Insulting Women

I’m struck with Woodrow Wilson’s framing of the difference between the classes in this essay. First, he insults the rich kids at a college where he’s speaking, then he insults everybody else by calling them “common.” But what’s even worse is how obvious it is that women aren’t even considered in his thoughts about leadership and industry.

“I remember speaking at a school not long ago where I understood that almost all the young men were the sons of very rich people, and I told them I looked upon them with a great deal of pity, because, I said: “most of you fellows are doomed to obscurity. You will not do anything. You will never try to do anything, and with all the great tasks of the country waiting to be done, probably you are the very men who will decline to do them. Some man who has been ‘up against it,’ some man who has come out of the crowd, somebody who has had the whip of necessity laid on his back, will emerge out of the crowd, will show that he understands the crowd, understands the interests of the nation, united and not separated, and will stand up and lead us.”

“If I may speak of my won experience, I have found audiences made up of the ‘common people’ quicker to take a point, quicker to understand an argument, quicker to discern a tendency and to comprehend a principle, than many a college class that I have lectured to,–not because the college class lacked the intelligence, but because college boys are not in contact with the realities of life, while ‘common’ citizens are in contact with the actual life of day by day; you do not have to explain to them what touches them to the quick.”

Wilson, Woodrow. “Chapter 4/Life Comes from the Soil.” The New Freedom; a Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People. New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1913. 84-85. Print.

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