The History of Leith

March 23, 2012

THE PRETENDED INFERIORITY OF WOMAN.

(An abstract of a paper in La Revue, by F. Novicow,
November 1902}.
Woman has been deprived of a large amount of happiness
which should have fallen to her lot, because, since
time immemorial, she has been considered inferior to
man from both a physical and psychical point of view.
If it were demonstrated that this supposed inferiority
were not real, woman would take a place in society
equal to that of man, and it would greatly increase her
happiness.
Among prehistoric peoples there was no difference
intellectually between men and women, and the same is
true of modern savages. The difference between men
and women is not one belonging to the physical or
psychical order, but it is a social fact. The subordination
of women is the result of the difference in occupations ;
it has its origin in social ideas. For a long period the
chase and war were considered the most important
functions of society. As such they assumed a special
character of dignity and honour. From the fact that
woman was excluded from these occupations she was
under-rated in the eyes of men. Confined to the despised
occupations she shared in the lack of consideration for
this work, and from this fact the idea of her physical and
intellectual inferiority was enthroned in the social mind.
The proposition which asserts the inferiority of woman
will not bear criticism from any point of view. If the
difference in regard to muscular strength or courage is
considered, it is found that there are a large number of
women who are as strong physically as many men, and,
indeed, as courageous, while in both respects men are
often inferior to women.
In regard to intellectual ability it can only be said that
the science of psychology has not advanced far enough
to warrant any scientific conclusions here. In countries
like America, where woman has been granted conditions
approaching equality, as in some of the schools, it has
been demonstrated that her work compares favourably
with that of men. It is impossible to form a correct
judgment as to the physical qualities, for even in the
most advanced countries woman is still subjected to
many disadvantages whSn compared to man. It is not
necessary to emphasise the fact that she has done little in
the intellectual realm, for, perhaps, if all the difficulties
which sbe has had to surmount were taken into consideration,
the results might be vastly different.
Our conclusion is that, in consequence of the predominance
of brutal force in (£e period of primitive
savagery, woman became the possession of man, his
slave, his property. When savagery gave place to a
regime allowing a certain amount of justice and security,

source-South Leith Church Magazine 1911

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