1900s >> 1908 >> no-42-february-1908

Suffrage and Sex

Civilization, carrying with it as it does, patent evidences of its savage ancestry, frantically endeavouring to hide its humble origin, vainly imagining Gardens of Eden and naked simplicity instead of primeval forest and low-browed beast man, indignant when the first glimmerings of truth appear, ashamed and apologetic by turns when its pedigree can no longer be denied, is necessarily the depository of shams and cant.

No cant that Civilization has uttered is more sickening than that indulged in with regard to the

POSITION OF WOMEN.

“Chivalry” is a rosy-hued dream, compounded of deeds of derring-do against wicked monsters and the rescue of innocent maidens. It is left for the Historical Materialist to lift the veil and to INSIST UPON the viewing of the sinister visage underneath ; “Booty and Beauty” in times of war, the feudal lord’s “right of the first night” in times of peace, for one Sir Galahad a dozen Lancelots ; “bars sinister” brazenly emblazoned on shield, and the Madonna enshrined a second Venus—not without corresponding rites.

Protestantism, the true religious reflex of capitalism, affects utmost concern for women, has no bounds for its indignation against monks and nuns who have converted monastery and nunnery into a stews, a virtuous Bluff King Hal and equally virtuous

GOOD QUEEN BESS

are deeply concerned for the morals of the nation, what time Luther is defending polygamy and a “virgin queen” is wantoning with Leicester.

The Industrial Revolution brings in its train a crowd of “philanthropists” and religious revivalists who hold up their hands in horror at the inevitable immorality in factory and field which surely follows the Revolution, the rising tide of prostitution which is actually one of the bulwarks of capitalist society.

And now, to-day, when men are being replaced by women in the industrial world, the woman misleader is apparently commencing to compete with the man of the same genus, and to draw her own particular red herring across the path of progress to the workers’ emancipation. From the platform and from the police dock, to ”courteous Cabinet minister and brutally businesslike “steward ” they shout

“VOTES FOR WOMEN”

—to which Herbert Burrows, member of the Social Democratic Federation, takes exception, and gently seeks to chide. He, as a “revolutionary Socialist,” points out that the fight is “disingenuous,” nay, even “crooked.” They are merely fighting for a limited franchise for women. He urges them to become, like himself, an “ardent adult suffragist.”

Burrows believes in progress—backwards. The Chartists 60 years ago “demanded” adult suffrage.
Above this din rings out the clarion cry in the

DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES

of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. “The emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race OR SEX.”

We of the Socialist Party of Great Britain refuse to be led aside by any of the discordant cries around us. Our goal is the Socialist Republic, where, economically free, the position of woman will bo no longer determined by mere property “relations, where lip-service homage will give place to high devotion, where “the dark shadow ol haeterism” will be as the fast-fading memory of a bad dream, and the hateful marriage mart a hideous fossil found on the shores of Time to remind the race of its hard probation in the wilderness of capitalism, where woman will be

“Spouse, Sister, Angel ! Pilot of the Fate
Whose course has been so starless.
A divine presence in a place divine,
That on the fountain of our heart a seal
Will set to keep its waters pure and bright”

A. REGINALD

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