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Husband's Whim, Wife's Law (Part 2)

"I asked you not to beg the question," the speaker insisted, "and you have done so to assure me that the wife is, or should be, without the protection of the law. In other words, the protection of the law is for every emigrant who seeks our shores, for every flotsam and jetsam of civilization or barbarism, except for the wife and mother. Her only law is her husband's whim; you say the law should not be brought into the family relationships. I am seeking to take away some of the iniquitous laws which are already dividing the home. Now I am proposing to keep right on this track: until I get an idea from this gentleman as to how much he thinks a wife earns, and every time he dodges the issue I shall wait until he returns and renew the attack. Do you think the wife earns as much as she would doing exactly the same work for some one other than her husband?"

"That is self evident," the questioner replied, not very graciously.

"Good, now we have some point from which to proceed. How much do you think a woman laboring say 14 or 18 hours a day could command in the open market, when the 8 hour day is customary? That would be just about two days work every day. Would $50.00 per month be too much?"

"I suppose not, but she would have no home, and no one to take care for her as her husband did," said the questioner uncertainly.

"Again you are evading the issue. I know of no reason why her husband should not take care of her even if he is just to her; in fact I have observed that those who are just, usually care more for their wives than those who are not. If you are suggesting that the wife should labor all those years for the affection she receives at the hands of her husband, I think many women would prefer being paid in a different kind of coin than that which she received. You can hardly tell me either that a woman who earns $600 a year over and above her board can not have a home of her own. She has earned her husband's home over and over again.

"But this is the point upon which I do insist, if the wife does not earn half, then decide what she does earn. If she is not a partner, then she is a servant. If a partner, she should have her part. If a servant, she should have wages. I presume that most men if they had to give their wives the wages they would receive for the same service elsewhere, should welcome a partnership instead, $600 per year, or a much smaller sum, laid by every year during marriage would be a much larger sum than that represented by the husband's estate.

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