Blind soldiers in London. About 1 million British soldiers died, out of nearly 9 million; another 2 million were wounded.Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

The first year of the war was nearing its close when a middle-aged American woman, visiting in my home, said to me, “Nowhere will the war bring about a more radical change, more unexpected changes, than in the relations between the sexes. What way out will be found by the millions of women who more than ever must give up all hope of realizing their longing for love and children?” …

After the war, woman’s prospects, from the point of view of her natural duty—motherhood—will be dark indeed.

The number of women who will have to dismiss all thought of marriage—already far too large—is destined to become much larger still. The number of those who lead immoral lives and are childless, or who bear illegitimate children, will therefore increase. Others, from a sense of patriotic duty to which appeal has already been made, may marry invalids. How many of these will be disappointed in their most justified wishes for happiness! Those women who have chosen among the men who are rejected from military service quite often have defective children …

A considerable number of plans have already been suggested in Europe to relieve the abnormal sex-conditions, which have, of course, met with much formidable opposition.

Someone in London has conceived the idea of founding a “society for the marrying of wounded heroes”—an appeal to woman’s self-sacrifice and patriotism to make the lives of these men bearable and to propagate children who will inherit their father’s qualities of heroism. These wives, who would, in most cases, have to become the supporters of their families, would, therefore, be paid a man’s wages and would, in many cases, also be given a stipend to facilitate their marriage. Moreover, in order to insure suitable mating, it is suggested that recourse be had to selective committees of clergymen and physicians; it is evidently not proposed to let the parties themselves choose. Women who are physically strong will be expected to marry men who need to be carried or pushed in a chair. Blind men, who can still at least enjoy good food, will be married to good cooks, and so forth …

What was formerly considered a sin—loveless marriages contracted simply for the purpose of having offspring—will perhaps, from a national point of view, come to be considered a duty hereafter. The bearing of children outside of marriage, and perhaps other deviations from the ideal of monogamy, will be practiced openly after the war to a far greater extent than was done secretly by people of Europe before the war …

Another moral question that was previously discussed—that of birth-prevention—has come up again during the war. In East Prussia the question has been discussed as to whether the law against abortion should be suspended for those women who fell victims to the Russian soldiers. And in France, where many women have, with great suffering, borne the children of their enemies, some people still advocate preventive measures; someone even suggested killing these children, in order to ensure the purity of the race. Surely one cannot go further from the ideals of Christian morality! And though these suggestions have been rejected, the mere fact that they have been discussed proved what this whole war has so clearly shown: that the religion of Europe is no longer that of Christianity but that of nationalism, and that everything that is considered good for the nation is assumed to be right.

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