« ZurückWeiter »
In others the custom of naming children after their mothers is probably simply a result of the fact that a child is always more closely associated with the mother than with the father. She brings it into the world, suckles it, and watches over it; in the primitive times, even if promiscuity was not prevalent, marriages were of short duration and divorces frequent, wherefore the male parentage would be so constantly in doubt that the only feasible thing was to name the children after their mothers. For our purposes, fortunately, this knotty problem of the origin of kinship through females, which has given sociologists so much trouble,' does not need to be solved. We are concerned solely with the question, "Does kinship in the female line indicate the supremacy of women, or their respectful treatment?" and that question, as we have seen, must be answered with a most emphatic No. There is not a single fact to bear out the theory that man's rule was ever preceded by a period when woman ruled. The lower we descend, the more absolute and cruelly selfish do we find man's rule over woman. The stronger sex everywhere reduces the weaker to practical slavery and holds it in contempt. Primitive woman has not yet developed these qualities in which her peculiar strength lies, and if she had, the men would be too coarse to appreciate them.
WOMAN'S DOMESTIC RULE
(2) As we ascend in the scale we find a few cases where women rule or at least share the rule with the men; but these occur not among savages but with the lower and higher barbarians, and at the same time they are, as Grosse remarks (161), "among the scarcest curiosities of ethnology." The Garos of Assam have women at the head of their clans. Dyak women are consulted in political matters and have equal rights with the men. Macassar women in Celebes also are consulted as regards public affairs, and frequently ascend the throne. A few similar cases have been noted in Africa, where, e.g., the
1 See Letourneau, 332-400; Westermarck, 39-41, 96-113; Grosse, 11-12, 50-63, 75-78, 161-163, 167, 180.
princesses of the Ashantees domineer over their husbands; but these apply only to the ruling class, and do not concern. the sex as a whole. Some strange tales of masculine submission in Nicaragua are told by Herrera. But the best-known instance is that of the Iroquois and Hurons. Their women, as Lafitau relates (I., 71), owned the land and the crops, they decided upon peace or war, took charge of slaves, and made marriages. The Huron Wyandots had a political council consisting of four women. The Iroquois Seneca women could chase lazy husbands from the premises, and could even depose a chief. Yet these cases are not conclusive as to the real status of the women in the tribe. The facts cited are, as John Fiske remarks (Disc. Amer., I., 68), "not incompatible with the subjection of women to extreme drudgery and ill-treatment." Charlevoix, one of the eye-witnesses to these exceptional privileges granted to some Indian women, declares expressly that their domination was illusory; that they were, at home, the slaves of their husbands; that the men despised them thoroughly, and that the epithet "woman" was an insult. And Morgan, who made such a thorough study of the Iroquois, declares (322) that "the Indian regarded woman as the inferior, the dependent, and the servant of man, and, from nature and habit, she actually considered herself to be 80." The two honorable employments among Indians were War and hunting, and these were reserved for the men. Other employments were considered degrading and were therefore gallantly reserved for the women.
WOMAN'S POLITICAL RULE
Comanche Indians, who treated their squaws with especial contempt, nevertheless would not hesitate on occasion to submit to the rule of a female chief (Bancroft, I., 509); and the same is true of other tribes in America, Africa, etc. (Grosse, 163). In this respect, barbarians do not differ from civilized races; queenship is a question of blood or family and tells us
Charlevoix, V., 397-424; Letourneau, 351. See also Mackenzie, V. fr. M., 84, 87; Smith, Arauc., 238; Bur. Ethnol., 1887, 468-70.
nothing whatever about the status of women in general. As regards the "equal rights" of the Dyak women just referred to, if they really have them, it is not as women, but as men, that is, in so far as they have become like men. This we see from what Schwaner says (I., 161) of the tribes in the Southeast: "The women are allowed great privileges and liberties. Not infrequently they rule at home and over whole tribes with manly power, incite to war, and often personally lead the men to battle." Honors paid to such viragoes are honors to masculinity, not to femininity.
GREEK ESTIMATE OF WOMEN
Here again the transition from the barbarian to the Greek is easy and natural. The ancient Greek looked down on women as women. "One man," exclaims Iphigenia in Euripides, "is worth more than ten thousand women." There were, of course, certain virtues that were esteemed in women, but these, as Becker has said, differed but little from those required of an obedient slave. It is only in so far as women displayed masculine qualities that they were held worthy of higher honor. The heroines of Plutarch's essay on "The Virtues of Women" are women who are praised for patriotic, soldier-like qualities, and actions. Plato believed that men who were bad in this life would, on their next birth, be women. The elevation of women, he held, could be best accomplished by bringing them up to be like men. But this matter will be discussed more fully in the chapter on Greece, as will that of the adulation which was paid to wanton women by Greek and Roman poets, and which has been often mistaken for adoration. George Eliot speaks of "that adoration which a young man gives to a woman whom he feels to be greater and better than himself." No Greek ever felt a woman to be "greater and better than himself," wherefore true adoration-the deification of persons-was out of the question. But there was no reason why a Greek or Roman should not have indulged in servile flattery and hypocritical praise for the selfish purpose of securing the carnal favors
of a mercenarily coy courtesan. He was capable of adulation
MAN-WORSHIP AND CHRISTIANITY
If we must, therefore, conclude that man in primitive and ancient times was unable to feel that love of which adoration
an essential ingredient, how is it with women? From the earliest times, have they not been taught, with club and otherwise, to look up to man as a superior being, and did not this enable them to adore him with true love? No, for primitive women, though they might fear or admire man for his superior power, were too coarse, obscene, ignorant, and degraded-being as a rule even lower than the men-to be able to share even a single ingredient of the refined love that we experience. At the same time it may be said (though it sounds sarcastic) that woman had a natural advantage over man in being gradually trained to an attitude of devotion. Just as the care of her infants taught her sympathy, so the daily inculcated duty of sacrificing herself for her lord and master fostered the germs of adoration. Consequently we find at more advanced stages of civilization, like those represented by India, Greece, and Japan, that whenever we come across a story whose spirit approaches the modern idea of love, the embodiment of that love is nearly always a woman. Woman had been taught to worship man while he still wallowed in the mire of masculine selfishness and despised her as an inferior. And to the present day, though it is not considered decorous for young women to reveal their feelings till after marriage or engagement, they adore their chosen ones:
For love's insinuating fire they fan
In this respect, as in so many others, woman has led civilization. Man, too, gradually learned to doff his selfishness, and to respect and adore women, but it took many centuries to accomplish the change, which was due largely to the influence of Christ's teachings. As long as the aggressive masculine virtues alone were respected, feminine gentleness and pity could not but be despised as virtues of a lower grade, if virtues at all. But as war became less and less the sole or chief occupation of the best men, the feminine virtues, and those who exercised them, claimed and received a larger share of respect.
Christianity emphasized and honored the feminine virtues of patience, meekness, humility, compassion, gentleness, and thus helped to place women on a level with man, and in the noblest of moral qualities even above him. Mariolatry, too, exerted a great influence. The worship of one immaculate woman gradually taught men to respect and adore other women, and as a matter of course, it was the lover who found it easiest to get down on his knees before the girl he worshipped.
X. UNSELFISH GALLANTRY.
One day while lunching at an African fondak, half way between Tangier and Tetuan, I was led to moralize on the conjugal superiority of Mohammedan roosters to Mohammedan men. Noticing a fine large cock in the yard, I threw him a handful of bread-crumbs. He was all alone at the moment and might have easily gobbled them all up. Instead of doing such a selfish thing, he loudly summoned his harem with that peculiar clucking sound which is as unmistakable to fowls as is the word dinner or the boom of a gong to us. In a few seconds the hens had gathered and disposed of the bread, leaving not a crumb to their gallant lord and master. I need not add that the Sultan of a human harem in Morocco would have behaved very differently under analogous circum