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CHAPTER VIII.

THE SOURCE OF THE BEAUTY OF THE FAIR SEX.

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E wonder if it has ever occurred to the reader to imagine why the female sex happens to be the fair sex. If, how ever, he or she has read attentively the second chapter of this work, at least a shrewd suspicion must have been awakened that the difference might be derived from the continuous action of sexual selection.

It may be asked why it is not the male, as shown in that chapter with reference to the lower animals, but the female, among mankind, which is the handsomer individual of those representing the sexes? To answer that will require study of the differences in the lives in question, and in the conditions by which they are surrounded. It was shown in that second chapter, through a sketch of the amatory lives and habits, principally of gallinaceous fowls, that the law of combat chiefly determined the most successful mating, and therefore, incidentally, the transmission and enhancement of certain male attributes to the males of the brood. Health and strength, as was indicated, are the necessary bases of courage and beauty. It was, therefore, remarked that, in the long run, these latter must necessarily predominate in the broods of successful suitors, who, in turn, in the competition with others not so highly endowed, would be more certain than they to transmit their attributes in increasing excellence to their progeny.

The preference by females among these animals is not exercised in the same way as among human beings. The male, as belonging to a species of the lower animals, is, as he is not among the higher races among human beings, unrestrainedly impulsive in sexual attraction. Through that impulsiveness he

is, in the state of nature, the chooser of one or more females, not so much as individuals as belonging to the aggregate of females whose presence excites him to jealousy and battle for the possession of what may, so to speak, be called the female element of nature, irrespective of individuality. In a word, the male, in a state of nature, takes a female or females, largely as such, and cannot, in the highest sense, be said to select them. As among the males, however, there is the sternest competition for females as such, leading to fighting, to the wounding, defeat, or death of adversaries, and as preference among the females for the attributes possessed by the victors is inseparable from their falling to the victors as the reward of their strength, skill, and prowess, any beauty which is in the individual victor, associated in varying degree with his pugnacious capacity, comes to be more attractive to the female, appreciated, and reproduced by her. It is transmitted by her chiefly to the male portion of her brood (for it is of male attributes of which we are speaking) and becomes intensified from the same causes in successive broods. And hence it becomes apparent how the female among such birds, and relatively among animals generally, remains comparatively unadorned, while the males among them constitute fair sex.

Now, analogous causes have been, under entirely changed conditions, instrumental in bringing it about that, among mankind, the female, and not the male, sex is in many places the fair sex. The female sex is not invariably, even among mankind, the fair sex. Among savage peoples the women are, save a favored few belonging to a king or chief, repressed to such a degree that the men are invariably better favored in face and form. With all the physical disabilities of the sex, savage women do the drudgery of the tribe, and, even when the men are on the march, are compelled to bear a full share of exhausting labor. Child-bearing and the cares of maternity, added to this

weary life, leave no margin for the acquisition of beauty. They are even without the stimulus of the tenderness that gives strength. It is the testimony of African travelers that they never saw a negro caress or bestow the slightest endearment upon a woman. The women, bought and sold, are mere beasts of burden, and, without being always slaves in name, are so in effect to their lords and task-masters. Among the Indians of this continent the same conditions have prevailed from time immemorial. The men have been, as they are in Africa to this day, warriors and huntsmen, disdaining labor, who have shifted the toil of daily life upon the shoulders of their women. Hence it has come about, from two causes, that the men are physically superior to the women. Athletic exercises taken in the open air, especially when not pursued as such, are the most conducive of any to physical development and lustiness. The women naturally accept the protection of the strongest and bravest of the tribe whom they can secure, and as these would not accept any but the most desirable, this, with the other cause, combines to make the men who survive as the fittest, the superiors of the women in physical endowments. Savage women, therefore, with the exception noted, never are nor can be, relatively to the men, regarded as the fairer sex. They are quite in the position, with regard to the other sex, of the lower animals. What is so touching about Millet's peasant women?-the revelation of grinding toil by their rounded shoulders and resigned faces. This same pathetic thing represents the lot of most savage women, except in those parts of the earth where nature has been so bountiful, amid strife which is not constant, as amply to supply the simple wants of the people.

The complexity of civilization represents conditions radically different from these. Amid them, the agencies described reach apparently, but not really, fundamentally different results. The multiplicity of details obscures perception of the

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fact that, the causes at work being the same, the effects will be the ones to be expected under the modified conditions. Among the higher races of mankind the female sex has become the fair sex simply because men have combined to make it the fairer. Wherever possible these races have sought to relieve women almost entirely of labor. Whole classes of women among them have nothing to do that can be called labor, let alone toil. Many individuals among them are mere human butterflies, flitting from flower to flower, with no more exercise than sufficient to enable them to sip in quickest succession the sweets of life. That this is for their best good, without some ballast for their airy flight through life, is not the question here; it certainly is conducive to beauty. Fresh air, exercise, the best food, and the revivifying influence of constant change, they have; and while these directly promote beauty, the absence of care is the greatest cosmetic in the world.

In this complexity of conditions represented by the highest civilization, the pure and simple attraction of the sexes for each other is dominated by many causes known in but slight degree, if at all, to primitive men. Even in the United States the conditions of sexual relations are becoming more and more complex, as time goes on and the country matures. The time was when they were almost of pastoral, bucolic simplicity. The time was, only about forty years ago, when rich men, as rich men for their day as other men are rich for the present day, lived and died unknown. Now, almost the world over, no matter what an old hunks a man may be, it is enough for him to be rich, to be great. The idea of wealth, the idea of the desirability of wealth, has more or less pervaded all ranks. The resulting social condition reminds one of the replies of Dumas's Jew to the questions of the High Chancellor of France: "What is your name?" "I am worth twelve millions." "What is your age?" "I tell you I am worth twelve millions." "Your

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Why, do you not understand? I repeat, I worth twelve millions."

This commercial spirit of the times, or rather the contempt for the shop associated with love of its profits, has affected nothing more in civilized countries than the relations of the sexes, has introduced considerations of money into marriage, and has intensified that condition abroad. Even collegians and school-girls may be heard nowadays calculating their material chances in the money market. Worthy considerations as these are, when kept within bounds, they have now reached a point where they are often too influential in determining choice. Despite all interests, however, romantic love sometimes seizes two creatures in a whirlwind of passion and raises them to the skies.

In addition to the signal and undeniable fact of the change. mentioned, is the other, more potent, overruling, and perennial fact, which more largely than any other influence determines marriage and the increasing beauty of the female sex, through the selection by men of those most agreeable in person, to the neglect of others. The love of the beauty of the female sex by the opposite sex is proved not only by choice being more largely determined by that than by any other element; it is proved also by the sedulous care with which men of civilized races guard their women against the hardships which are prejudicial to beauty. On the contrary, the normal woman, advanced beyond the bread-and-butter age, cares little for male attributes, except such as indicate strength and courage, such as constitute manliness. The men of the higher races have, from the earliest times of which we know anything, worshiped the beauty of the other sex, and that sex has complacently accepted the tribute to its charms, as why should it not? Men's preference, therefore, having always been for those individuals of the opposite sex whose beauty was greatest, the result has

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