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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
"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.