"The Celibate Englishwoman"

"The Celibate Englishwoman" "The Celibate Englishwoman"

"The average Englishman must follow in the wake of her nobler scheme of life; her more progressive aims...He must see the things she sees. He must begin the cult of an ideal."

Such regrets of women upon entering marriage not only proved the subject of personal reflection for Sieveking but also a more public topic of in her feminist writings nearly a decade later. In her article "The Celibate Englishwoman," published in the July 12, 1913 issue of the suffragette magazine The Awakener, Sieveking argues that marriage cannot satisfy women's desires for close companionship. Moreover, systems of education, remaining conservative in the views they teach young men even as young women are becoming more and more progressive, have made such companionship impossible.

Throughout, Sieveking positions marriage as an institution outgrown by "the modern Englishwoman" who has now, for the first time, realized her full potential as an independent being who need not be governed by conventional ideas about her only worth as limited to the dependent role of wife and helpmate. Gone is the era in which women could be coerced or "hood-winked" into "the way of submission," "her ignorance taken advantage of, her innocence abused, her trust betrayed." Instead, through proper education, they are beginning to realize their "illimitable power" in the "practically boundless...horizons" opening around them and to find that "life...can fulfill all [their] aspirations." Sieveking goes on to ask if woman "can manage life as she now knows it, for herself...why...in the name of commonsense and reason, should she go into unnecessary bondage" by marrying against her own inclinations?

 Despite the progress in education for girls that has led to this newfound freedom, marriage must remain this state of "bondage" due to "the present-day young Englishman." Produced by the public school "machine" is typically "shallow, ordinary, and conventional." Educated in the views of "Early Victorian days," which deem marriage to men as women's sole reason for existence, these Englishmen prove woefully inadequate companions for women and will in fact "only hinder woman's individual development, and stunt her faculties." Indeed, the whole premise of traditional marriage that women "had no originality, that they were only meant to admire what men could do" has been proved false. Now that women are coming into their own individual talents, marriage has been shown to be "an attempt to merge into someone else what...is immergeable in its very essence."

According to Sieveking, this has lead women to much prefer celibacy than impose regressive constraints on their potential for self-realization. The only option for men is to make marriage seem "a true spiritual union or satisfaction" for both parties by "follow[ing] in the wake of her nobler scheme of life, her more progressive aims." In short, women will not go back in time, and if men wish to marry, they must instead come to terms with the new level of confidence and critical thought gained by women.