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Title: Selected Lead Articles from The Dawn
Author: Dora Falconer (Louisa Lawson)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606891.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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Selected Lead Articles from The Dawn
Dora Falconer (Louisa Lawson)



ABOUT OURSELVES
The Dawn Volume 1, Number 1. Sydney, May 15, 1888


"WOMAN is not uncompleted man, but diverse," says Tennyson, and being
diverse why should she not have her journal in which her divergent
hopes, aims and opinions may have representation. Every eccentricity
of belief, and every variety of bias in mankind allies itself with a
printing-machine, and gets its singularities bruited about in type,
but where is the printing ink champion of mankind's better half? There
has hitherto been no trumpet through which the concentrated voices of
womankind could publish their grievances and their opinions. Men
legislate on divorce, on hours of labor, and many another question
intimately affecting women, but neither ask nor know the wishes of
those whose lives and happiness are most concerned. Many a tale might
be told by women, and many a useful hint given, even to the omniscient
male, which would materially strengthen and guide the hands of law-
makers and benefactors aspiring to be just and generous to weak and
unrepresented womankind. Here then is DAWN, the Australian Woman's
journal and mouthpiece--a phonograph to wind out audibly the whispers,
pleadings and demands of the sisterhood. Here we will give publicity
to women's wrongs, will fight their battles, assist to repair what
evils we can, and give advice to the best of our ability. Half of
Australian women's lives are unhappy, but there are paths out of most
labyrinths, and we will set up fingerposts. For those who are happy--
God bless them! Have we not laid on the Storyteller, the Poet, the
Humorist and the Fashionmonger? We wear no ready-made suit of
opinions, nor stand we on any ready-made platform of women's rights
which we have as yet seen erected. Dress we shall not neglect, for no
slattern ever yet won the respect of any man worth loving. If you want
"rings on your fingers and bells on your toes" we will tell you where
they can best be bought, as well as sundry other articles of women's
garniture. We shall welcome contributions and correspondence from
women, for nothing concerning woman's life and interest lies outside
our scope. It is not a new thing to say that there is no power in the
world like that of women, for in their hands lie the plastic unformed
characters of the coming generation to be moulded beyond alteration
into what form they will. This most potent constituency we seek to
represent, and for their suffrages we Sue.



UNHAPPY LOVE MATCHES
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 2. Sydney, June 1, 1889


MARRYING FOR WEALTH, position, or any consideration other than love is
universally considered to be the Alpha and Omega of half the world's
matrimonial infelicities, but it would be easy to find a corresponding
number of so-called love matches, showing equally unhappy results. For
who does not, among their acquaintances, count the unhappy couple,
whose mating was the result of a love fit,--heartily tired of each
other, yet chained together for life. The woman who cannot give a
better reason for marrying than that she is in love, is likely to come
to grief. It is not that she loves, but why or what she loves, that is
the all important question. Realizing that when two hearts filled with
love, tempered by respect, meet, melt and fuse into one, with
congeniality of mind and purpose, it must be, to those participating,
the realization of a perfect union in every sense of the word, still,
lacking the above conditions love matches rank among the unhappiest
and saddest marriages of all. Two things also necessary to happy union
are perfect confidence and absolute truthfulness. The moment either of
these is violated a wall is begun between the two hearts which,
unchecked, will soon become so dense, so wide, so high, that even the
grave itself would be less a separation. The advice given by H. Maria
George, in The Household, is sound. She says--

Let every woman contemplating matrimony ask herself if she loves her
prospective husband well enough to see the world with his eyes; enjoy its
pleasures through his participation; see her ambitions wither one by one,
or, perchance, carried on by her sons; to live a life full of petty
duties, a round for which she has, perhaps, no aptitude, no congeniality,
to lead a life of self-repression, self-sacrifice and buried individuality,
to exchange her fresh youth and beauty for a mother's look of care; can
she quiet every longing pulsation of the throbbing heart and lull her
hungry soul to sleep by the thought that she is a wife and a mother?

It is but seldom that a man foregoes ambitions, or changes his life
plans because he is a husband and a father. The circle of the wedding
ring spreading and broadening for him closes in about his wife,
bringing with it so many new duties and responsibilities that time and
hands are so full, except in a rare combination of circumstances, as
to leave her without either time or strength for the cultivation of
talents or the pursuing of such a line of thought as will render her
companionable to her husband. Whether bread and babies are pursuits
lower or higher than those that fall to the lot of the husband is a
question not to be decided here. But every woman in average
circumstances who cannot with the two, satisfy every longing of her
soul will certainly find marriage a failure. She must therefore
remember that marriage means in these days the acceptance by her of a
position full of work, restricted by many grievous limitations, and
implying an abandonment of individuality, and that even love has not
always achieved final happiness for married couples. In marriage
career is offered to women, a clear defined, but limited career. They
should be sure that it is their right vocation before they allow love
only to prompt them to the acceptance of it.



SPURIOUS WOMEN
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 3. Sydney, July 1, 1889


WE take it that anything which is diverted by artificial means from
its natural shape and from the natural exercise of its functions is a
spurious representative of its kind, and we could not therefore select
any of the dainty women figures you may see "on the block" as a fair
specimen of a woman of the human race, because they are really
spurious women. Bound, padded, compressed and laced, the modern woman
is a highly artificial product, made, not after God's image but as
near as possible to a fashion plate; and if any inhabitant of another
planet were curious to see what a real natural woman was like, we
should have to take him to some of the few women not afraid to use
dress for purposes of health and comfort only, and beg him to overlook
those who, by corsets, high heels, and a score of other inventions,
have succeeded in constructing in themselves, a new variety of woman.
It is enough to make any reflecting creature stand aghast to think
that the most beautiful creature in the world is not content to stand,
like any other living being, on her inherent merits. As if they had no
reason of their own, some women follow like a flock of sheep, the lead
of a milliner-built beauty, and offer up their health and comfort to
secure an artificial outline. It is true that these things are done
with the ultimate hope of pleasing the men, for if there were no men,
it is not to be supposed that women would squeeze themselves into
artificial shapes for pure pleasure. Yet the men are not to be
altogether charged with the crime of inciting to these shams by their
admiration. Taking men in the lump, there is sense in them if you wake
it, and surely if they don't like a natural woman let them leave her
alone. It has come to be believed that corsets are really necessary to
the due support and bracing together of a woman; is the race then
grown so limp and invertebrate? Can we not then stand upright without
collapsing at the waist? If anyone is unable to remain perpendicular
without a steel waistcoat it is clear that the muscles responsible for
her natural support have had no opportunity to develop. Corsets are
just as unnecessary as they are injurious, at any rate to the woman of
average stamina, and of average symmetry. To those who are invalided
or deformed, another rule may apply, and we would not for the world,
restrict the liberty of individual opinion. On the contrary, if any
honest reasoning woman sincerely believes that it is better to reduce
the breathing capacity of her lungs, to crowd her internal organs into
unnatural and often dangerous positions, and to crease her skin into
folds by continual pressure, let her do so; the law of the survival of
the fittest may perhaps weed out her and her offspring in time.
Perhaps we shall be giving away secrets too much, if we talk of the
indented garter-rings, about the knee, killing the flesh and cutting
off the circulation, the injuries of high, stiff collars, high-heeled
boots, and heavy skirts, a drag upon the hips; but it is well known
enough, how many carry a heavy load of hair strained up and balanced
at fashion's dictum on the top of weary heads, and it is often enough
charged upon us that when dressed for walking we cannot raise our arms
above our heads, nor stoop to pick up anything from the floor, nor
throw a ball with any certainty that it will fall before us. The
outdoor gait of a large proportion of women is certainly spoilt by
lack of freedom, and the arms of the majority hang cylindrical and
stiff like a bent stove-pipe. All these things make us sigh for a race
of clear thinking women who are not afraid, whose own judgment is
guidance enough and reason enough, and who will dress for health,
decency, and comfort only. It would seem merely reasonable to wear
garments which will leave our arms at least as much freedom as a
doll's arm on a wire hinge, and to refrain from tying our ribs
together, in a way which prevents respiration, and disturbs our
anatomy, particularly as the only gain we achieve, is a counterfeit
beauty of an unnatural model. We laugh at the Chinese women with their
poor useless bandaged feet, and all the while we are tying up
ourselves and laming much more important organs than feet, viz. lungs.
For experiments prove that the average lung capacity, without corsets,
is 167 cubic inches, but with the armour plating on, it is 134 inches
only. Now, the first necessity of life is to breathe freely, for the
blood collects poisons in its course, which can only be cleansed from
the system by exposure to air in the lungs, and if anyone desires to
feed her body on entirely pure and well-cleansed blood, it is
essential that the action of the lungs should be untramelled. When we
remember that every minute, a quantity of blood equal to the entire
amount in the body is passed through the lungs for purification, and
that it is from the blood that every part of the system from head to
foot, draws its material of life, and replenishment and renewal, it is
apparent that the least aid we can give to the capacity of inhaling
pure air, is an aid to the health of every organ and tissue in the
body, brain included. It is generally admitted, that, on the average,
women are much weaker and much more subject to small ailments than men
are, in spite of the fact that the anatomy of each is so alike as to
require an expert to distinguish between them, and it is reasonable to
suppose that part of this weakness is due to habitual constriction of
the lungs through many generations, and habitual compression of the
organs which lie below the diaphragm. Few people are aware that women
who wear tight waist-bands breathe in a manner that is unnatural, and
unlike all other human creatures. All natural men and women, whether
civilised or savage, do, in the act of inspiration, expand both the
upper and lower part of the chest, but the maximum expansion in all
men, and in natural women, is abdominal. You inhale a full breath, the
ribs rise slightly, the upper part of the chest dilates, the diaphragm
contracts, and at the waist there should be, in healthy people, an
expansion of from one to three inches, but there are few women whose
habiliments allow an expansion of more than one-quarter or one half-
an-inch. Thus the modern woman with a diminished lung-action, breathes
mainly with the upper part of her chest, while all men, and all women
who breathe freely, breathe almost entirely with the lower part. Even
if this change were not injurious and we could afford to dispense with
a full lung-action, the compression of the waist is necessarily
hurtful, since it squeezes internal organs, and prevents the due
contraction of the diaphragm, a contraction which materially assists
the liver in the discharge of blood and bile. Tie a tight bandage
round the waist of a man and the functions of the organs affected are
impaired, he is unable to make more than two thirds of the mental and
physical exertion of which he is capable. Is it not probable that
women lose nearly the same proportion of their natural ability? But
the idea of corsets on a man is ridiculed everywhere. Does it not
strike you as possible, that the air of amused toleration with which
men often regard women, is due to her pervading artificiality--this
padding and strapping? If one man sees another using the smallest
device to improve his features or figure, does he not instantly
despise the intentional sham? And while men are expected to alter
their standard of opinion for woman's benefit, and to concede to women
the liberty to ingeniously alter and add to their natural figures,
without the penalty of contempt--"because you know she is a woman"--
how can we expect men to place women in their regard and respect on a
real equality with any agreeable and wholly natural fellow-man? A
writer in Scribner's magazine says regarding the physical development
of women:

When we reflect that woman has constricted her body for centuries we
believe that to this fashion alone is due much of her failure to realize
her best opportunities for  development, and, through natural heritage,
to advance the mental and physical progress of the race.

Whether women may by acting on rules of sense instead of fashion or
habit, really advance in the future the physical standard of their
children, is a thing to be tested, but this thing is sure and
indubitable, that but little progress is possible until we have all
learned to reject and expel with abhorrence every species of artifice
and the whole brood of shams.



TEA AND BREAD-AND-BUTTER
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 4. Sydney, August 3, 1889


THERE is story of a girl who kept herself alive for some time by
sucking a clean pocket-handkerchief. We do not know how many grains of
starch a handkerchief usually carries, nor can we say if, in this
case, the laundress had mistaken it for a shirt front, and had so
supplied a plentiful quantity of stiffening, but the story, true or
false, furnishes a parallel very slightly extended of the method by
which many women are nowadays content to keep themselves alive. A
little starch for breakfast, dinner and tea, is certainly not the
rule, but a little tea and bread-and-butter for all meals is the
staple food of hundreds of women, and as sustenance for a healthy
body, this diet is not very much better than the pocket-handkerchief.
When the men are away, the wives and mothers starve themselves;
whether it is to save trouble in the kitchen, or to, save time for
themselves, or from sheer indifference to food, the same result
ensues--"A cup of tea is all I want!" It does seem as if women in the
mass are incapable of regarding good health and a sound body and mind
as worth cultivating at the cost of any little trouble. Doctors know
well enough that women are the most difficult of all their patients to
cure; dietary rules and healthful habits, which involve some kind of
watchfulness, restraint, and patience, are too irksome for the average
woman to obey. Working girls would rather starve themselves and be
well clad, than preserve a healthy body simply and cheaply dressed.
Even nursing mothers and hard-working women are equally indifferent to
all health rules; they will not make themselves eat at regular times
and in sufficient quantities. For this the children suffer, and the
whole household indirectly suffers too. Half-nourished bodies produce
a score of trifling ailments, fatigue, strained nerves, and irritable
tempers. "Laugh and grow fat" is a cheery adage, but life is sad to
many, and to grow fat is a costly ambition. It is not our object to
glorify gluttony and extol corpulence, but these are unquestionable
facts that in any reverse of life you can laugh if you are healthy;
that almost everyone can be healthy if they will, and that to be
healthy it is necessary, among other things, to eat the right food and
plenty of it. If the leanness of your purse cries out against meat at
lunchtime (which is properly meat-time), do without those coveted
feathers or that much-to-be-desired bodice. Internal health is worth
external beauty a thousand times over. What is the chance of a
beautifully dressed woman against she who has the even temper and good
spirits of perfect health, even if you apply no other test than the
relative value in the husband market? To have "a sound mind in a sound
body" is the first of ambitions. Accomplishments, beauty, riches,
dress, are insignificant beside health; virtue, happiness, and
rational thoughts, build themselves on health, and the heights of in
tellectual and moral worth are not to be scaled without it. If you
lack a profession, if you have no defined ambition, set yourself to be
professionally sound in body; the sound mind will follow. To eat too
little is less disgusting than to eat too much, but both are equally
foolish, and in large towns where it is the almost universal custom
for men to be away from home during the day and to return for dinner
at night, the women are habitually guilty of eating too little. Even
the children are often allowed to eat a meat dinner in the evening,
perhaps only an hour before they go to bed, in order to save the
trouble of giving them meat and vegetables at midday, which is the
right time, and the only time when such a meal should be given them.
Bush women are not much more sensible in this than their urban
sisters, indeed some pride themselves on the little they eat and the
number of meals they miss altogether. For all these indiscretions
nature invariably inflicts a penalty, and the doctors, chemists, and
patent-medicine makers receive the fines. It does not pay the doctors
to teach health rules to the masses and it therefore behoves outsiders
to cry out to the people that they can be healthy if they will study
the right methods. The unfortunate children after they are weaned,
struggle under the sins of their ancestors with remarkable success,
but it is an obvious fact that the race might be strengthened and
improved to an indefinite extent if the mothers would consider health
as capable of evolution, instead of regarding it as an accidental
accompaniment of birth and permanent through life in that state of
better or worse in which it was originally inherited. If husbands when
they return home ask their wives what they have had to eat in their
absence, ninety in every hundred replies would be--"tea and bread-and-
butter". This may tend towards spirituality and the maintenance of
that "dear delicate little woman" variety of the "clinging" species
prized by some men, but the world would be none the worse, for a
robuster, healthier, stronger type of woman; nor should we be sorry if
we could see the tea merchants transformed to market gardeners and all
the milliners driven into the pro--vision trade.



THE MAN QUESTION OR, THE WOMAN QUESTION RE-STATED
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 5. Sydney, September 2, 1889


"WOMAN" as a topic for male journalistic pens has been popular ever
since the infancy of literature; the little feminine vanities and
vagaries have formed a delightful nucleus for descriptive and
imaginative literary work in "leaders", paragraphs, poems, plays and
essays. Now and then, exceptional tidal waves of controversy occur
when "marriage", "woman's suffrage", or similar subjects attract and
swell the billows of printing ink, but these subside, and the
permanent currents of the literary ocean carry always the same kind of
debris--disquisitions on woman, her weakness, inconstancy, vanity, and
little failings innumerable. When we read such articles we are
reminded of those sermonisers who

Compound for sins they are inclined to
By damning those they have no mind to.

and we should like authors to turn upon men and boys the searchlight
of genius with which they have hitherto illuminated the character of
women; for a serious examination of modern social affairs, renders
apparent the significant fact that women and girls in the mass, have a
higher standard of action, and a finer moral tone, than men and boys
in the mass possess. Begin at the top of English society and go down.
Apart from political considerations, Her Majesty the Queen has lived a
blameless and good life. She may have made political mistakes incident
to a difficult public position, but she has undoubtedly been a good
woman. Consider her feelings as a good mother and decide whether she
has found more comfort in the careers of her sons or of her daughters.
The Princess of Wales has won affection everywhere and no one doubts
that she is well worthy of it. Have the ways of her sons or of her
daughters most warmed her heart? Whose rectitude and goodness has
reached most nearly to the standard she herself has maintained? This
kind of enquiry may be pursued through all grades of society, and it
may afford the writers on "women" some new and impressive subjects of
study. At the foot of the scale, enquiries will find the hardworking
laundress, aided in her drudgery by her daughter, while her heart
aches over a selfish, idle, and vicious son, it is the daughter who
helps to keep the home together, who takes one handle of the clothes
basket, who walks long distances to get the food at the cheapest shop,
who runs the errands, and who misses her schooling in order to aid the
old folks. Go where you will among the poorer classes, you will see a
mother toiling at the tub or mangle, or in some way earning a living,
while one or two of her sons idle about the house. The sons are always
ready to eat or to complain, they do not hesitate to ask for the few
shillings she has, while she, poor soul, is happy to work for them if
they will only keep decent and "outof trouble". So also with that
weary and overworked woman, the boarding-house keeper. She chops the
wood in the backyard, while a son, whom she will not expose, "vamps"
on the piano or plays cards in the dining room. The sons gamble and
drink; if they earn any money it does not help to keep any home
together, it disappears at races or in amusements. There are hundreds
of young fellows able to work, yet invariably idle: so long as they
have parents, they think it the duty of those parents to support them.
There are mothers who are almost content to see their sons idle at
home, so greatly do they apprehend disgrace and trouble when the boys
are abroad and unwatched, and though education has, in many cases, a
happily mollifying effect, the balance is against the men in all
classes. A city man complained the other day that of his six sons, he
had little hope of either; another mourned the ruin of his only son,
now a confirmed drunkard. Hundreds of others dare not enquire what is
the evening occupation of their sons, being well aware that tippling,
gaming, or compassing the ruin of some poor girl, form their customary
employments. Through all the layers of society there is such a
preponderance of evidence on the side of the women that it is possible
to make a comprehensive generalisation and say that parents beget
sorrow with their boys and comfort with their girls. To this
conclusion we invite the attention of all writers upon "women", in
order that everyone who studies social questions at all, may aid in
the effort to level men up to the moral average of women.
Consideration might also be well spent on the cause which has rendered
prevalent among men, though absent as a rule, from women, such vices
as bibulousness, gluttony, sensual appetite, and a morbid taste for
gambling. It may seem to anyone newly introduced to the subject a very
singular anomaly that drinking, low language, and gallantry, should be
considered not altogether derogatory in one sex though utterly
debasing in another; but this peculiarity of popular vision which
gives two opposite views of the same thing, is an ancient habit. We
cannot now discuss the cause of the moral inequality we allege; it
will suffice to point out that though custom and inherited opinion
have habituated us to judge the actions of men and women by different
standards, the inherited squint does not justify perpetual ignorance
as to the side where reform is most seriously and urgently needed.



BOYCOTTING THE DAWN
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 6. Sydney, October 5, 1889


ASSOCIATED LABOUR seems to be in its own small way just as selfish and
dictatorial as associated capital. The strength which comes of union
has made labour strong enough, not only to demand its rights but
strong enough also to bully what seems weak enough to quietly suffer
under petty tyranny. We have a notable example of this in the boycott
which the Typographical Society has proclaimed against The Dawn. The
compositors have abandoned the old just grounds on which their union
is established, viz: the linking together of workers for the
protection of labour, they have confessed themselves by this act an
association merely for the protection of the interests of its own
members. The Dawn office gives whole or partial employment to about
ten women, working either on this journal or in the printing business,
and the fact that women are earning an honest living in a business
hitherto monopolised by men, is the reason why the Typographical
Association, and all the affiliated societies it can influence, have
resolved to boycott The Dawn. They have not said to the women "we
object to your working because women usually accept low wages and so
injure the cause of labour everywhere", they simply object on selfish
grounds to the competition of women at all. Now we distinctly assert
that we do not employ women because they work more cheaply; we have no
sympathy whatever with those who employ a woman in preference to a
man, merely because they think she will do as much work for a lower
wage. We will be the first to aid the formation of trades' unions
among working women, whether they be compositors, tailors, or any
others, so that women who try to earn a living honestly may win as
good an income in proportion to the quantity and quality of their work
as men can do. In this object we know we have the sympathy of our
readers, and as to the boycott we only need their co-operation to
entirely neutralise its effect. A great many women have written to us
at various times wishing to be able to help us and begging to know
how. There is now an opportunity to help us, and the woman's cause
generally, with pronounced effect, and we can give a comprehensive
reply to all our kind well-wishers. The aid can be given by those who
have no time to write for us, no time to attend women's meetings, no
time for anything but the duties of their own household. It can be
given us in the most powerful form, merely in the course of the
necessary expenditure of your weekly income, whether that be large or
small. If it is made clear to your tradesmen that you deal with them
because they advertise with us, the boycott is immediately defeated.
Subscribers alone never entirely support a newspaper: the expense
could not be borne without the profit of advertisements. Therefore, of
course, the most effective way to injure any publication is to prevent
the possibility of advertisement support. We are told that a Sydney
journal on which two women were engaged, was recently interfered with
and effectually extinguished in this way. Union men personally visited
those who advertised in that journal, and threatened them with a union
boycott if they continued their support. As a consequence the
tradesmen withdrew their advertisements, and some newsagents who had
also been visited, refused to sell the paper, producing of necessity,
the stoppage of the journal and the bankruptcy of the proprietor. This
is not likely to be our fate, since we possess the sympathy of so many
Australian women, but we shall need the aid of our friends, and we ask
them to give it in this way--the most potent and conclusive way
discoverable--namely, to deal as far as due economy and your
circumstances allow, with those tradesmen and others who advertise in
The Dawn, and to tell them that you do so deal with them because their
advertisement appears in our columns. We have no bitter feelings of
hostility, but unjust treatment must be opposed in some way, and the
method we ask our friends to adopt is both effectual and comparatively
pacific. The question raised is not merely a question of the
employment of women on a woman's journal, for though this is the
immediate point of conflict, there is a larger principle in the
background. Trades' unions would dispute, or force out of sight if
possible, the right of women to enter the labour market at all. But
women must have work, for there are thousands not depending on any man
for support, and yet possessing, as far we know, as good a right to
live as any other human being. Men have made the avenues to dishonour
(among which we include the mere marrying for support) plentiful and
easy, while the avenues to honourable competence are few. Of nurses,
governesses, and housekeepers, there are already too many, and though
housework, if well done, is as honourable as any employment whatever,
we cannot forget that there are a great many women with abilities
leading them in other directions than these. The trades which women
can manage easily and well are filled by men: the muscular arms of men
are handling postage stamps and millinery, big men sit cross-legged on
benches, sewing. You can see such anomalies as a six-foot Hercules
leaning over two skeins of floss-silk matching the colours, another in
the feather and flower department drawing an ostrich feather over the
back of his white hand to display it. In like occupations are
thousands of men slowly wasting their physique, while the women are
crowded out, and as far as possible, kept out. Setting type is perhaps
a less unmanly employment than those enumerated, yet, an old
compositor admitted to us that he was often ashamed to be doing
nothing all day but such light-finger work. There are parts of
printing work which men must do; but the work of a compositor is both
light and healthy and as in our office the girls do no night work we
can defend ourselves and ask the support of our reader with a clear
conscience, certain that in fighting our own cause we are also
advancing that which we have quite as much at heart: the cause of all
women workers, present and future.



MODERN CHIVALRY
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 7. Sydney, November 5, 1889


OF the many smaller troubles which women silently endure, probably one
of the worst is the incivility to which they are exposed at the hands
of clerks, countermen and officials. The little business a woman may
have to do in the city, is in general a severe ordeal to her, and even
in shops where it might be supposed that self-interest would ensure
courtesy, unless she is an habitual customer, or one the splendour of
whose appearance foreshadows a large order, she cannot be sure of
courteous attention and treatment. Of course, the behaviour of men
towards a recognised champion of "women's rights" does not come within
the scope of our comments, because it is understood that such a
creature is little more than a perambulating vinegar-bottle armed with
an umbrella, and she, being ready to eject acidulous language against
any male creature of differing views, must expect an occasional
exhibition of venom in return. No, it is not the treatment of the
sour-tempered militant female (if such there be) which excites our
indignation; the reservoirs of our wrath and contempt only overflow
when we see some little woman, too timid to complain, wincing under an
unprovoked discourtesy. Financial offices and institutions are
particular purgatories for women; government offices are by no means
clear of the taint; some few shops need an expurgation, and into most
city offices employing subordinates women enter doubting how heavily
their sensibilities will be trodden upon. The worst offenders can
probably be picked from that large body of officials who are paid by
the public; these repay, in return for their salaries, a good deal of
rough manners, indeed there are some who have a low notoriety among
the public whom they bully; they rank as chiefs in the hierarchy of
bad manners; and men also suffer from the infliction, though not so
severely as do the women. Before describing the methods of procedure,
we must admit that beautiful women have no ground for complaint;
beauty carries a free pass, entitling the holder to the kindest
consideration of all strangers, and great as are the dangers and
penalties of loveliness, it has this prerogative at least, it may call
the nearest adult male to be its willing servant. Even the boor
therefore relaxes in the presence of beauty, but in the average woman
he finds a submissive and defenceless prey. The boor is sometimes in
high station; if so, he exercises his sovereign right to be a churl in
this way;--as the victim enters his official lair he casts on her a
momentary and indifferent glance, then instantly resumes his work.
Possibly a thousandth part of his glance towards her falls on a chair,
and she understands she is to sit there; she finds her way there at
any rate, and sits down waiting till he deigns to break the silence.
When she has waited long enough to be thoroughly miserable, he says
"Well?" in a begrudged interrogative tone, and recommences his
writing, or at the best listens indifferently with his eyes on a book
or paper before him. Should the worm turn under his treatment and
develop powers of remonstrance, or should the subject of her story
show her to be in some form influential, or powerful, or unexpectedly
strong in arguments or resources, she may have the wounds of her
spirit healed by the most unctuous affability but to be considerate to
all human creatures alike is not natural to him, and that affability,
no doubt has its subsequent reaction. The boor of the office-counter
considers it a nuisance to have to do business with women at all. He
issues to women his abrupt instructions to do this, sign that, fill up
the other, and readily grows impatient, irritable and cynical if they
seek clearer enlightenment or further directions. He has no courtesy
naturally and he is not paid to include it among his acquired
accomplishments. It is not inappropriate to mention in connection with
this topic that it is a general masculine opinion that the inability
to understand business is a natural characteristic of a woman's mind.
The number of women successfully managing or working in businesses in
other countries should be enough to disprove this, but in the cases of
unbusiness-like women whom we are considering, the incapacity to
comprehend business routine at a glance is inevitable. There is
nothing in any part of most women's lives or training to teach the
least idea of office methods or formulae, and it is only natural to
blunder at the first contact with petty regulations of which the
necessity and object are not distinctly apparent. Would the masculine
intellect prove less clumsy at its first introduction to duties for
which men have not, but women have, received special training?
Returning to the boor, we must record that when found in a shop or
warehouse the individual specimen generally shows the characteristic
of the species by intentional neglect rather than open insult.
Sometimes discourtesy may take a grosser form, but generally the
science of the game is to estimate how much the prey will endure, and
to let her stand or sit expectantly to the furthest limit of her
patience. The victim rarely complains, since it needs not a little
courage to search for, and make report to, the proper official;
besides the inventive unveracity of the boor may produce such a
plausible tale as to achieve, even in the presence of his employer, a
second triumph over his victim. These slight and hastily sketched
instances of modern chivalry will remind hundreds of our readers of
inflictions personally suffered; the details of each case may vary,
but the generalisation remains true. Whether the boor class is caused
by climatic influences injurious to the liver, or by some still-
existing taint of convict blood, it is impossible to decide; we can
only hope that the genus will become extinct as the world becomes more
generally agreed that, as we all consist of the same amalgam of animal
and spiritual matter, we have all equal rights to the consideration
and courtesy of our fellows.



THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 8. Sydney, December 5, 1889


IN spite of the popular belief that "there is a woman at the bottom of
everything", there are a few who still believe that the "love of money
is the root of all evil", and we need hardly say that in our opinion
the latter is by far the more fertile cause of misery. During the last
few years in Sydney, we have seen a long succession of prosecutions
for fraud and embezzlement committed by clerks and others in positions
of trust. These men did not steal to procure food for starving wives,
or medicine for sickly children; they were all in receipt of salaries
sufficient to procure them the necessaries and the comforts of life.
They stole that they might spend more, or to enable them to gamble and
grow rich with a bound, and their histories show clearly enough that
crime is a natural outcome of this insensate love of riches and
extravagant display. Even with the mass who happily keep honest; the
same passion keeps men anxious and chafing, because forsooth they are
not richer; they may have enough, yet they pant for more with as much
vehemence as if tickets to Paradise were to be sold to the highest
bidder. The amount of physical injury which results from the perpetual
haste and friction caused by this starving for superfluities is
incalculable; there is not any disease more insidious and exhausting
than worry, yet how many men can be found who live placidly, content
that they are decently clad, housed, and fed, and satisfied to be free
from the horrors of poverty without craving for the extravagant and
dangerous pleasures of wealth? The majority of people rarely look
downwards towards the miseries of poverty, never reflect on the ills
which they, themselves, escape, ills under which millions of their
fellow-creatures writhe, but occupy themselves in envying those who
are better off, sighing for some fresh luxury, grumbling because they
cannot save more, chafing under the limits of their income which
happily keeps their tastes and comforts within the bounds of untempted
simplicity. The effect of this money craze on men and women alike, is
always disastrous; temper and constitution are worn down by it.
Character goes overboard when money is to be won, and no sooner does
the pocket grow full than commensurate requirements develop to exhaust
it. The actual selfishness of being rich, the indifference to human
agony which is implied in the personal possession and use of a large
fortune, is what no one seems to recognise, yet it perhaps explains
why "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven". It is easy for
one who is not wealthy to profess gratitude that he has not committed
the crime of devoting to his personal use that which other men, not
less worthy, die for lack of; but it is probably the best of a poor
man's unconscious and negative virtues that he is poor, and therefore
not misusing for his own benefit that wealth which might bring hope
into the lives of a hundred necessitous creatures. Of the terrible
effect upon the world at large of the craving for wealth, the records
of crime and of pauperism furnish sufficient examples. In these days
of speculation many men are willing to grow rich upon the losses of
others; in these times of fierce competition and rapid, cheap
production many a man climbs to wealth up a stairway made of the
living bodies of the poor. The desperate attempts made of late years
to lessen the gulf between the very rich and the very poor have only
been partially successful. The rich grow richer and stronger, the poor
weaker and more numerous. Hundreds of thousands of pounds pour
annually through the channels of charity upon the smouldering fires of
poverty, and the generosity of the few is spread like a veil over the
miseries of the many, who, being honest workers, should never need to
take aught that they do not earn. The recent gift of a quarter of a
million made by one Englishman for the purpose of building homes for
the poor is a splendid example of individual generosity, yet it is but
a bucketful of water thrown on a desert, it does not alter the
intolerable social conditions of our time, for pity and charity should
not be needed, and that system must be rotten at the root wherein
honest labour cannot win enough for common needs. Have we nothing to
learn from the story of the London dock labourers strike? that
insurrection of the starving. The first simmering of a revolution was
there, happily checked and moderated by generous help and timely
success. It was only by the influence of John Burns that the firing of
London in several places was prevented. To the brink of such disaster
has the selfish fighting for riches brought the old world! Even the
unions of the workers for self protection gives only a temporary
relief, for the wealthy can unite also. Look at the gigantic "Trusts"
and "Combines" in America; the Railway Trust, the Telegraph Trust, the
Sugar Trust, the Rope and Twine Trust; all huge monopolies and unions
of wealthy men, created to make rich men richer regardless of the
grinding of the poor. Some day they may grind too fine. They forget
past warnings;--the strike of the Illinois coal miners, of the New
York freight handlers, the Chicago strike, the railroad strike, the
Pittsburgh riots. Even America, by lust of riches and selfish
disregard of the claims of human life, has prepared the explosive
elements for a great social disruption. In London one person in every
forty-seven is in receipt of charitable aid, and we have it on the
authority of one who has worked fifteen years in East London, that for
every one of the degraded poor who figure in statistics there are
twenty persons honestly toiling long hours for a daily pittance which
keeps them just alive, but always within arm's length of starvation.
Such figures shew us an array of misery which no one can contemplate
unmoved. The rich men who from their platform of comfort look on, are
so many modern Neros. They all fiddle at the burning. They dine
sumptuously, while within a stone's throw their fellow creatures are
sharing a fragment of bread, or a bowl of pieces from the charitable
"scrap-cart". Over a costly bottle of wine men can discuss the women
who earn a penny an hour! Better be a camel struggling at the needle's
eye, than a rich man expecting rewards after death; there is more
reasonable hope of success. In this comparatively young country we
have not reached the condition of extremes in wealth and in poverty,
but our methods, our rage for wealth, our whole social system being
precisely a reproduction of the system of the old world, the result
here must in the long run be just the same. Nothing but a change in
social conditions can save us from the dangers now threatening America
and England. We must set ourselves to discover a system under which
all who are willing to work can earn the necessaries of life.
Spasmodic Christmas time charity is not enough; it is the apparent
duty of every man and woman to study the social question and to
practise that real charity which sets the good of mankind at large
above personal aggrandisement, and which makes the happiness of fellow
creatures of more value than the social flattery and selfish pleasures
which wait upon riches.



THE NEED OF THE HOUR
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 9. Sydney, January 6, 1889


THE great need of the hour is for men and women who are not afraid to
take hold of active practical work against the growing immorality of
the age. There are plenty of persons who applaud the good deeds of
others and yet what are they themselves doing? Martha K. Pierce, LLD,
in a little tract, which constitutes No. 9 of the social purity
series, issued by the Woman's Temperance Publishing Association, asks
such persons a number of very pertinent questions which are worthy of
most serious consideration. Did you ever think how dangerous a thing
it is for us to attend a meeting, where evils are talked about, and to
read articles about them in papers, and get into an agonised state of
mind over them and yet do nothing? There is no surer way to deaden
moral energy. I fear that this is the danger of the hour. We are
feeling dreadful about it all, but are we doing much to stop it? How
can we sit in our safe churches and lecture halls and listen in a
perfect ecstasy of indignation to denunciation of faraway evils, when
we might know if we would, that in the next street some work as
diabolical calls to heaven for vengeance. How dare we go home and
quiet ourselves into obliviousness to disagreeable things with the
hope that sometime women will have the power to do something in some
safe and effective and eminently proper way to prevent these shocking
things? How many of us are contenting ourselves now with praying that
somebody else will do whatever it is "advisable" to do at this
juncture? If we could only see ourselves as the pitying eye above sees
us when we try to put celestial aspirations into the straightjacket of
propriety, we would humble ourselves in the dust, realizing our utter
unworthiness to receive those fleeting visitations of the Divine.
There is real work before us. Are we watching the train on which
bewildered girls are being hurried to a future so terrible that those
who love them can have no hope except that Death will find and secure
them soon? Are we sure that the pretty sales-woman who waits on us so
patiently during an afternoon's shopping, is not wishing that she had
some good, safe friend to go to for advice about some acquaintance
whom she half distrusts? Is the servant girl so kindly and justly
treated that she does not go to unsafe places for the scanty pleasures
that her life of drudgery knows? Has our grumbling at the sewing
girl's bill made her wonder as she turns to go to her home, whether it
would be so very wicked after all to accept the protection of some
man, who, dissipated as she knows him to be, is the only person who
seems to care whether she starves or not? Have we taken pains to
secure the confidence of the silly daughter of our careless neighbour,
that we may give her an effective word of warning? Is there a place in
our town in which any hopeless woman could shelter? And have we taken
pains to have its location, and purpose so well advertised that no one
could fail to know of it? Have we joined hands with every other woman
in our neighbourhood who can interested in this work (and what true
woman cannot be?) that we may help each other in lines of effort that
cannot well be carried on by other individuals? Are the laws against
abduction, kidnapping, and other crimes allied to the traffic by which
our sisters are enslaved, put in force in our locality, not
spasmodically, as peculiarly distressing cases happen to come to
public notice, but every time they are violated? Are we trying to gain
for womanhood such a direct influence in the body politic that
officials will find it to their advantage to enforce those laws, and
to guard the interests of women as scrupulously in all ways as they
now do the interests of the voters upon whose support they depend? And
whatever else we do or leave undone, do we speak in season the well-
deserved and sorely-needed word of praise for the ones who dare to be
the first in any line of this work?



THE CURSE OF BAD EXAMPLE OR, THE DRUNKARD'S WIFE
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 10. Sydney, February 5, 1890


Is a pitiful fact to contemplate that according to the existing
conditions of modern civilization, it can be looked upon as little
short of a miracle should the average youth reach man's estate, and
escape the contamination of vice which daily example makes him
familiar with from babyhood. To be able to swear, smoke, drink, or,
gamble like a man, is the Alpha and Omega of his infantile dreams. Is
it not a painful sight to see cripples and pale children, some mere
babies, with the marks of an early grave upon their pinched faces,
behind hoardings or up dirty lanes "heading them"; with childish eyes
shining bright with excitement through the smoke of paper cigarettes.
Useless for the passer-by to stay and ask these babies not to smoke
while every other man we meet has a cigar in his lips. Useless, also
the protest against gambling, when the pile of forgotten dailies which
the urchins are supposed to be on the street selling, contain
exaggerated descriptions of the palatial splendour of some new
gambling hell, and are loud in praise of its manly and enterprising
promoter. Useless indeed are woman's tears, and woman's prayers, while
the votaries of vice hold dominion of the city, while single men and
abandoned women, obtain licenses to open as a public house, any
tottering mass of rottenness they may select, for the purpose of
giving the weak another push hellward. Verily, "man's inhumanity to
man makes countless thousands mourn." Will it be believed a hundred
years hence that such a state of things existed, and none but "women
and cranks" had courage to raise their voices in protest. Walk down
George street from nine to twelve o'clock any night, and see the traps
laid for our sons and brothers. The sailor boy leaving home for the
first time amid a mother's hopes and fears, is led into a Chinamen's
den the first night he puts foot on the soil of Sunny New South Wales,
when, in less time than it takes to write it, the pocket-money given
by a self-denying parient to spend on land, is transferred to the
keeping of a Chinaman. Is it not enough to make one's blood boil to
see the son of Britain, while professing contempt for the "yellow
heathen," triumphantly led in to a den by a greasy Mongolian, who
actually patronises the Britisher, as he leads him like a dumb, driven
beast; from this place he emerges with empty pockets to find himself
on the pavement, perhaps battered and maimed for a fancied offence by
some drunken stranger; the Chinamen, standing round, complacently
watching with evident satisfaction the Britishers fight. Is it not a
sound to make one shiver, to hear the curly head of a stripling
bouncing from off the hard stone curb, while men cry "stand back and
let them have it out," and some good woman's boy goes down again,
while men fairly gloat over the scene. Perhaps some tow-headed,
painted barmaid with the unquenchable tenderness of a woman's heart,
not dead within her, rushes into the ring and stops the assault. But
the police, where are they? Ask the Mongolians! The proverbial terrace
is no myth! Can we wonder that a woman, lately, in defence of self and
children entered and smashed the mirrors and decanters of a drinking
den where her husband continually spent his time and money to the
neglect of his children. Is it to be wondered at, that this woman,
seeing how worse than useless was the outlook for help from any
quarter, took the law in her own hands and vowed to damage the
property of every publican who gave her husband drink. Oh, woman! Is
this always to be? Are ye never going to make an effort to purify
humanity? Content to suffer and degenerate, pander to men, and give
birth to boys for this. If too apathetic to care for self, for the
sake of your precious children, rise as one and denounce these vices,
the result of men's weakness and apathy. If the father, who is in
power, and helps to make the laws, has not the moral courage to put
down these vices, how can the son be strong enough to avoid them
handicapped as he is by transmitted weakness. Oh, Sisters! lookdown at
the sweet, baby boy resting on your soft, white bosom, and picture it,
think of it. Say, "Shall this fate be his?"



THE DIVORCE EXTENSION BILL OR, THE DRUNKARD'S WIFE
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 11. Sydney, March 5, 1890


THE fate of the Victorian divorce extension bill is a source of keen
anxiety to many a miserable wife who has the misfortune to be linked
for life to a drunkard. In the helpless innocence of girlhood, she, in
good faith, believing her lover all that he led her to think him,
trustingly said "I will," and for better or worse, by this she must
abide. No matter that he lied and deceived her knowingly. There is no
law to punish a man for deceiving his wife. He may do violence to the
best feelings of her nature; outrage the holiest emotions of her
heart, and there is none to condemn. If he defrauds his fellow man of
a shilling the law will deal with him. If he robs his wife by brutal
deceit of all faith in mankind, health, peace, happiness, and of her
life by the slow torture of a breaking heart--what of it? All he has
to do is to bury her and seek another victim in another woman who
believes him. All the consolation the wife of such a ghoul could
reasonably expect from the world is "Why did you marry him?" About as
reasonable a question as asking a condemned criminal awaiting his
execution why he committed the act that brought him there. What
availeth her to say "I was young, ignorant, inexperienced in the ways
of the world; I believed and I loved him; he vowed that I should not
want; he loved me and would love me for ever; all these promises he
has broken. I have kept mine. He will not support me; he drinks and is
cruel to me." And the world's answer is: "As you have made your bed so
you must lie on it." A wife's heart must be the tomb of her husband's
faults. Verily, a girl must be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as
a dove; she must have trusting innocence, implicit faith, loving
devotion, and every soft and womanly attribute, and at the same time
be an expert in physiognomy, phrenology and mind-reading, and a
veritable woman of the world into the bargain, to ensure herself
against matrimonial disaster. With all due reverence for the sanctity
of marriage, can there be anything sacred in the bond which binds a
good woman to a sot, felon, or brute? Of the three the first is the
worst, the felon disgraces her, the brute bruises her flesh, and
perhaps breaks her bones, but the sot, makes her perpetuate his
ignoble race. What sober, strong, cleanly man would submit to share
his bed with another in the worst stage of drunkenness? But the
confirmed sot, if he possesses enough command of his tottering limbs
to bring him to his lawful wife's chamber, may then collapse in
abandoned beastliness upon the floor or conjugal couch if he reaches
it, and proceed to make night hideous for her. A nerve of iron truly,
must be possessed by frail women, who are expected to endure nightly,
this horrid ordeal, and put a cheerful face upon it in the morning,
well knowing that this is her fate so long as her power of endurance
holds out. How often does the patient wife quietly steal from the
chamber of horrors to seek shelter by the bed of her sleeping
children, content if but allowed to sit in peace until day brings
temporary respite. What patience! what forgiveness must these martyrs
possess. To what extent can our good Queen realise the position of
these long-suffering women.



HOUNDED TO DEATH
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 12. Sydney, April 5, 1890


IN an English village lately the coroner's jury returned a verdict of
suicide in the case of a girl found drowned. The usual charitable
verdict of temporary insanity could not be given, for it was clear
from the confession she left behind her, that she had deliberately
premeditated death, she had estimated her future and elected to die.
Being a schoolmistress she had set apart her holidays for the purpose
of a last visit to some good friends, with the resolve that when the
visit was over life should end too. In her letter she said her keenest
pain was the knowledge that in dying where she did she would bring
disgrace on those who had been kind to her. The letter unquestionably
revealed that the suicide was deliberate but it showed too that she
who died was a sensitive, loving, and gentle soul whom the world could
not afford to lose. The explanation is simply this--that she had been
seduced and deserted, and that she knew the world well enough to be
aware that, though it winks at a great deal of vileness, and though it
keeps some remnant of pity and charity for the utterly abandoned, it
does not allow unwedded mothers either tolerance, pity, or charity. To
those with sympathy enough to enter into the heart of a girl like this
there are few things more sad or more pitiful than she. In her life
there came a day when she realized that the love she looked to for
help was gone, the love for whose sake she had been weak had stabbed
her and fled, that it had not been love at all but only lust, perfidy
and cowardice miscalled a man. She saw that though with the help and
sympathy of love she could have borne all, yet alone the world showed
a face of stone to her. Looking ahead she saw the agony of shame, of
discovery, of public disgrace, then the rejection by friends and
acquaintances, her position lost, no work to be had, no hope at all.
There is little enough work for women at any time. What can one do
from whom all faces are averted? That a girl should take to the
streets seems a natural continuation of a life thus diverted, and we
must not forget that it is the natural continuation because no other
way of livelihood is left. This is no new story, nor does it belong to
England alone. There have been broken hearts and good lives thrown to
the death clutch of the waters in how many places? Accursed blood-
stained Mrs Grundy! Tyrant, undiscriminating and unjust! Must you
preserve your reputation for chastity by hounding girls like this to
death? The woman has been weak, perhaps ignorant, perhaps the victim
of opportunity, at any rate too loving, and too foolish in that she
trusted a man. She has proved weak; he has proved base. We punish the
already wounded, we beat the helpless, we smite the suffering, but the
other whose guilt is at least equal, does he find himself cast out
from decent society, is life so miserable that he seeks death? Does
every man kick him downwards? No; he who brought disaster to her life
under the sacred name of love, who repaid trust by desertion, who
abandoned a helpless girl to a merciless world, he who is not fit to
be buried with a dog, escapes harmless, when she, who in pain and
misery has already almost expiated the sin, bears the burden of
contempt which is as heavy as the fear of death. Does she not claim
help and pity; does he not merit vengeance? The purity of society is
not worth preserving if we have to keep it by the sacrifice of victims
like this. By what habits and long-preserved traditions we have grown
used to action so unjust matters not; it is time, at any rate we
commenced to judge by the light of reason, sympathy, and charity. But
leaving the man out of the question, what warrant have we for
condemnation of the woman? The stain on the soul is not ineffaceable.
If she falls further it is because we impel. There are not many
elements of meanness about her crime, and her sorrows deserve pity.
Few of us are unspotted and shall we decree that for this sin only
among the long category of mankind's errors, the punishment shall be
banishment, dishonour, or death? No "home for fallen women" is of use
here, no public institution can stand between a breaking heart and
suicide, just public opinion alone can show the door to hope, can
offer the chance of restoration. But at this time the world's conduct
shows a visible anomaly; the benevolent are giving money to homes for
the fallen, while, with the cold shoulder of respectability they urge
another unfortunate into the gulf from which such homes are filled. We
build the refuges and prepare the inmates at the same time; for
whosoever speaks bitterly of these, or who suffers scornful speech in
others to go unchallenged, who denies work, aid, or sympathy to a
woman because she has sinned in the one way deemed unpardonable, is
driving her along the road which ends either in death to the body or
deg radation to the soul.



OURSELVES
The Dawn Volume 3, Number 1. Sydney, May 5, 1890


WITH the present issue The Dawn starts upon its third year. It is now
two years since, with many misgivings, we submitted our first issue to
a critical public, and none were more surprised than ourselves, at the
generous notice we received from our brothers of the press. Since
then, we have enjoyed hearty and substantial support from readers of
both sexes, and though ostensibly catering for women, we undoubtedly
owe much of our success to men. This liberal support we appreciate the
more from the fact that similar journals published in England and
America own, that after twenty years of hard struggling, their efforts
are just beginning to be self-supporting, while many are still
compelled to ask extra monetary help from their readers. This, happily
has not been our experience; we have had fair play and know that if
present support fails we shall have none but ourselves to thank for
it. We have had opposition from wealthy and influential people who
cannot understand why so unpretentious a publication as The Dawn
achieves prosperity, while more elaborate efforts met but untimely
deaths. Possibly it may be that the intellect of man, though ranging
unlimited fields with masterful comprehension, cannot enter with
entire sympathy into the mind of a woman. Possibly the fitness of
things ordains that a woman's paper should be "run" by women, but
probably the most influential cause of our success has been the view
we have taken of women's interests, a view in no way similar to the
popular notion of the affinities and tastes of womanhood. The fact is,
women are tired of seeing themselves "damned with faint praise" in
society journals in which it is not considered correct to record the
commonplace virtues of middle class life, and in which the quiet
housekeeper is ignored or pushed aside to give place to the frivolous
leader of fashion. The mass of women want to have themselves fairly
represented, and the mass are made up of those who are not much in
evidence, and who do not therefore figure as typical women. Not one
woman out of every hundred cares what is going on at the centres of
fashionable society, and those who do, are proverbially known to be
just those least likely to subscribe to a paper, hence the ignominious
failure of every attempt to cater exclusively for them. There is no
better test with which to gauge women's taste in literature, despite
all said to the contrary, than in that they steadily refuse to support
compilations of fashions, block vanities, and racy society scandals.
They know full well that the women such journals represent have done
much to colour the disparaging paragraphs concerning women with which
present day literature abounds, and she who reads them being
persistently put forward as representing the general standard of
woman-kind does much to rivet the shackles of oppression weighing
heavily upon her thinking sisters.



THAT NONSENSICAL IDEA
The Dawn Volume 3, Number 2. Sydney, June 5, 1890


"I utterly Opposed to this nonsensical idea of giving women votes",
said one of the members of parliament commenting on the proposed
Electoral Bill. So are we opposed to it if it is nonsensical, but as
so many reforms and discoveries of incalculable value have at first
sight been declared idiotic and absurd, we may as well look at the
foundation facts and see if this proposed Bill contain the essence of
foolishness or whether it does, as some claim, bring us as near to
pure justice and absolute freedom as any human law has yet approached.
We are a community of men and women living in one corner of the globe
which we have marked off as our own, and since the business of so many
people cannot be managed by all, we select 150 men to make laws for us
and manage our public offices. The laws made by these deputies are
binding on women as well as men, but the women have no advocates or
representatives in the Assembly, nor any means of making their wishes
known. The life and work of every woman is just as essential to the
good of the community as that of every man. Her work and the character
she bears raise or depress the standard of the state as much as does
the life of any individual man; why is she set aside and disabled from
expressing her opinion as to what should be done by this community of
which she is a member? Why are her rights less than her brothers? She
bears a full half of the trouble when the affairs of the state are
depressed, an unjust law or the lack of law brings to her life care or
hardship or injury as it does to men, yet none of the deputies ask
what she wishes--why should they, she has no vote. She belongs to the
better behaved sex--for women only contribute one-fifth to the
criminal class (four-fifths are men)--and it would therefore seem
likely that her opinion would be worth having, yet she is expressly
discouraged from the formation of opinions, they are declared
ineffectual by the other half of this community of people. It does not
seem so nonsensical after all, this idea that a woman's opinion as to
the fitness of a deputy may be as just and right and worthy of weight
as a man's opinion.

Supposing

There are two views of the woman's suffrage question commonly
discussed, the justice of the measure, and its expediency. Few doubt
its justice, many question its expediency, and yet, being just, what
does all else matter? Suppose that the right to vote lay with women
only, and that the progress of the world was bringing expansive
thoughts and hopes of a happier future into the minds of men. When men
perceived that this right was unjustly with-held from them, and felt
that their individual manhood was title enough to this right to a
voice in decisions affecting all, would they tolerate discussion as to
the expediency or wisdom of the measure? Would they stand by and hear
the women conjecture how men might perchance misuse the concession if
granted, would they quietly wait while political factions summed up
the chances of the support of the new voters? No, they would say
"Curse you--it is my right. What business is it of yours how I use
it?"

Her Proper Sphere

As to expediency, the arguments have been so often repeated that it
seems foolish to reiterate them, especially as nothing cogent is
brought forward on the opposing side in Parliament such old phrases as
these were used, viz:--that "woman should be kept in her proper
sphere" and "women have duties quite outside the political arena". One
would think the political arena consisted of the parliamentary
refreshment room, they are so sure it is not a desirable place for a
woman to be seen in. In the minds of these objectors "politics" seem
to consist of the petty animosities and personalities which the law-
making business now gives rise to, but "politics" in reality cover
nearly all questions which thinking men or women do now consider and
form opinions upon. Laws are made upon divorce, the sale of liquor,
factory regulations, the employment of children, gambling, education,
hours of labour, and scores of subjects upon which women do think, and
respecting which they ought to have the power of giving effect to
their wishes by the selection of men representing their shade of
opinion. And if women do not also at once enter the "political arena"
so far as to care greatly about the land laws and mining acts, pray do
men voters come to an intelligent decision on every possible subject
of legislation before casting a vote? Most men do not seriously
consider and decide in their own minds upon more than two or three of
the many subjects which come within the wide circle of "politics", and
it would not therefore take women long to reach equality in that
respect. We are inclined to believe that a woman can form as good an
idea as to the best man among parliamentary candidates as the average
man voter.

More Logic

But say some people, women do not want the vote, most of them would
not use it if they had it. What will happen after they have the vote
may be left to the prophets to say, but if A and B do not want
something is that a reason why C who has a just claim should be
denied?

Prematurity

In the debate, Mr Traill, who said he was in favour of women's
suffrage, urged that the measure would be premature; that women should
be first educated to the use of a vote by possessing the suffrage
under a local government Act. "Then," said he, "if found to be using
it well they should be permitted to influence Imperial questions."
This would be kind indeed, but this is not the method hitherto
employed when new classes have been admitted to the franchise. We have
not first put them through political schools; we have taken the raw
material, and under the influence of its new liberty and swayed by the
responsibilities of its new standing, the raw material has developed,
but where has any government ever had raw material so certain to act
conscientiously, so prepared already with intelligence and with a
strong bias towards moderation, peace, steady reform, and moral
purgation? Probably it is because they know that with women voting the
men of bad character would have little chance of future election, that
makes men so fearful that women "might not use it well".

Women Members

Many of the speakers in the House contended that if women received the
right to vote they should also logically have the right to sit in
parliament. This is not asked for and need not at present be decided.
Few women would care for such a post, but it may be safely said that
if exceptional women spring up such as the world has hitherto had some
examples of, they could not fail to raise the tone of the House and
fill a place worthily. It is to be remembered that men will not cease
to vote when women have the suffrage, and that women are decidedly
critical of their own sex. She would need to be a remarkable woman who
could win the confidence of a mixed constituency of men and women. A
young married woman is the usual illustration taken to show the
absurdity of a Woman member and a woeful picture is drawn of her
deserted babies and dinnerless husband. But these pictures only show
the speaker's ignorance of women, for there is no woman who would not
think of her baby and the happiness of her home long before she
desired in her wildest fancies the barren honour of a parliamentary
seat. She would not be likely to be asked to stand, and she would not
consent if asked. Some members treated the question in the old semi-
facetious way, conjecturing the effect of pretty women in parliament
and the power of a lovely woman premier to win susceptible opposition
members to her side. This presupposes that the political convictions
of men are but wavering undecided beliefs, and easily unseated, and
forgets this fact that a woman of such attainments and character that
a mixed constituency of men and women esteemed her a fit parliamentary
representative, would by her very nature, her modesty and quiet sense,
make this silly gallantry impossible; and she would so scorn adherents
won only by beauty that they would probably begin under her influence
to form their opinions firmly and honestly. Another member alleged
that his brother members would do no work if ladies sat beside them.
If men are indeed so silly that in a place of business they must
inevitably be simpering to women, it will not be so nonsensical to
give a vote to a class undoubtedly not prone to publicly exhibit their
weakness or their foolishness.



THE LEGAL LINK
The Dawn Volume 3, Number 3. Sydney, July 5, 1890


MONA CAIRD and her disciples have whispered in the ears of those women
whose sufferings have set them pondering, that the troubles which so
often and so soon follow marriage are due to the marriage bond; to the
practicably inseparable tie; the legal link. No bond, say they, then
no ill-treatment; love that lasts, not languishes; at least the
kindness of a friend not the autocracy of a legal master. Now again in
the May number of the Westminster Review Jeannie Lockett writes:


It is a well attested fact that in cases amongst the poorer classes
where people enter into marital relations not legally binding, the women
as a general rule, receive better treatment than is the case in a
similar grade of society where the tie is a legalised one.
'Ah! it's easy to see the poor thing is his lawful wife else he
would not dare treat her so', is an expression of opinion not uncommon
in such communities.


It is not only in the poorer classes that women have been driven, by
unkindness, ill-usage or cruelty to ask why the love which seems so
strong a security before marriage so often becomes hate when the bond
is tied. Nor are they without grounds when they reason that men become
demoralised by the absolute rights over women which, after marriage,
law, custom and opinion give to them. Absolute rights they practically
are, for when a woman marries she expects and intends to live with her
husband all her life, and general opinion expects her to gratify at
his pleasure, not at her option, nearly all his wishes. Her
unpractised and unbusinesslike mind makes her readily confess in many
things her weakness, and induces submissiveness and patient endurance;
and her inferior strength tends, when once love is gone, to encourage
the brute part which lies in human nature, the inherent propensity to
bully and tyrannise any helpless, weak thing. Then the strongest force
of all which keeps her quiet under cruelties, insults, and
abominations known to women but which must not here be named, is the
potent dread of stepping outside conventionalities, for to the woman
far more than to the man the edicts of society are weighty and cruel.
Lastly the dread of poverty, the hopelessness of life to a married and
separated woman with or without children, holds her bound, so that she
is indeed at the mercy of her legal protector. Reviewing all this it
is not to be wondered at that those who think of these things and seek
some principle or some theory by the adoption of which all the wrongs
shall be slain at the root, should come to the conclusion that the
substitution of voluntary union for the present style of marriage is
the change we need. Look, they say, at the man who marries a clever,
independent-spirited woman who can earn her living easily apart from
him, he does not illtreat her, he knows too well he might lose her if
he did, and in other cases if a man knew that his wife could and would
leave him, he would take care that she desired to remain. Our
theorists therefore urge that since it is not possible to many women
now to have the strong basis of financial independence let them at any
rate be free to dissolve the contract at will without reproach--let
the man feel that his hold is not perpetual and secure and he will
strive to retain his wife's affections by the tenderness and
thoughtfulness which enabled him to win her. Altogether the theorists
make out a strong case, seemingly strong at any rate to those who
intimately know the pitiful sadness of the lives of many married
women. But in our opinion so sweeping a change as the abolition of the
present marriage ties; that is, an abolition either of the legal or
moral binding force of them; is not the right method of cure. One
extreme does not always balance another, nor can one safely cure a
fever by stepping suddenly into an ice house, and any change in
marital relationships which may be made must be the outcome of slow
and gradual change in opinion and belief. Nor is the quick severance
of a tie which binds to suffering always the noblest way to win
happiness. Indignant and chafing as we are at the irreparable wrongs
endured by multitudes of women, we are sure that it is not in the
mutual and binding pledge that the evil lies. Change a man's ideas and
his whole way of living is altered; and the change in ideas that is
needed is this: men must think less selfishly, women more so. These
are general terms and it is not to be supposed that we think there are
not cases where this rule might justly be reserved. What we assert is
that men should reflect in moments subtracted from their own
ambitions, "What does my wife's life consist of?" Women in moments
stolen from the daily round of work must remember the individual
dignity they have to preserve, the soul they have to develop, the
personal rights they have to maintain for the sake of themselves, for
the sake of the whole sex and for the sake of the children whose lives
and characters they are all the while forming. Submissiveness and
readiness to bear everything does not make a woman attractive to her
husband, quite the reverse: she takes an inferior, if not a
contemptible position, with the natural result that she flings away
her own and her children's happiness and encourages the faults she
ought to oppose. Husbands in general are not unselfish though they may
think themselves kind and generous. A man does not often consider what
his wife's existence is, in what proportions her work and her
pleasures lie, or what she gives in return for what she receives.
Absorbed in their own ambitions, business cares or pleasures, how many
men ask themselves what sort of life their wife leads, whether she has
strength enough for herself and the children she rears, hope enough to
make life cheery, chances enough for development, share enough in the
general ambition and success of the family as a whole? We do not want
to see women attempting to seize a mastership, or growing quarrelsome
about imaginary rights, but we do want them to see that the
unselfishness which seems a virtue is practically the abandonment of
their position. To claim the full rights and privileges of thinking,
self-respecting, free human souls is to undermine a thousand wrongs
and humiliations, to render themselves the more beloved for their
apparent audacity and to, at the same time, secure the best conditions
for their children. Women must learn that if they bear wrongs other
women must bear the same, if they do not claim personal respect
neither can their sisters. If they are weak or oppressed how can their
children be strong or noble? This habitual self-effacement leads to
all manner of weakness. A woman will tell lies to shield her husband,
or perhaps to shield her own pride. If she is pinched or bruised, or
injured, if things are broken in a fit of temper, she will swear it
was not he, it was the result of accident purely. If he insults her by
boasting of his connection with other women, she does not resent it,
if he squanders the money, she works the later and the harder to
replace it, if he drinks she hides the fact and shelters him with lies
and bears him dipsomaniac children. In time she does not own her own
body or mind, and her only morality is to be faithful to the marriage
contract. The long-suffering, patient, enduring temper of women under
hardship only leads to hardship's continuance. They should have more
trust in their own intuition of right, think more of their own lives
and destiny and of the lives they bequeath to the race. For it is
often easier to endure than to act and the true unselfishness is to be
selfish for the cause of progress and the good of others. They must
think more of self, if self is to have more dignity and more worth,
they must gain for themselves more liberty and more respect that the
children and the race may be stronger and nobler, inheriting less of
passion and of vice, less of the weak and tired-out household drudge,
more physical and intellectual strength, more mental and moral
cleanliness. If women thus aim at the enhancement of their own
individualism there will be no need to change the method of marriage
relationships, and in time, by women's efforts to restore their side
of the balance in the marriage scales, we may even find Jeannie
Lockett's axiom inverted and married women a better treated class than
those who are bound by no legal bond.



THE STRIKE QUESTION
The Dawn Volume 2, Number 7. Sydney, November 5, 1890


10000 WIVES TO BE CALLED OUT!!
MASS-MEETING OF THE AMALGAMATED WIVES' ASSOCIATION!!
DEMANDS OF THE WOMEN!!
DOMESTIC LIFE PARALYSED!!

WHAT would you say if you saw these headlines in your morning paper?
Yet why should you not see them? Wives suffer from long hours of work,
low wages, lack of rest, and oppression, and women are citizens
entitled to just such rights and prilileges are claimed by men, among
these privileges being the right to cease work, and to make terms for
the betterment of their condition. Working-men strike for higher
wages, shorter hours, "smoke ohs," or in defence of one of their
number unjustly or despotically treated, but though sensitive as to
their own rights does it ever occur to them to think of the women? Is
there any one member of all the affiliated Trades who has reflected
that there is another class more in need of union and of defensive
leagues than he and his fellows. Never! The social constitution may be
turned upside down and stood on its head so to speak, when men's
demands require hearing, but no one thinks of the women. Thousands of
pounds are spent on organisation, circulating newspapers, bands,
processions and free meals, and on the other side thousands on special
services of constables and military, while the grievances of the men
are being put to the test, but not a soul asks "Have the women any
claims?" In point of fact even working men themselves stand in the
position of employers, because just as under the wealthy there is the
less powerful class of labour, so, subject to the social predominance
of men, there are the women, weak, unorganised, and isolated. Does a
man concede to his employee-wife, defined hours of rest, fair pay,
just and considerate treatment? The wife's hours of work have no
limit. All day the house and at night the children. There is no
Woman's Eight Hour Demonstration, though we can make a public holiday
because the men have won this right. A wife has no time to think of
her own life and development, she has no money to spend, it is "her
husband's money," the complete right to her own children is not yet
legally hers, and she is not even in independent possession of her own
body. Surely it must be admitted that she needs the protection of a
Union as much as a working man. What is a wife's pay? It is certainly
what no Union would allow any member to accept from an employer. She
did not marry for pay, you may urge. True, but her work is worth as
much as the man's. He married her to share equally in his disasters as
in his successes, and if she has to suffer with him in troubled times,
surely she has a right to share equally when finances are sound. "She
gets food, lodging and clothes?" Yes, but who else could be hired day
and night for a lifetime on those terms. What of the treatment? Some
are happy. Yes, and others bear a petty despotism, rough handling,
rough language, selfish indifference, overwork. There are many of
these. They endure far more than any man would tolerate from any
master. Yet at first it seemed strange to talk of a Woman's Union and
a strike of wives. If men demanding rights and liberties would grant
the same to their wives, and demand as much for all women, we might
begin to flatter ourselves on our civilization, but this men do not
do, and as for women they have no unions, no organisers, no speakers,
no meeting halls, and no newspapers to represent their claims publicly
and justly. Serious writers in newspapers do not touch woman's
questions; such topics are left to the comic man, yet the wrongs of
women are real and crying out for remedy. Do not lay the flattering
unction to your soul that a woman's excited imagination has invented
woman's wrongs. Do not fancy that such wrongs are slight and tolerable
because they are not known to bachelor clerks, nor quoted in
newspapers, nor talked of in commercial circles; these things are to
be learned by following men when work is over, to the secrecy of
"homes," where sheltered in the privacy of an Englishman's castle,
selfishness can be indulged, bitterness spoken, meanness practised.
Men's wrongs are vented by public speakers in the Domain, women's
wrongs are endured in the abominable seclusion of separate "homes."
This may sound extreme but if you have ever seen a beaten woman, if
you have seen a woman exhausted by house-work, if you have seen one
broke down by perpetual suppression, or if you have ever talked with a
doctor about his woman patients, you may understand in what manner the
great Strike Question presents itself to a woman.



THE END




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