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intense. Ann Veronica had had some training at the Tredgold College in
disentangling threads from confused statements, and she had a curious
persuasion that in all this fluent muddle there was something--something
real, something that signified. But it was very hard to follow. She did
not understand the note of hostility to men that ran through it all, the
bitter vindictiveness that lit Miss Miniver's cheeks and eyes, the
sense of some at last insupportable wrong slowly accumulated. She had no
inkling of that insupportable wrong.
"We are the species," said Miss Miniver, "men are only incidents.
They give themselves airs, but so it is. In all the species of animals
the females are more important than the males; the males have to please
them. Look at the cock's feathers, look at the competition there is
everywhere, except among humans. The stags and oxen and things all
have to fight for us, everywhere. Only in man is the male made the
most important. And that happens through our maternity; it's our very
importance that degrades us.
"While we were minding the children they stole our rights and liberties.
The children made us slaves, and the men took advantage of it.
It's--Mrs. Shalford says--the accidental conquering the essential.
Originally in the first animals there were no males, none at all. It
has been proved. Then they appear among the lower things"--she made
meticulous gestures to figure the scale of life; she seemed to be
holding up specimens, and peering through her glasses at them--"among
crustaceans and things, just as little creatures, ever so inferior to
the females. Mere hangers on. Things you would laugh at. And among human
beings, too, women to begin with were the rulers and leaders; they owned
all the property, they invented all the arts.
"The primitive government was the Matriarchate. The Matriarchate! The
Lords of Creation just ran about and did what they were told."
"But is that really so?" said Ann Veronica.
"It has been proved," said Miss Miniver, and added, "by American
"But how did they prove it?"
"By science," said Miss Miniver, and hurried on, putting out a
rhetorical hand that showed a slash of finger through its glove. "And
now, look at us! See what we have become. Toys! Delicate trifles! A sex
of invalids. It is we who have become the parasites and toys."
It was, Ann Veronica felt, at once absurd and extraordinarily right.
Hetty, who had periods of lucid expression, put the thing for her
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