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ADOLESCENCE:
ITS PSYCHOLOGY AND ITS RELATIONS TO PHYSIOLOGY,
ANTHROPOLOGY, SOCIOLOGY, SEX, CRIME, RELIGION
AND EDUCATION
Volume 2
G. Stanley Hall (1904)
Classics in the History of Psychology
An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
ISSN 1492-3713
(Return to Classics index )
ADOLESCENCE:
ITS PSYCHOLOGY AND ITS RELATIONS TO PHYSIOLOGY, ANTHROPOLOGY,
SOCIOLOGY, SEX, CRIME, RELIGION AND EDUCATION
Volume 2
G. Stanley Hall (1904)
Posted July 2000
[p. 561] CHAPTER XVII
ADOLESCENT GIRLS AND THEIR EDUCATION
I. Differences of the sexes in strength, mortality, brain, senses, agility, mental traits, crime,
disposition, variability, conservation, progressive sexual divergence. II. Medical and biological
views in other lands and in this country since Dr. E. H. Clarke. III. Health and its tests -- Danger
of overdrawing reserves. IV. Marriage of educated women -- latest statistics or nubility rates of
male and female colleges -- Comparisons and lessons. V. Fecundity in earlier generations in
America -- Sterility in this and other countries, and its causes and stages -- Best age for
parenthood in mother and in father -- Effects of over-nutrition and mental strain -- Statistics of
children of graduates of girls' colleges compared with rate of reproduction of male graduates --
Dangers of late marriages and of only children -- Fertility as a test of civilization -- Individuation
versus genesis -- Dominance of the instinct for marriage and motherhood in normal women and
substitutes provided for it. VI. Education -- New English opinions -- Coeducation of various
degrees -- Its advantages and dangers for both boys and girls -- The age of eighteen --
Changes to the dollish, disappointed, and devotee type -- Dangers of aping man-made
education and of complacency -- Arrest in the first stages of a movement just begun -- Training
for spinsterhood and self-support versus for maternity -- Hints and general outlines of a higher
education for girls based on their nature and needs and not on convention or the demands of
feminists -- Branches of such a curriculum -- Methods -- Hygiene.
I. The Biological and Anthropological Standpoint. -- Our modern knowledge of woman
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represents her as having characteristic differences from man in every organ and tissue, as
conservative in body and mind, fulfilling the function of seeing to it that no acquired good be lost
to mankind, as anabolic rather than katabolic, or disposed to assimilate or digest on a higher
plane, as normally representing childhood and youth in the full meridian of its glory in all her
dimensions and nature so that she is at the top of the human curve from which the higher
super-man of the future is to evolve, while man is phylogenetically by comparison a trifle senile,
if not decadent. Her sympathetic and ganglionic system is relatively to the cerebro-spinal more
dominant. Her whole soul, conscious and [p. 562] unconscious, is best conceived as a
magnificent organ of heredity, and to its laws all her psychic activities, if unperverted, are true.
She is by nature more typical and a better representative of the race and less prone to
specialization. Her peculiar organs, while constituting a far larger proportion of her body than
those of man, are hidden and their psychic reverberations are dim, less-localized, more all-
pervasive. She works by intuition and feeling; fear, anger, pity, love, and most of the emotions
have a wider range and greater intensity. If she abandons her natural naïve and takes up the
burden of guiding and accounting for her life by consciousness, she is likely to lose more than
she gains, according to the old saw that she who deliberates is lost. Secondary, tertiary, and
quaternary sex qualities are developed far beyond her ken or that of science, in a way that the
latter is only beginning to glimpse. While she needs tension that only the most advanced
modern psychology sees to be sexual at root, we shall never know the true key to her nature
until we understand, how the nest and the cradle are larger wombs; the home, a larger nest;
the tribe, state, church, and school, larger homes and irradiations from it. Biological psychology
already dreams of a new philosophy of sex which places the wife and mother at the heart of a
new world and makes her the object of a new religion and almost of a new worship, that will
give her reverent exemption from sex competition and reconsecrate her to the higher
responsibilities of the human race, into the past and future of which the roots of her being
penetrate; where the blind worship of mere mental illumination has no place; and where her
real superiority to man will have free course and be glorified and the ideals of the old
matriarchates again find embodiment in fit and due degree.
Patrick [1] has summarized the salient points of difference between men and women as follows:
The latter are shorter and lighter save for a brief period at about thirteen, as we have shown in
Chapter I. Her adult height to that of man is as about 16 to 17, and her weight as 9 to 10. Her
form is rounder, she has more fat, more water, less muscle; her dyna-[p. 563]mometer strength
foots up about two-thirds that of man; her trunk is relatively slightly longer; the pelvic bend
makes her a little less erect; the head is less upright, and her gait slightly less steady; her
plantar arch is flatter; her forefinger is relatively longer than the other three; the thyroid larger;
the lung capacity relatively less; the blood has less red corpuscles; her bones a little less
specific gravity; she is more anemic, and her pulse is faster. In the United States about 105
boys are born to 100 girls, but through life the male death-rate is higher, so that in nearly every
land, after the first year or two, there are more females than males. She is more liable to
whooping-cough, scarlet fever, phthisis, diphtheria, but resists diseases best and dies less
often than man at nearly every age. Ballod [2] shows that the average increased duration of life
in the last decennium is for women and not for men, and that large cities and factories tend to
shorten average male longevity. Hegar (Geschlechtstrieb) concludes that before forty, married,
and after forty, unmarried, women are more liable to die, but that married outlive unmarried
men. He is more prone than she to rheumatism, cancer, brain troubles, sudden death from
internal or external causes, can less survive severe surgical operations and grows old more
rapidly; his hair is gray earlier and he is more prone to loss of sight, hearing, memory, senile
irritability, to deformities and anomalies, is less hardy and less resembles children. Woman's
skull is smaller, especially at the base, but large in circumference at the crown, which is flatter
and more angular; her forehead is more vertical; the glabella and superorbital ridges are less,
as are the occipital and mastoid prominences and the parietal prominence; her face is smaller
and a little lower, and she is slightly more prognathic. Her absolute brain weight to that of man
is about as 9 to 10, but her smaller size makes her brain about equal, if not heavier, in weight.
The lower centers are larger in women, and in nearly all these respects women differ less
among themselves than do men. Martin and Clouston found the female brain slightly better
irrigated by blood, especially in the occipital regions, although the number of its corpuscles as
compared to those of man was as 9 [p. 564] to 10. The anterior regions of the brain were best
supplied in man. The specific gravity of the gray matter of all parts of the brain was less in
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women, but in the white matter there was no difference. The female brain has more bilateral
symmetry, i. e., its right and left hemispheres are more alike. In all save the occipital regions
the male has more secondary gyri and probably the convolutions are deeper. In most forms of
lunacy the male brain is most wasted at death, and four men to one woman die of general
paralysis between thirty and fifty. Women are more often insane, but men most often die of
insanity, while women who die in lunatic asylums more often die of body diseases. Mental
stimulus, according to Warner, more readily lowers their general nutrition. Möbius,[3] on the
other hand, who sees danger in the emancipation movement of the feminists, thinks that the
fact that they have accomplished so little in the world of art and science is not due to subjection
but to inferiority. He lays stress on Rödinger's results, viz., that in infants the convolutions about
the Sylvian fissures are simpler, with fewer bends, that the island of Keil is smaller, less
convex, and simpler, as is the third frontal gyrus, and the whole parietal lobe is inferior in
females at all ages to that of men, these being the portions most closely connected with
mentation. The sexes have the same convolutions, but of different sizes, and the same powers,
but in differing degrees.
Women seem slightly more obtuse in sight, touch, and hearing, and less sensitive to pain.
Concerning taste discriminations, investigators differ. Ellis and Galton conclude that she has
less sensibility but more affectibility and nervous irritability. Only about four-tenths of one per
cent of women are color blind as against three and a half per cent of men. In visual
discriminations in the indirect field of vision, she excels, indicating that the retinal function is
less focused in the fovea. With her eyes fixed straight ahead on the streets she observes
persons and things farther right and left than man can do Bryan found that in rapid movements,
she excelled from five to sixteen, except at about thirteen, while in precision boys slightly excel.
Gilbert concludes that boys tap fastest at every [p. 565] age, and that reaction time is less at all
ages for boys. Ellis concludes that in dexterity, as shown in cotton spinning, woolen weaving,
cigar and cigarette making, and other fine work, man excels where opportunity and numbers
are equal. In quick reading, where the sense of a paragraph is to be grasped in minimal time
and with equal knowledge of the subject, woman excels in quick apprehension of wholes.
Women go in flocks, and in social matters are less prone to stand out with salient individuality.
They are more emotional, altruistic, intuitive, less judicial, and less able to make disinterested
and impersonal judgment. Girls are most likely to know their environment, while the boys
oftenest show surprising gaps in knowledge of what is right about them and unexpected
acquaintance with something afar, special or unusual.
Miss Thompson [4] found from laboratory tests that men excel women in strength, rapidity, and
in rate of fatigue, and slightly in accuracy, but the latter are superior in new motor combinations;
that men have the lower sensory threshold for light, and women for distinguishing two points on
the skin, in sweet, salt, sour, and bitter taste, in smell, color, and pain by pressure, and in
discriminative pitch and color. Men excel in distinguishing lifted weights, sweet, sour, and bitter.
Women excel in memory. This writer becomes feministic in crediting abstract deductions and
taking Lourbet's jesting remark that the smaller and more agile male cell might better represent
the female and the larger ovum the male, seriously, and defies Weismannism by ascribing
sexual differences of type of mental action to the differences of the influences that surround the
sexes in early years.
Her thought is more concrete and individual and she is more prone to associations in space,
and man in time. Men are more prone to bring things under general rules and with regard to
symmetry. Her logical thought is slower, but her associations quicker than those of man, she is
less troubled by inconsistencies, and has less patience with the analysis involved in science
and invention.
Of 483,517 patents recorded in Washington up to October,[p. 566] 1892, 3,458 were by
women. In education men have made most of the reforms, while recent developments show
that they can excel even in dressmaking and cooking. Woman has rapid tact in extricating
herself from difficulties; girls speak quicker than boys; old women are likely to be talkative, old
men glum; men progress most after graduation; women are very prone to lose
accomplishments and special culture and training, are more punctual in school and college,
more regular in attendance, and in higher grades have the best marks, but vary less from the
average; they excel in mental reproduction rather than in production; are superior in arts of
conversation, more conservative and less radical; their vasomotor system is more excitable;
they are more emotional, blush and cry easier; are more often hypnotized; quicker to take
suggestions; have most sympathy, pity, charity, generosity, and superstitions. Male crime to
female is as 6 to 1, woman exceeding only in poisoning, domestic theft, and infanticide. She is
about as superior to man in altruism as she is behind him in truth-telling, being more prone to
ruse and deception. She is more credulous and less skeptical, more prone to fear and timidity,
and has greater fidelity, dependence, reverence, and devotion. She dresses for adornment
rather than use. In savage and civilized life, her body is more often mutilated and she is more
primitive. Her hair is long; she is more prone to wear ornaments which show wealth rather than
to dress solely for protection or concealment; is still fond of feathers, skin, and fur, flowing
garments, and partial exposure of person, so that she betrays rank and wealth more often than
men. She still pinches her waist and feet; uses pins, powders, and perfumes, neck ornaments,
beads, overshoes, and sometimes shoes that are not rights and lefts; is more subject to
fashion; her work is far less specialized than that of man and less reduced to mechanism or
machinery. Man is best adapted to the present; woman is more rooted in the past and the
future, closer to the race and a more generic past. Thus again, in very many of the above traits,
woman is far nearer childhood than man, and therefore in mind and body more prophetic of the
future as well as reminiscent of the past.[p. 567]
Professor Pearson [5] condemns as a superstition the current idea of the greater variability of
man than of woman. He first eliminates everything characteristic of sex and all that is
pathological, and focuses on size alone. Even color blindness, which is characteristic of sex, he
sets aside. By so doing and measuring the limited number of persons, he finds slightly more
variation in females than in males and so excoriates the common belief that the reverse is true.
That his method is profoundly mistaken, if it does not indeed prove the contrary, will, I think, be
plain to all biologists. Some have thought that every variation from the parental type was
slightly abnormal. Certainly, normal and pathological shade into each other by imperceptible
degrees, and Professor Pearson merely eliminates those classes of facts on which the whole
question rests. As Ellis [6] well says, the real question of organic variational tendencies is
untouched. If in size woman is more variable, it may be due to her less severe struggle for
existence, or to the fact that male children being larger make greater demands on the mother
and, therefore, have harder conditions to surmount. The biometric method, which Pearson so
ably represents, miscarries here because the preliminary basis in the selection of facts is
fundamentally wrong.
W. K. Brooks,[7] approaching the subject from the standpoint of biology, characterized the
female body, instincts, and habits as conservative, devoted to keeping what has been acquired
by successive generations as new layers of snow are added to glaciers. Thus woman is best in
acting and judging in ordinary matters; man in those that are extraordinary. The male is the
agent of variation and progress, and transmits variations best, so that perhaps the male cell
and sex itself originated in order to produce variation. Influence is more potent than argument
with women. An ideal or typical male is hard to define, but there is a standard ideal woman.
Because her mind is, more than that of man, essentially an organ of heredity, we find that,
although she may sometimes seem volatile and desultory, the fact that her processes seem to
be unconscious emancipates her from nature less than is the case with man. Her thought is a
mode of thinking. Brooks presents the following suggestive scheme: [p. 568]
Hyatt [8] says that "men and women, like the males and females of most animals, show by their
organization that they have been evolved from a type in which both sexes have been combined
in the same individual. The separation of the sexes did not destroy this dual nature, as is
demonstrated by the development of secondary male characters in the old age of many
species of animals, and of women in extreme age, and of feminine characters in aged men.
This opinion can also be supported by the structure of the tissue cells in the body, the nuclei of
which are made up of paternal and maternal parts. This dual structure enables us to
understand the fact that secondary sexual characters are latent in both males and females." He
also urges that "in the early history of mankind the women and men led lives more nearly alike
and were consequently more alike physically and mentally than they have become
subsequently in the lives of highly civilized peoples. This divergence of the sexes is a marked
characteristic of progression among highly civilized races. Coeducation of the sexes,
occupations of a certain kind, and woman's suffrage may have a tendency to approximate the
ideals, the lives, and the habits of women to those of men in these same highly civilized races.
Such approximation in the future, while perfectly natural and not in the common sense
degenerate, would not belong to the progressive evolution of mankind." They would be
convergences, and although they might bring intellectual advance would tend to virify women
and feminize men, and would be retrogressive. We find gerontic changes even in the younger
stages of adults, when the phylum is declining, or in its epacme. Perhaps, he thinks, a type like
an individual has only a limited store of vitality and a cycle, so that we can [p. 569] speak of
phylogerontic stages. If man is approaching this stage, it is especially important that every
degenerative influence: be avoided, because our organisms may be such that we can not rely
upon continuous or certain progress, one necessity of which is that the sexes be not
approximated, for this would inaugurate retrogressive evolution.
II. The Medical Standpoint. -- Even the demands of the new-school hygiene now represented
by so many experts, new journals, conferences, etc., have revealed no point of such wide
divergence between doctors and current methods and ideals as in the education of adolescent
girls. We have no space for even the outline of or history of this holy war, one of the most
important of many that physiology and biology have had to wage with ignorance and well-
entrenched custom, but must be content with sampling a few of the most representative
medical opinions in chronological order since this issue was so fairly and opportunely raised.
What follows in this section is immediately connected with Chapter VII.
Dr. Storer,[9] one of the first and most sagacious American writers in this field, urged that girls
should be educated far more in body and less in mind, and thought delicate girls frequently
ruined in both body and mind by school. He was not only one of the first to urge that surgery
should be performed at the uterine ebb which affected the system even during pregnancy, but
to hold that education should be regulated throughout with reference to monthly changes. An
epoch, however, was marked by Dr. Clarke's [10] book in 1873, and the reply to it by Miss
Brackett [11] and twelve other ladies eminent in the movement for the higher education of girls.
The former was a not very scholarly, but a simple and sensible, plea by a practitioner of
experience that woman's periods must be more respected. It appeared at the height of the
movement to secure collegiate opportunities for girls, was suspected of being unofficially
inspired by the unwillingness of Harvard College to receive them, and reached a seventeenth
edition [p. 570] in a few years. The women who replied took very diverse views. To one it was
an intrusion into the sacred domain of womanly privacy. To another it seemed insolent and
coarse, an affront to the sex. To another it was only a sneer, not doing as men would be done
by, for the vices of men were worse, twitting them of their sex, throwing sex in their teeth;
"these things must not be thought of in this wise." One writer deplored that women had not said
this for and of themselves, and advised that they study physiology, etc. On the whole, Dr.
Clarke raised the most important issue in the history of female education, and his book is still a
shibboleth of a woman's attitude on most questions pertaining to her sex and its so-called
sphere. The misery of being a girl, said Byford,[12] consists in feeling at this age that she is
prone to pain, depression of spirits, bears a badge of inferiority which must be endured, must
wear corsets, pads, and long clothes that impede her movements and that must never be
soiled or rumpled by free activity to which she was accustomed as a girl. Her studies are laid on
her sensitive consciousness and her pride and self-respect prompt her to overwork. Girls'
schools are governed too much, for girls need now not less but far more freedom than boys.
Some parts of the body are clothed too thickly, and some too little for health. Nowhere in the
world do men work so hard or girls and women do so little useful work or render so little real
service to the community as in this country. Young men are often fastidious and unpractical,
and are attracted by accomplishments that fall off and are lost soon after marriage, while they
do not know how to seek or recognize what is useful, and thus defer matrimony as a too
expensive luxury. In this self-imposed celibacy they become dangerous to the virtue of the
debilitated if not degenerate girls in the community.
Dr. Beard [13] says, after sending many circulars and studying the returns they brought:
"Nearly everything about the conduct of the schools was wrong, unphysiological and
unpsychological, and they were conducted so as to make very sad and sorrowing the lives of
those who were forced to attend [p. 571] them. It was clear that the teachers and managers of
these schools knew nothing of and cared nothing for those matters relating to education that
are of the highest importance, and that the routine of the schools was such as would have been
devised by some evil deity who wished to take vengeance on the race and the nation. . . .
Everything pushed in an unscientific and distressing manner, nature violated at every step,
endless reciting and lecturing and striving to be first -- such are the female schools of America
at this hour. The first signs of ascension or of declension in nations are seen in women. As the
foliage of delicate plants first shows the early warmth of spring, and the earliest frosts of
autumn, so the impressible, susceptive organization of woman appreciates and exhibits far
sooner than that of man the manifestation of national progress or decay." Nathan Allen [14]
urged that while in men everything depended upon bodily vigor, this was even more important
for girls, for in them we were educating the race. The best balance for weak nerves or other
organs was well-developed muscles, and in this at proper periods he saw the way of safety for
the well and of salvation for the sickly. Stated and out-of-door and not excessive physical
culture he thought had a normative influence upon the monthly function, and he, too, held to
periodic remission of work for mind, heart, and muscles.
The current prejudices that menstruation is a disagreeable function or a badge of inferiority, Dr.
Galippe [15] thinks arose from educational establishments for girls. The sentiment, which
prevails in these schools, is that it is somewhat shameful and at least not worthy of serious and
respectful consideration by well-bred minds. Instead of indicating her state to some person
selected for that purpose and receiving from her the delicate, hygienic instruction and
consideration needed, the pubescent girl conceals it and is left to herself, and metrorrhagia or
anemia and often local states result which are simply pathetic. Girls do not complain of easily
removable suffering, thinking often that pain is inseparable from [p. 572] this function, and take
part in all the exercises of the school, both physical and mental, when they have crying need of
all the highest functions of true motherhood to teach them the effects of fatigue and excitement,
the need of rest, and proper regimen and toilet. It is vain to assume that because savages or
peasants can live in a state of nature, that well-born girls at school can be thus abandoned.
Civilization in some respects is an artificial state and needs new habits and functions because it
involves greater susceptibility.
Dr. F. C. Taylor [16] presents some pertinent considerations as follows: Civilization is hard on
woman, and constantly stimulates her beyond her strength, fires her with ambitions she can not
realize, and robs her of the tranquillity she needs. Imperfect sexual hygiene is a prolific source
of evil to the individual woman and to the race. If the latter deteriorates it will be through the
degeneration of woman. In her, sex and its wider irradiations overshadow all else during her
ripening period, is an ever-present influence controlling mind and body, and in old age is the
glory of the declining day of life. If the sexual life is lowered or suppressed, a tonic needed for
vigor in all directions is lost. Owing in part to the fact that her organs are internal and therefore
less or later known, they are less often consciously connected with impressions that are
indirectly if not directly sexual, and there is greater convertibility of emotions. Women can
remain in what is really a suppressed semi-erotic state with never-culminating feeling, so
scattered in their interests and enthusiasms that they can not fix their affections permanently.
Particularly repressed molimina may become vicarious and issue in estheticism and all kinds of
noble or ignoble interests. Women are sometimes led astray when their feelings are made
especially delicate by bereavement, and on the other hand, excessive erotic sensations
sometimes cause loss of power in the limbs. Unmarried women are, and ought to be, great
walkers, but wives and mothers expend the same energy normally in other ways. Where the
normal exercise of functions is unduly restrained, it finds, therefore, many other outlets. Dr. [p.
573] Taylor thinks, however, that the difference between boys and girls in learning self-abuse
on account of the more obvious anatomy of the former is overestimated, and that the latter,
more commonly than is thought, not only find their organs and use them improperly, but are
more difficult to cure of this vice.
Clouston, in various articles and books, has expressed himself in very trenchant terms. Each
generation, he premises, can use up more than its share of energy, and women have a peculiar
power of taking out of themselves more than they can bear. All should carry a reserve to meet
emergencies and not use up all their power, and thus rob future generations.[17] His
conception is also that human life is divided into stages, each of which must be lived out in
such a way as not to draw upon the later stages. We should ask what nature aims at in each
period and surround each by its own ideal conditions, and see to it that in no stage we strive for
what belongs to another later one. Again, any organ like the brain or reproductive parts, if
overworked, may draw upon the vigor of others. Each individual stage and organ has just so
much energy. We should strive sedulously to keep the mental back in all and especially in
females, and not "spoil a good mother to make a grammarian." In the United States, Clouston
thinks that most families have more or less nervous taint or disease; that heredity is weak
because woman has lost her cue, although nature is benign and always tends to a cure if we
have not gone too far astray. Adolescence is more important for girls than for boys. Science
and learning are happily less likely to take a dominating hold of woman's nature, because they
are not along the lines on which it was built. Clouston is fond of reminding us that none of
Shakespeare's women were learned, that even Portia describes herself as "an unlettered girl,
unschooled, unpractised." Most great men's mothers were women of strong mind, but not
highly educated. Would their sons have been better, he asks, had the mothers been schooled?
Would they have been really better companions for men, and is learning bought at the [p. 574]
expense of any degree of cheerfulness, which is the best sign of health, not too costly? "There
is no time or place of organic repentance provided by nature for sins of the schoolmaster." A
man can work if he is one-sided or defective, but not so a woman. "If she is not more or less
finished and happy at twenty-five, she will never be." Parents want children to work in order to
tone down their animal spirits, and it almost seems to Clouston as if the devil invented the
school for spite. He quotes approvingly Oliver Wendell Holmes, who refers to the "American
female constitution which collapses just in the middle third of life and comes out vulcanized
India-rubber, if it happens to live through the period when health and strength are most
wanted," and thinks girls' brains should be put to grass for a few generations. Fun is to the mind
what fat is to the body. A large