To adequately characterise this book requires the use of stronger language than is customary in The Englishwoman’s Review. In a long preface to this – the third – edition of his production, Dr. Möbius complains of the animosity of his women critics. “Women writers,” he says, “have nothing but disapproval for me, and this is understandable, for the women who feel I am right are not usually among the writers. I might, indeed, say that the want of comprehension, the many errors, and the hatred (Gehässigkeit) of the women critics do but prove that I have rightly gauged woman’s mental capacity.”
If it pleases Dr. Möbius to imagine that only a lofty masculine intelligence can appreciate his arguments – things of the past in England – about the lighter brain weight and the weaker physical structure of women, as compared with men, no particular harm is done. Women will go on using their brains, after they have been told that they have none to use, just as much as they did before. But that Dr. Möbius means much more is evident to the meanest feminine capacity. In answer to the objection that all women cannot be mothers, and that therefore motherhood cannot be a universal career, he frankly advocates illegitimate motherhood. Here are his words in the original: – “Wir mehr Mütter und mehr Menschenglück haben könnten, wenn nicht bloss in der Ehe erzeugte Kinder gelten lassen.”
On the next page he bemoans the decline of the cloister system as one of the greatest pieces of folly of the Reformation and of Liberalism. His ideal for the future is that woman, having renounced the error of Liberty, will devote herself, not to her own well-being, but to that of husband and children, or that man will put his foot down and say he will not hear of freedom for women. “Were men to do that seriously there would be an end of the ‘Woman Movement.’” Would there?
Really, this doctor is a sort of antiquarian curiosity, a kind of reincarnation of that Italian writer of the seventeenth century, who wrote a treatise to prove that women had no souls, and supported his assertions by the text: “Is it meet to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs?”
At the request of the publisher, a selection of the adverse criticisms on “Schwachsinn des Weibes” appears as an appendix. They occupy more space than the subject matter itself!