Nikola Tesla Was Against Feminism?

By Penny Hoffmann

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is known as a Serbian American inventor and engineer. What many may not know about him are his views on feminism.

In an interview for a 1924 news article by Galveston Daily News titled “Mr.Tesla Explains Why He Will Never Marry: Famous Scientist Felt Unworthy of Woman as She Used To Be, and Now He Can’t Endure Her Trying to Outdo the Men”, Tesla states that women who try to compete with men by taking on male roles are making themselves inferior:

“I had always thought of woman, as possessing those delicate qualities of mind and soul that made her in these respects far superior to man. I had put her on a lofty pedestal, figuratively speaking, and ranked her in certain important attributes considerably higher than man. I worshiped at the feet of the creature i raised to this height, and, like every true worshiper, i felt myself unworthy of the object of my worship. But all this was in the past. Now the soft-voiced gentle woman of my reverent dreams has all but vanished. In her place has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life relies in making herself as much as possible like man – in dress, voice, actions, sports and achievements of every kind.”

Tesla also states that the feminist movement where females abandon their gender roles and become more masculine is a sign of the downfall of a civilization:

“Women, are becoming stronger than men, both physically and mentally. The world has experienced many tragedies, but to my mind the greatest tragedy of all is the present economic condition wherein women strive against men, and in many cases actually succeed in upsurping their places in the professions and in industry. This growing tendency of women to overshadow the masculine is a sign of a deteriorating civilization.”

Men have desired to reach for the stars because they are inspired by the woman they fancy, mothers, or just any female figure in their life that believes in them:

“Woman’s determined competition with man in the business world is breaking down some of the best traditions – things which have proved the moving factors in the world’s slow but substantial progress. Practically all the great achievements of man until now have been inspired by his love and devotion to woman. Man has aspired to great things because some woman believed in him, because he wished to command her admiration and respect.”

Vessels have historically been named after women for the same reason, but were alternatively named after goddesses and other historical figures with the idea of safety and protection so the vessel survives whatever journey it undergoes.

Tesla then explains further about how men would self-sacrifice when working to serve women, and that, maybe, the male in society is useless. If women agree with this, then, Tesla believes, the worst of the world’s human history is taking place:

“For these reasons he has fought for her and risked his life and his all for her time and time again. Perhaps the male in human society is useless. I am frank to admit that i don’t know. If women are beginning to feel this way about it, and there is striking evidence at hand that they do, then we are entering upon the cruelest period of the world’s history.¬†Our civilization¬†will sink into a state like that which is found among the bees, ants and other insects – a state wherein the male is ruthlessly killed off. In this matriarchal empire which will be established the female rules. As the female predominates, the males are at her mercy. The male is considered important only as a factor in the scheme of the continuity of life.”

Tesla states that, when women see themselves as independent from man in terms of her breaking gender norms in the business world and not wanting to co-operate, this limits man’s ability to be independent:

“The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me. Woman’s independence and her cleverness in obtaining what she wants in the business world is breaking down man’s spirit of independence. The old fire he once experienced at being able to achieve something that would compel and hold a woman’s devotion is turning to ashes. Women don’t seem to want that sort of thing today. They appear to want to control and govern. They want man to look up to them, instead of their looking up to him. Conditions abroad suggest that the same tendency is worldwide.”

Tesla states that women are the victim when choosing this behavior, not the victor as what they imagine to be:

“I am considering this question not merely from the standpoint of a man, i am thinking of the woman’s side of it. As we contemplate any change, we naturally take into consideration the results that may follow such an innovation. One of the results to my mind is quite a pathetic one. Woman, herself, is really the victim of, as she thinks, the victor. Contentment is absent from her life. She is ambitious, often far beyond her natural equipment, to attain the thing she wants. She too frequently forgets that all women cannot be prima donnas and motion picture stars. Woman’s discontent makes the life of the present day still more over-stressed. The high pitch given to existence by people who are restless and dissatisfied because they fail to achieve things wholly out of proportion to the health and talent with which Nature has endowed them is a bad thing for the world.”

Because women will be the victims instead of victors, women will not be happy:

“It seems to me that women are not particularly happy in this newly found freedom, in this new competition which they are waging so persistently against men in business and even in sport. The question that naturally arises is, whether the women themselves are the gainers or the losers. It seems to me that anything which adds to the great discontent which we observe on every side to-day must be a bad influence on out life. Women who keep themselves agitated by their tremendous ambition to beat man at his game are losing at the same time something that counts for more in the end, than the empty honors that success in business or one of the professions can ever give.”

Because of corruption and tricksters, Tesla does not choose to conform with the general public:

“Discontent makes for cranks and unnatural people. There seems to be an uncommon number of them about today. This is one of the reasons i remain apart from the crowds. The public, or semi-public, character is the target for all sorts of attacks and unpleasant communications. For example, i used to receive all sorts of strange notes, many of them letters from cranks threatening my life, because they have read about my experiments in manufacturing lightning bolts. They wrote that they believed i was using these lightning flashes to kill them!”

Tesla states there are many examples of women who do not compete or try to outdo men that become great influencers:

“The power of the true woman is so great that i believe if a beautiful woman – that is to say, one beautiful in spirit, in manner and in thought, in fact, beautiful in every respect, a sort of goddess – were to appear suddenly on earth, she could command the whole world. Her leadership, i believe, would be universally recognized. History has given us many examples of the wonderful influence exerted by unusual women. Among these have been the mothers of great men. But their influence lay not in their determination to outdo man, or even to compete with him. Perhaps because woman is a finer and more highly sensitized instrument she knows by instinct her power and understands that the extent of it lies in the high position she takes for herself. But the superior never descends to the level of the commonplace.”

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