James Quayle Dealey.

The family in its sociological aspects online

. (page 7 of 8)
Online LibraryJames Quayle DealeyThe family in its sociological aspects → online text (page 7 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

complaints about the other sex. Men asserted
that women were idle and deceitful, forgetting
that these are natural virtues to slaves who have
no incentives to nobility of character or to in-
dustry. They objected because women, growing
weary of the monotony of daily routine, longed
for the excitement of the theater, the procession,
or the city streets. They also lamented the
fact that women sometimes lacked chastity, in
imitation of men; or drank too much wine, as
their male kin did ; or, when nervous from strain
and overwork, scolded their indolent husbands,
as Xanthippe scolded Socrates for "gadding"
about the streets of Athens with a crowd of idle

Yet through it all there was slowly arising as
a sort of ideal a newer conception of the home
and the relationship of its members one to an-
other. The settled life of patriarchal civilization
developed here and there gleams of an idealized
household, so that in the Old Testament, in
Homer, in the traditions of early Rome, and in
the legends of the East may be found splendid
illustrations of conjugal, parental, and filial de-
votion. But neither the "perfect woman" of
Proverbs nor the ideal household of Xenophon


altogether satisfy modern demands. Nor does
the Utopian family life depicted in the sixteenth
century by Thomas More and Francis Bacon do
more than excite a smile to-day.^ With the mod-
ern religious emphasis on the inherent sacred-
ness of the marriage relation there developed a
newer attitude toward woman. Men no longer
debated, as in medieval casuistry, whether or
not she had a soul, but went back to the earlier
Christian concept of equality and companion-
ship. The word "home" came to have its mod-
ern meaning, so well voiced by Payne's Home,
Sweet Home, and the rigors of marital and parental
discipline slowly softened, opening the way for
the kindlier movements of the day, out of which
should come in process of time a family of higher
type, reproducing in the smaller circle what Peri-
cles in his Funeral Oration and Cicero in his De
Repuhlica strove to inculcate as patriotism to the

This change in the status of woman is really
part of that larger social movement which broke
up in Europe the patriarchal basis of civilization
and readjusted it on modern lines. As civiliza-
tion changed in kind from agriculture to com-
merce and manufactures, women's work became
increasingly important in these newer vocations,
so that a capable woman of skilled intelligence
1 See Morley's Ideal Commonwealths.


was too valuable an asset to be treated as a mere
slave or servant. The newer civilization de-
manded economic capacity and mental skill, so
that a more generous education became a ne-
cessity even for the masses of the population.
Women shared in this as the natural guides and
teachers of children and thereby acquired greater
efficiency. With a broader outlook on life they
began to assert their right to the highest educa-
tion of the times and to demand entrance into
the universities and the professions. In securing
these rights they secured at the same time free-
dorp in thought and conscience and the right to
determine their own moral standards and relig-
ious beliefs, even though these by chance should
fail to accord with those held by males. But such
changes as these deeply affect both the social
system and the marriage relation, since through
their industrial capacity and larger mental train-
ing women readily may find vocations open to
them outside of marriage. Marriage accordingly
ceases to be so important in their eyes, since they
need no longer marry for a home, and hence they
enter on or refrain from matrimony as may at
the time seem best.

This larger freedom of choice is far-reaching in
its effects. Modern biology shows that, while
each sex contributes a share in the generation of
offspring, the female is the more important of


the sexes in reproduction, since she has the dan-
gerous function of child-bearing and the respon-
sibiHty of nursing and rearing the child. The
decision, therefore, as to whether or not a wife
should bear children should be hers, not the hus-
band's, and a recognition of this right becomes
a factor in a decision for or against marriage.
Again, conjugal love is undergoing a marked
change in modern civilization. In place of a basis
for marriage founded on sexual passion or eco-
nomic considerations, the relationship between
the sexes is assuming a more emotional and a
more intellectual aspect. Sexual and economic
considerations relatively diminish in importance,
and instead comes a strong desire for social com-
panionship in the higher aspects of life. An ideal-
izing tendency develops through emphasis on
the play of the higher emotions and an appreci-
ation of each other's moral and intellectual qual-
ities. Marriage under such conditions is neces-
sarily monogamous and is the best possible basis
for parenthood. This development has added to
human nature a new quality of the mind вАФ a sex-
ual love not primarily physical, and a conjugal
affection that endures even in sickness, misfor-
tune, and old age. It is therefore socially im-
portant that women, unhampered by economic
considerations, be allowed the determining voice
in deciding who shall be the fathers of their chil-


dren in order to insure a free choice among those
who are most vigorous physically, morally, and
mentally. Furthermore, a union founded on
mutual esteem and love will naturally result in
a more stable family life, will develop mutual
helpfulness in bearing the misfortunes of exist-
ence, and will create thereby a domestic atmos-
phere most favorable to the higher development
of children.

Partly because of such influences marriages of
a socially higher grade tend to take place later in
life. The early marriages of the Orient prove in-
jurious, since wives become mothers while still
physically and mentally immature. In conse-
quence tlieir children are often weaklings, and
they themselves at a comparatively early age
lose their beauty and break down physically.
Their husbands by contrast are still in the prime
of life and find it hard to consort with wives pre-
maturely old. Regularly a wife's lot, therefore, is
neglect, divorce, or the addition to the family
circle of younger and more attractive wives. On
the other hand, the marriage of mature persons
results in vigorous offspring at a minimum of loss
of vitality on the wife's part. Under such condi-
tions women retain their attractiveness much
longer than wives of early marriages, and may
supplement waning physical charms by the higher
qualities of the soul. Another effect of the mod-


ern marriage is seen in the birth rate. Savage
races have a moderate birth rate, but a high in-
fant death rate. The mass of population in
civiHzation has a fairly high birth rate and a
high infant mortaHty that lessens with the en-
forcement of principles of hygiene and sanitation.
The higher social classes of monogamous society
have a small birth rate and a correspondingly
small death rate, since fewer children are born
and more attention is paid to their health and
training. The father also adds his influence and
experience to the management of the household
and thereby aids in the development in them of a
more vigorous personality.

These influences combined have a refining
effect on the male. A man who desires to marry
an intelligent woman of equal standing must sup-
press all thoughts of illicit relationships and con-
form to as strict a code of chastity as he demands
from her. Unquestionably civilized man is more
strongly sexual than the savage, but he must
have his passions under thorough restraint. He
must be self-controlled, since the marriage rela-
tionship of a highly monogamous type is so
dependent on mutual love and confidence that
irregular connections on either side destroy this
bond and practically compel a divorce. Neces-
sarily, therefore, the male becomes more altru-
istic, respects the rights and personality of wife


and children, learns to be chivalrous in his atti-
tude toward women, and to appreciate at their
true value their higher qualities. He prefers to
devote his energies to his ambitions, not to the
gratification of bodily passions, and finds in the
pursuits of wealth, knowledge, or civic honors,
that absorption that polygynous males find in
the attractions of the harem.

Naturally there are many in monogamous
society who do not conform to these require-
ments, yet under the principle of social survival,
the standards of life are slowly rising and those
who persist in violating them are being elimi-
nated in the social process. The state is a power-
ful factor in this process of survival. It seeks
through legislation and administration to aid in
the establishment of higher standards of life. It
eases the strain of economic competition by pro-
hibition of exhausting labor on the part of women
and children; it furnishes compulsory education
for both sexes, regulates marital and parental
relationships, prohibits polygyny, and seeks to
suppress sexual immorality in all its forms. Re-
ligion lends its sanction to these efforts, and
unitedly church and state strive to maintain a
permanent monogamous standard of marriage,
as the one best fitted to secure high morality, a
healthful sexual relationship, and the production
of capable children.



In previous chapters an attempt has been
made to pass before the mind in rapid review the
family in its evolution up to the twentieth cen-
tury. Beginning in a simple metronymic form,
it slowly developed, as aids to survival, the ties
of kinship, a legal paternity, a formal marriage
ceremony, and systems of social control through
kinsmen, church, and state. In modern times it
is settling on democratic lines, after many vicis-
situdes, the relationship of husband to wife and
parents to children. To-day under the intensity
of urban civilization the standards once so firmly
established by kinship and church are rapidly in
process of modification, thereby suggesting as
alternatives either an anticipation of social de-
generacy or the necessity of a reorganization on
firmer bases adjusted to newer conditions.

If one cared to lay stress on the social condi-
tions and forces that retard the progress of the
modern family, it would be comparatively easy
to depict a situation so black that only pessimis-
tic conclusions could be drawn. Especially would


this be true if the goal in mind involved the hope-
less possibility of a return to the passing stand-
ards of former generations. If, however, one may
rely by preference on the inherent rightness of
modern tendencies, then certainly, by emphasis
on the constructive movements of the day, there
may be discovered a scientific basis for a belief
in a more optimistic outlook for the institution of
the family.

The chief evils that Beset the family are by
no means new in human experience, though the
pressure of a strenuous economic and urban en-
vironment has intensified them. Even in the
earliest known civilization a system of prostitu-
tion existed, and to-day it is by far the most seri-
ous handicap on social progress. It is an evil
widespread throughout the United States, in
every village and city of the land, and through
its train of resulting contagious diseases has
become a serious national menace. Recent inves-
tigations show ^ that prostitution as a business is
commercialized, having its agents scattered in
all parts of the earth, its "drummers" working
on commission, its wage system, its slavery, and
its enormous profits, a large share of which must
be set aside for the corruption of police and civic
authorities. It ruins not only the health and lives

* See, for example, the Report of the Vice Commission
of Chicago.


of the wretched women immeshed in its toils, but
blights the ambitions and idealism of young men,
destroys the sanctity of home and domestic
affection, and demoralizes municipal adminis-
tration through graft. Furthermore, its evils
seem to be on the increase owing to the conniv-
ance of officials and the mercenary zeal of its
promoters in their attempts to arouse and to
pander to the depraved appetites of boys and
men. Heretofore, also, no serious attempt has
been made to suppress this evil, since police de-
partments found it a prolific source of illegal
income, and church, school, and family were
combined in a conspiracy of silence in respect
to a subject placed under social ban and tabu.
Unquestionably there is no evil in society so de-
structive as this of national well-being and indi-
vidual happiness. It is a vice without a single
redeeming feature and finds its only apology in a
confession of human weakness and depravity.

Related to this evil and attributable entirely or
largely to the same causes are the kindred evils
of adultery, bigamy, sexual perversion, seduction,
illegitimacy, infanticide, and abortion. No sad-
der pages of human history can be found than
would be displayed in the social records of these
practices so destructive of the morality and vir-
tue of the human race. Yet so insidious and so
secret are these evils that many persons live theii*


lives in a fools' paradise, knowing nothing of the
sinister influences environing them and heedless
of the dangers threatening their friends and kin,
and sapping the foundations of national pros-

Much of this evil may rightly be charged to
the intense competition involved in the economic
struggle for survival. Underfed, unskilled, and
ignorant women find the paths of virtue much
more thorny than seems to be the road to vice.
To those who have little forethought, chastity
seems of small importance in comparison with pro-
spective gains in a lucrative business; and it is
not strange that so many, under the enticements
of their supposed friends, swell the ranks of the
prostitute class. Again, the very simplicity of
innocent girls is too often the cause of their un-
doing, since they are ignorant of the depravity
of human nature, and are sold into prostitution
by wolves in sheep's clothing, working under the
stimulus of lust or gain.

The ranks of prostitution also are recruited
by men of leisure, who, supported by inherited
wealth, instead of devoting themselves to lives
of social utility, become dissolute and ruin or aid
in the ruin of weak women whom manly chivalry
should protect. Then, too, prostitution multi-
plies because an early marriage to many men, for
financial reasons, is an impossibility; and these,


under the stress of surging passions poorly under
control, may readily yield to immoral practices,
ultimately to their own and the social detriment.
Men not steadily employed, for example, are
especially prone to temptations of this sort, since
they in so many cases become homeless, houseless
wanderers, restrained by no social or domestic
ties except such as may linger from the memories
of earlier years. Husbands, moreover, out of
regular work from whatsoever reason, soon dread
to face the hunger-look of wife and children,
abandon them to the mercies of charitable agen-
cies, and easily learn to stifle conscience by indul-
gence in the many forms of possible dissipation.
The economic and social standards among the
socially higher classes produce their effects also
in the confirmed bachelor, who is seldom noted
for his chastity; or else in the late and childless
marriage so common in modern days.

Another real danger to national growth lies in
the modern demand for celibacy or childless mar-
riages from so large a part of the nation's best
population. Soldiers and sailors in the army and
navy, the great body of women teachers, the
priests, brotherhoods, and sisterhoods of the
Roman Catholic Church, and intelligent, ambi-
tious young men who postpone marriage until
they have a suitable income, unitedly make up
too large a percentage of a nation's finest popu-


lation, destined for the most part to leave behind
them no descendants to perpetuate the best
qualities of the race. Because of such conditions
as these some writers foresee only racial degen-
eracy and national decadence.

This "race suicide," to use the term launched
by Professor Ross,i has a double aspect: (i) it
may refer to a condition in which the members
of the socially higher classes become extinct
through late or childless marriages or the avoid-
ance of marriage at all, resulting in racial propa-
gation through the least efficient elements of the
stock ; or (2) as the term is used by Doctor Ren-
toul,2 a race commits suicide when it fails to take
warning from experience and science; allows
itself to be depleted by an excessive mortality,
preventable diseases, the racial poisons of mor-
phine, alcohol, and syphilis; fails to prohibit
parenthood to its abnormal and defective classes ;
permits vice and immorality to eat away the
brawn and brain of its citizens; and discourages
its best population from marriage by social con-
ventions and economic standards.

These really serious handicaps to domestic
integrity and racial continuance are more heavily
weighted by the insidious subtle influences of an

* Annals of the American Academy, 1901, vol. xvni,
p. 88.

* Race Culture or Race Suicide.


urban environment, which seems to loosen the
ties of kinship and to weaken the restraining con-
trol of home and parents. Add to these the rapid
multiplication of divorce as exemplified in the
United States, and there is small wonder that so
many anticipate the downfall of American civili-
zation as a consequent from racial degeneration
and the disappearance of homely virtues in do-
mestic relationships. Such pessimistic conclu-
sions would seem inevitable if one were to rely on
historical studies of the rise and fall of nations;
unquestionably modern civilization presents
many of the marks of decadence and senility, and
there is no known panacea warranted to cure its
social ills. The chief and in fact the only hope for
racial salvation lies in the new factor in civiliza-
tion which has so rapidly come to the front in the
last fifty years, namely, a growing appreciation of
the possibilities of science and its prospective
applications to social betterment.

Men often fail to realize that the human race
is not decrepit with age, but is in fact in the early
flush of adolescence, since the earth will remain
suited for human habitation for several millions
of years. Civilization is yet in its infancy, and
present attainments will seem rudely primitive a
thousand years hence. Mankind but dimly com-
prehends the mighty power in its possession in
the human brain and intellect. Yet in this twen-


tieth century society is feeling its way toward
the light and slowly begins to dream of the future
and to test its strength against the evils that
beset it. Through science in its applications
in the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology,
the possibilities of production and of the multi-
plication of food supplies will be so thoroughly
mastered that the economic problems of to-day
and the Malthusian threats of starvation will no
longer trouble advanced civilization. Biology, in
addition to its services in the scientific multipli-
cation of food suppHes, will also work out the
principles underlying the production of a capable
human race. The newer psychology, basing itself
on physiology, will increasingly apply its prin-
ciples to social education and to the larger aspects
of social control. The science of sociology, also,
so rapidly increasing its applicability to social
betterment, should prove of great aid through its
synthetic and constructive attitude toward social
reforms and the guidance it may afford in at-
tempts to solve social problems.

Of peculiar interest among these scientific
movements is the attention now devoted to the
principles of racial progress. Naturally this may
take the form of emphasis on the improvement of
human environment, so important in agitations
for social reform,^ or it may lay stress on the up-
^ See, for example, Miss Richards's Euthenics.


building of the human race through heredity.
Eight years ago this last principle was brought
into prominence by Francis Galton through his
famous papers on Eugenics read before the Eng-
lish Sociological Society.^ This science, now so
rapidly in process of formulation by careful study,
aims to deal "with all influences that improve
the inborn qualities of a race," and in its purely
biological aspects under the name of Genetics ^
is seeking to work out the physiology of heredity
and variation, chiefly from the standpoint of
Mendelism.^ Should these biological principles
be established on a scientific basis, it will then
become possible to decide accurately in respect
to mental characteristics inclining toward dis-
ease, vice, degeneracy, or their opposites; and on
the basis of such teaching a wise social policy
can be established, either by encouraging mar-
riages among the capable or by prohibiting
marriage to the members of degenerate stocks.

If the science of Eugenics be broadened by the
inclusion of psychological and sociological prin-
ciples, as Galton presumably intended, then the

* See Reports of that society, 1904-05, or the American
Journal of Sociology, July, 1904 and 1905.

' See, for example, Bateson's The Method and Scope of

^ The study of scientific breeding from the standpoint of
the inheritance of dominant characteristics. See, Punnett's
Mendelism in Bibliography.


restriction of such a study to any one national-
ity may well be called Eudemics.-'^ The United
States, for example, in a eudemic study of its
population would have before it the problem of
developing each new generation into a more
vigorous racial stock capable of continuing and
enlarging the standards and ideals of the nation.
The importance of such a study from the stand-
point of the family is evident. If science can
supply definite information in respect to human
heredity and variation, and can show the rela-
tive importance of a social environment, then it
would be a mere matter of time before such know-
ledge would become ingrained in social institu-
tions through education, and progress in such
matters would thereby be accelerated enormously.
Much information of this sort is already available,
so that the adoption of a eudemic policy is even
now feasible. Such a policy maybe presented from
many points of view, and three of these will be
suggested in turn as illustrative of methods pos-
sible of employment.

(i) The first and perhaps lowest form of a
social program would involve a policy of elimi-
nation and extermination, and would embrace
the movement against disease, as, for example,
against diphtheria or tuberculosis. If it becomes

* A word suggested by Librarian Koopman, of Brown


plainly evident from studies in heredity that
certain human stocks are distinctly inimical to
racial development, these must surely be elimi-
nated through a policy of segregation, as, for
example, in the case of the idiotic or feeble-
minded, or through restraints on propagation by
means of some such operation as vasectomy or
ovariotomy. These stocks under present theory
would include those clearly degenerate in phy-
sique, mentality, or morality, and it should be
entirely possible in advanced civilization within
this century practically to reduce disease to a
vanishing point and to extirpate a large percent-
age of degenerate stocks by prohibitions on mar-
riage and propagation. In the same way it is on
the face of it possible to agitate against the great
social evils of the time with the hope of eradi-
cating them from civilization. Hence there are
among social reforms many making war, as it
were, upon some great vice or social evil, such as
sexualism, intemperance, gambling, or rapacious
landlordism, and the exploitation of children in
the industries.

(2) Yet it is becoming increasingly evident
that the direct method of attack is not nearly
so efficacious as are methods of social regulation
and control. Much that seems attributable to
deficiencies in heredity or to innate depravity
is in reality due to the influence of an environ-

1 2 3 4 5 7

Online LibraryJames Quayle DealeyThe family in its sociological aspects → online text (page 7 of 8)