Man or Woman: Who is Superior?

Julia Crouch submitted this letter to The Revolution for the December 3, 1868 issue. The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment.

Who is Superior?

There are some persons who think that because there is a difference between man and woman, that one must be superior, that they cannot be equal. Can they not see that if a perfect orange is divided in the middle the parts will be equal?

Man and woman make a perfect whole. In God they are one, in Heaven they are neither male nor female; on earth they are male and female for the purpose of propagating the species. But if a difference in organization and temperament makes one superior, who shall say which is the superior? “Man has beard,” one says. But we have yet to learn that beard is expressive of sense and judgment: but if man has board, then we can say that woman has none, and therefore being different from man, have we not as much reason to say that she is superior, as for man to preach superiority on the same principle?

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

It is mind that makes a human being higher than the brute, and the purer the mind is, the nearer the being approaches the Divine. Because one person is taller than another it does not follow that he is superior. It is not the man with the greatest physical strength who has the most expanded and deepest mind. If man is thought superior to woman because he has more power in his body than she, then the stronger man, is always superior to the weaker, and the pugilist is king among men.

It is generally said that woman is purer and better than man, therefore she must be nearer the Divine, and all must admit that the nearer we are like God the higher and more superior we are. But I am not trying to prove woman higher than man, although I feel that I are as able to do it as man is to prove himself higher than woman, but I wish to prove that sex does not or should not make inequality.

One of the best arguments in favor of the equality of the sexes is that man thinks he is superior—that he has no more reason and judgment than to think God would make a race of beings on so poor a principle. Let him philosophize with an unselfish disposition, and he will find it is wrong teaching conceit and selfishness that call man superior and woman inferior. But “the last shall be first, and the first last,” and the boasters at last fall beneath the humble. If men are superior they should be provided with a higher sphere in after life; they should not associate with their interiors in a perfect life. A master told his slave once that if he was obedient and faithful to him on earth, he would have a nice kitchen up in heaven. Perhaps that is what men think about women. If they are submissive and gentle here, they may have a chance in heaven to wait upon them and please them.

When women have equal rights, men will no longer preach superiority, and God grant that that glorious day may soon dawn.

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