The following short article, entitled Women’s and Men’s Rights, appeared in the 1875 volume Historic and literary miscellany, by G.M.D. Bloss. – PW
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THERE have recently been Women’s Rights conventions in New York and Boston. The general drift of the proceedings was to show the wrongs of woman under the laws of society at present constituted. There were plenty of facts to show that in many instances women, at the present time, were ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-sheltered ; that their employment was not remunerative in many cases, and that under their afflictions they were driven often to live a life of vice and crime.
All this will be freely admitted and universally regretted. But, and the question may be asked with emphasis, are these wrongs peculiar to women? Do they alone suffer them? Is there a discrimination against the sex? We unhesitatingly answer in the negative. Would man–yea, would man, who is endowed with that wonderful right of suffrage, which in the eyes of these reformers is the great cure for all the grievances of the sex, not be enabled to find as serious cause of complaint as those made by his female associate?
How many men of ability and intelligence, willing to work, are trodden down in the battle of life? How many are scantily fed, miserably clad, and barely sheltered, who labor with assiduity from the rising to the setting sun? To the ill requital of man’s labor, in hundreds and thousands of instances, may be attributed woman’s calamities.
For one woman who is driven by destitution to sin and shame, there are probably ten men. If one sex more than the other has the right to be restive under society as it is now constituted, it is the male. He makes the laws, it is true, but who derive the greatest benefit from them? In cases at law and equity, where the two sexes are antagonistic, who is generally the loser? Women are seldom convicted of criminal offenses, where men would be certain to suffer the penalty. They always, or nearly always, succeed before a jury of men, in civil cases.
In most of the States they can hold property in their own name, and while in the position of a fem-covert– their property is exempt from execution, even upon their own contracts. They are exempt from all military and jury duty, and from many other labors of serious import, which fall upon the males alone. They receive all the courtesies of society. They are the first at the feasts, and all the reserved seats everywhere are for them.
The state in which we live is very far from being perfection; men and women are joint sufferers by a false and ill-regulated condition of society. There is no antagonism between them, and they are enemies of both man and woman who desire to create the impression that either sex is enjoying rights at the other’s expense, or suffer infliction for the other’s benefit. They are our partners in the great trials and misfortunes which an All-wise Creator has imposed upon all the sons and daughters of Adam, and from which there is no escape by either this side of the grave.
Whatever improvements and reforms of modern society are demanded, should be in the name of both, and for both, instead of one. “A Men’s Rights Convention,” to redress the wrongs of the men alone, leaving the females alone where they are, would be selfish and ungrateful. Scarcely less so are those of the strong-minded woman, who has no eye and no compassion for the sufferings of any but her own sex.
Feature image of Adam and Eve by Michael Coghlan