[Editorial Note: This editorial demonstrates how little the arguments against woman's rights changed over the first two decades of the movement. In this context, one can compare this defence of the claim that men and women are so profoundly different that they must occupy separate spheres with the essay on "Rights and Wrongs of Women" published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine a generation earlier. What is new is the invocation of "science." "The old statements that one [sex] is passive, the other active; one emotional, the other moral; one affectionate, the other rational; one sentimental, the other intellectual, are likely to be more than verified by science." So held The Nation. Harper's had sought its validation in the existence of certain maternal "instincts" which the author did not attempt to define in any scientific fashion.]
P. 87: We propound the above question in no bantering, jocose, or trifling spirit, but in all gravity and seriousness of mind. . . . while the distinction between male and female is traced through the lowest orders of creation, is there not a disposition to slur it over in the highest orders, as being a fact of secondary and incidental import, a fact apparent in the animal and physical economy, but not pertinent to the social economy or the spiritual; a fact that becomes thin and precarious and insignificant as men and women leave their bestial condition, and is destined to disappear in the fulness of humanity? Apostles of "a-sexualism," if we may so name it, are abroad in this generation, suggesting that the old distinction between men and women may be an ancient delusion . . . .
P. 88: . . . zealous champions of the hitherto "suppressed sex," persuaded that the admission of sex has been the ground of the "suppression," . . . see no way of securing for woman her rights short of disavowing the existence of the quality that has all along been supposed to constitute her a woman. She must be educated precisely as if she were a man. She must go into the market and appear in court on the same terms with men. Civil life must recognize no difference between masculine and feminine. In the political world her place must be undistinguished from that of her companion biped, whose extremities are otherwise clothed and whose countenance is otherwise adorned. The intellectual sphere has no separate nook or seat for either a worse or a better half. The soul knows no gender.
We hope that we appreciate the motives that animate the workers in the cause of woman's elevation. We are fully sensible of the fact that they are laboring to throw off burdens of great oppression, to correct the errors of centuries. . . . We wish them every fair success in their enterprise. But laws are laws, distinctions are distinctions, and facts are facts.
. . . The more deeply human nature is searched, the more sharp and trenchant is found to be the line that cuts it into two halves. The fact of sex is comprehensive, complete and exhaustive. The unlikeness between men and women is radical and essential. It runs through all spheres. Distinct as they are in bodily form and feature, they are quite as distinct in mental and moral characteristics. They neither think, feel, wish, purpose, will nor act alike. They take the same views of nothing. The old statements that one is passive, the other active; one emotional, the other moral; one affectionate, the other rational; one sentimental, the other intellectual, are likely to be more than verified by science. Of course these statements, whether verified or not, do not justify the imposition of arbitrary limits on opportunity or enterprise. It still remains to be determined what place each shall fill, what work each can do, what standard each can reach; and these nature should be left to determine. But that both cannot occupy the same place, do the same work, or reach the same standard, ought, we think, be assumed. Nature has decreed it so. The exigencies of life demand that it shhould be so. More emphaticially still, if that could be, the amenities of life, the sentiment, the romance, poetry, personal, domestic, social delight and charm of life insist that the distinction be preserved. . . . So long as the suffrage and other revolutions are regarded as experiments designed to tell after the lines and limits that sex claims for itself -- so much and only so much -- no harm need follow. The spirit of reform is then scientific. But if it is taken as accepted that sex has no lines or limits, but is a name to which no deep reality corresponds, immense harm will be done; for then the apparent failure of reform will be traced to the wrong origin, and will yield no fruits but those of fanaticism.
. . . Male and female may divide employments without quarrel or question, nor would it be difficult to assort them even now in advance of experiment. The learned professions have their masculine and feminine aspects. In medicine there is a very broad and well-marked department where the feminine qualities of patience, sympathy, tenderness, tact, perception, nicety of touch and manipulation, administrative care and sensibility, can render admirable service--departments which fairly belong to women. In divinity it is not hard to discover a male and a female side. . . . The feminine side of the law is not so obvious to ordinary vision; but somewhere, perhaps, either in the upper reaches of equity, where the moral sentiment comes into play, or in the lower spheres of technicality, where mechanical assiduity carries off the palm, a place for women may be found.
Politics, it must be confessed, appear thus far to be prevailingly and stubbornly, if not incorrigibly, masculine. There is very little to justify the conclusion that women, we mean the particular qualities of women, have a place in primary meetings, party caucuses, public debates, club rooms, conventions, or any of the ordinary election arrangements. In discussing woman's place in politics, woman's claim to public offices, woman's title to suffrage, the element of sex is left out of view. Her claims are pressed on the ground of her humanity. She is considered as a person, an individual, a social entity, a property-holder, a payer of taxes, a morally responsible being, a creature endowed with reason. Her title is placed on the same ground with man's precisely. The suggestion of a temporal, active, and radical distinction between the man and the woman, as portions of organized humanity, which may qualify in some degree the terms "rights," "duties," "responsibilities," is resented as a impertinence.