Illuminated initial M

en, as men, are all sorts of bad things, as every one knows. They are selfish, cruel, tyrannical, sensual, unjust, bloodthirsty—where does the list end? and human nature in the abstract is a bad thing too, given over to lies and various deadly lusts; but women, as women, are exempt from any special share in the general iniquity, and only come under the ban with universal nature—with lambs and doves and other pretty creatures—not quite perfection, because of the Fall which spoilt everything, and yet very near it. As children of the rash parents who corrupted the race they certainly suffer from the general infection of sin that followed, but, as daughters contrasted with the sons, they are so far superior to those evil-minded brethren of theirs that their comparative virtues by sex override their positive vices by race. As individuals, they are worms; as human beings, they are poor sinful souls; but by their womanhood they are above rebuke.

Women have been so long wrapped in this pleasant little delusion about the sacredness of their sex, and the perfections belonging thereto by nature, that any attempt to show them the truth and convince them that they too are guilty of the mean faults and petty ways common to a fallen humanity—whereof certain manifestations are special to themselves—is met with the profound scorn or shrill cries of affronted womanhood. A man who speaks of their faults as they appear to him, and as he suffers by them, is illiberal and unmanly, and the rage of the more hysterically indignant would not be very far below that of the Thracian Mænads, could they lay hands on the offending Orpheus of the moment; but a woman who speaks from knowledge, and touches the weak places and the sore spots known best to the initiated, is a traitress even baser than the rude man who perhaps knows no better. [“Pinchbeck,” I, 81-82]

Bibliography

Linton, Eliza Lynn. The Girl of the Period and Other Social Essays. London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1883. Project Gutenberg web version produced by Clarity, Mary Akers, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team from images generously made available by the Internet Archive/American Libraries.


Victorian Overview

Last modified 5 July 2014