Motherhood and the Relationships of the Sexes
RELATIONSHIPS OF THE SEXES
C. GASQUOINE HARTLEY
Author of “The Truth About Women,” “The Age of Mother-Power,” etc.
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
Copyright, 1917, by
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc.
In writing at last this book on Motherhood, which for somany years has had a place in my thoughts, one truth hasforced itself upon me; the predominant position of Womanin her natural relation to the race. The mother is the mainstream of the racial life. All the hope of the future restsupon this faith in motherhood.
To whom, then, but to you, my son, can I dedicate my book?You came to me when I was still seeking out a way in thefutility of Individual ends; you reconciled my warring motivesand desires; you brought me a new guiding principle. Youtaught me that the Individual Life is but as a bubble orcluster of foam on the great tide of humanity. I knew thatthe redemption of Woman rests in the growing knowledge andconsciousness of her responsibility to the race.
|PART I |
|I||A Retrospect: The Position of Women before the Great European War||9|
|II||The Position of Women as Affected by the War||29|
|PART II |
THE MATERNAL INSTINCT IN THE MAKING
|IV||Parenthood among Reptiles and Fishes: A Chapter on Good Fathers||77|
|V||Parenthood among Birds, with further Examples of Good Fathers||97|
|VI||Parenthood among the Higher Animals: The Fixing of the Parental Instinct in the Mother||117|
|PART III |
THE PRIMITIVE FAMILY
|VII||The Mother in the Primitive Family||137|
|PART IV |
MOTHERHOOD AND THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE SEXES
|VIII||The Family and the Home||161|
|IX||Monogamous Marriage and Woman||187|
|X||Marriage: a Continuation of the Previous Chapter, with some Remarks on the Character of Woman||207|
|XI||Sexual Relationships outside of Marriage||227|
|XII||The Unmarried Mother||255|
|XIII||The Danger of Secret Diseases||283|
|PART V |
|XIV||The Mother and the Child||301|
|XV||Sexual Education, with Special Reference to the Adolescent Girl||327|
|XVI||A Continuation of the Last Chapter, with an Attempt to Suggest a Remedy||349|
It is now a well-established truism to say that themost injurious influences affecting the physical conditionof young children arise from the habits, customsand practices of the people themselves ratherthan from external surroundings or conditions. Theenvironment of the infant is its mother. Its healthand physical fitness are dependent primarily upon herhealth, her capacity in domesticity, and her knowledgeof infant care and management. Thus the fundamentalrequirement in regard to this particularproblem is healthy motherhood and the art and practiceof mother-craft. Given a healthy and carefulmother we are on the high road to securing a healthyinfant; from healthy infancy we may expect healthychildhood, and from healthy childhood may be laidthe foundations of a nation’s health.
“Education and Infant Welfare.”
Annual Report for 1914 of the Chief Medical Officerof the Board of Education.
CONTENTS OF CHAPTER I
A RETROSPECT—THE POSITION OF WOMEN BEFORE THEGREAT EUROPEAN WAR
The overwhelming events of the Great War—Change in my ownviews—Primitive conception of the relative position of the twosexes—The war divides the feminist struggle into two periods—Thedemand of woman to live her own life—The merits anddemerits of the Suffrage Movement—The vote gospel a drugswallowed to still the craving for something vitally needed—Womenswept out of their own interests into a swirling sea ofdesire—Emotion the strong guide to action—Militancy—A tremendousadventure—The mob spirit—Sowing a crop of femininewild oats—What has been gained—Much experience and someknowledge—Experience indispensable as a foundation of abroader feminism—Solidarity of women—War came like a thunderboltfrom a clear sky—The clamour and deception of meetingsand propaganda.
THE POSITION OF WOMEN BEFORE THE GREAT EUROPEANWAR
“There is one profound weakness in your movement towards emancipation.Your whole argument is based on an acceptance of malevalues.”—Dr. Ananda Coomaraswary.
As I set out to write yet another book on Woman, I findit necessary first to decide whether the primary interestshould rest in the eternal instincts, passions and typicalcharacter of womanhood, or in women’s actions and charactersas affected by the unusual conditions of the time inwhich my work is undertaken. It is a decision by no meansso simple as it would seem.
Always the realisation of what is immediately beforeus tends by its vivid nearness to give an over-estimationof its significance. But to read life in this way is tounderstand very little. Something must be done to clearour vision so that we may take a wider view. The present,after all, is but the day at which the past and thefuture meet.
Yet there are times when some overwhelming event sosharply changes the present as to obscure all the shiningwonder of life. And at no period in history has this beenmore true than it has been in Europe in the last two years.Nowhere and never in the world can there have been aperiod of deeper or more rapid change. War came uponus without warning, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky;and in a day the outlook of life was changed.
Now, this thought of surprising and quick-comingchange brings me to something it is necessary for me tosay. My book should have been begun many months back,at the very beginning of the war. But here I have to makea confession. The war caused in my mind a confusionthat for some time left me extremely uncertain upon manythings about which hitherto I have been sure. It has beena war of miracles in so far as it has made real much thatseemed outside the world of possibility. Our sluggardimaginations have been stirred by an appeal that hasaroused many primitive emotions.
I recall the opening sentence in the last book that I wroteon Woman. “The twentieth century is the age of Woman.Some day, it may be, it will be looked back upon as thegolden age—the dawn, some say, of feminine civilisation.”
Now, as I read this statement, which, when I wrote it, Ifelt to be true, it appears so wrong as to be almost ridiculous.That sort of dream is over.
What a fantastic picture it was that Suffrage militancymade for itself before the outbreak of the war. We pictureda golden age which was to come with the self-assertionof women; an age in which most of those problemsthat have vexed mankind from the dawn of history were tobe solved automatically by a series of quick penny-in-the-slotreforms, that would follow on the splendour and superiorityof woman’s rule. Militants, aflame for the reformationof man, discussed prostitution, the White Slavetraffic, and all sex problems with a zeal that was partlypathological and partly the result of a Utopian dream.
Then, at the most crucial hour in the history of women’sstruggle for power and political recognition, all this dreamwas arrested. In the stress of war, the promise of an accumulatingbetterment was swept down, even as a too-brightdawn that passes into storm; the ugly aspects oflife sprang upon us with intensifying urgency. Yes, thesudden events of war seemed, for women, to have blottedout the present and the past, and to have made all actionuncertain.
So it is always when life is stirred at its depths. Thechange was almost staggering. Women have had to learnmany new and strange lessons; they are more changedthan perhaps they themselves know.
There had come a time when, without any preparation,we women were brought back to the primitive conceptionof the relative position of the two sexes. Militaryorganisation and battle afford the grand opportunity forthe superior force capacity of the male. Again man wasthe fighter, the protector of woman and the home. Andat once his power became a reality. The striking andpraise-demanding work was done by men. And at the firstviolent change there seemed to be nothing for womenbeyond the patience of waiting and the service of sacrifice.Later, women have been called to step in to take the placesof men, and there has been work for them to do of allkinds and in ever-increasing amount. But of this work,and the new conditions that have thereby arisen, I proposeto speak in the next chapter. Here I am consideringonly the events that rushed upon women at the oncomingof war. And inevitably they were pushed aside intoobscurity; they had to be content with unnoticed work thatnot infrequently was futile.
It is hard to step so suddenly out of the limelight. Andwomen were acutely aware of this change in their prospects,and many of them expressed the situation with engagingfrankness. Let me give a small illustration. Ihad occasion in the late summer of 1914, a few weeks afterthe war had started, to visit a friend. Some months hadpassed since I had previously seen her. At that time shewas actively engaged in the suffrage campaign. Now, Ifound her knitting woollen comforters for the soldiers, andshe was knitting them very badly. I expressed my surprise.Her answer to