Emancipation of Women


We were at The Pawn Shop, a local chess club, where S.Q. Lapius, M.D. was playing Elizabeth Fischer, M.D. in the first round of the club championships.  The match attracted no attention.


When Elizabeth pushed a pawn to the seventh rank, Lapius surveyed the shambles of his defenses, the precarious position of his king, looked at his watch and said, “It’s late dear girl.  I think I’ll retire.”


“You mean you resign?” asked Elizabeth.


“Well, yes, after a fashion.”  Lapius was never a gracious loser at chess, but to lose to a woman was particularly vexing.


“Well, Simon,” she said after they had shaken hands across the board, “it proves the old adage, the female of the species is deadlier than the male.”


“Don’t be tedious, Elizabeth.  Must you keep dredging up those silly sophisms.  Why must the obvious fact that you are a female be dragged into a chess match?”


“But Simon dear,” she asked him, “wasn’t it during dinner that you said that women weren’t as competitive as men?”


Lapius rose to the bait.  His visage reddened slowly to the intensity of a scarlet sunset.  “Nonsense, Elizabeth.  I said no such thing.  I shan’t be inveigled into these specious arguments,” he said, immediately becoming inveigled.  “After all, I have always held you in the highest esteem, as a colleague, a scholar, and gentleman.”


“Gentleman and scholar indeed!” said Elizabeth reddening as if she had just received a transfusion from Lapius.  “You a bachelor, what would you know about women?”


“I must admit that most of what I have learned from you about women during our long relationship has not but confirmed my prejudice against marriage.”


“Simon,” she all but shrieked, “you are becoming insufferable.  You epitomize the lordly male to whom all womanhood must be forever obeisant.  I too have an admission to make.  Knowing you has made me a feminist.  Why shouldn’t women have equal opportunity for jobs, equal pay scales, child care centers -.”


Lapius silenced her with am imperious sweep of his arm.  “Silence woman,” he said.  Believe it or not, the innate sense of female subservience spun from the cottony threads of genetic memory took control, and Elizabeth stopped talking, her mouth agape.


“None of these are serious issues.  You became a physician, a mother, a wife, although perhaps not in that order.  You seized the opportunity.  The market place will decide jobs and pay scales and things of the sort.  Day Care Centers are becoming a social necessity, although I question the early deprivation of maternal influence.  But nary a word do I hear about significant problems.


“Why is it that women who clamor for freedom subordinate themselves to birth control devices?  By the bushel they submit to tubal ligation and even serious extirpations in order to achieve inconceivability.”  He didn’t even stop for breath.


“If he were to judge by the gross sales of medications, a future historian might guess that the one disease feared most by our civilization is pregnancy.  Look at the risks you women incur; the ‘pill’ which increases the risk of thrombo-embolic phenomena about ten fold, the emplacement of intrauterine devices, some of which cause for perforation, others of which induce infection; the wild clamor for abortion, to alter what might have been prevented in the first place by forbearance, timing or the fastidious use of harmless devices.  You think you’ve gained freedom from the home by freely inflicting these dangers on yourself.  You think you’ve gained sexual freedom, which will enable you to join the world of men.  But all you’ve done is to enslave yourself to harmful remedies.  Suddenly the liberated women is willing to mutilate herself so she can freely service the male of her choice.  That’s not liberation, darling, that’s captivity.  Congratulations.  You played a fine game.”  With that he turned and stalked out, with me, his retinue, behind him.


“Gosh, Simon,” I said as we walked home in the bitter chill, “Don’t you think you were a little rough with her?”


“Ridiculous.  I was just treating her as an equal.”  Then he stopped in his tracks, and muttered to himself, “Elizabeth Fischer, Bobby Fischer.  Maybe that explains it.”


“Explains what?”


“Why I lost to her.  I think he’s her cousin.”