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Equality of the Sexes
Excerpted from "The Education of Women"
Abbott, Lyman. The Woman’s Book Volume 1. Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, 1894. pp. 341-342.
"... What is meant by the phrase "equality of the sexes?" For that matter, what is meant by the term equality as applied to persons? The phrase is constantly used, as such phrases often are, without any clear apprehension of any meaning. Is the poet equal to the man of action? or the statesman to the soldier? or the farmer to the lawyer? It is like asking, Is oxygen equal to hydrogen in the air? In the one case each is equally necessary to the constitution of the air; in the other each is equally necessary to the constitution of society. But neither is able to take the place of the other. Is the eye equal to the ear? Not when you are listening to an orchestra. For you close the eyes that you may hear the better. Are the husband and wife equal? In nursing the infant he is not equal to her; in fighting the savage she is not equal to him; and which is the more important service depends upon circumstances. The phrase "equality of the sexes" has two intelligible meanings, and only two. It may mean that men and women are equally entitled to liberty and the best conceivable development. That equality, I affirm. It may mean that their respective services in society are equally essential to its well-being, and equally divine. That equality I affirm. But it cannot mean that their services are, or their development is, to be the same. That is not to affirm equality of character, but identity of function and education, and that is a totally different affirmation. Life is often, and fitly, compared to a battle-field. Men and women are engaged in a campaign. If it were an actual campaign, with a visible foe in the field, the men would learn the manual of arms and go to the front to do the fighting, and the women would take lessons of the doctors and do the nursing in the hospitals. Some men might nurse better than some women, and some women might fight better than some men. And if it became necessary for the latter to handle a musket, no one would deny them the right; on the contrary, everyone would admire their heroism. But on the whole, Joan of Arc is not the type of womanhood. The world would not be bettered by turning General Grant into a hospital nurse, or Clara Barton into a major-general...
The reader must... remember that it is not possible to lay down any general laws according to which all women should be educated. For every individual is different from every other individual, and every life is different from every other life; therefore every education must be different from every other education."
If you enjoyed this article, you might like these:
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Miss Ray Frank (1897)
The Right Sort of Girl (Poem—1889)
Woman's Cycle (1897)
Woman's Exchanges as Training Schools and Markets for Work (1894)
Women Inventors (1897)
Woman's Work for Woman (1889)
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In a seaport town in the late 19th-century Pacific Northwest, a group of friends find themselves drawn together —by chance, by love, and by the marvelous changes their world is undergoing. In the process, they learn that the family we choose can be just as important as the ones we're born into. Join their adventures in
The Tales of Chetzemoka
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