This idea of the emancipation of women through industrialization is not altogether a Communist idea, but like many others has been derived from Western bourgeois capitalistic civilization which thought of the liberation of woman in terms of equality with men. The only difference is that the Communist merely carried the idea to its logical extreme, and if it scandalizes us now it is because our bourgeois world never understood the full implication of its error.
The two basic errors of both Communism and a capitalistic liberal civilization on this subject were: 1) Women were never emancipated until modern times. Religion particularly kept them in servitude; 2) Equality means the right of a woman to do a man's work. First, it is not true that women began to be emancipated in modern times and in direct proportion to the decline of religion. The fact is that woman's subjection began in the seventeenth century with the break-up of Christendom and took on a positive form at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Under the Christian civilization women enjoyed rights, privileges, honors and dignities which have since been swallowed up by the machine age. In eighty-five Guilds in England during the Middle Ages, seventy-two had women members on an equal basis with men in such professions as barbers and sailors. They were probably just as outspoken as men because one of the rules of the Guilds was that "the sister as well as the brethren" may not engage in disorderly or contumacious debates. In Paris there were fifteen guilds reserved exclusively for women, while eighty of the Parisian guilds were mixed. Nothing is more erroneous historically than the belief that it was our modern age which recognized women in the professions.
The cause of tragedy in woman today is that by stressing equality, they have lost those specifically feminine qualities which have given her superiority of function. These qualities are devotedness and creativeness. No woman is happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice herself, not in a servile way but in the way of love. Added to the devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man is personal; life to a woman is otherness. She thinks less in terms of perpetuation of self and more in terms of perpetuation of others — so much so that in devotedness she is willing to sacrifice herself for others.
To the extent that a career gives no opportunity for either she becomes de-feminized. If these qualities cannot be given an outlet in a home and a family, they can nevertheless find other substitutions in works of charity, in the defense of virtuous living, in the defense of right as other Claudias when their political husbands as Pilates rely only on expediency, then her work as a money earner becomes a prelude and a condition for the display of equity which is her greatest glory.
The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. This is because there is a basic difference between knowing and loving. In knowing something you bring it down to the level of your understanding. But in loving we always go up to meet the demand of the one loved. If you love music you have to submit to its laws and disciplines. When man loves woman, it follows the nobler the woman the nobler the love; the higher the demands by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That is why a woman is the measure of the level of our civilization. Share