Just saw this on Project Gutenberg's homepage. Emily Davies (1830 - 1921) was a campaigner for women's rights to higher education and the co-founder of Girton College, Cambridge, the first women's college in Britain. I love this anecdote about her, her close friend Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, whom she encouraged to pursue medical studies, and Elizabeth's sister Millicent Fawcett, recorded by Elizabeth's daughter, Louisa Garrett Anderson, herself also a pioneering doctor:

Here is a picture of them during a visit to Alde House. Before the bedroom fire, the girls were brushing their hair. Emily was twenty-nine, Elizabeth twenty-three and Millicent thirteen. As they brushed, they debated. 'Women can get nowhere', said Emily, 'unless they are as well educated as men. I shall open the universities to them.' 'Yes,' agreed Elizabeth. 'We need education but we need an income too and we can't earn that without training and a profession. I shall start women in medicine. But what shall we do with Milly?' They agreed that she should get the parliamentary vote for women.

I just started reading Women In White Coats and they referred to this too I was just about to comment it and then I saw that you had 😂

[–] Lilith 1 points Edited

THERE is a theory afloat, extensively prevalent, and probably influencing many persons who have never stated it definitely to themselves, that the human ideal is composed of two elements, the male and the female, each requiring the other as its complement; and that the realisation of this ideal is to be found in no single human being, man or woman, but in the union of individuals by marriage, or by some sort of vague marriage of the whole race. The conception of character which rests on the broad basis of a common humanity falls into the background, and there is substituted for it a dual theory, with distinctly different forms of male and female excellence. Persons who take this view are naturally governed by it in their conceptions of what women ought to be. Having framed a more or less definite idea of the masculine character, in constructing the feminine helpmeet they look out, if not for the directly opposite, for what they would call the complementary qualities, and the conclusion quickly follows, that whatever is manly must be unwomanly, and vice versâ. The advocates of this view usually hold in connexion with it certain doctrines, such as, that the man is intended for the world, woman for the home; man’s strength is in the head, woman’s in the heart; the man’s function is to protect, woman’s to soothe and comfort; men must work, and women must weep: everywhere we are to have a sharply marked division, often honestly mistaken for the highest and most real communion. Closely connected with these separatist doctrines is the double moral code, with its masculine and feminine virtues, and its separate law of duty and honour for either sex.

The general acceptance of the theory is not surprising. It gratifies the logical instinct; and many persons, hastily taking for granted that it is the only conception of the relations between men and women which recognises real distinctions, assume it to be the only one which satisfies the craving of the æsthetic sense for harmony and fitness. Unfortunately it is not workable. We make the world even more puzzling than it is by nature, when we shut our eyes to the facts of daily life; and we know, as a fact, that women have a part in the world, and that men are by no means ciphers in the home circle—we know that a man who should be all head would be as monstrous an anomaly as a woman all heart—that men require the protection of law, and women are not so uniformly prosperous as to be independent of comfort and consolation—men have no monopoly of working, nor women of weeping. The sort of distinction it is attempted to establish, though not without an element of truth when rightly understood, is for the most part artificial, plausible in appearance, but breaking down under the test of experience. When overstrained, and made the foundation of a divided moral code, it is misleading in proportion to its attractiveness.

I'm blown away by her writing. She writes with such beautiful elegance such a piercing close insight into the confines built around the women of her time.