The College, the Market, and the Court; Or, Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, and Law
HERE is a woman’s showing of women’s wrongs, a woman’s appeal to men for simple justice. All the facts of the matter are grouped and presented anew with emphasis and feeling ; and a demand is finally made for the right of suffrage as the protection for women from all kinds of oppression.
We do not care to discuss the wisdom of this conclusion ; but from the premises no man can dissent. It is unquestionably true that thousands of women in America suffer an oppression little less cruel than slavery ; that they toil incessantly in shops and garrets for a pittance that half sustains life, and at last drives them to guilt as the alternative of starvation ; it is true that women are shut out from the practice of the liberal professions ; it is true that in the trades to which they are educated they often receive less pay than men for the same amount and quality of work ; it is true that the laws, still bear unfairly upon them. If the right of suffrage will open to them any means of earning bread now forbidden them, it it will help in any way to give them an equal chance with men in the world, they ought to have it. We are all alike guilty of their wrongs, as long as they continue ; it is not the wretch, who enslaves the needlewoman, — it is not the savage in whose “store” or “emporium” the poorly paid shop-girl is forbidden to sit down for a moment, and swoons away under the ordeal, — it is not the rogue who gives a woman less wages than a man for a man’s service, — it is not these and their kind who are alone guilty, but society itself is guilty. The reform of very great evils will be cheaply accomplished if women by voting can right themselves. It must be confessed, to our shame, that we have failed to right them; though it may at the same time be doubted whether the elective franchise, which is claimed as the means of justice, would not now belong to women, if it had been even generally demanded. So far the responsibility is partly with woman herself, who must also help to bear the blame for failure to ameliorate the condition of her sex in the existing political state. Mrs, Dall is by no means blind to this fact, and she speaks candidly to women, as she speaks fearlessly to men. We think her arguments would have been more forcible if they had been less complex. It is not worth while to argue the intellectual capacity of women for the franchise in a country where it is given to ignorant immigrants and freedmen. It was by no means necessary to show woman’s qualification for all the affairs of life, in order to prove that she should not be hindered or limited in her attempts to help herself. Indeed, Mrs. Dall’s strength is mainly in her facts concerning woman’s general condition, and not in her researches to prove the exceptional success of women in the arts and sciences.