Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine,  3 (1854–55), 74–79.

The Rights of Woman

Annie C




Gender, Anatomy, Psychology, Design, Sex, Medical Practitioners, Radicalism

People mentioned:

Harriet Martineau

    Discusses the 'innate distinctive powers and attributes, both mental and bodily' which divide the male from the female. Physical distinctions include the claim that woman is more delicate and has a weaker muscular system than man. Psychical distinctions include the claim that man is formed 'for corporeal and intellectual power' while woman is formed for 'gentleness, affection, and delicacy of feeling'. Adds that woman is more credulous, more sympathetic to others, more inclined to adopt the opinions of others, 'follows and imitates man', but 'intuitively seizes the character of things within her sphere'. (74) Concludes that the 'Author of nature' has made woman unfit for 'the intellectual world' and the 'physical labours of life', but fit for 'quieter intellectual occupations'. Expatiates on woman's 'natural and proper position' and 'those pursuits and objects for which she is fitted'. (75) Condemns the 'American women-reformers' for advising woman to embark on careers in the rough world of 'the arts, science, politics, and government', thus destroying her sex and 'dragging' woman 'from her peaceful shade of home–from the sphere assigned to her by her All-wise God'. (77) Believes medicine to be 'the most revolting' profession 'to be practised by women' owing to their 'instinctive delicacy and refinement' of mind. Warns that a medical training and, moreover, a medical career, must be 'highly offensive' to and destructive of 'female modesty and reserve'. Challenges arguments of Harriot K Hunt and Elizabeth Blackwell, but points out that the qualifications that render women 'invaluable' as nurses 'unfit them to be physicians or surgeons'. Ends by stressing that there is a 'sex of the mind and of the brain'. (79)

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