The following Letter To The editor of Reynolds Newspaper in 1896 provides a snapshot of inequity before the law. Has anything changed? Well, no, it hasn’t. Each new generation of men assumes they are the very first to witness gynocentric forces, a delusion showing why it’s important for men to break past the historical amnesia and highlight gynocentrism’s longevity so that our sons and their sons don’t continue to get blindsided. – PW
A Privileged and Pampered Sex
TO THE EDITOR OF REYNOLDS NEWSPAPER
SIR,–A paragraph in your issue of the week before last stated that oakum-picking as a prison task had been abolished for women and the amusement of dressing dolls substituted. This is an interesting illustration of the way we are going at present, and gives cause to some reflection as to the rate at which a sex aristocracy is being established in our midst. While the inhumanity of our English prison system, in so far as it affects men, stands out as a disgrace to the age in the eyes of all Europe, houses of correction for female convicts are being converted into agreeable boudoirs and pleasant lounges.
A case in the police court before Sir John Bridge two or three weeks ago further brings into relief the sort of privilege and pampering accorded to one sex at the expense of the other. A woman of the town forced herself upon a young man going home at night and seized hold of his arm. On his shaking her off, the report says “she fell to the ground” (a well-known dodge). Sir John Bridge, on hearing the evidence, was bound to acquit the defendant, but added a rider to his judgement, advising the unfortunate man who had been first assaulted and then had a false charge brought against him, to compensate the woman with half-a-sovereign! Had some luckless male beggar (the brother, let us suppose, of the prosecutrix in this case), after having seized hold of a gentleman’s arm and been shaken off, “fallen to the ground,” and then prosecuted the said gentleman for assault, what would Sir John Bridge or any other Magistrate have said? Would he have suggested 10s. compensation or would he have given him ten weeks? I leave the reader to judge. But the several remarks with which Sir John accompanied his decision are especially noteworthy. He said in effect that “however badly these women behaved” the man ought not to resist them. In fact, the law of self-defence is to be suspended wherever females are the aggressors. This monstrous opinion is on par with the constant iteration in the present day of the “manly” duty of non-resistance and passive obedience to female domination.
We want, sir, a little of the sturdy, healthy, good sense of our ancestors to revisit the glimpses of the moon and speak out against these maudlin, whining, sentimentalisms, and tell us that there are occasions when women, despite the blithering weakness on which they sometimes presume, deserve as severe punishment in their own and the common interest as any male human being who grossly misbehaves himself. That anything in petticoats may ride roughshod over every requirement of decency, justice, or fair-play with impunity is a new doctrine, being assiduously preached, sauced with whimpering appeals to men’s chivalry, gallantry, and the rest of it. Woman’s “weakness” is now fast becoming as oppressive an engine of tyranny and inequality as exists in this or any other country. For though the rich man can sometimes buy off his tormentor, the poor man is handed over by the law, gagged and bound, to the caprices of any vile shrew whom in an evil moment for him he may have made his wife.
I am personally in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment, as I am of existing prison inhumanities, for both sexes, but the snivelling sentiment which exempts females on the ground of sex from every disagreeable consequence of their actions, only strengthens on the one side every abuse which it touches on the other. Yet we are continuously having the din of the “women’s rights” agitation in our ears. I think it is time we gave a little attention to men’s rights, and equality between the sexes from the male point of view.–Yours, &c.,
A MANLY PROTESTOR