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"Alberta Women and Alberta Laws"

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Reading: "Brilliant Western Woman Talks to Canadian Business Women's Club"

Reading: "Alberta Women and Alberta Laws"


Louise McKinney, "Alberta Women and Alberta Laws," The Lethbridge Herald 8 Oct. 1929: 10.

"I wish to suggest to the speaker," said the positive man, "that her whole talk to us tonight is built upon a premise that some of us at least will not accept, as this foundation is not correct, and misleading. The speaker takes it for granted that the wife earns half of the entire estate, a situation which I would be far from admitting. The husband is the earner, the wife earns nothing, is not a producer at all, but is supported by the earnings of the husband."

"May I ask the gentleman," the speaker questioned, "if he thinks that the wife in addition to laboring more hours a day than the husband, in addition to bearing and rearing his children, should pay board; or does the gentle think that she earns her board and keep? Would he go as far as that?"

"Certainly," the man replied rather tartly, "she earns much more than that. I never made any such insinuation. Why every husband gives his wife much more than that. I insist that most men are generous with their wives."

"You are begging the question," the speaker persisted. "As I understand it we have not tonight been discussing the amount the husbands 'give' their wives, their generosity or their selfishness is not the question. The point upon which my friend took issue was the amount 'the wife earns'. Will you please stick to the question at hand? Will you please state how much more than her board and keep you consider would be just for the services of a wife? It is difficult to believe that you were really sincere in your objection if you are unwilling to follow your own argument to its logical conclusion. You object to the amount that I think she earns. You admit that she earns more than her board and keep. With those two points determined, the amount she really does earn should be easy to decide. Please be explicit."

Excerpt from "Alberta Women and Alberta Laws." Lethbridge Herald. October 8, 1920. p.10.

"I have never figured it out. That is a point for every man to decide for himself. I do not believe we should bring the law into family relationships."

Husband's Whim, Wife's Law

"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.

That Fallacy of support Again

"But you forget that the husband is responsible for the support of the wife, and that he also and he alone is responsible for the support of the children. That is the reason that it is but justice that he be given the property," another individual offered.

"You are mistaken," the speaker informed him. "At our last session of the legislature an Act was passed making the property of the mother equally liable for the support of the children with that of the father. Besides, according to the criminal code, the mother had always been equally liable if by neglect the children suffer. You cannot spring that reason for the father having all the property.

"As to the husband's liability, for the support of the wife, that fallacy is a hardly perennial. If you will use the term: "must give a pittance toward her support," the term would be more nearly correct, but even that is too much to use as a real statement of actual facts. A case was lately tried in Saskatoon where a man found a place for his wife in the home of his son. Although the wife said that she could find a place for herself where she should receive wages and not be nearly so much of a servant, yet the Judge decided that was "providing for her with the meaning of the law." The support that a man must according to law give his wife, would be a joke if it were not a tragedy."

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