Please picture me now as one of these circus-chariot-ladies, with one hand driving an exciting tandem, — arts and law—and with the other hand holding aloft two streaming banners, —love and liberty.
Everyone is out. Mothers and father and babies line the doorsteps. Girls with their beaux, standing in the shadows, or gathered in laughing groups on the corners. And children, thousands of them everywhere, little girls playing singing games in the middle of the street, and boys running in and out, chasing each other, throwing balls, building fires, fighting, laughing, shouting. Oh it is wonderful, – this human nature with its infinite capacity, and unending desire, for joy…
If I had my way…we would tell the men of this country we were not going to work any more [sic], we were not going to contribute or to assist them with anything until they gave us a share in the government of the country…If this strike were possible I am willing to wager that women would be given the ballot within several hours.
The current legal system is vicious when it comes to labor because it does not provide relief when it is most needed, because it lays too heavy a burden on the claimant and allows the corporation to escape liability by carrying the case from court to court, because it encourages dishonesty on the part of the claims agent and the ambulance chaser, and because…the greater portion of the damages paid by employers goes out in attorneys’ fees.
The first thing brought home to me was that working people do not have the ‘luxury of grief.’ The daily tyranny of hard work in their lives leaves little time for pondering the unanswerable ‘Why’ of sorrow.
When the strong young body of a free man is caught up by a little projecting set-screw, whirled around a shaft and battered to death, when we know that a set-screw can be countersunk at a trivial cost, when we know that the law of the state has prohibited projecting set-screws for many years, then who wants to talk about ‘three years wages to the widow’ and ‘shall it be paid in installments, or in a lump sum?’ and ‘shall the workman contribute?’ What we want is to put somebody in jail. And when the dead bodies of girls are found piled up against locked doors leading to the exits after a factory fire, when we know that locking such doors is a prevailing custom in such factories, and one that has continued in New York City since those 146 lives were lost in the Triangle Waist Company fire, who wants to hear about a great relief fund? What we want is to start a revolution.
Seriously, does anyone suppose that love-making has gone out of fashion in California, or marriage fallen off in Wyoming, or the birth rate decreased in Colorado as a result of woman suffrage?
If this Congress adjourns without taking action on the woman suffrage amendment…every woman voter will know this…and we have faith that the woman voter will stand by us. We are ready to go into this struggle if you force us to, but we are not eager for it. Gentlemen, why turn us into enemies. Why not keep us as friends?
Women must have work of their own, first because no one who has to depend on another person for his living is really grown up; and second, because the only way to be happy is to have an absorbing interest in life which is not bound up with any particular person. Children can die or grow up, husbands can leave you. No woman who allows husband and children to absorb her whole time and interest is safe from disaster.
The hardest part of the battle is yet to come; the battle with ourselves, with our inherited instincts, with our cultivated taste for leisure, with our wrong early training, with our present physical unfitness… God meant the whole rich world of work and play and adventure for women as well as men. It is high time for us to enter into our heritage – that is my feminist faith.
The highest hope I have…is the beginning of a kind of international enthusiasm based on a warm, real knowledge of other races and their contribution to the world’s values – a delight in the culture of other nations as well as our own – and eagerness to see it survive. Out of this must spring a wide tolerance which will make the needs, the grievances, the problems of one nation quite naturally a matter of world interest, the subject of a just and kindly deliberation of a world court.
I believe women have a great deal more mechanical ability than they have been credited with, but naturally when they are allowed to practice with needles and egg beaters [sic] only they can’t show what they could do with a monkey wrench.
The question of woman suffrage is not one that should be cluttering up twentieth century affairs. It belongs back in the eighteenth century.
The ingenuity and ability which the wife and mother has to exercise in order to buy food and clothing for the family and run the home efficiently should be recognized as productive work… Too many men have the notion that they support their wives.
Certain learned gentlemen, well supported by gentlemen of great wealth, urged upon us the necessity of spending more of the people’s money for national defense. As I understand their line of reasoning, it is this: All Europe is at war…the only way to be safe is to be stronger than any one else, or stronger than all the rest put together, if possible. Now that seems to my poor feminine intellect like high school boy logic. All those men were grown men, however. Some of them were old men. They were old enough to know better…
There is nothing new since Ezekiel’s time in their terror and declaration that the enemy is upon us. They are saying to Congress, ‘Never mind the death of democracy, nor our foreign policies, whether they be just or unjust, but prepare!’ In the face of this, we say to Congress, ‘Gentlemen, wait; go slow. We are not afraid.’
To start in just now on a great program of naval expansion, to spend millions on submarines and battleships, to increase the standing army, to start military training camps, to talk, think, and act ‘preparation for war,’ is, psychologically speaking, like pouring kerosene on the roofs instead of water. Sparks are bound to fall – if they fall on cool wet roofs there is a chance of their going out. If they fall on dry roofs prepared with kerosene, what chance is there?
No narrow, nationalistic spirit made the [Russian] revolution…You held out your hands to every people, allied and enemy, and asked them to join you. And you will teach many things to America. You will teach America that there can be no real democracy with the women left out.
It takes an exceedingly large-minded liberal to fight for the right of another man to say exactly what he himself does not want said.
I am perfectly sure I could never say I believe in the vigorous prosecution of the war. War offends my common sense and my regard for human life too much. I cannot feel any faith in good coming out of it, even now that we are in it; and besides that, even if I admit that good may come out of it, I could not encourage other people to die for a cause I am not ready to die for myself.
Feminists are not nuns, that first must be established. We want to love and be loved, and most of us want children, one or two at least. But we want our love to be joyous and free – not clouded with ignorance and fear.
If the feminist program goes to pieces at the arrival of the first baby, it is false and useless.
For two years the whole Western world has been talking about freedom and democracy. Now that the war is over and it is possible to think calmly once more, we must examine the popular abstractions, and consider (especially here in the America where the boasting has been the loudest) – how much freedom and democracy we actually have.
After all these centuries of retirement women need more than an ‘equal opportunity’ to show what’s in them, they need a generous shove into positions of responsibility.
Women’s freedom, in the feminist sense, can be fought for and conceivably won before the gates open into industrial democracy. On the other hand, woman’s freedom, in the feminist sense, is not inherent in the communist ideal. All feminists are familiar with the revolutionary leader who ‘can’t see’ the woman’s movement… ʽMy wife’s all right,’ he says. And his wife, one usually finds, is raising his children in a Bronx flat or a dreary suburb, to which he returns occasionally for food and sleep when all possible excitement and stimulus have been wrung from the fight. If we should graduate into communism tomorrow this man’s attitude to his wife would not be changed.
It seems that the only way we can keep mothers free, at least in a capitalist society, is by the establishment of a principle that the occupation of raising children is peculiarly and directly a service to society and the mother upon whom the necessity and privilege of performing this service naturally falls is entitled to an adequate economic reward from the political government. It is idle to talk of real economic independence for women unless this principle is accepted.
The fact that warring nations met and discussed the war problems sanely and in friendship while all their male relatives were out shooting each other is to my mind a great and significant event in history…
Feminists need a program that works not just for women judges and women lawyers alone…It is the great masses of women of this country who are still in slavery that we must rouse – the women who have to ask their husbands for a new hat, and cannot say whether they will have children or not, or when.
Indifference is harder to fight than hostility, and there is nothing that kills an agitation more than having everyone admit that it is fundamentally right.
A few years ago I heard of a group of upper class husbandless Australian women who wrote to an eminent American biologist, president of an American University, begging him to tell them if science had advanced so that women might become mothers through exogenesis, the male cell to be transferred by a scientist, instead of deposited by a male mate in the usual fashion. These women wanted to become mothers…What they did not want was to contract for a lifelong association with a husband.
If two men went into a partnership on the understanding that John should run the factory and Bill should go out on the road and sell the goods, nobody would say that the profits belonged to Bill because he went out to work, and John was only entitled to a bare living because he stayed home and worked. They would share and share alike in the surplus. And that is how it must be with marriage.
To blot out of every law book in the land, to sweep out of every dusty courtroom, to erase from every judge’s mind that centuries-old precedent as to woman’s inferiority and dependence and need for protection, to substitute for it at one blow the simple new precedent of equality, that is a fight worth making if it takes ten years.