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Week 4: Sarah Grand

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Anne Jamison

on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of Week 4: Sarah Grand

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Sarah Grand: Darwinism and Eugenics in 'Eugenia' Sarah Grand (1854-1943) 1871 1859 1894 Sarah Grand (1854-1943) Survival of the Fittest 'Eugenia' 1854; Frances Elizabeth Bellenden Clarke; Ireland
1862; father dies; family move to England
1868; enrols in the Royal Naval School, Twickenham, where she is soon expelled for her radical ideas and support of Josephine's Butler's campaign against the Contagious Diseases Act
1869; completes education at a finishing school in Kensington, London
1871; aged 16, marries widowed Army surgeon David Chambers McFall who is 23 years her senior
1872; son, David, is born
1873; publishes 'Two Dear Little Feet'
1873-1878; the family are posted to various military stations in the Far East, including Malta, Egypt, China, and Japan
1879; return to Norwich, England
1881; move to Lancashire where McFall retires
1888; publishes 'Ideala' anonymously
1890; divorces McFall
1891; publishes 'A Domestic Experiment'
1892; publishes 'Singularly Deluded'
1893; publishes 'The Heavenly Twins'
1894; publishes 'Our Manifold Nature. Stories from Life'; publishes 'The New Aspect of the Woman Question' in 'The North American Review'
1897; publishes the semi-autobiographical 'The Beth Book'
1898-1908; focuses her energies on the National Union of Women's Suffrage
1920; moves to Bath and becomes Lady Mayoress alongside Mayor Cedric Chivers
1942; moves to Wiltshire; dies '[Sexual selection] depends, not on a struggle for existence, but on a struggle between the males for possession of the females; the result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring. Sexual selection is, therefore, less rigorous than natural selection. Generally, the most vigorous males, those which are best fitted for their places in nature, will leave most progeny. But in many cases, victory will depend not on general vigour, but on having special weapons, confined to the male sex.'

Darwin 'Origin of the Species' The Descent of Man (1871) The Origin of Species (1859) discusses the characteristics of each sex
stresses sex differences as bipolar in nature
expresses a consequential inequality between the sexes
reverses the gendering of agency in courtship practices ‘The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than woman can attain – whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.’

Charles Darwin, 'The Descent of Man', Vol. II, (NY: D. Appleton, 1871), p. 327. Mary Jacobi (1842-1906) Mary Calkins (1863-1930) 'The limitations attributed to female capacity ... are largely artificial - social, not physiological - affairs of custom based upon a highly cultivated social taste.'

Quoted in Carla Bittel, 'Mary Putnam Jacobi and the Politics of Medicine in 'Nineteenth-Century America' (North Carolina: UNCP, 2009) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=u-rA4igX19UC&pg=PT125&lpg=PT124&dq=mary+putnam+jacobi+the+question+of+rest 'The Question of Rest for Women during Menstruation' (1877) 'Community of Ideas of Men and Women' in 'Psychological Review' 3 (July 1896): 430 The enterprise of making distinctions between the intellects of men and women were 'futile and impossible, because of our entire inability to eliminate the effect of environment.'

'Community of Ideas of Men and Women' in 'Psychological Review' 3 (July 1896): 430. Theories of Natural Selection and Sexual Selection

An attempt to explain individual variability among different species: survival of the fittest
Natural Selection: individuals that had favourable variations survived and reproduced, transmitting the favourable traits to their offspring. Natural selection eliminated unfavourable traits, since those that had them did not survive long enough to reproduce and pass the unfavourable traits to their offspring.
Sexual Selection: a means of accounting for nonessential individual variability. Sexual selection depended on 'not a struggle for existence but on a struggle between males for possession of the females' ('Descent of Man' p. 575). Unsuccessful traits resulted not in 'death to the unsuccessful competitor, but in few or no offspring' ('Origin of Species' p. 100). 'Sexual selection theory encompassed an associated law of partial inheritance, which stated that the law of equal transmission (that is, the transmission of certain characteristics to both sexes) was not always equal; sometimes transmission was only to the same-sex offspring … Darwin’s further observations led him to believe that physical traits such as size were inherited via natural selection and equally transmitted to both sexes, but not always developed in both sexes. Other traits, such as intelligence and reason, he believed, were acquired through sexual selection and seemed to be governed by the law of partial inheritance and same-sex transmission … It appeared to Darwin that since females did not compete for males, they did not have the same evolutionary opportunity to develop the same intelligence, perseverance, and courage as males. Thus for Darwin, the result of natural and sexual selection was that men were ‘superior’ to women. This is the central myth of social Darwinism.'

Florence L. Denmark et. al., 'Historical Development of the Psychology of Women' in 'Psychology of Women: Handbook of Issues and Theories', eds. Florence L. Denmark and Michele A. Paludi (Westport: Greenwood, 2008), p. 8. Darwin's theories are heavily influenced by his socially derived assumption of the innate inferiority and domesticity of women. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) 'Vital force': human beings had a finite fund of energy that could be applied either to individual growth, or reproduction. The female reproductive system required more 'vital force' than the male reproductive system. Women had, therefore, less available energy for mental and physical growth than men. Spencer believed that any diversion of this energy from the female reproductive organs, particularly during adolescence, could lead to reproductive disorders, the inability to breast feed, or even infertility. 'In his 'Descent of Man' Darwin has shown at length that ... secondary sexual characters occur throughout the whole animal series ... The secondary sexual characters with which he is chiefly concerned are of a bodily kind ... But I think it is evident that secondary sexual characters of a mental kind are of no less general occurrence ... Seeing that the average brain-weight of women is about five ounces less than men, on merely anatomical grounds we should be prepared to expect a marked inferiority of intellectual power in the former. Moreover, as the general physique of women is less robust than that of men - and therefore less able to sustain the fatigue of serious or prolonged brain action - we should also on physiological grounds be prepared to entertain a similar anticipation.'

George Romanes 'Mental Differences between Men and Women' (1887) in 'The Education Papers: Women's Quest for Equality, 1850-1912' ed. Dale Spender (London: Routledge, 1987), pp. 10-11. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=KFLou-Jr6OkC&pg=PA10&dq=george+romanes+mental+differences+between+men+and+women&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9wNJUazlDaqziQejs4CABQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA George Romanes (1848-1894) Henry Maudsley (1835-1918) 'when Nature spends in one direction, she must economise in another ... women are marked out by nature for very different offices in life from those of men, and ... the healthy performance of her special functions renders it improbable she will succeed, and unwise for her to persevere, in running over the same course at the same pace with him ... .'

Henry Maudsley, 'Sex in Mind and Education' in 'Fortnightly' 21 (1874): 467; 468. The perpetuation of social Darwinism Female resistance to social Darwinism The subversion of Darwin's sexual selection 'The word "eugenics" was coined in 1883 by the English scientist Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton ... took the word from a Greek root meaning "good in birth" or "noble in heredity." He intended it to denote the "science" of improving human stock by giving "the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable."'

Daniel Kevles, 'In the Name of Eugenics', (LA: University of California Press, 1985), p. ix. 'Grand's ... 'Eugenia' (1894) ... functions as a manual on eugenic sexual selection.'

Angelique Richardson, 'Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century' (Oxford: OUP, 2003), p. 121 ‘One could not help calculating what the nerve-power must be behind such ease, and what the strength of the sinews which were marked by her ivory skin … Her ripe red lips were slightly parted in a smile showing the white teeth between … one could trace the course of the blue veins beneath the transparent skin ... But for those with the inner eyes that see beneath the surface, there was more about her to attract than mere good looks and the ineffable charm of youth. There shone in her face the happy spirit that makes much of the smallest joy in life, and sees in the most obvious admiration of her friends only an evidence of their own good dispositions. There is more beauty than character as a rule in the delicate curves and lineless smoothness of a young girl's face; but still, in studying Eugenia, one felt that, for all her soft voice and gentle courteous bearing, she was not a person to be trifled with.’

'Eugenia', pp. 26-7. 'She was ... essentially a modern maiden, richly endowed with all womanly attributes, whose value is further enhanced by the strength which comes of the liberty to think, and of the education out of which is made the material for thought. With such women for the mothers of men, the English-speaking races should rule the world.'

'Eugenia', p. 27. '... no care could conceal the 'used-up' look about his eyes, nor produce a deceptive tinge of health on the opaque sallow of his cheeks ... But he was a young man still, and a good-looking one too, of the big coarse-moustached type, a typical guardsman, broad shouldered, and so apparently strong that a casual acquaintance would never have suspected flabby muscular tissue discounted by alcohol.'

'Eugenia', p. 6. ‘“A girl has no business to have opinions of any kind, she should adopt her husband’s when she marries,” Brinkhampton ejaculated. “Nothing but mischief comes of women thinking for themselves. She would have accepted me but for her opinions.” He reflected a little upon this, frowning portentously, and then broke out again: “I’ve been regularly taken in! I gave her the credit of being a nice little English country girl, quite uninformed, and here I find her old in ideas already; and, worst of all, advanced. She didn’t tell me coarsely in so many words to my face that I’m not good enough for her, but, by Jove! that is what she meant.”’

'Eugenia', p. 46. 'And Saxon, sitting beside me with his arms folded, thoughtfully watched her too, but there was a somewhat sad expression on his handsome face. They had been playfellows, but still he saw in Brinkhampton only what was appropriate to her station in the way of a suitor, and there was no bitterness in him. It was what he had all along prepared himself to be resigned to eventually.'

'Eugenia', p. 27 '"Would you have me stay here simply for her amusement?" he thundered.

"Certainly," I said. "It is merely a turning of the tables. You came here simply for your own benefit, and in return the least you can do is stay if it pleases her to ask you."'

'Eugenia', p. 47. 'Bit by bit his family have been developing every quality in which my own was deficient. For hundreds of years the two have been living here side by side, ours slowly deteriorating, losing by degrees much of what they possessed, his, by their virtues, as gradually acquiring what we lost. Compare Saxon's father with Uncle Paul, for instance! and Saxon's career with Lord Brinkhampton's! not to mention their respective abilities. Give me him for a husband!'

'Eugenia', p. 49. The growing economic uncertainty in Britain and the increased colonial rivalry from Germany in the late nineteenth century aggravated the already existing anxieties of the British middle classes that their ‘imperial race’ was being slowly undermined from within (through contact with the working class) as well as from without (through contact with people in the colonies), and that racial and cultural degeneration might follow. Evolutionary discourse was frequently deployed by late-Victorian authors in order to both rationalize these anxieties and suggest ways of sustaining Britain’s colonial domination without endangering privileged British social groups. By the 1890s, Darwin’s theories of the evolution of the species had been developed by his followers into what Anne McClintock has called ‘scientific racism’ – a narrative of social and racial ranking, which placed the British white middle and upper-class men at the pinnacle of the evolutionary pyramid, with women from the same social location following, and all other races and classes lagging behind. Much influenced by these racially biased evolutionary theories, late-Victorian medical discourse sexualised insanity, regarded it in terms of evolutionary regression, and suggested interconnections between promiscuous sexuality (specifically, women’s), insanity, and racial degeneration in the nation. It was feared that transmission and spread of moral, mental, and physical degeneration might lead to the extinction of the British nation …

Iveta Jusova ‘Imperialist Feminism: Colonial issues in Sarah Grand’s The Heavenly Twins and The Beth Book in 'English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920', 43.3 (2000): 300-1. The New Woman 'Fun' Magazine (1872) 'In one sense the 'new woman' was a journalistic and literary construction, but she also had a basis in reality: the increased opportunities for middle-class women to enter higher education and employment and the various gains made by feminism more generally. The term 'new woman' was not equivalent to the term 'feminist', although a self-defined new woman was likely to hold certain feminist convictions. She was generally thought of as a middle- or upper-class young woman, concerned to reject many of the conventions of femininity and to live and work on free and equal terms with the opposite sex.'

Lucy Bland, 'Banishing the Beast. Feminism, Sex and Morality' (London: Tauris, 1992), p. 144. Sarah Grand, 'The New Aspect of the Woman Question', in 'North American Review' 158 (March 1894): 270-76. 'It would be as rational for us now to declare that men generally are brawling Brothers or to adopt the hasty conclusion which makes all men out to be fiends on the one hand and all women fiends on the other. We have our Shrieking Sisterhood, as the counterpart of the Brawling Brotherhood. The latter consists of two sorts of men. First of all is he who is satisfied with the cow-kind of woman as being most convenient; it is the threat of any strike amongst his domestic cattle for more consideration that irritates him into loud and angry protests. The other sort of bawling brother is he who is under the influence of the scum of our sex, who knows nothing better than women of that class in and out of society, preys upon them or ruins himself for them, takes his whole tone from them, and judges us all by them. Both the cow-woman and the scum-woman are well within range of the comprehension of the Brawling Brotherhood, but the new woman is a little above him, and he never even thought of looking up to where she has been sitting apart in silent contemplation all these years, thinking and thinking, until at last she solved the problem and proclaimed for herself what was wrong with Home-is-the-Woman's-Sphere and prescribed the remedy.' http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Qp81fdtpzjgC&pg=PA29&dq=sarah+grand+the+new+aspect+of+the+woman+question&hl=en&sa=X&ei=co1JUeLuDMe-kQXXh4HABQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=sarah%20grand%20the%20new%20aspect%20of%20the%20woman%20question&f=false Eugenia's challenge to sexual selection Eugenics and Eugenia Morality and Physicality Nature versus Nurture 'The roar of the rolling spheres, astronomers say, is so tremendous as to be beyond the hearing of our mortal ears; and so the sudden upward impulse of the human race in this our day, as shown in the attitude of women, is beyond the earthbound comprehension of most men. Brinkhampton could conceive of nothing more eligible for a husband of than a man of good manners with a fine position.'

'Eugenia', p. 50. 'scientific racism'
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