Typos p. 162: bemeaning [= demeaning]
In all discussions on economic conditions it is important to remember that little about them is unalterable, or inevitable. There are very few so-called "economic laws" which it is not within man's power to alter to his advantage, and therefore economic conditions, which appear to be hostile to biological needs are so only because they are allowed to be so.
But there is a limit beyond which human multiplication cannot go, and it might be argued that there is a law to the effect that population cannot normally exceed the power of the soil to support it. On the whole, however, it betrays a better historical sense and a deeper knowledge of past and present economic systems to regard economic conditions as more elastic and more susceptible to control than they were believed to be in the 19th century, and it is wise to discuss economic conditions with this in mind.
Where economic conditions can and do adversely affect women, is in sacrificing their sexual functions.
There are five possible ways of restricting population:
(1) A proportion of the males may be castrated and their sexual function sacrificed. This has never been tried by any State for restricting population. Only slaves or servants have been castrated to meet special requirements, but then only on a small scale.
(3) Infanticide. This has been tried by most peoples, civilised and uncivilised. But it is a foolish and wasteful practice unless allowed only in the case of monsters, infants so injured by birth as to impair their mental faculties, inferior biological specimens, etc. Selective infanticide, however, wise as it would undoubtedly be, will be possible only when, if ever, mankind is much more enlightened than it is at present.
(4) Women may be spayed and their sexual function sacrificed. This has never been tried as a consistent policy for restricting population. In any case the effect of spaying is much more disastrous than that of castration and would, therefore, be impracticable, even if, as a practice, it were tolerated by certain groups of women.
Women, when pregnant, may, it is true, be aborted. This has recently been tried on a large scale in Russia. But it involves the sacrifice of a large part of the female sexual function, results in grave endocrine and other disorders, 1 and it was abandoned in Russia because it caused too much havoc among the mothers concerned.
This does not mean, however, that the policy of sacrificing the sexual function of woman is not actually practised in a disguised form; for, as a matter of fact, it is pursued on an almost national scale at the present moment by the method known as Birth Control. In
1 See my essay on ABORTION (Allen and Unwin, London, 1935).
The strange part of it is that the Anglo-Saxon woman has been so unscrupulously indoctrinated with false principles, and her mind has been so completely diverted from the sound biological attitude to life and her own nature that, as a rule, she wholly supports the policy which is sacrificing her sexual function for varying periods of her life, and thinks that the Feminists who advocate it are her best friends.
(5) Women may be encouraged to practise homosexuality. This, however, would also imply a complete sacrifice of their sexual functions, and although female homosexuality has flourished at various times, it has never done so as a State-organised practice for restricting population, and is not to be thought of as a practical method of securing that end.
Thus the only solution so far discovered by Anglo-Saxon wisdom for restricting population under the pressure of economic conditions has been the sacrifice,
For, if it seems wise to restrict population by sacrificing women's sexual function; if, moreover, women are thereby freed from domestic and maternal duties; if, too. Feminists preach both greater "freedom" for women and the advantage of Birth Control methods; and if women themselves, in their ignorance of the cost in minor and lethal ailments, are led to imagine that both less motherhood and more freedom are eminently desirable and are being recommended by their "best friends" (the Feminists), then it follows that the need for restricting population under economic pressure has played into the hands of the Feminists, and has made their negative and inhuman programme seem both plausible, sensible, and admirable to the ignorant and corrupted womenfolk of modern Anglo-Saxon States.
The question is whether any policy not involving the sacrifice of the sexual function of woman can be accepted.
Let us be quite clear about the facts. The sacrifice of women's sexual function, in the disguised form offered by Birth Control, is the only policy so far discovered by Anglo-Saxon wisdom to meet the need of restricting population. But although, as a policy, it is erroneously supposed by thousands of modern people, because it avoids overt sacrifice, to be better than infanticide, or castration of the male, or female
The extent of this sacrifice is hidden because, in the first place, cancer of the breast, ovaries. Fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina, not to mention other ailments, whether lethal or not, but in any case crippling and harassing, are not connected in the popular mind with the deprivation of normal functioning in these organs. Secondly, because although most Anglo-Saxon families can now boast of at least one female victim to one or more of these diseases, the total national sum of such victims, together with their steady annual increase, is never brought clearly to the attention of the women of the country as a whole.
They do not know, for instance, that breast cancer is on the increase, and that unmarried women suffer from it at a higher rate than the married, and that even among the latter the less fertile are at a disadvantage. This fact, at least, would show them the connection between non-functioning and disease.
They do not know that, in America, States with a high birth rate have a low mortality from breast cancer, or that England and Wales, the Paradise of Feminists, heads the list, among fifteen other countries, with the highest mortality from breast cancer and lowest birth rate. They do not know, and are never told, that breast cancer is nine times as frequent in England and Wales, where only one-third of the married mothers suckle their children, and where thousands of women have no children, than it is in Japan where female celibacy is rare and breast feeding and large families are the rule.
I could tell them, and have told them in several books, similar facts about the uterus, the tubes, the
Moreover, they are never candidly asked, "Do you wish to sacrifice your sexual function?" by anyone who lays before them the known consequences of so doing. On the contrary, without any reference to the fact that Birth Control methods and the decline of breast feeding (both of which mean greater female "freedom") do in fact sacrifice their normal sexual function, they are invited to adopt the Feminist programme and are encouraged to do everything to realise it.
More fools they!
Yes! But it is a Government's duty to protect the ignorant from their foolishness, and if people are carefully and regularly warned not to step on live electric rails, or to climb pylons, or to cross thoroughfares without watching the traffic lights, why are the women not told the dangers of sacrificing their sexual functions?
The answer to this question would reveal the extent to which Feminist influence prevails in official, medical and Press circles in England.
What are the alternatives?
There are various possible alternatives, but all must involve sacrifice of some kind, because sacrifice of some kind is implicit in organic life as it is found on this globe. The only rational policy, however, is to sacrifice along creative and selective lines, so that the sacrifice
(1) An increasing population, which is the only healthy population, may be spread abroad, at the expense of lower races, or merely at the cost of the emigrants' love of their home-land. This has never been systematically tried by Anglo-Saxons, although they had the means to hand to effect this policy. Where it has been tried, the attempt has been largely haphazard and not deliberate.
(2) The policy of rigidly eliminating degenerates at birth and prohibiting the marriage or multiplication of degenerates. In our heavily infected and deteriorated population, this would have provided relief for many years, and given us time to look round and devise other measures. It would also have had the further advantage of removing many of the heavier overhead charges caused by degeneracy, which now act indirectly through taxation in such a way as to compel sound couples to limit their families.
(3) The policy of rigorously prohibiting immigration of all stocks, even Colonial and Dominion. Naturalisation should be abolished, and many of the existing naturalisations revised and cancelled, if necessary with money compensation. The fact that, while Birth Control has for the last forty years been energetically advocated to the masses of England, hundreds of thousands of people of foreign origin have been allowed to come in to swell the population of the country, is one of the many scandals for which only the prevalent stupidity of the nation enables the authorities to escape punishment.
At present, economic pressure is allowed to play
Economic pressure also plays into the hands of those fathers who tend to rationalise their reluctance to get their daughters married by pleading that their first duty is to make them independent earners. In this way, too, economic conditions indirectly help the Feminist Cause.
But if the importance of an early marriage for girls and a normal sexual life for women as a whole were properly appreciated by the nation at large, and if the masses of the people could be cured of their present Socrates sodden outlook and made to think about human beings more biologically, there is no doubt that economic and other conditions would be made to bend to satisfy these two needs.
The fact that the present solutions of the problem of economic pressure are allowed to persist can be ascribed only to the prevailing state of the public mind It is not only Socraticised to the last degree, but also left in complete ignorance of the true needs of women It is, therefore, easily deceived by the Feminist appeal
No better proof could be adduced of the general ignorance of the true needs of women in England to-day than the incident related above at my debate with the ardent Feminist, and the readiness with which the wildest inaccuracies about women's natures and requirements, in both Birth Control and other Feminist literature, are accepted by the populace at large.
All this, while it reveals the low level of intelligence generally displayed by the Feminist leaders themselves, also reflects very unfavourably on democracy and democratic methods of settling important national policies. It makes one wonder whether any good can possibly come of a political system which, while it presupposes an ill-informed, short-sighted, and emotional mass of people on the one hand, provides no means of ensuring that those who guide and direct them in forming their ultimate decisions shall be wise, well-informed, scrupulous and honest.
The Influence of Industrialism.
The flight from domesticity and childbearing are probably the major features of the Feminist programme in Anglo-Saxon countries. But, in the realisation of both these aims, Anglo-Saxon industrialism has done the Women's Movement an enormous service. both by anticipating the Feminist drive of women from the home into factories, offices and warehouses, and by supplying its economic basis when once it became a formulated plan.
It further promoted Feminist schemes by appropriating many of the civilised female's home industries,
These aspects of Industrialism may now be examined separately.
(1) Industrialism drove women from the home very early in the history of the so-called Industrial Revolution. Not later than 1800 an observer in Manchester reported on the loss by female factory workers of all knowledge of the domestic arts. He also pointed out that, when these women became wives, their ignorance of culinary matters condemned their families to such articles of food as are the most easily acquired (bread and cheese in particular). 1 This charge against female factory workers continued to be made throughout the 19th century. 2 But, at any rate, the fact that it is recorded as early as 1800 shows that, even at that date industrialism had already encroached on the homes of the masses in a direction opposed to feminine domesticity.
By 1835, according to one authority, of the factory hands over 18 years of age in Britain, 102,812 were women and 88,859 men. 3 By 1931 the figures for women and girls had risen to 2,235,020.
The effect of married women's labour on the
1 ENGLISH WOMEN IN LIFE AND LETTERS, by M. Phillips and W. S. Tomkinson. (London, 1927, p. 394).
2 See, for instance, VICTORIAN WORKING WOMEN, by W. F. Neff (London, 1939, pp. 4748), and WOMEN AND WORK, by A. A. Bulley and M. Whitley (London, 1894, pp. 103104).
3 Neff, Op. cit. p. 26.
To soothe their neglected infants, it was a common practice, early in the 19th century, for working mothers to give them a mixture of laudanum and treacle, known as Godfrey's Mixture. This alone, apart from any other adverse circumstance, must have accounted for much of the infant mortality, and it is not surprising that this scandalous abuse provoked indignant protests in works of fiction and elsewhere.
What might presumably cause us some astonishment, however, is the fact that, in the fourth decade of the 20th century, a similar practice, common among Indian female factory hands, was countenanced by the British rulers of India. 3 Presumably, therefore, an obviously disgraceful abuse, long forbidden in the
1 Vol. XX, p. 860. See also Bulley and Whitley (op. cit. pp. 103104, and 145); also WOMEN'S WORK AND WAGES, by E. Cadbury, M. C. Matheson, and George Shann (London, 1909. pp. 2324 and 219), whilst Mr. Titmus's much later BIRTH, POVERTY AND WEALTH (London, 1943) implies similar charges.
2 London, 1922, pp. 154155 et seq.
3 See THE WHITE SAHIBS IN INDIA by Reginald Reynolds (London, 1938, pp. 2867 and p. 295 notes 73 and 74).
It is not germane to my present inquiry to relate all the horrors connected with the employment of women and particularly mothers, in our industries (especially the mines) during the 19th century and later. It is sufficient to record the fact that the manufacturers and colliery owners did actually put the more extreme Feminist doctrines into practice long before these were formulated, and thus established among the largest section of the population, the so-called "working classes," social habits and traditions which were to fit admirably into the framework of Feminist policy in later years.
The reasons for the employment of women, married or unmarried, whether in the factories or in the mines were primarily cheapness hence their use in undercutting men and, in early times, as a means of breaking strikes. There is overwhelming evidence of this in all the literature and records, especially after children had been excluded from such work. But there were also other factors which, although they should have attracted the attention of the authorities and a wide public never actually did so. These factors were:
(a) The greater docility and conscientiousness of women, especially of mothers, owing to the greater sequaciousness of the female in general and, in the case of mothers, to the greater fear they must always entertain lest any failure on their part should redound to the disadvantage of their offspring.
The fact that this characteristic of the average affectionate mother was indeed exploited was openly
"Mr. E., a manufacturer," said Lord Ashley in his speech on the Ten Hours Bill (March, 1844) "informed me that he employs females exclusively at his power looms; it is so universally; he gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support; they are attentive and docile, more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertions to procure the necessities of life! Thus, sir, are the virtues, the peculiar virtues of the female character to be perverted to her injury thus all that is most dutiful and tender in her nature is made the means of her bondage and suffering." 1
This is the classical example and it is famous. But no one acquainted with the literature and with the individual testimonies given by working women and recorded in the various symposia and compilations published by women social workers, need doubt its general truth throughout the industrial history of the 19th and 20th centuries.
(b) The inadequate remuneration of male married workers in almost all industries throughout the period covered by the industrial development.
The literature abounds in evidence of the fact that the reluctance of both working-class mothers themselves and of their husbands to accept the principle of work outside the home for married women has been consistently overcome only by the pressing need, existing in the vast majority of working homes, to add
1 HANSARD, 3rd series. Vol. LXXIII, March 15th, 1844. See also WOMEN'S WORK AND WAGES for similar later testimony.
Thus Industrialism scored both ways. With the business men and factory owners of the 19th, and 20th centimes, it was always "Tails we win and heads you lose!" in their attitude towards the working masses. For, by underpaying the men, they forced at least the wives of the working classes into the factories and warehouses, and by employing the women were able still further to bargain to advantage with the men, or else to leave them without employment altogether.
This is true of the whole of the century and a half preceding the second World War, 2 and the recent effects of the policy are well summed up by Joan Beauchamp as follows:
"Ministry of Labour Inquiries into the average earnings of men and women show that women's earnings are usually only approximately one-half of those of men, and it is therefore clearly to the advantage of the employers to substitute women for men wherever possible. In a vast and growing number of cases the housewife thus becomes the only wage-earner, and with the operation of the means test her wages are taken into account in fixing unemployment relief for the displaced man of the family. The net result is that the Unemployment Assistance Board is subsidising the employer, who is getting the same amount
1 See for instance, Adelaide M. Anderson (Op. cit. pp 156, 161 and 162); also MARRIED WOMEN'S WORK where the fact is emphasized almost on every page; also W. F. Neff (Op. cit. pp. 4950), and Bulley and Whitley (Op. cit. Preface, p. x).
2 The consequences of this state of affairs came as a shock to all decent-minded people when they were revealed in a brochure entitled OUR TOWNS (Oxford Univ. Press, 1943).
And, incidentally, it is here, as I point out elsewhere, that Feminism adopted so shortsighted a policy as wholly to forfeit all claim on the worker's regard. For, had friendliness and loyalty to the mass of normal married women in the country been the mainspring of the movement which, of course it never was the only desirable and merciful reform to agitate for, and one which would have defeated the ruses of all the mere profiteers in the land, was higher wages and security of employment for the married men. Not better and better conditions for women workers, not women police, women M.P.s., women diplomatists, and women barristers, but a sufficient wage for the working man to allow him to keep his wife at home and, above all, to have security of employment. 2 Nor can any rational being read a compilation such as Married Women's Work, for instance to mention but one record of the facts without being convinced that, had the Feminist agitators worked in this direction, they would have had all working class England behind them. 3
Besides, this policy for the Feminists was all the
1 WOMEN WHO WORK (London, 1937, p. 12).
2 Thus, Miss Wilma Meikle (op. cit. pp. 12, 16, and 46) remarks, "The militants soon lost interest in the working man," and speaks of "the failure of the suffragists to champion insistently the needs of women workers." She also says, "It was the misfortune of the suffrage movement that for the most part its leaders were women whose minds had never been winnowed by personal experience of economic need."
3 It should not be supposed that prevailing poverty with all its evil consequences is a phenomenon only of the remote past in
It was to this fact that the authorities, and a fortiori the Feminists, should have turned their attention. From the standpoint of the health of the women themselves, their children and their husbands, and thus ultimately of the nation at large, it was clear that the crying need from 1800 to 1939 was an adequate wage for the married working man.
So maniacal, however, was the Feminist longing to "free" women, and above all themselves, from domesticity, that they never once challenged a supine legislature to redress the most tragic grievance of the English labouring classes a grievance that endured long over a century.
And why was this? Chiefly because the Feminist Movement is and always has been an essentially middle class affair, supported by more or less idle spinsters and disgruntled wives, who thought only of
England; for Sir John Orr (Food, Health and Income) estimates that as late as 1936 one tenth of the population, including nearly one in four of its children could spend only 4s. a week per head on food. Thus, he adds, one child in four could not be adequately fed on its parents' income
1 WOMEN'S WORK, p. ix.
Thus, by the time the most extreme Feminist claims and ideals were formulated and largely realised by the phalanx of middle class women who led the Movement, the whole nation of workers was schooled to regard the Feminist programme as no more than commonplace. For, by 1931, in addition to the 2,235,020 women and girls in factories, there were 443,738 saleswomen and shop assistants, 657,396 clerks, typists, etc., 170,551 warehouse, store and packing employees, 134,407 hospital nurses, 206,024 teachers, 1,630,857 domestic servants and charwomen, 106,009 barmaids and waitresses, and 139,801 laundry workers? i.e., 6,266,100 women and girls gainfully employed outside the home!
No whisper of regret came from the Feminists concerning the loss of the domestic arts by all this army of female workers. They made no sign that they appreciated the biological or the purely demographic consequences to the nation of all this condemnation of girls and women, in their best years, either to sterility, dangerously late marriage, or, in the case of the married, the drastic curtailment or neglect of their families.
Even to mention these matters was to incur ridicule
1 See Wieth-Knudsen, FEMINISM (London, 1928, p. 235), also WOMAN AND CIVILIZATION by Miss E. M. White (London, 1940, pp. 4446. "It must never be forgotten that Woman includes all women and not merely the middle class, which is chiefly in the mind of so-called feminists." Also, Th. Joran, LA TROUEE FEMINISTE (Paris, 1900, p. 173). ("Le féminisme est un sport à l'usage des classes riches ou oisives
Thus did Anglo-Saxon Feminism find most of its spade work performed for it by Industrialism, and its leaders had neither the acumen, the originality, nor the humanity to see that the free gift Industrialism had made it, was one rather to be eschewed than embraced.
The Influence of Domestic Service.
Before leaving this first section on Industrialism, there is one other point to be considered the part played by the female industry of 1,630,857 domestic servants and charwomen in promoting the Feminist Cause. This is a convenient place to consider the relation to Feminism of this female industry, especially as it is to some extent arguable that the wide employment of domestic servants, as we are familiar with it from 1800 onwards, is not unconnected with a multiplication of a powerful middle class, and that the matter is largely the outcome of Industrialism.
What I shall be concerned with here, however, is only the relation borne by domestic service to the rise of Feminism.
Familiar as I have been ever since my childhood with the kind of domestic trained in the households of Latin countries, where the relationship between mistress, master and servant still savours of the old patriarchal family unit, I can speak as one who has the data for comparing two systems. In the Anglo-Saxon system the patriarchal tradition had wholly vanished long before I was born. In the Latin system it survived up to the time of my last sojourn south of the Channel in recent times, and it is a peculiarity of this Latin system that the Anglo-Saxon exile on the
To anyone familiar with the patriarchal type of domestic service, nothing could seem more chilling, more inhuman and less calculated to cultivate devotion than the relationship commonly established between the servant and her employers in Anglo-Saxon communities right up to the outbreak of the second World War.
It was a relationship based, not merely upon an assumption of rigid class distinction, but also on feelings of permanent strangeness, as if two different species were daily confronting each other for the first time.
The reason why this strangeness never melted into something more genial and familiar, and the servant continued to live within the family as an unfamiliar, was that there lay constantly behind her employers' minds the fear lest the slightest step towards humanising the relationship might ruin the tacit understanding that they were in some way irreducibly superior, whilst she was in some way irredeemably inferior.
As to the reasons why this fear of ruining the said tacit understanding existed, it resided chiefly in the fact that the fiction of a superiority sufficiently exalted to command menial and often bemeaning services seemed to the Anglo-Saxon middle class, especially their womenfolk, the only means of imparting an air
1 See his DIARIES.
In other words, to drop the fiction of superiority by stooping even for one moment a day to the friendliness of a common humanity would seem like removing the only reason why the servant should continue uncomplainingly to empty her mistress's chamber pot.
But the fact that this insistence on a hard barrier need not arise is shown by its absence in similar circumstances on the Continent.
Ask me why the French or Italian bourgeoise continues to expect her bonne to empty her chamber pot and is never disappointed, despite the friendly chat they have had together five minutes previously, as well as yesterday and the day before, and I find it difficult to explain. I also find it difficult to explain why the same bonne at times accepts an expostulatory gifle, and is happier having accepted it than the Anglo-Saxon servant whose whole existence consists of much more wounding and resounding gifles in the face of her pride.
Is it a matter of warmth? Is there an ardour in the Latin mistress which sheds a perpetual glow on her relationship with her menial and insensibly makes a minion of her? Or is it due to a difference in the national attitude towards manual labour? That is to say, where a cash yard-stick is paramount, as it is in Anglo-Saxon communities, and manual labour of all kinds thus comes to be despised, is the distance between mistress and servant really felt as much
Or, to offer a last suggested explanation, is die different and much more human relationship between the Latin mistress and her servant made possible owing to the fact that the former is much more frequently a busy or business woman, engaged in highly skilled or, at least, highly exacting activities? The servant knows she could not perform these duties for her, whereas the Anglo-Saxon servant is much more often confronted with a spectacle of idleness and pleasure, a life which she feels she could live as effectively as her mistress?
If this were so, then the meek and cheerful acceptance by the Continental servant of a role much inferior to that of her mistress would be understandable. This presupposes, of course, a degree of intelligence in the working population of say, France, superior to that in our own. But I submit that there is this degree of superior intelligence in the working population of Latin countries.
As I wrote many years ago, "Where the yard-stick of cash, alone, tends to measure the difference between classes, there is a danger that economic 'inferiors' may one day argue that they would be as competent and suitable as their 'superiors' to spend week-ends at the best hotels on the coast, and to obtain their clothes and house appointments from the most expensive firms."
And, whereas in Anglo-Saxon countries, comparative idleness is too often the only feature in their mistress that distinguishes her from her servants, it is possible that they may be more ready to span the
Be all this as it may, the typical relationship of servant to mistress in Anglo-Saxon society was, up to the outbreak of the second World War, one based on a convention which made their life under a common roof a reason for aloofness, and this aloofness bore all the features of a clash between a higher and a lower order of living.
Thus, where youth, naïveté and ignorance combined to make the servant eager and willing, it is no exaggeration to say that her willingness was usually exploited, and for the simple reason that, when services are not rendered between equals, there is a danger lest they be accepted from "inferiors," not with gratitude, but with fatalistic calm, as if a normal reaction of low to high. But this attitude towards them, instead of inspiring thankfulness, merely augments self esteem in the receiver.
What a tale could be told of this kind of hidden exploitation between the four walls of countless homes throughout the length and breadth of England, ever since a middle class became a substantial element in the population! Dickens gives stirring snap-shots of it in his time. But it was not an abuse that vanished with the demise of the great novelist.
Both my paternal grandmother and her daughters showed themselves adepts at it, and my French mother whom, by the bye, I have often seen smack her servants (all wholly devoted to her) always commented on it in horror.
Now, apart from the fact that an intelligent, sensitive working class girl, fresh from the warmth of her family circle, would, in such circumstances, feel both
It is questionable whether it can be wholesome, especially for the growing girls in such a household, to have constantly at hand, under their own roof, women who are treated in every respect as members of a caste so far inferior as to constitute almost a different order of beings. And when, in addition, they behold these "inferiors" daily performing duties which, in the tradition of our own and even of more primitive civilizations, are associated with the housewife, the lesson can hardly fail to be pernicious.
By their connexion with inferiority, the duties themselves acquire an undeserved stigma, whilst the young ladies who are relieved of them can hardly help entertaining wholly distorted notions of their own personal importance. As mere children they are addressed as "Miss" Harriet or "Miss" Mary. The activities of the household centre around them. They learn a caste distinction with their first breath. And, seeing that the difference and distance between them and their parents' menials is too often only a matter of money and that economic superiority all too frequently outstrips human superiority in all directions, they inevitably grow up snobs.
Nor is this the whole story. For they also grow up idle snobs. They often reach maturity not knowing the most elementary facts about cooking, house-cleaning, shopping, fire-lighting, mending, sewing, etc. They are not potential housewives in any sense of the word, and unless the system which has reared them lasts their life-time and, like their mother, they
Thus, with the women of the middle classes able to scorn domestic arts, and the women of the working classes driven from these arts by Industry, England has become a nation in which the domestic arts are dead. Only 1,630,857 domestic servants and charwomen know anything about them!
Moreover, in these middle class homes, both the daughters themselves and the servants about them are constantly and vividly reminded of the sensational differences that are wrought in human destiny by even relatively slight variations in material possessions, So that both are schooled to use wealth as the only yard-stick with which to measure human worth. True, in this they fall into step with the rest of their nation! But it is surely in the home, the place where years of contact and scrutiny between fellow beings should lead to saner conclusions, that the barbarity of the cash yard-stick should first be learnt!
This crop of evils arising from the past and present status of domestic servants suggests the question whether they are not perhaps but the inevitable outcome of what is in itself an evil institution. For out of evil only evil can come.
Except for the aged, incapable of self-help, therefore, might it not be a good thing if the institution were wholly abolished? For the various evils I have enumerated by no means exhaust the list. They do
Without a leisured horde of well-to-do women, with none but the Devil to find work for their idle hands to do, where would the Feminist Cause be? Who have the female pioneers, scribes, exponents, propagandists, militants and "heroines" of Female Emancipation been? Without exception daughters from homes overstaffed with house-servants! All of them "ladies" taught by their daily life at home that domesticity is "slavie's" work. All of them indolent and trained in idleness. All of them itching to experience before the public eye the false prestige and glamour with which they were surrounded under their father's roof. And all of them conditioned snobs, totally unfit to use their power for any other purpose than that of increasing their false sense of their own importance! 1
Thus although, as we have seen, this is by no means the whole story of the rise of Feminism, it is an important contributory factor. And if Feminism is a mischief, as I believe it is, and as I believe enlightened posterity will regard it as having been, then domestic service as evolved by England in the last three centuries must be held partly responsible for it.
But the fact that domestic service is involved in the complex of causes that have given rise to Anglo-Saxon Feminism explains one arresting feature about the Movement, which otherwise would remain wholly mysterious. And that is, how it has come about that, in the whole history of Anglo-Saxon women's rise to prominence and power, nothing has been done to im-
l Again, for confirmation of this, see Wilma Meikle, op. cit. pp. 16, 24, 71.
Under the pressure of need, confronted by the threat of a total lack of domestic help, the wages of house servants may have been augmented substantially since the days of Dickens. In face of the danger of losing your domestic help to a kindlier or more generous employer, a curb may now be set on the readiness to exploit willingness in young domestic servants. But what has been done by Feminism as a whole to raise their status, to break down the inhuman barriers erected within the home by snobbery and mere pride of purse between the exalted and the inmates below stairs?
As one feminine observer 1 has stated, to the type of woman who has lead and formed Feminism, it has seemed far more important to clamour for the right of women to be ambassadresses, or to occupy the higher grades of the Civil Service, or to duplicate men in the liberal professions, than to concern themselves with the real needs of the working class mother or spinster not to mention the domestic servant on whose labours the Feminists' "freedom" to be glamorous so much depends!
Thus, I repeat, why should not domestic service be abolished? For 999,999 families in a million in modern England it would be a godsend if it were. Is it possible that signs are already apparent that this happy consummation is on its way?
I hope and pray that it may be so!
2. Industrialism has further promoted Feminist schemes by appropriating many of the civilized fe-
1 Wilma Meikle.
In all the propagandist literature of Feminism it is usual to find the protest that women are not mere child-bearers or infant nurses, but that they are, above all, human beings.
Distorted and caricatured as this plea may have been by the more unthinking advocates of Feminism, it contains a very solid truth, and this truth is that women share with men that part of the best human equipment which consists, not only in the ability to be productive, but also in the desire to produce.
The exercise of some skilled art is as much a female as it is a male necessity, and especially when child-bearing and childnursing have ceased to make a more or less whole-time claim on an intelligent and efficient woman's energies, it is natural, if she is normal, for her to wish to display her capacities in fields that are both productive and capable of earning for her the esteem of her circle.
Even during the reproductive years this longing to display her aptitudes may still find abundant opportunities and, in the history of her sex, these opportunities have, as the relevant literature shows, been consistently used.
The reader need only dip casually into such works as Dr. O. Tufton Mason's Woman's Share in Primitive Culture, 1 or Ploss and Bartels monumental work Das Weib, 2 or Dr. Briffault's The Mothers, 3 or any one of the countless ethnological monographs containing the
l London, 1895.
2 There are various German editions, but an English translation was published by Wm. Heinemann in 1935.
3 London, 1927, Vol. I.
Nor is it any longer admissible to regard this feminine share in the material culture of mankind as the result of coercion, or bondage. We now know how voluntary and spontaneous it has been, and those who still entertain doubts on this point will find them quickly dispelled by reading a work such as that by Dr. Briffault, for instance. 1
Thus in fishing, the making of preserves, the gathering or growing and distillation of medicinal herbs, the seasoning of meats kept for consumption at a date long after the kill or catch, basket work, pottery, corn milling and bread baking, spinning, weaving and netmaking, clothing etc., there is hardly a domestic utensil or need at least in primitive times which the eager and voluntary labour of women did not provide. And it is noteworthy that many of these cultural contributions could be made without such undue claim on a housewife's time as would prevent her from performing all the duties required of the mother of a normally spaced family.
When once the reproductive period had passed, however, many of these duties became one of the chief titles of prestige and honour among the middle-aged women of the community and, what is more, they could then be performed as a whole-time occupation.
The gradual extension of mechanized industry, however, not only robbed women of these opportunities
1 See especially Chapter IX, Vol. I, of THE MOTHERS.
This highly grievous situation could hardly have been acquiesced in by a gifted and sensitive female population, without at least some form of vehement protest in certain quarters. The fundamental need of all human beings to earn credit through their capabilities or, to put it on the lowest plane, "de se faire valoir", had, in the very heart of the home, received such a stinging rebuff that it is hard to estimate the extent of its repercussions.
Nor, in considering the relatively low grade labour? to which mechanized industry reduced the mass of working women both in the home and in industry, should it be forgotten that their men-folk suffered by machinery a blow to their self-esteem wholly equivalent to that levelled at their wives and daughters.
This has been so admirably stated by Dr. Ananda
1 This is well brought out in J. Langdon Davies's otherwise mediocre and shallow work A SHORT HISTORY OF WOMEN (London, 1928).
Thus, once again, Anglo-Saxon Industrialism played into the hands of the modern Woman's Movement and, although it offered the working class woman nothing that might have ameliorated her lot, it gave the false impression that something was being attempted in this direction. For, after all, the money the married woman earned in the factory at least added a trifle to the wholly inadequate family income.
All through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the fundamental economic mischief was the underpayment of the married working man. It was this that wrought havoc in his home by turning his wife out of doors and condemning her to pitiable drudgery. The fact that Feminism, whether aspiring to, or possessed of, power, never concentrated on this evil, is one
1 See his WHY EXHIBIT WORKS OF ART, (London, 1943).
2 Masses of quotations could be given supporting the general truth of this statement. Indeed, it may be said that, taking the nation as a whole, England throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries never once suspected that discontent might be partly caused among the working population by the insolent assumption on the part of the employer class that they were as a rule, fit only to be machine auxiliaries.
It may be forgiven for not having perceived the spiritual mischief of Industrialism the affront which, as Dr. Coomaraswamy shows (and as I did in 1921 1 and 1934 2), mechanized industry administered to the higher sentiments and aspirations of every decent working man and woman by robbing them of their various skills and arts, and condemning them to idiocy. I say, it may be forgiven for this; for there was no vociferous male lead in the country in this matter. Ruskin and Morris had been ignored at least as regards this aspect of their teaching, and the Socialist Movement, including even its more intelligent members, men like Sidney Webb and Bernard Shaw, were wholly obsessed by the economic aspect of social unrest.
But this is only one more feature of Feminism which shows how unoriginal its programme and policy were. 3 It followed slavishly in the footsteps of male Radicals and Liberals in all its approaches to social problems 4 and, boiled down to its essentials, is seen to have agitated and clamoured only for a more glamorous existence for the idle middle class female. 5
1 See THE FALSE ASSUMPTIONS OF DEMOCRACY, Chapter IV.
2 CREATION OR RECREATION.
3 See Wilma Meikle (op. cit. p. 145). "It is possible that a future generation may discover that women are fitted to use their minds finely rather than originally."
4 Ibid. p. 141. "In a movement which existed to emancipate women it was a great loss that even its leaders failed to break away from the masculine idea of the objects of emancipation and the methods by which emancipation should be secured."
5 Ibid. p. 23. "They [the New Women] wanted to be of conspicuous use." See also p. 71 for a similar view.