Stephen Leacock, "The Woman Question," The
Social Criticism of Stephen Leacock, ed. Alan Bowker (U
of Toronto Press, 1973) 53.
"The great majority of women have no means of support of
their own. This is true also of men. But the men can acquire
means of support. They can hire themselves out and work.
Better still, by the industrious process of intrigue rightly
called 'busyness,' or business, they may presently get hold
of enough of other people's things to live without working.
Or again, men can, with a fair prospect of success, enter
the criminal class, either in its lower ranks as a house
breaker, or in its upper ranks, through politics. Take it
all in all a man has a certain chance to get along in life.
A woman, on the other hand, has little or none. The
world's work is open to her, but she cannot do it. She lacks
the physical strength for laying bricks or digging coal. If
put to work on a steel beam a hundred feet above the ground,
she would fall off. For the pursuit of business her head is
all wrong. Figures confuse her. She lacks sustained
attention and in point of morals the average woman is, even
for business, too crooked.
This last point is one that will merit a little emphasis.
Men are queer creatures. They are able to set up a code of
rules or a standard, often quite an artificial one, and
stick to it. They have acquired the art of playing the game.
Eleven men can put on white flannel trousers and call
themselves a cricket team, on which an entirely new set of
obligations, almost a new set of personalities, are wrapped
about them. Women could never be a team of anything.
So it is in business. Men are able to maintain a sort of
rough and ready code which prescribes the particular amount
of cheating that a man may do under the rules. This is
called business honesty, and many men adhere to it with a
dog-like tenacity, growing old in it, till it is stamped on
their grizzled faces, visibly. They can feel it inside them
like a virtue. So much will they cheat and no more. Hence
men are able to trust one another, knowing the exact degree
of dishonesty they are entitled to expect.
With women it is entirely different. They bring to
business an unimpaired vision. They see it as it is. It
would be impossible to trust them. They refuse to play fair.
Thus it comes about that woman is excluded, to a great
extent, from the world's work and the world's pay".