women were impelled to take part in this movement by their profound interest and enthusiasm for its noble aims. Decades before the outbreak of the great revolution, which swept over France like a purifying cloud-burst, tore the old order asunder and cast it down, causing jubilation among the most advanced minds of the age, women had thronged into the scientific and political clubs, where philosophical, scientific, religious, social and political problems were discussed with unwonted daring, and had taken part in the discussions. When at length, in July, 1789, the storming of the Bastille ushered in the great revolution, women of the upper classes and women of the common people participated actively and exerted a very noticeable influence both for and against it. They participated excessively in both good and evil wherever an opportunity presented itself. The majority of historians have taken more notice of the excesses of the revolution than of its great and noble deeds. These excesses, by the way, were only too natural, for they were the result of tremendous exasperation at the unspeakable corruption, the exploitation, the imposition, the baseness and villany of the ruling classes. Under the influence of these biased descriptions, Schiller wrote the lines: “And women there become hyenas and mock at horror and despair.” And yet in those years women have set so many noble examples of heroism, magnanimity, and admirable self-sacrifice, that to write an impartial book on “the women in the great revolution,” would mean the erection of a noble monument in their honor. According to Michelet, women even were the vanguard of the revolution. The general poverty and want from which the French people suffered under the predatory and disgraceful rule of the Bourbon kings, especially affected the women, as is always the case under similar conditions. Being excluded from almost every decent means of support, tens of thousands of them fell victims to prostitution. To this was added the famine of 1789, which increased the suffering of women and children to the utmost. This famine led them to storm the town-hall in October and to march in masses to Versailles, the seat of the court. It also caused a number of them to petition the national assembly “that the equality between man and woman be reinstated, that work and employment be opened to them and that they be given positions suited to their abilities.” As the women recognized that they needed power to win their rights, but that they could attain power only by organizing and by standing together in great numbers, they organized women’s clubs throughout France, some of which had a surprisingly large membership, and also took part in the men’s meetings. While brilliant Madame Roland preferred to play a leading political part among the “statesmen” of the French Revolution, the Girondistes, passionate and eloquent Olympe de Gouges took the leadership of the women of the people and espoused their cause with all the enthusiasm of her fervent temperament.
When the assembly proclaimed “the rights of man” (les droits de l’homme), in 1793, she promptly recognized that they were only rights of men. In opposition to these, Olympe de Gouges, together with Rose Lacombe and others, wrote “The rights of Women,” in seventeen articles. On the 28 Brumaire (November 20, 1793), she defended the rights before the Paris Commune, with arguments that are still fully justified. In her argumentation the following sentence, characteristic of the situation, was contained: “If a woman has the right to mount the scaffold she must also have the right to mount the platform.” Her demands remained unfulfilled. But her reference to the right of woman to mount a scaffold met with bloody confirmation. Her defence of the rights of women on the one hand, and her struggle against the atrocities of the assembly on the other, made her appear ripe for the scaffold to the assembly. She was beheaded on the 3rd of November, of the same year. Five days later Madame Roland was beheaded, also. Both went to their death heroically. Shortly before these executions, on October 17, 1793, the assembly had shown its attitude of hostility toward women by deciding to suppress all the women’s clubs. Later on, when the women continued to protest against the wrong perpetrated against them, they were even forbidden to attend the assembly and the public meetings, and were treated as rebels.
When monarchical Europe marched against France and the assembly declared “the fatherland to be in danger,” Parisian women offered to do what was done twenty years later by enthusiastic Prussian women, to bear arms in defence of the fatherland, thereby hoping to prove their right to equality. But they were opposed in the commune by the radical Chaumette, who addressed them thus: “Since when are women permitted to deny their sex and to make men of themselves? Since when is it customary for them to neglect the tender care of their households, to forsake the cradles of their children, to come into public places, to speak from platforms, to enter the ranks of the army, with one word, to perform those duties which nature has destined man to perform? Nature has said to the man: ‘Be a man! The races, the hunt, agriculture, politics, all exertions are your privilege.’ She has said to the woman: ‘Be a woman! The care of your children, the details of the household, the sweet restlessness of motherhood, these are your tasks.’ Foolish women, why do you seek to become men? Arc human beings not properly divided? What more do you ask? In the name of Nature, remain what you are, and far from envying us our stormy lives, make us forget them in the midst of our families by letting our eyes rest upon the lovely sight of our children, happy in your tender care.” Undoubtedly the radical Chaumette expressed the opinion held by most men. It is generally considered an appropriate division of labor that men defend the country and women care for hearth and home. For the rest the oratorical effusion of Chaumette consists of mere phrases. It is not true that man has borne the burdens of agriculture. From primeval days down to the present woman has contributed a large share to agriculture. The exertions of the hunt and the races are no “exertions,” but a pleasure to men, and politics entails dangers only for those who combat current opinions, while to others it offers at least as much pleasure as exertion. Nothing but the egotism of man finds expression in this speech.
Aims similar to those pursued by the Encyclopedists and the great revolution in France found expression in the United States, when, during the seventies and eighties of the eighteenth century, the colonists won their struggle for independence from England and established a democratic constitution. At that time, Mercy Ottis Warren and the wife of the second president of the United States, Mrs. Adams, together with a few other women, favored political equality. It was due to their influence that the State of New Jersey bestowed the right of suffrage upon women, of which it deprived them again in 1807. In France, even before the outbreak of the revolution, Condorcet, later a Girondist, published a brilliantly written essay in favor of woman’s suffrage and the political equality of both sexes,
Inspired by the great events in the neighboring country, it was brave Mary Wollstonecraft, born in 1759, who proclaimed woman’s cause at the other side of the channel. In 1790 she wrote a book in opposition to Burke, one of the most vehement opponents of the French Revolution, in which she defended the rights of man. Soon after she proceeded to demand the rights of man for her own sex. In her book, published in 1792, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” she severely criticised her own sex, but demanded and bravely defended complete equality for women in behalf of the common welfare. She met with vehement opposition and was subjected to severe and unjust attacks. Heart-broken by bitter inward struggles, she died in 1797, misunderstood and ridiculed by her contemporaries.
At the same time, when the first serious endeavors to obtain political equality for women were being made in France, England, and the United States, even in Germany, which was particularly retrogressive then, a German writer – Th. G. v. Hippel – anonymously published a book in Berlin, in 1792, on the “Civic Improvement in the Condition of Women,” in which he defended the equal rights of women. At that time a book on the civic improvement in the condition of men would have been equally justified. We must therefore doubly admire the courage of this man, who, in his book, ventured to draw all the logical conclusions from social and political sex equality and defended same very ably and intelligently.
Since then the demand for political rights of women has remained dormant for a long time; but gradually it has been taken up again by the woman’s movement in all countries and has become realized in a number of states. In France the St. Simonists and Fourierists favored sex equality, and, in 1848, the Fourierist Considerant moved in the constitutional committee of the French parliament to bestow equal political rights upon women. In 1851, Pierre Leroux repeated the motion in the chamber, but likewise unsuccessfully.
At present matters have an entirely different aspect. The development of our social conditions and all social relations have undergone a tremendous transformation and have at the same time transformed the position of women. In all civilized states we find hundreds of thou. sands and millions of women employed in the most varied professions, just like men, and every year vie number of women increases, who must rely on their own strength and ability in the struggle for existence. The nature of our social and political conditions, therefore, can no longer remain a matter of indifference to women. They must be interested in questions like the following: Whether or not the control of domestic and foreign affairs favor war; whether or not the state should annually keep hundreds of thousands of healthy men in the army and drive tens of thousands from the country; whether or not the necessities of life should be raised in price by taxes and duties at a time when the means of subsistence are very scarce to a great majority, etc. Women also pay direct and indirect taxes from their property and their earnings. The educational system is of the greatest interest to women, for the manner of education is a determining factor in the position of their sex; it is of special importance to mothers.
The hundreds of thousands and millions of women employed in hundreds of trades and professions are personally and vitally concerned in the nature of our social legislation. Laws relating to the length of the workday, night-work, child labor, wages, safety appliances in factories and workshops, in one word, all labor laws, as also insurance laws, etc., are of the greatest interest to working women. Workingmen are only very insufficiently informed about the conditions existing in many branches of industry in which women are chiefly or exclusively employed. It is to the interest of the employers to conceal existing evils that they have caused; and in many instances factory inspection does not include trades in which women are exclusively employed; yet in these very branches of industry protection is most needful. We need but point to the workshops in our large cities, where seamstresses, dressmakers, milliners, etc. ... are crowded together. We hardly ever hear a complaint from their midst, and there is no investigation of their condition. Women as bread-winners are also interested in the commerce and custom-laws and in all civil laws. There can no longer be any doubt, that it is as important to women as it is to men, to influence the nature of our conditions by means of legislation. The participation of women in public life would give it a new impetus and open new vistas.
Demands of this sort are briefly set aside, with the reply: “Women don’t understand politics; most of them do not wish to have a vote and would not know how to use it.” That is both true and false. It is true that until now, in Germany, at least, not very many women have demanded political equality. The first German woman to proclaim the rights of women, as early as the sixties of the last century, was Hedwig Dohm. Recently the Socialist working women have been the chief supporters of woman’s suffrage and have undertaken an active agitation for the winning of the ballot.
The argument that women have until now shown only a very moderate interest in politics, does not prove anything at all. If women have failed to care about politics formerly, that does not signify that they ought not to care about them now. The same arguments that are advanced against woman suffrage were, during the first half of the sixties, advanced against universal manhood suffrage. In 1863 the writer of this book himself was among those who opposed it. Four years later it made possible his election to the Diet. Tens of thousands experienced a similar development. Nevertheless there still are many men who either fail to make use of their political right, or do not know how to use it. Yet that would be no reason to deprive them of it. During the parliamentary elections usually from 25 to 30 per cent. of the voters fail to vote, and among these are members of all classes. While among the 70 to 75 per cent. who do vote, the majority, in our opinion, vote as they ought not to vote if they understood their own advantage. That they do not understand is due to a lack of political education. But political education is not obtained by withholding political rights from the masses. It is obtained only by the practice of political rights. Practice alone makes perfect. The ruling classes have always known it to be in their own interest to keep the great majority of the people in political dependence. Therefore it has been the task of a determined, class conscious minority to struggle for the common good with energy and enthusiasm, and to arouse the masses from their indifference and inertia. It has been thus in all the great movements of history, and therefore it need not surprise or discourage us that it is the same with the woman’s movement. The success that has been obtained so far shows, that work and sacrifice are not in vain and that the future will bring victory.
As soon as women shall have obtained equal rights with men, the consciousness of their duties will be awakened in them. When asked to vote they will begin to question “why” and “for whom.”
Thereby a new source of interest will be established between man and woman that, far from harming their mutual relation, will considerably improve it. The inexperienced woman will naturally turn to the more experienced man. Therefrom an exchange of ideas and mutual instruction will result, a relation that until now has been very rare between man and woman. This will give their life a new charm. The unfortunate differences in education and conception between the sexes that frequently lead to disputes, breed discord in regard to the various duties of the man and injure the public welfare, will be adjusted more and more. A congenial and like-minded wife will support a man in his endeavors, instead of hindering him. If other tasks should prevent her from being active herself, she will encourage the man to do his duty. She will also be willing to sacrifice a fraction of the income for a newspaper and for purposes of agitation, because the newspaper will mean instruction and entertainment to her, and because she will understand that by the sacrifices for purposes of agitation, a more worthy human existence can be won for herself, her husband and her children.
Thus the common service of the public welfare, that is closely linked with the individual welfare, will elevate both man and woman. The opposite of that will be attained which is claimed by short-sighted persons or by the enemies of equal rights, and this relation between the sexes will develop and become more beautiful as improved social conditions will liberate both man and woman from material care and excessive burdens of toil. Here, as in other cases, practice and education will help along. If I do not go into the water I will never learn to swim; if I do not study and practice a foreign language, I will never learn to speak it. That is readily understood by everyone; but many fail to understand that the same holds true of the affairs of the state and society. Are our women less capable than the inferior Negro race that was given political equality in North America? Or shall a highly cultured, educated woman be entitled to fewer rights than the most coarse and ignorant man, only because blind chance brought the latter into the world as a male being? Has the son a greater right than the mother from whom he has perhaps inherited his best qualities and who made him what he is? Such “justice” is strange, indeed.
Moreover, we are no longer risking a leap into the dark and unknown. North America, New Zealand, and Finland have paved the way. On the effects of woman suffrage in Wyoming, justice Kingman, from Laramie, wrote to “The Woman’s journal,” on November 12, 1872. as follows: “It is three years to-day that women were, enfranchised in our territory and were also given the right to be elected to office, as all other voters. During this time they have taken part in the elections and have been elected to various offices; they have acted as jurors and as justices of the peace. Although there probably still are some among us who oppose the participation of women, on principle, I do not believe any one can deny that the participation of women in our elections has exerted an educational influence. The elections became more quiet and orderly, and at the same time our courts were enabled to punish various kinds of criminals who had been allowed to go unpunished until then. When the territory was organized, for instance, there was hardly a person who did not carry a revolver and make use of same upon the slightest provocation. I do not remember a single case where a person had been convicted of shooting by a jury composed entirely of men; but, with two or three women among the jurors, they always followed the instructions of the judge.”
The prevailing sentiment in regard to woman suffrage in Wyoming, twenty-five years after its introduction, was expressed in a proclamation by the legislature of that state to all the legislatures of the country. It read:
“Whereas, Wyoming was the first State to adopt woman suffrage, which has been in operation since 1869, and was adopted in the constitution of the State in 1890; during which time women have exercised the privilege as generally as men, with the result that better candidates have been elected for office, methods of election purified, the character of legislation improved, civic intelligence increased, and womanhood developed to a greater usefulness by political responsibility; therefore,
Resolved, by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that, in view of these results, the enfranchisement of women in every State and Territory of the American Union is hereby recommended as a measure tending to the advancement of a higher and better social order.”
It is certain that the enfranchisement of women has shown many advantageous results for Wyoming, and not one single disadvantage. That is the most splendid vindication of its introduction. The example set by Wyoming was followed by other states. Women were given full parliamentary suffrage in Colorado in 1894, in Utah in 1895, in Idaho in 1896. Women have municipal suffrage in Kansas, and school suffrage, taxpaying suffrage, etc., in a number of other states in the Union. In 1899, after the innovation had been in force in Colorado for five years, the legislature decided upon the following resolution, by 45 against 3 votes:
“Whereas, equal suffrage has been in operation in Colorado for five years, during which time women have exercised the privilege as generally as men, with the result that better candidates have been selected for office, methods of election have been purified, the character of legislation improved, civic intelligence increased and womanhood developed to greater usefulness by political responsibility; therefore,
Resolved, by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that, in view of these results, the enfranchisement of women in every State and Territory of the American Union is hereby recommended as a measure tending to the advancement of a higher and better social order.”
In a number of states, the legislatures have passed woman suffrage bills, but these decisions were annulled by the vote of the people. This was the case in Kansas, Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, and Oklahoma. In Kansas and Oklahoma this proceeding has been twice repeated, and in Oregon even three times. The noteworthy fact is that each time the majorities against the political emancipation of women became smaller.
“The municipal rights obtained by women are very varied, but, taken all in all, do not amount to much. As a matter of course, women enjoy the full municipal rights of citizenship in those four states in which they have been given national suffrage. But only one other state, Kansas, has given women municipal suffrage, which also includes school and tax-paying suffrage and makes them eligible to school boards. A limited municipal suffrage, founded upon an educational qualification, has been exercised by the women of Michigan since 1893. Louisiana, Montana, Iowa, and New York give women the right to vote on municipal questions of taxation. The women have not obtained as much influence in the general administration of municipal affairs as they have in regard to the administration of schools. They have school suffrage and are eligible to school boards in the following states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. In Kentucky and Oklahoma they have school suffrage, but are not eligible to office; in Kentucky the school suffrage is limited by certain restrictions. In Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Iowa and California, women are eligible to school boards, but only to certain offices.”
In New Zealand, women have had full parliamentary suffrage since 1893. They have actively participated in the parliamentary elections, more actively than the men, but they are not eligible to office. Only men may be elected. In 1893, of 139,915 women of voting age no less than 109,461 registered; 785 for each 1,000; 90,290, 645 for each 1,000 – took part in the elections. In 1896 108,783 (68 per cent.) of the women voted; in 1902, 138,565; in 1905, 175,046.
In Tasmania, women were given municipal suffrage in 1884 and national suffrage in 1903. In South Australia, women have had national suffrage since 1895, in West Australia since 1900, in New South Wales since 1902, in Queensland since 1905, in Victoria since 1908. Federated Australia introduced parliamentary woman’s suffrage in 1902. The parliamentary suffrage implies the eligibility of women to parliament, but until now no woman has been elected. Women who are of age may vote for members of parliament and be voted for on the same terms as men. The municipal administration is less democratic. The right of participation in the administration of municipal affairs is connected with military service. Since 1889, tax-paying women are eligible to the charity-boards of town and rural communities. They may also be elected as directors of charitable institutions and members of school boards.
The grand general strike of October, 1905, and the victory of the Russian revolution made possible the restoration of the constitution in Finland. The working class, by bringing pressure to bear upon the National Diet, succeeded in obtaining the passage of a law that provided for the introduction of universal suffrage, including the women. Only such persons were excluded who received aid from public funds, or who owed their personal tax to the state, 50 cents for men and 25 cents for women. In 1907, 19 women, and in 1908, 25 women were elected to the parliament of Finland.
In Norway, women participate in the administration of schools since 1889. In cities, the city councils may appoint them to school boards, and women having children of school age take part in the election of school inspectors. In the rural districts all who pay school taxes, regardless of sex, are entitled to take part in the school meetings of the communities. Women may hold the office of school inspector. Gradually women were given a voice in other municipal matters also. In 1901, municipal suffrage was extended to all Norwegian women who had attained their twenty-fifth year, who were Norwegian citizens, having been in the country at least five years, and who paid taxes on an income of at least 300 crowns, in the rural districts, and 400 crowns in the cities, or whose husbands paid the required amount of taxes. Women answering these requirements were also made eligible to municipal offices. By this law 200,000 women were enfranchised, 30,000 of them in Christiania alone. During the first election in which the women participated, go women were elected as members of town and city councils, and 160 as alternates. In Christiana, 6 women councillors and one alternate were elected. On July 1, 1907, the Norwegian women were given parliamentary suffrage, but not upon the same terms as men. Parliamentary suffrage was extended to women on the same terms on which they had been given municipal suffrage; 250,000 proletarian women still remain excluded from political rights.
In Sweden, unmarried women take part in municipal elections since 1862, on the same terms as men; that is, they must be of age and must pay taxes on an income of at least 140 dollars. In 1887 only 4,000 women among 62,000 voted. At first, women were not eligible to any municipal office, but in 1889 a law was enacted which declared them eligible to school boards and boards of charity. In February, 1909, Swedish women were declared eligible to all town and city councils. In 1902 parliamentary woman suffrage was rejected by the lower house by 114 against 64 votes; in 1905 by 109 against 88 votes.
In Denmark, after many years of agitation, women were given municipal suffrage in April, 1908, and were also made eligible to municipal offices. All those women are enfranchised who have attained their twenty-fifth year and who have an annual income of at least 225 dollars in the cities (less in rural districts), or whose husbands pay the required amount of taxes. Moreover, servant girls are enfranchised, in whose case board and lodging are added to the wages they receive. During the first election in which women participated, which took place in 1909, seven women were elected to the city council of Copenhagen. In Iceland, women have municipal suffrage and are eligible to municipal offices since 1907.
The struggle for woman suffrage in England has a considerable history. According to an old law, in the mediaeval ages, ladies of the manors had the right of suffrage and also exercised judicial power. In the course of time they were deprived of these rights. In the election reform acts of 1832, the word “person” had been employed, which includes members of both sexes. Yet the law was construed not to refer to women, and they were barred from voting wherever they made an attempt to do so. In the election reform bill of 1867, the word “person” had been replaced by the word “man.” John Stuart Mill moved to reintroduce the word “Person” instead of “man,” explicitly stating as the object of his motion that thereby women would be given the suffrage on the same terms as men. The motion was voted down by 194 against 73 votes. Sixteen years later, in 1883, another attempt was made in the house of commons to introduce woman suffrage. The bill was rejected by a majority of only 16 votes. Another attempt failed in 1884, when a much larger membership of the house voted down a suffrage bill by a majority of 136 votes. But the minority were not discouraged. In 1886 they succeeded in having 4 bill providing for the introduction of parliamentary woman suffrage passed in two readings. The dissolving of parliament prevented a final decision.
On November 29, 1888, Lord Salisbury delivered an address in Edinburgh, in which he said, among other things: “I sincerely hope that the day may not be distant when women will participate in parliamentary elections and will help to determine the course of the government.” Alfred Russell Wallace, the well-known scientist and follower of Darwin, expressed himself upon the same question in the following manner: “When men and women shall be free to follow their best impulses, when no human being shall be hampered by unnatural restrictions owing to the chance of sex, when public opinion will be controlled by the wisest and best and will be systematically impressed upon the young, then we will find that a system of human selection will manifest itself that will result in a transformed humanity. As long as women are compelled to regard marriage as a means whereby they may escape poverty and neglect, they are and remain at a disadvantage compared to men. Therefore the first step in the emancipation of women is to remove all the restrictions which prevent them from competing with men in all branches of industry and in all occupations. But we must advance beyond this point and permit women to exercise their political rights. Many of the restrictions from which women have hitherto suffered would have been spared them if they had had a direct representation in parliament.”
On April 27, 1892, the second reading of a bill by Sir A. Rollit was again rejected by 175 against 152 votes On February 3, 1897, the house of commons passed a suffrage bill, but, owing to various manoeuvres of the opponents, the bill did not come up for the third reading. In 1904 the same scene was re-enacted. Of the members of parliament elected to the house of commons in 1906, a large majority had declared themselves in favor of woman suffrage prior to their election. On June 21, 1908, a grand demonstration was held in Hyde Park. On February 28, a bill providing that women should be given parliamentary suffrage on the same terms as men, had been passed by 271 against 92 votes.
In regard to municipal administration, woman suffrage in Great Britain is constantly expanding. In the parish councils tax-paying women have a voice and vote as well as men. Since 1899, women in England have the right to vote for town, district and county councils. In the rural districts all proprietors and lodgers – including the female ones – who reside in the parish or district are entitled to vote. All inhabitants who are of age may be elected to the above-named bodies, regardless of sex. Women vote for members of school boards, and, since 1870, are eligible to same on the same terms as men. But in 1903 the reactionary English school law I as deprived women of the right of being elected to the school board in the county of London. Since 1869 independent and unmarried women have the right to vote for the privy councils. Two laws enacted in 1907 made unmarried women in England and Scotland eligible to district and county councils. But a woman who may be elected as chairman of such a council, shall thereby not hold the office of justice of peace that is connected with it. Women are also eligible to parish councils and as overseers of the poor. The first woman mayor was elected in Aldeburgh on November 9, 1908. In 1908 there were 1162 women on English boards of charity and 615 women on school boards. In Ireland, tax-paying women have had municipal suffrage since 1887, and since 1896 they may vote for members of boards of charity and be elected to same. In the British colony of North America, most of the provinces have introduced municipal woman suffrage on similar terms as in England. In the African colonies of England, municipal woman suffrage has likewise been introduced.
In France the first slight progress was brought about by a law enacted on February 27, 1880. By this law a school board was created consisting of women school principals, school inspectors, and inspectors of asylums. Another law of January 23, 1898, gave women engaged in commerce the right to vote for members of courts of trade, and, since November 25, 1908, women may be elected as members of courts of trade themselves.
In Italy women may vote for members of courts of trade and be elected as such since 1893. They are also eligible to boards of supervisors of hospitals, orphan asylums, foundling asylums, and to school boards.
In Austria women belonging to the class of great landowners may vote for members of the Diet and the imperial council, either personally or by proxy. Taxpaying women, over 24, may vote for town and city councillors; married women exercise the suffrage indirectly through their husbands, others through some other authorized agent. All the women belonging to the class of great land-owners have the right to vote for members of the Diet, but, with the exception of Lower Austria, they do not exercise it personally. Only in the one domain referred to, the law of 1896 provides that the great landowners, regardless of sex, must cast their vote in person. Women may also vote for members of courts of trade, but may not be elected to same.
In Germany women are explicitly excluded from voting for any law-making bodies. In some parts of the country women may vote for town-councillors. In no city or rural community are women eligible to municipal offices. In the cities they are also excluded from the right to vote for any office. The exceptions to this rule are some cities in the Grand-duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, in the principalities of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, in Bavaria, and the little town of Travemuende, in Lubeck.
In the Bavarian cities all women who are house-owners, and in the cities of Saxony-Weimar and Schwarzburg, all women citizens are given the suffrage, but only in Travemuende are they permitted to exercise it in person. In most of the rural communities where the right of suffrage depends upon a property or tax-paying qualification, women are included in this right. But they must vote by proxy and are not eligible to any office themselves. This is the case in Prussia, Brunswick, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Weimar, Hamburg, and Lubeck. In the Kingdom of Saxony a woman may exercise the suffrage if she be a landowner and unmarried. When she becomes married, her suffrage devolves upon her husband. In those states in which municipal suffrage depends upon citizenship, women are generally excluded. This is the case in Wurtemberg, in the Bavarian Palatinate, in Baden, Hessia, Oldenburg, Anhalt, Gotha, and Reuss. In Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, Coburg, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, women can become citizens on the same terms as men, and they have the suffrage, not limited by any property qualification. But here, too, they are prohibited from exercising this right in person.
In those Prussian districts where a limited form of woman suffrage exists, the enfranchised women participate directly or indirectly in the elections for members of the dietines. In the electoral groups of great landowners and the representatives of mining and manufacturing establishments, the women vote for members of the dietines directly; but in the rural communities they vote indirectly, since here the town council does not elect the representatives themselves, but only their electors. As the local dietines elect representatives to the provincial diets, the small number of enfranchised women are enabled to exert a very modest influence on the administration of the provinces.
During recent years women have been admitted to boards of charity, and have been made overseers of the poor and of orphan asylums in growing numbers and with marked success. (Bavaria constitutes the only exception.) In some cities (in Prussia, Baden, Wurtemberg, Bavaria and Saxony), they have also been admitted to school boards, and in one city (Mannheim), they have been made members of a commission for the inspection of dwellings. Insurance against sickness is the only public institution in connection with which women may vote and be voted for. They remain excluded from voting for members of courts of trade.
The above-quoted instances show that suffrage in Germany and Austria is determined, almost without exception, not by the person, but by property. Politically, human beings are mere ciphers if they have no money and no possessions. Neither intellect nor ability, but property is the determining factor. It is very instructive to note this fact in regard to the morality and justice of the present state.
We see that a number of exceptions have already been made to the theory that women are in the same class with minors and that the franchise must accordingly be withheld from them. And yet people vehemently oppose the endeavor to give women full political equality. Even progressive people argue that it would be dangerous to enfranchise women because they are conservative by nature and are susceptible to religious prejudices. But these arguments are true to some extent only, so long as women are maintained in ignorance. Our object must therefore be to educate them and to teach them where their true interest lies. Incidentally it may be stated that the religious influence on elections has been overestimated. The ultramontane agitation was so successful in Germany only because it wisely combined the religious interests with social interests. For a long time the ultramontane chaplains vied with the Socialists in revealing social deterioration. It was this that caused them to become so influential with the masses. But with the end of the struggle between church and state this influence gradually declines. The clergy are obliged to abandon their struggle against the power of the state; at the same time the increasing class differences compel them to show greater consideration for the Catholic bourgeoisie and the Catholic nobility and to be more reticent in regard to social questions. Thereby they lose their influence upon workingmen, especially if consideration for the ruling classes compels them to favor or to tolerate actions and laws that are directed against the interests of the working class. The same reasons will eventually also destroy the influence of the clergy upon women. When women learn in meetings, or from newspapers, or by personal experience, where their true interests lie, they will emancipate themselves from clerical influence just as men.
In Belgium, where ultramontanism still predominates among large circles of the population, a number of the Catholic clergy favor woman suffrage because they deem it an effective weapon against Socialism. In Germany, too, a number of conservative members of the Diet have declared themselves in favor of the woman suffrage bills introduced by Socialist members and have explained their position by asserting that they consider woman suffrage a weapon against Socialism. Undoubtedly there is some truth in these opinions, taking into consideration the present political ignorance of women and the strong influence exerted over them by the clergy. But still this is no reason to disfranchise them. There are millions of workingmen, too, who vote for candidates of bourgeois and religious parties against their own class interest and thereby prove their political ignorance, yet no one would propose to, disfranchise them for this reason. The withholding or the rape of the franchise is not practiced because the ignorance of the masses – including the ignorance of women – is feared; for what these masses are, the ruling classes have made them. It is practiced because the ruling classes fear that the masses will gradually become wise and pursue their own course.
Until recently the various German states were so reactionary that they even withheld from women the right of political organization. In Prussia, Bavaria, Brunswick, and a number of other German states, they were not permitted to form political clubs. In Prussia they were not even permitted to participate in entertainments arranged by political clubs, as was distinctly set down by the supreme court in 1901. The rector of the Berlin University even went so far as to forbid a woman to lecture before a social science club of students. In the same year the police authorities of Brunswick forbade women to take part in the proceedings of the social congress of Evangelists. In 1902 the Prussian secretary of state condescended to give women the permission to attend the meetings of political clubs, but under the condition that they had to take their seats in a part of the hall specially set aside for them, like the Jewish women in their synagogues. Nothing could have better characterized the pettiness of our conditions. As late as February, 1904, Pasadowsky solemnly declared in the Diet: “Women shall keep their hands off politics.” But eventually this state of affairs became unbearable even to the bourgeois parties. The new national law on assembly and organization of April 19, 1908, brought the only marked improvement by establishing equal rights of women in regard to political organization and public assembly.
The right to vote must of course be combined with the right to be elected to office. We hear the cry: “How ridiculous it would be to behold a woman on the plat. form of the Diet!” Yet there are other states where women have ascended to the platforms of parliaments, and we, too, have long since become accustomed to set women on platforms in their meetings and conventions. In North America women appear on the pulpit and in the jury-box; why not on the platform of the Diet? The first woman to be elected to the Diet will know bow to impress the other members. When the first workingmen were elected to the Diet they, too, were the objects of cheap wit, and it was asserted that workingmen would soon recognize the folly of electing men of their type. But the working-class representatives quickly succeeded in winning respect, and at present their opponents fear that there may be too many of them. Frivolous jesters exclaim: “But picture a pregnant woman on the platform of the Diet; how shocking!” Yet the same gentlemen consider it quite proper that pregnant women should be employed at occupations which shockingly degrade their womanly dignity and decency and undermine their health. That man is a wretch, indeed, who dares to ridicule a pregnant woman. The very thought that his mother was in the same condition before she gave him birth must drive the blood to his cheeks in shame, and the other thought, that his wife’s being in the same condition may mean the fulfillment of his fondest hopes, must silence him.
The woman who, gives birth to children is serving the community at least as well as the man who risks his life in defence of the country. For she gives birth to and educates the future soldiers, far too many of whom must sacrifice their lives on the battlefield. Moreover, every woman risks her life in becoming a mother. All our mothers have faced death in giving us life, and many of them have perished. In Prussia, for instance, the number of deaths in child-birth – including the victims of puerperal fever – by far exceeds the number of deaths from typhoid. During 1905 and 1906 0.73 and 0.62 per cent of typhoid patients died. But among 10,000 women 2.13 and 1.97 per cent died in child-birth. “How would conditions have developed,” Professor Herff rightly remarks, “if men were subjected to these sufferings to the same extent? Would not the utmost measures be resorted to?” The number of women who die in child-birth, or are left sickly as a result of same, is far greater than the number of men who die or are wounded on the battlefield. From 1816 to 1876, in Prussia alone, no less than 321,791 women fell victims of puerperal fever; that is an annual average of 5,363. In England, from 1847 to 1901, 213,533 women died in child-birth, and still, notwithstanding all hygienic measures, no less than 4,000, die annually.
That is a far greater number than the number of men killed in the various wars during the same time. To this tremendous number of women who die in child-birth must furthermore be added the still greater number of those who become sickly as a result of child-birth and die young. This is another reason why woman is entitled to full equality with man. Let these facts be especially noted by those persons who advance the military service of men as an argument against the equal rights of women.
Moreover, our military institutions enable a great many men to escape the performance of this duty.
All these superficial objections to the public activity of women would be impossible if the relation of the sexes was natural, instead of there being an artificially stimulated antagonism between them. From their early childhood on the sexes are separated in their education and their social Intercourse. It is especially the antagonism we owe to Christianity that keeps the sexes apart and maintains one in ignorance about the other, whereby free social intercourse, mutual confidence and the ability to supplement each other’s traits of character are prevented.
One of the first and most important tasks of a rationally organized society must be to remove this detrimental discord and to restore the rights of nature. We begin by making even the little children in school unnatural, firstly, by separating the sexes, and secondly, by failing to instruct our children as to the sex nature of human beings. In every fairly good school natural history is being taught at present. The child learns that birds lay eggs and hatch them. He learns when birds mate and that both the male and female bird build the nest, hatch the eggs and feed the young. He also learns that mammals bring forth their young alive. He hears of the mating season and that the male animals fight one another for possession of the females. Perhaps he even learns how many young one or another species of animal usually brings forth and how long the female is pregnant. But profoundest secrecy is maintained in regard to the origin and development of the human being. When the child seeks to satisfy its natural curiosity by questioning his parents, especially his mother – he rarely ventures to question the teacher – he is told the most ridiculous fairy tales that cannot satisfy his thirst for knowledge and that must exert an all the more harmful influence when, some day, he nevertheless learns the true nature of his origin. There are few children who have not learned of it by the time they are twelve years old. In every small town, and especially in the country, even very young children have occasion to observe the pairing of poultry and domestic animals at close range in the yards, in the streets and on pasture. They bear that the pairing of domestic animals and the birth of the young is discussed without a sense of shame by their parents, their cider brothers and sisters and the servants. All this causes the child to doubt the truth of what his parents told him in regard to his own coming into the world. Finally the child learns the truth, but not in the manner in which he ought to learn it if his education were a natural and rational one. The fact that the child keeps his knowledge a secret leads to an estrangement between him and his parents, especially between him and his mother. The parents have accomplished the opposite of what they sought to accomplish in their ignorance and short-sightedness. Those who recall their own childhood and the childhood of their playmates know to what this may lead.
An American woman tells us that in order to satisfactorily answer the constant questions of her eight-year-old son as to his origin, and because she did not wish to tell him fairy tales, she revealed to him the truth about his birth. The child, she says, listened to her with utmost attention, and from the day upon which he had learned how much suffering he caused his mother, he had treated her with unwonted tenderness and respect and had also transferred these feelings to other women. The writer upholds the correct view that only by means of a natural education men can be led to treat women with more respect and self-control. Every unprejudiced person is bound to agree with her.
Whatever starting-point one may choose in the criticism of present-day conditions, one is bound always to reiterate the following: A thorough reorganization of our social conditions, and thereby a thorough transformation in the relation of the sexes, is needful. Woman, in order to attain her aim more quickly, must look about for allies, and she naturally finds such allies in the proletarian movement. The class-conscious proletariat has long since commenced to storm the fortress of the state that is founded on class rule, which includes the rule of one sex over the other. The fortress must be surrounded on all sides, and, by arms of all calibers, it must be forced to surrender. The beleaguering army finds its officers and suitable arms on all sides. The social sciences, the natural sciences, historical research, pedagogics, hygiene and statistics furnish the movement with arms and munition. Philosophy comes forward, too, and, in Mainlaender’s “Philosophy of Deliverance,” proclaims the early realization of the “ideal state.”
The conquest of the class-state and its transformation is made easier by dissension in the ranks of its defenders, who, notwithstanding their community of interests against the common enemy, fight one another in the struggle for the spoils. The interest of one group is opposed to the interest of another. Another point in our favor is the growing mutiny in the ranks of the enemy. To a great extent their soldiers are blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh, but, owing to ignorance, they, until now, fought against us and against themselves. More and more of these join our ranks. We are, furthermore, helped by the desertion of honest men of intellect, who were hostile to us at first, but whose superior knowledge and profound insight impels them to rise above their narrow class interest, to follow their ideal desire for justice, and to espouse the cause of the masses that are longing for liberation.
Many still fail to recognize that state and society are already in a state of decay. Therefore an exposition of this subject also becomes necessary.
1. A. Chapman and M. Chapman – “The Status of Women under the English Law.” London, 1909.
2. L. Bridel – “La puissance maritale.” Lausanne, 1879.
3. Marianne Weber – “Wife and Mother in the Evolution of Law.” Tubingen, 1907.
4. The correctness of this conception may be seen from the comedy by Aristophanes, “The Popular Assembly of Women.” In this comedy Aristophanes depicts how the Athenian state was so mismanaged that no one knew what to do. In the popular assembly of the citizens of Athens the prytanes submit the question how the state is to be saved. A woman, disguised as a man, moves to entrust the government to the women, and this motion is carried without resistance, “because it was the only thing not yet tried in Athens.” The women proceed to steer the ship of state and immediately introduce communism. Of course, Aristophanes ridicules this condition, but the characteristic part of his play is, that he has the women introduce communism as the only rational social organization from their point of view, as soon as they come into power. Aristophanes had no idea of how much truth was in his jest.
5. Emma Adler – “Famous Women of the French Revolution.” Vienna, 1906.
6. At present suffrage amendments are pending in Washington and Oklahoma. (Tr.)
7. Clara Zetkin – “Woman Suffrage.” Berlin, 1907.
8. A similar bill, known as the “conciliation bill,” drawn up by a committee consisting of members of all parties, passed its second reading in July 1910 by 299 against 189 votes. Prime Minister Asquith prevented the third reading and final vote upon the bill during that session of Parliament. (Tr.)
9. “Political Manual for Women.” Berlin, 1909.
10. That this danger exists the clergy themselves have soon recognized. Since the woman movement has grown and developed even in bourgeois circles, the leaders of the Catholic party recognized that they could no longer oppose it, and they accordingly completely reversed their attitude. With that sublety which has always characterized the servants of the church, they favor at present what they opposed until quite recently. They not only favor higher education for women, they also declare themselves in favor of unrestricted right of assembly and organization for women. Some of the more far-sighted even support woman suffrage, hoping that the church may derive the greatest gain from the introduction of same. In the same way the industrial organization of women is supported by the Catholic clergy, even the organization of servant girls. But all these social endeavors are fostered, not from an innate sense of justice, but to prevent the women from flocking to the camp of religious and political opponents.
11. “Half of the women members of Parliament in Finland are wives and mothers. Three of the Socialist married women members became mothers during their parliamentary activity without any other disturbing results except that they remained away from the sessions for a few weeks. Their pregnant condition was regarded as something natural that was neither wonderful nor noteworthy. It may rather be said that this factor was of educational value to the assembly. In regard to the parliamentary activity of these women members it should be noted that their parties elected them to the special committees also, which proves that they were convinced of their ability. The committee on labor where the laws for workingmen’s protection, workingmen’s insurance, and the new trade laws were drawn up, consisted of twelve men and four women, and three women had been chosen as alternates. The legislative and constitutional committees each had two women members, and for each there was one woman alternate, and the women have ably maintained their place in these committees.” – Miss Hilda Paerssinen, member of the diet of Finland – “Woman Suffrage and the Participation of Women in the Parliamentary Work of Finland.” – “Documents of Progress.” July.
12. Professor Dr. Otto v. Herff – “The struggle against puerperal fever.” Leipsig, 1908.
13. W. Williams – “Deaths in Child-bed.” London, 1904.
14. “For every woman who dies in child-birth we must assume from fifteen to twenty who are more or less seriously infected with resulting diseases of the abdominal organs and general debility from which they frequently suffer for the remainder of their lives.” Dr. Mrs H. B Adams – “The Book of Woman.” Stuttgart, 1894.
15. “Womanhood, Its Sanctities and Fidelities” by Isabella Beecher Hooker. New York, 1874. Lee, Shepard & Dillingham.