The little essays gathered in this volume are an attempt to interpret informally certain activities and responsibilities of the average normal woman. It is not surprising that in an age intoxicated as ours is by changes in its outward habits and conduct, there should come a certain contempt for...
The little essays gathered in this volume are an attempt to interpret informally certain activities and responsibilities of the average normal woman. It is not surprising that in an age intoxicated as ours is by changes in its outward habits and conduct, there should come a certain contempt for the great slow currents with which mankind has moved since the world began.
The old currents are lost we say in electrified, self-directing eddies, pools, streams. We have a new world of machines and systems — the world of Kultur. But this is to study only the surface. The few great currents of life persist as do the tides of the oceans.
They carry with them the human life of the world. There persists, too, as an inevitable, inescapable result of the currents, certain obligations and activities.
What is the relation to society and to the future of these old and common pursuits of the woman?
This question suggests the subject of this little book. The opinions and ideas in it have grown naturally out of the every-day life and observations of the writer. They are not offered as a "solution of the woman problem" or as final in matter or form. They supplement the author's earlier book, "The Business of Being a Woman."
All of these essays have appeared in the Woman's Home Companion.
A excerpt from the beginning of:
WHAT WOMEN ARE DOING
There is no more effective medicine to apply to feverish public sentiments than figures. To be sure, they must be properly prepared, must cover the case, not confine themselves to a corner of it, and they must be gathered for their own sake, not for the sake of a theory. Such preparation we get in a national census. The last census, particularly, is a trustworthy and sweeping survey of ourselves. It has already had a cooling effect on several overheated popular notions. In time it ought to be able to steady and Question. There are certain phases of that question that need a liberal dose of figures, particularly those concerned with what women are doing.
What are women doing? Last year a young foreign professor went up and down the country lecturing on the family. He had a clever trick of introducing his remarks by an earnest assurance of his belief in the institution, and then proceeding to wipe it off the surface of the earth ' with a neatness and dispatch which set everybody to applauding. He said he felt it his duty, as a student of facts, to warn society that the family was doomed. His conclusions were based entirely on a series of assertions, for he offered no proofs. Briefly, they were that things had become so hard for the masses that women were being driven into shops and factories in order to support themselves and their children; women were not marrying as freely as formerly — they were bearing fewer children; they were losing their taste for home-making and were finding careers in trades and professions more satisfying.
Through all of our social and economic discussions, particularly in the more radically inclined groups, these views run: women are changing; the home is going; industry is slowly smothering them both.
It requires no eye of a lynx to see that the ways of women the world over are very different from their ways a hundred years ago; and so are the ways of men. Being parts of human society, it is inevitable that this should be so. The world is actively reshaping itself, and everybody in it feels the pull and the drive. But do these changes affect the fundamental tastes and relations that nature and society have set for men and women? Is the family going? What do the figures say?
Begin with the class of women of whom we have heard most through the last decade, the class which has served as a fulcrum for much of the agitation and argument — the woman in industry, by which is meant usually the woman in shops and factories. -Does the Thirteenth Census support the assumption that this woman forms a class so large and so permanent that society must reorganize its educational and social institutions on her account? "There are several million young girls in our factories and shops" ("several" being usually translated as seven or eight millions). This statement we see and hear continually in print and from platforms. It is made by able people who carry weight with the public and whose only object in making it is to arouse interest in legislation,...