Baltimore Evening Sun (6 February 1912): 6.


The daily thought from “Also sprach Zarathustra”:

Humility hath a thick skin.

The betting odds in the downtown anti-homes, as my spies bring them in:

10,000 to 1 that the Paving Commission’s “merit” system won’t hurt Bob none. 1 to 10,000 that Harry gets the nomination.

Boil your drinking water! Help to put it over for the super-Mahon! Cover your garbage can! Pity the poor boomers! Swat the fly!

From a clarion call lately issued by the Maryland Anti-Vivisection Society, that amiable lodge of nice old ladies, male and female:

The Maryland Anti-Vivisection Society advocates the Open Door–a measure which demands that all places where vivisection is carried on shall be registered and open to inspection.

But how about the places where human beings and not guinea pigs are on the mat? How about the joints where cancer is “treated” by reading out of a book? How about the dim boudoirs where tuberculosis is “cured” by the laying on of hands? How about the studios of mechano-therapy? The bull-rings of chiropractic? The laboratories of Peruna? No need, of course, to register and inspect such places! To examine the wizards who run them, to look for anatomy books as well as cash books, to jug the frauds who prey upon the ill and the ignorant–all that would be a gross invasion of medical “freedom”!

Say what you will against Murray, you gotta admit he don’t let no bum laws skeer him.

I referred yesterday, in soft and discreet words, to one of the objections most frequently made to the extension of the suffrage to women--the objection, that is to say, that it would be unjust to put the power to make laws into the hands of a sex too weak to enforce them. On its face, this objection seems sound enough, for it must be obvious to everyone that the average woman is measurably weaker than the average man. Her bones are smaller, her muscles are flabbier, her skin is less tough. What is more, she weighs considerably less, and has a gentler voice. Not only would she be at a disadvantage in an actual physical tussle with a man, but she would also be at a disadvantage in the antecedent bellowing and bluffing. She could not strike as devastating a blow as her opponent and she could not emit as appalling a whoop.

But nevertheless there is a fallacy in all this fine reasoning, and that fallacy lies in the assumption that physical combat among civilized peoples is altogether, or even chiefly, a matter of muscular and vocal strength. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the sort. It used to be, true enough, but we are here considering, not what used to be, but what is. In modern warfare individual antagonists do not meet elbow to elbow and thus beat out each other’s brains. On the contrary, they seldom come into physical contact at all, but face each other over long intervening spaces and conduct their contest, not with their mere muscles and lungs, but with their eyes and brains. In brief, war has become a combat of wit, of observaton, of technique, and the advantage goes to that side which shows the greater virtuosity in cunning. In a battle between 10,000 longshoremen and 10,000 female bachelors of arts, fought with modern weapons of precision, it is altogether probable that the longshoremen would be drubbed and routed. Even a woman policeman, armed with a magazine pistol and a syringe of phosphine, would do just as good service as any male cop in Christendom.

If, however, mere physical strength is no longer necessary to military efficiency, it is nevertheless true that physical endurance is still of value. Soldiers still have to march; they are still fed upon embalmed beef and other such victuals, and they are still exposed to the elements. But is the physical endurance of women appreciably less than that of men? Not at all. The experience of the race, indeed, teaches that it is actually more. Women, in brief, are able to face safely and with equanimity conditions of life which would soon destroy the average man. Their lungs need less air, their bodies need less food, they are more resistent to cold and damp. The clothing worn habitually by women would stamp out the so-called sterner sex in a year. Women more quickly accustom themselves to an unfavorable environment. A woman dipsomaniac, once she gets the knack of drinking, always lasts longer than a man. A woman can lose sleep with less damage than a man. A woman can go without meals with less damage than a man.

All these proofs of endurance, of dulled sensibilities, of toughness, would seem to give women a considerable advantage on the field of battle. And if we proceed from the theory to the recorded facts, we find that this is so. Wherever and whenever, in the history of the world, women have taken to warfare, they have invariably displayed an extraordinary capacity for enduring. The Amazons of Scythia and Libya were particularly distinguished for their long marches without commissariat. It was by such a march that they came to the relief of Troy. It was by such a march that they invaded and terrorized Attica during their last and greatest campaign. And the French Revolution and the wars between the Italian republics furnish many other examples. If women have a defect as soldiers, it is the defect of abnormal and disconcerting readiness. To face them is to face a foe who needs no rest and takes none.

But many who oppose the extension of the suffrage while admitting all this, yet raise a further objection. That is to say, they argue that warfare would still do great violence to woman’s gentleness and delicacy--that she would succumb psychically if not physically--that the spectacle of carnage would flabbergast and appall her. Rubbish! The fact is, of course, that women are far less sensitive in such matters than men. They make better nurses than men, not because they are more sympathetic, but because they are less sympathetic. A male surgeon, after cutting out an appendix, promptly disappears from the scene; it is a female nurse who faces unflinchingly the subsequent bellowing of the patient. In the presence of suffering, however horrible, women keep their heads. Spectacles which would paralyze a man seem merely to quicken their intelligence.

Therefore, it is ridiculous to allege that women are essentially unfit for war--i. e., for enforcing with arms their own legislative edicts and follies. On the physical side, they are at least as fit as men, and on the psychic side they are ten times as fit. But let us consider the woman warrior at greater length tomorrow.