Human All-Too-Human, Part 1

Page 52 of 70


Classical Education For Girls.—For goodness' sake let us not give our classical education to girls! An education which, out of ingenious, inquisitive, ardent youths, so frequently makes—copies of their teacher!


Without Rivals.—Women readily perceive in a man whether his soul has already been taken[Pg 302] possession of; they wish to be loved without rivals, and find fault with the objects of his ambition, his political tasks, his sciences and arts, if he have a passion for such things. Unless he be distinguished thereby,—then, in the case of a love-relationship between them, women look at the same time for an increase of their own distinction; under such circumstances, they favour the lover.


The Feminine Intellect.—The intellect of women manifests itself as perfect mastery, presence of mind, and utilisation of all advantages. They transmit it as a fundamental quality to their children, and the father adds thereto the darker background of the will. His influence determines as it were the rhythm and harmony with which the new life is to be performed; but its melody is derived from the mother. For those who know how to put a thing properly: women have intelligence, men have character and passion. This does not contradict the fact that men actually achieve so much more with their intelligence: they have deeper and more powerful impulses; and it is these which carry their understanding (in itself something passive) to such an extent. Women are often silently surprised at the great respect men pay to their character. When, therefore, in the choice of a partner men seek specially for a being of deep and strong character, and women for a being of intelligence, brilliancy, and presence of mind, it is plain that at bottom men[Pg 303] seek for the ideal man, and women for the ideal woman,—consequently not for the complement but for the completion of their own excellence.


Hesiod's Opinion Confirmed.—It is a sign of women's wisdom that they have almost always known how to get themselves supported, like drones in a bee-hive. Let us just consider what this meant originally, and why men do not depend upon women for their support. Of a truth it is because masculine vanity and reverence are greater than feminine wisdom; for women have known how to secure for themselves by their subordination the greatest advantage, in fact, the upper hand. Even the care of children may originally have been used by the wisdom of women as an excuse for withdrawing themselves as much as possible from work. And at present they still understand when they are really active (as house-keepers, for instance) how to make a bewildering fuss about it, so that the merit of their activity is usually ten times over-estimated by men.


Lovers As Short-sighted People.—A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love; and whoever has had sufficient imagination to represent a face or form twenty years older, has probably gone through life not much disturbed.

[Pg 304]


Women in Hatred.—In a state of hatred women are more dangerous than men; for one thing, because they are hampered by no regard for fairness when their hostile feelings have been aroused; but let their hatred develop unchecked to its utmost consequences; then also, because they are expert in finding sore spots (which every man and every party possess), and pouncing upon them: for which purpose their dagger-pointed intelligence is of good service (whilst men, hesitating at the sight of wounds, are often generously and conciliatorily inclined).


Love.—The love idolatry which women practise is fundamentally and originally an intelligent device, inasmuch as they increase their power by all the idealisings of love and exhibit themselves as so much the more desirable in the eyes of men. But by being accustomed for centuries to this exaggerated appreciation of love, it has come to pass that they have been caught in their own net and have forgotten the origin of the device. They themselves are now still more deceived than the men, and on that account also suffer more from the disillusionment which, almost necessarily, enters into the life of every woman—so far, at any rate, as she has sufficient imagination and intelligence to be able to be deceived and undeceived.

[Pg 305]


The Emancipation of Women.—Can women be at all just, when they are so accustomed to love and to be immediately biased for or against? For that reason they are also less interested in things and more in individuals: but when they are interested in things they immediately become their partisans, and thereby spoil their pure, innocent effect. Thus there arises a danger, by no means small, in entrusting politics and certain portions of science to them (history, for instance). For what is rarer than a woman who really knows what science is? Indeed the best of them cherish in their breasts a secret scorn for science, as if they were somehow superior to it. Perhaps all this can be changed in time; but meanwhile it is so.


The Inspiration in Women's Judgments.—The sudden decisions, for or against, which women are in the habit of making, the flashing illumination of personal relations caused by their spasmodic inclinations and aversions,—in short, the proofs of feminine injustice have been invested with a lustre by men who are in love, as if all women had inspirations of wisdom, even without the Delphic cauldron and the laurel wreaths; and their utterances are interpreted and duly set forth as Sibylline oracles for long afterwards. When one considers, however, that for every person and for every cause something can be said in favour[Pg 306] of it but equally also something against it, that things are not only two-sided, but also three and four-sided, it is almost difficult to be entirely at fault in such sudden decisions; indeed, it might be said that the nature of things has been so arranged that women should always carry their point.[2]


Being Loved.—As one of every two persons in love is usually the one who loves, the other the one who is loved, the belief has arisen that in every love-affair there is a constant amount of love; and that the more of it the one person monopolises the less is left for the other. Exceptionally it happens that the vanity of each of the parties persuades him or her that it is he or she who must be loved; so that both of them wish to be loved: from which cause many half funny, half absurd scenes take place, especially in married life.


Contradictions in Feminine Minds.—Owing to the fact that women are so much more personal than objective, there are tendencies included in the range of their ideas which are logically in contradiction to one another; they are accustomed in turn to become enthusiastically fond just of the representatives of these tendencies[Pg 307] and accept their systems in the lump; but in such wise that a dead place originates wherever a new personality afterwards gets the ascendancy. It may happen that the whole philosophy in the mind of an old lady consists of nothing but such dead places.

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