Comparisons in Verse

 

The following is a poem addressing the questions, "Is Woman Man's Equal?" and "Is She More Than Man's Equal?" What does the author conclude? What roles and duties does this author, a woman, deem appropriate for men and women? According to this poem, what accomplishments and interests could society expect from men and from women?

Is Woman Man’s Equal?

Can she cull from the forest and mines and shape

    A ship that will stand the gale?

Or fashion a monster of steel and steam

    To writhe o’er the polished rail?

Can she conquer the forces of earth and air

    To bend to her own sweet will?

Or current the water to furnish power

    for the wheels of a giant mill?

Can she burrow the earth for a great subway?

    Or chain up the lightning’s bars?

Or harness a jumble of wheels and wings

    And soar to the distant stars?

Can she dig and delve while her brow reeks sweat

    In the bowels of a fetid mine?

Can she face the powder and the shot and ball

    Of the enemy’s firing line?

Can she sleep in a trench the whole night through

    With a knapsack under her head?

Is she willing to die as soldiers do

    On the field with the unclaimed dead?

Is She More Than Man’s Equal?

She cannot rear castle or tower

            But, ah, when the sun sinks to rest,

        She makes glad the beautiful hour

    When home and its shelter in best

She may not meet all of life’s wrestle

    In forum, in field and in mart,

But when sleepy little ones nestle,

    She gathers them close to her heart.

And all that were bad are forgiven,

    And blessed at the close of the day

With prayers and with tears, they are shriven

    As only a mother can pray.

Secure from the paths that are tempted

    She guides, by that wonderful plan

And law which her sex has pre-empted,

    The course and the future of man.

Then who would deprive her of dower?

    Or who would detract from her grace?

Or pilfer one tithe of her power

    As mother—the Queen of the race?

Far greater than man, made immortal

    By prowess, or chisel or pen,

Is she who approaches Death’s portal

    That we may have soldiers and men.

By Florence Goff Schwarz


To continue this investigation of anti-suffrage arguments, see these pages grouped under the titles Women' Don't Want the Vote and Consequences of Voting. You can also explore the issue of woman suffrage as part of the political process during the election of 1912 as well as prominent pro-suffrage arguments.

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