Woman ! A creature… who would probably be imagined as some strange kind of beetle

Browsing the Woman Teacher (the Journal of The National Union of Women Teachers), I chuckled my way though the article below, reviewing a lecture given by Rose Macaulay, who I can only assume was this Rose Macaulay, given the Chair’s endorsement. I have abridged it for the sake of brevity, the full version can be found here.

While many advances for equal rights have been achieved in the eighty years since the article was written, readers might recognise all too well the approach taken by some some media channels to Woman

“Miss Macaulay said that women were becoming a great and increasing nuisance. Someone made a pronouncement on something connected with women and immediately she was rung up to know her opinion about it ; should women study art, should modern women marry, should women smoke, should women cut their hair, should women’s clothes be short, &c.

<…>

The historians of the future, keenly interested in the history of the present time, in their research would come to the conclusion that a strange and new being was evolved at this period. Woman ! A creature continually mentioned in the writings of the time, who would probably be imagined as some strange kind of beetle.

<…>

Women seem to be regarded as a separate species and as a topic are a hardy annual, monthly, weekly, or daily. Their physical and psychological state is continually discussed. It is not so with men. Woman holds the field as a topic. ” Women have no sense of honour ” ; ” Can women think ? ” ” The surplus woman.” Possibly there are too many men also, but WOMAN is so interesting that it is also interesting that there are too many of them.

<…>

Numerous books had been written on Woman <…>. One recently published, she had read, a thing which seldom occurred. It was Pandora’s Hope ‘ by Austin Harrison, and purported to be a study of Woman. <…> Opening at random, we read, ” Woman has no sense of humour ” ; ” woman has no imagination ” ; ” woman is near the earth, man seeks the stars ” ; ” boys are taught that it is wrong to lie, girls are not ” (the author’s must have been a strange family). ” Man thinks out a thing, woman jumps at it.” ” From infancy woman is taught to think sexually.”

The historian will certainly conclude that woman is low in the scale although she attracts a lot of attention. The fallacy of this generalisation lies in thinking that all women are like each other and form one conglomeration—Woman.

When women were granted the franchise a noble lord, in the place where he belonged, said he could not bear to think of two million all voting the wrong way. And at election times startling headlines appear ” The Women’s Vote ” ; ” What will the women do ? “, the implication being that women are more likely all to act in the same way than men are—that women have many minds but a single thought–forming a kind of mental coalition.

 

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