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Conservative Criticism of Women's Activism (1852)

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In such manifestations as Louise Aston we see the fruit of our unhealthy literary trends. Out of hyper-femininity, the lady is copying men, but at the same time she shows the men how womanish they have become. Woman possesses an incomparably more powerful imitative impulse than man. In part it must replace in her the lesser creative power. The zeal with which so many literary ladies turn, in imitation, precisely to the most arrogant, fractured, and inherently corrupted poetry of our day reminds me of the Russian poets and artists, who also tend to imitate only those creations of occidental Europe which have been substantially eaten away by the rot of commercialized culture.

It is very tempting to draw a parallel here between the Slavs and women. The Slavs are an easy-going, domestic people content in self-restraint, very much in the way of women; they like to sing and do it well, they dance even better, cling to ancestral customs, and have a good deal of passive courage, all the sort of things that are said to be found also in good women. But they lack the inventive and artistically self-creative spirit. In return, though, they are marvellous virtuosos of imitation; just like women. But once they – the Slavs – begin to imitate foreign ways, they become truly unbridled in the reception of foreign things, against which they otherwise close themselves off in a standoffish manner. Thus they are national and conservative in their manners, in their quiet being and nature; unrestrained toward the foreign when it comes to production. That is also the way of women, and in that sex it is no more an inner contradiction than it is in that people.

However, hyper-femininity erupts not only in the so-called emancipated ladies, but also in women who are quite opposite in nature, and it infects us with its marrowless character. Last century, when Pietism was moving from one German castle and manor to another, it was mostly countesses and baronesses who cultivated the new, soft, enthusiastic state of mind, which they then directed back at the men even softer and more sickly; they played pastor as though they had been ordained, and externally they carried out the most excellent propaganda for their party. This was also hyper-femininity which changed into masculinity and under whose influence the whole matter was corrupted.

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