Monday, January 20, 2003

The Intimate Journal of Henri Amiel: February 15, 1874

February 15, 1874

What always astonishes me is the kind of impetuous enthusiasm with which women side against the accused. A prisoner is in their eyes a culprit. Far from distrusting their own passion, they glory in it; they have an antipathy to impartiality, to calm, to the spirit of justice. Great God, what would become of the tribunals if women sat there under the ermine? Not one of us, not one of them[,] would wish to be weighed in this balance and have no other security for our honour than this blind and violent verdict of beings who are incapable of perfect equity. Suspected and con- demned, arraigned and convicted, judged and executed is all one thing with the ladies. Twenty errors on their part, consecutive and proved, gives them neither greater modesty in their accusations nor more reserve in their procedure, nor more charity in their judg- ments. Cosi fan tutte [all women are like that]. They know only love and hatred and do not conceive even the fringe of justice. These gentle creatures are truly ferocious the moment they cease to be partial. Beware then of theological women, political women, socialistic women, beware of the women with the knitting-needles, the women who pour petroleum on the flames, those that light the pyres. Having a horror of reason, they are the prey of every extravagance and they can go to every extreme. The moment the feminine element dominates, over- excitement and orgies are imminent; religions, art, poetry, customs, states are impaired and fall into decadence.--I have believed too much in woman, I must lower my estimate. Her role must be subor- dinate in order to be salutary. Her preponderance would be disas- trous.

It seems to me that we already have an exaggeration of the fem- inine element. Proudhon, the robust misogynist, is not altogether wrong in his anti-feminist crusade (see his book La Justice). Sci- ence, reason, justice, all that is best in the patrimony of our race, is threatened by the advent of woman, who is all feeling, imagination, caprice, passion, credulity, favour, without respect for general inter- ests.

"Woman is the wise man's affliction", the moment she becomes proud of her infirmity and obstinate in her weaknesses. It is necessary therefore that she should obey. But this is a sorry expedient, for she must still be persuaded, won over, complied with in her un- believable contentions...

What attaches me to S. is that she has the fine manly attributes, strict rectitude, the love of the truth, the instinct of justice and the practice of charity, in short, that she is a noble creature who reacts against the vexatious instincts of her sex, without neglecting its virtues.

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