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"What do Women Think of War?"

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Immigrant Vote

The Land of the Fair Deal

Should Women Think?

What do Women Think of War?

Exhaustion Mistaken for Peace


Nellie McClung, In Times Like These (U of Toronto Press, 1972) 23-24.

Fallacy of Women's Indirect Influence

"Women have not only been knitting—they have been thinking. Among other things they have thought about the German women, those faithful, patient, home loving, obedient women, who never interfere in public affairs, nor question man's ruling. The Kaiser says women have only two concerns in life, cooking and children, and the German women have accepted his dictum. They are good cooks and faithful nurses to their children.

According to the theories of the world, the sons of such women should be the gentlest men on earth. Their home has been so sacred, and well-kept; their mother has been so gentle, patient and unworldly—she has never lowered the standard of her womanhood by asking to vote, or to mingle in the 'hurly burly' of politics. She has been humble, and loving, and always hoped for the best.

According to the theories of the world, the gentle sons of gentle mothers will respect and reverence all womankind everywhere. Yet, we know that in the invasion of Belgium, the German soldiers made a shield of Belgian women and children in front of their army; no child was too young, no woman too old, to escape their cruelty; no mother's prayers, no child's appeal could stay their fury! These chivalrous sons of gentle, loving mothers marched through the land of Belgium, their nearest neighbour, leaving behind them smoking trails of ruin, black as their own hard hearts!

What, then, is the matter with the theory? Nothing, except that there is nothing in it—it will not work. Women who set a low value on themselves make life hard for all women. The German woman's ways have been ways of pleasantness, but her paths have not been paths of peace; and now, women everywhere are thinking of her rather bitterly. Her peaceful, humble, patient ways have suddenly ceased to appear virtuous in our eyes and we see now, it is not so much a woman's duty to bring children into the world, as to see what sort of a world she is bringing them into, and what their contribution will be to it".

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