The 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the [u]nited States Constitution is upon us, and there has been plenty of chatter about this supposed positive achievement for women’s rights. Even those who call themselves conservatives have been celebrating women’s suffrage.
But the Southern view of this matter is just the opposite of that from the northern and the western States, where women’s suffrage found its greatest support. Not only is women’s suffrage a loss for the dignity of women, it has also opened the door for further civil rights innovations (for the LGBTQ ‘community’ and for abortion) that have degraded life within the union.
We take as our Southern spokeswoman on this issue the formidable South Carolina writer, Louisa McCord (1810-79), at once a poet, playwright, translator, and essayist. She is not against the improvement of the condition of women; she only asks that women, in so doing, not seek to become something they are not - i.e., men - that they seek to perfect themselves in the role given them by God to fulfil:
In womanhood is her strength and her triumph. Class both as woman, and the man again becomes inferior, inasmuch as he is incapable of fulfilling her functions. A male woman could as ill assume the place and duties of womanhood, as a female-man could those of manhood. Each is strong in his own nature. They are neither inferior, nor superior, nor equal. They are different. The air has its uses, and the fire has its uses, but these are neither equal nor unequal—they are different.
. . .
In every error there is its shadow of truth. Error is but truth turned awry, or looked at through a wrong medium. As the straightest rod will, in appearance, curve when one half of it is placed under water, so God’s truths, leaning down to earth, are often distorted to our view. Woman’s condition certainly admits of improvement (but when have the strong forgotten to oppress the weak?), but never can any amelioration result from the guidance of her prophets in this present move. Here, as in all other improvements, the good must be brought about by working with, not against—by seconding, not opposing—Nature’s laws. Woman, seeking as a woman, may raise her position; seeking as a man, we repeat, she but degrades it. Everything contrary to Nature is abhorrent to Nature, and the mental aberrations of woman, which we are now discussing, excite at once pity and disgust, like those revolting physical deformities which the eye turns from with involuntary loathing, even while the hand of charity is extended to relieve them.
--‘Enfranchisement of Woman’, Louisa S. McCord: Political and Social Essays, Richard Lounsbury ed., Charlottesville, Vir., University Press of Virginia, 1995, pgs. 114, 108-9
Many women (we have already said we will even grant an unfortunately large proportion of women) are degraded, not because they have submitted themselves to the position which nature assigns them, but because, like Mrs. Smith, they cannot be content with the exercise of the duties and virtues called forth by that, and in that, position. They forget the woman’s duty-fulfilling ambition, to covet man’s fame-grasping ambition. Woman was made for duty, not for fame; and so soon as she forgets this great law of her being, which consigns her to a life of heroism if she will—but quiet, unobtrusive heroism—she throws herself from her position, and thus, of necessity, degrades herself. This mistaken hungering for the forbidden fruit, this grasping at the notoriety belonging (if indeed it properly belongs to any) by nature to man, is at the root of all her debasement.
. . .
It is this same misguided love for notoriety which now misleads women to insist upon political rights, as they word their demand—that is to say, admission to the struggle for political distinction. And what is this that they ask? What, but that like the half-barbarous, half-heroic Spartan maid they may be permitted to strip themselves to the strife, and wrestle in the public arena? Can civilized, Christianized woman covet such a right? They pretend, or they mislead themselves to the belief, that they are actuated by a pure desire to ennoble the sex. Let them look honestly and calmly to the bottom of the question, and they will see that it is but notoriety, not elevation, which they seek. In all derelictions from the right, the just, the holy, and the true, woman is responsible for her own degradation, inasmuch as it entirely proceeds from her own act, in casting herself out from her true position.
--'Woman and Her Needs’, ibid., pgs. 131-2, 133-4
And that ‘true position’ wherein women are elevated Mrs McCord describes beautifully in other passages:
. . .
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!