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PAGE 2

Emancipated Woman
by [?]

It is God’s own crystal truth that in dealing with women unfortunate enough to be compelled to earn their own living and fortunate enough to have wrested from Fate an opportunity to do so, men of business and affairs treat them with about the same delicate consideration that they show to dogs and horses of the inferior breeds. It does not commonly occur to the wealthy “professional man,” or “prominent merchant,” to be ashamed to add to his yearly thousands a part of the salary justly due to his female bookkeeper or typewriter, who sits before him all day with an empty belly in order to have an habilimented back. He has a vague, hazy notion that the law of supply and demand is mandatory, and that in submitting himself to it by paying her a half of what he would have to pay a man of inferior efficiency he is supplying the world with a noble example of obedience. I must take the liberty to remind him that the law of supply and demand is not imperative; it is not a statute, but a phenomenon. He may reply: “It is imperative; the penalty for disobedience is failure. If I pay more in salaries and wages than I need to, my competitor will not; and with that advantage he will drive me from the field.” If his margin of profit is so small that he must eke it out by coining the sweat of his workmen into nickels, I’ve nothing to say to him. Let him adopt in peace the motto, “I cheat to eat” I do not know why he should eat, but Nature, who has provided sustenance for the worming sparrow, the sparrowing owl, and the owling eagle, approves the needy man of prey, and makes a place for him at table.

Human nature is pretty well balanced; for every lacking virtue there is a rough substitute that will serve at a pinch–as cunning is the wisdom of the unwise, and ferocity the courage of the coward. Nobody is altogether bad; the scoundrel who has grown rich by underpaying the workmen in his factory will sometimes endow an asylum for indigent seamen. To oppress one’s own workmen, and provide for the workmen of a neighbor–to skin those in charge of one’s own interests, while cottoning and oiling the residuary product of another’s skinnery–that is not very good benevolence, nor very good sense, but it serves in place of both. The man who eats pate de fois gras in the sweat of his girl cashier’s face, or wears purple and fine linen in order that his typewriter may have an eocene gown and a pliocene hat, seems a tolerably satisfactory specimen of the genus thief; but let us not forget that in his own home–a fairly good one–he may enjoy and merit that highest and most honorable title in the hierarchy of woman’s favor, “a good provider.” One having a just claim to that glittering distinction should enjoy a sacred immunity from the coarse and troublesome question, “From whose backs and bellies do you provide?”

So much for the material results to the sex. What are the moral results? One does not like to speak of them, particularly to those who do not and can not know–to good women in whose innocent minds female immorality is inseparable from flashy gowning and the painted face; to foolish, book-taught men who honestly believe in some protective sanctity that hedges womanhood. If men of the world with years enough to have lived out of the old regime into the new would testify in this matter there would ensue a great rattling of dry bones in bodices of reform ladies. Nay, if the young man about town, knowing nothing of how things were in the “dark backward and abysm of time,” but something of the moral difference between even so free-running a creature as the society girl and the average working girl of the factory, the shop and the office, would speak out (under assurance of immunity from prosecution) his testimony would be a surprise to the cartilaginous virgins, blowsy matrons, acrid relicts and hairy males of Emancipation. It would pain, too, some very worthy but unobservant persons not in sympathy with “the cause.”

Certain significant facts are within the purview of all but the very young and the comfortably blind. To the woman of today the man of today is imperfectly polite. In place of reverence he gives her “deference;” to the language of compliment has succeeded the language of raillery. Men have almost forgotten how to bow. Doubtless the advanced female prefers the new manner, as may some of her less forward sisters, thinking it more sincere. It is not; our giddy grandfather talked high-flown nonsense because his heart had tangled his tongue. He treated his woman more civilly than we ours because he loved her better. He never had seen her on the “rostrum” and in the lobby, never had seen her in advocacy of herself, never had read her confessions of his sins, never had felt the stress of her competition, nor himself assisted by daily personal contact in rubbing the bloom off her. He did not know that her virtues were due to her secluded life, but thought, dear old boy, that they were a gift of God.