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Excerpts from the Staats-Lexikon: "Relations between the Sexes" (1845-1848)

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And thus legislation does justice to women if it only retains the principle that they have the same sacred human dignity and not least the same shared, highest human destiny, and for that reason also the same shared rights, unless, because of the special powers and tasks of the female sex and for their welfare and that of the state, certain restrictions of this equality are recognized as necessary and just in accordance with this free, constitutional conception of society.

[ . . . ]

XII. With regard to political rights, however, the only preferential treatment of women that follows from the above principles is that they remain exempt from all military and public service and, conversely, the restriction that they may have no direct, active part in the decisive votes on public matters and in the contentious debates leading up to them, and may not hold any public offices. Only these things are generally excluded to preserve marital and family life and true womanliness and a woman’s destiny in life. All else, the general law may readily leave to customs, the permitted guidance of fathers and husbands, and to women’s discretion and sense of propriety, depending on their special circumstances, and, finally, to free public opinion. And it must do so, because every general restriction of legal equality that is not absolutely necessary is unjust and can be explained only as the result of the old, barbaric oppression of women. However, complete exclusion of women from all participation in public affairs would have a most deleterious effect on families and the state, on child rearing, on men and on women themselves. Woman, as the faithful life companion of man, as the educator of his sons, should also share in all his higher interests. Above all, men and women shall be intimately united in a lively, patriotic spirit of community. Women shall work on behalf of this spirit in raising and educating their children. Their social circles and those of the families shall never be deprived of the nobility of the higher, nobler human tendencies, and the husband and the Fatherland shall never be deprived of the benevolent influences of the insights, experiences, feelings, and impulses of noble, able women. Among all civilized peoples during their best periods, this influence was immeasurably effective and salutary. May it continue to be so. Away, then, with all legal restrictions on women with respect to writing and reading, listening to and observing public issues, attending meetings of the chambers of deputies, public courts, and lectures, exercising the rights of petition and the press, exerting every legal influence on public opinion, public mores and honor, and, finally, exercising the free right to establish women’s associations for permitted charitable, public purposes.

XIII. Women’s associations, especially, can work in a dignified and benevolent way to inspire the noblest enthusiasm, to relieve suffering, to satisfy the most important needs, and to improve women themselves and public sentiments. All this has been so evident to everyone since the great wars of liberation and the founding of women’s associations at that time and since for so many purposes, especially popular education and the so-called infant-schools, such diverse associations and often established with the participation of noble princesses, that one only need mention it. Women’s associations are one of the noblest and most praiseworthy manifestations – indeed, inventions – of our time.

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