Woman’s Industrial Subjection.
Joshua King Ingalls.
No. I.— Its Origin.
Preceding the subject of political inequality, to which woman has been reduced, as well as the question whether equal franchise will remedy the injustice she sustains from the existing industrial and economical arrangements, an inquiry into the nature and origin of her present social status seems necessary.
As we trace industry in its early beginnings, we shall find it greatly if not wholly due to what we now denominate “the weaker sex.” But it was once strong enough to do the principal work of the world; man’s energies being expended in hunting, fishing, and fighting, neither of which have any positive relation to social progress. Social industry is as old as the human race. Far older than any recorded history. Modern discoveries in caves and in the ancient mounds and temples,—the date of whose erection can only be guessed at, through early tradition,—reveal evidences of human labor, through numerous successive periods, the last of which does not connect with our most ancient history. The people who dwelt in caves, of the stone age, the age of pottery, or bronze, and even of iron, had already in succession achieved vast triumphs over nature, through the arts, and the manufacture of articles of use, as well as implements of war, and had attained certain degrees of equity in their social adjustments long before the Bible was written, or any book whatever. For before any writing could be done, or characters, however rude, could be chiseled on marble, innumerable experiments, under the greatest discouragements and well nigh endless failures, had been required to educate the mind, the eye, the hand, to the accomplishment of such work.
The search for and the devouring of food are common to all living things, even to vegetables; but where industry first displays a social feature, is where the insect, bird or mammal exerts itself to provide for and rear its young. With the two latter this is chiefly done by the female. The male is often not even an assistant. With birds the female is often the builder of the nest, the male sometimes bringing material and assisting in feeding the young, and in some cases assisting in the incubation.
In the dawn of industry distinctly human, woman doubtless took the initiative. Nature had allotted to her the bearing of children, and the caring for them. Evidence that to her the home domestic industries and economics, which, though excluded from our “trade economics,” form the base of and render possible the higher and more complex, owed their rise, is abundant in the habits, customs and traditions of all primitive races. For in the ceaseless wars between families and tribes, the men were constantly employed in war, and preparation for it. This and the chase absorbed their time, which scarcely allowed them opportunity for the making of weapons. The women cared for the offspring, cooked the wild meat, ordered and kept the tent or cabin, and constructed the family garments from furs. She also lead in such agriculture as was known to the tribe.
Mr. Schoolcraft says in regard to the American Indians: “It is well known that corn planting and corn gathering, at least among the still uncolonized tribes are left to the women. It is not generally known, perhaps, that this labor is not compulsory, and that it is assumed by the women, as a just equivalent, in their view, for the onerous and continuous labor of the other sex, in providing meat and skins for clothing by the chase, and in defending their villages against their enemies.” It seems to have been at first assumed from the very necessity of the case. He says, in another place: “The wife of the hunter has the entire control of the wigwam. To each person who is a member of the lodge family is assigned a fixed seat. In this manner the personal rights are guarded. The female is punctilious as to her own, so that perfect order is maintained.” Both Mrs. Jamieson and Mrs. Schoolcraft, herself of Indian descent, testify that considering the relative condition of their husbands, the position of the Indian woman is higher and freer than that of the white woman,”
There is said to be a tribe in Arizona, the Zunis, with whom the woman controls the home and all property. She also has the full authority in the married relation, and can send back to his mother an unsatisfactory husband, thus divorcing him in as summary a manner as did the ancient Hebrew one of his discarded wives.
Whatever may have been the nature of the primitive union of the sexes, they must have wrought together in effecting any salutary results in creating property and rearing offspring. Whether one was a mere slave to the other, or a partially recognized partner, would not obviate this necessity. There must have been some assignment or assumption of spheres, and a certain division of labor: that affecting more directly the welfare of the family and offspring falling to the woman,
The current notion that the origin of marriage was simply the capture of a wife, borne forcibly home, and held in bondage for life, is altogether too simplistic. Customs like this may have obtained in certain eras, among certain tribes, but save in times where utter despotism prevailed, or among retrograde tribes exceptionally barbaric, the man has ever sought his mate by kindly approach and manifest deference. Our aborigines had no despotic leadership and among them outrage or indignity to woman, or sexual excess, was unknown. Yet what one authority says has sometimes doubtless been true: “Of old the modes of getting a wife were the same as of acquiring property—capture, gift, sale.” And we have here a key to the process by which woman was subjected industrially: it is the same as that by which male slaves were, through an inversion of the principle of property, which is normally a principle of liberty, not of slavery. All this, however, does not enlighten us as to the previous condition from which woman had been reduced to bondage. Yet it accounts for her position generally, under polygamic marriage. It can hardly account for it under monogamy, except as a relic. But there was a time when woman was not a slave. It seems well established that polyandria antedates polygamy. In its inception woman seems to have been master of the situation; and that it existed anterior to polygamy, is evident from the fact that it has been superceded by the latter, in those countries where tracts of its ancient prevalence still appear. These traces are found in every part of the globe, and indicate at some time greatly remote a wide if not universal prevalence. The Hebrew custom compelling the man to take his brother’s widow is doubtless a relic of it. Polygamy, now in its decadence, still prevails over large areas and among comparatively civilized peoples. This shows it to be the more recent of the two.
Some writers incline to the opinion that the former system of marriage arose from a disparity in the numbers of the sexes caused by the killing of female children, who were burdensome and useless in their savage warfare It can hardly be doubted that previous to the growth of polygamy woman enjoyed a greater degree of independence than under it. Being the principal worker it would be irrational to sacrifice her. It is well known too that barbaric nations, while putting the males of a conquered people to the sword, were careful to spare the women for slaves. Where the more ancient system of marriage still exists, it is true that it is so modified by the system that superceded it (polygamy) that now the woman does not own the husbands as property, but rather that the husband’s brothers own her in common; but it was originally different, for the woman was the first maker and owner of the home, and the husband was but an appendage to it. And it by no means follows, as has been supposed, that this form of marriage grew out of a previous state of general promiscuity. From the primitive union, which was entered into for a season and probably for life, a divergence would inevitably take place, through ignorance and inexperience; first to one extreme and then to the other, to polyandria first, since woman was in possession of what corresponds to home and property, then, as the man developed physical strength and love of power, to polygamy; returning at last as with all movements to the central and direct line of progress. And this is what has actually transpired.
The idea that polyandria sprang from the practice of killing female children is not more likely than that polygamy sprang from the practice of killing or making eunuchs of male children. That would in either case be simply putting the effect in place of the cause.
To the orderly development of industry and economy, war has been obstructive and has given but an indirect aid, such as is derived from mistakes, by improvement through the experience they furnish. But the making of home and the rearing of offspring have proved a constant aid and stimulus to these virtues. Labor must have produced wealth, appreciable to the desire of the raider or robber, before he would wage war for the sake of plunder, or to enslave the laborer and indeed before property could have been obtained in any form, whether by capture, gift or purchase. With the conquests of war and the organized governments of force to which it led, came the plunder of the worker and his ultimate enslavement; and at the same time and as a part of the process, the reduction of woman to a thing and chattel. Woman with the man became liable to “capture, gift or sale,” under the rude and barbaric trade which followed in the intervals of horrid war and the struggles for power. It is to such sources and precedents that every civil inequality and disability of woman can he traced. How chivalrous must be the brother and husband, who under the pretense of protecting her, subjects her to “a rule of conduct” only thus derived and justified!
The development of greater physical strength, through the toils of the chase, and the fierce combats with each other, gave man the power of brute force over the woman, who, if not weaker originally, became so through bearing children, indoor work and confinement to care of the young. As war became honorable, and success in it an object of political ambition, the wife, sister and mother sank to the level of the plundered or captured slave, whose involuntary service could be compelled by the lash. Thus woman’s subjection has been from the first associated, in fact identical with that of her toiling brother, whose unrequited labor has strengthened the hand of their mutual taskmaster. The most hopeful sign of the tines is found in the fact that the woman’s movement and the labor organization begin to appreciate this truth and work in accord.
Having thus briefly sketched the rise of woman’s industrial subjection, I will next inquire into the causes which have prolonged this state of subjection, through the barbaric, feudal and commercial eras, in defiance of the spirit of the age.
No. 2.—Its Gradual Development under
Governments of Force.
They misread history and misjudge motives, who suppose that our social and civil inequities have been established by design. The law of growth applies to human institutions as well as to physical bodies. Conspiracies to maintain, extend and perpetuate power there may have been and such still exist; but the wrong has ever been developed through mutual ignorance and misapprehension. The beginnings of distinct forms of oppression have often occurred where the weaker has sought the protection of the stronger, against real or imaginary foes, by contract, made unequal through ignorance rather than design. Such contract resulted necessarily in the increase of authority on one side and increased dependence on the other.
The necessity of co-operation in all production of wealth, furnished the opportunity for constant encroachments of the one and the increasing subjection of the other. The earliest and simplest form of co-operation was between two of the opposite sex. Such co-operation would be mandatory on the part of one and involuntary on the part of the other; or it would be mutually desired and therefore voluntary on the part of each. The more primitive form, I think, was mutual and voluntary, the later mastership of the man being preceded by that of the woman, has resulted, through inevitable divergencies, in ages of ignorance and inexperience. The first divergence from simple mutualism would appear to have been in favor of woman’s supremacy, since she seems to have been the earliest toiler and accumulator, and so leader in this field. It is evident that as late as the time of Abraham and Isaac, the woman was not a subordinate as to the control of home. The expulsion of Hagar and her child and the ruse to deprive Esau of his birthright shows that the wife then was ruler of the tent, and of the domestic economics, such as they were. Instances of the brutal domination of the man over the woman occur only among retrograde tribes, or under rigorous despotism, or under the demoralization caused by incomplete co-operation, as in our modern industrialism, where it ends in production and does net embrace division, to the toiler except as it is inevitable toward the slave, serf or wage worker, whose numbers and condition must be maintained or production for the operator will cease. We see here the intimate connection of industry and economy with subjection of any kind, and which seems to have in them its only foothold. Woman’s industrial and economic emancipation is then her great need.
Woman’s present status seems to have grown through alternations of supremacy, rather than from any constitutional inability to lead or rule. Government in this arbitrary sense is an art most easily learned, and woman has abundantly proved her capacity in that line. Between the man and the woman the struggle for leadership was certain to arise. Only through long experience and culture could they arrive at just estimates of each other’s services and claims. In their attempts at mutual understanding they must have followed one of these lines, either entire subordination of the man to the woman, or of the woman to the man, or of a division of rule, corresponding to the division of labor, which is indispensable to any co-operative work whatever.
That woman was the first ruler in the home and its industries, I think there can arise no doubt. That man took the lead in outdoor pursuits, as hunting, fishing and war, is equally clear. There was thus a primitive division of leadership as well as of labor, of headship, and of handship. In his own field the man had the advantage of the woman, whose time and energies were at times engrossed in rearing and caring for the young. She was at such times wholly disqualified from following the chase or engaging in war and hence an allotment of sphere was evolved in which subjection by force might have been wholly absent. But when the men of a tribe or family were conquered and slain, as was the barbaric custom, the women became subject to the simple will of the victors, who were able to discover that their labor could be used to advantage. As savage life gave way to the barbaric love of power and ostentation, innumerable methods were adopted to turn the service of the captive to account, and by set laws to perpetuate and render stable the relation of master and slave, first established through the arbitrament of brute force. The power of compelling the service of a captured woman, would also suggest the policy of subjecting the women of his household to his arbitrary will. Thus in the early customs of all historic peoples, the man became a sovereign of his prescribed domain, with power of life and death over all therein, as wife and children as well as captured or purchased slaves. Absolute power thus enthroned led to subjection of other families, tribes and nations, to the empire or Czarism as in Asia or to oligarchies and democracies sustained by the labor of slaves, as in Greece.
Power once tasted is cherished. Having taken root it grows and persistently seeks to protect and perpetuate its dominions. The conflict of the ages has been the struggle of mankind to reclaim and regain what was once given up to the dominion of force, or surrendered in the hope of protection from greater evil. Force may have sometimes effected a reversal of conditions, but has settled nothing; only the master and slave have changed places. It is only when sublimer elements are evolved that its grip is relaxed. In this respect woman under the most despotic masculine rule, has often brought the man to terms, and become herself a relentless despot. Under Feudalism, the idea of a common brotherhood exerted a wide influence in modifying the austere despotisms, and inaugurated a knighthood for the protection of the weak and the oppressed. Its organization was defective, and was confronted at length by that gigantic mercantile tendency which has choked the very life of the chivalrous spirit from our times, The pivotal thought of this commercial impulse is contract. When the simple barbaric “rule of the stronger,” gave way to the “fiction of law,” slavery was continued on an assumption of “service due,” as a result of the original contract between the victor and the victim in the contest where a forfeited life was spared on condition of the future services of the conquered, and his posterity forever. Under our own constitution chattel slavery was upheld for three quarters of a century solely upon this monstrous assumption masquerading as law and abolished then, not by a repudiation of the fiction about “persons owing service,” but by the war power dealing with contraband “property,” and as a military necessity.
In making laws for the many, the few, even in republics, who aspire to make, interpret and execute the laws—whom Charles O’Connor designates as the most dangerous class in any society—present the law-making power as a close corporation, and have never broadened the base ungrudgingly. About 15 per cent. of the population vote, not to make laws, but to elect one of the contending cabals, to promote a party policy the farming of the country’s interest to capitalistic rings, or levying black-mail upon undisturbed violators of equity and justice. The voter thinks he is the political unit. To increase the number of voters would decrease his value as such. He becomes unwilling to share with women the power to make laws for others to obey. He must improve his only opportunity to play a lordly part in ruling somebody.
In seeking a companion, the man of ordinary attainments and circumstance in life, desires the services of a wife to secure the comforts and fellowship of home and often thinks that this can only be done by having a subordinate, “Someone must be the head;” and the thought does not occur to him, that the head work may be divided as well as the handwork. Now it has been clearly shown that all production is cooperative, and the first steps in co-operation arose with the mated pair. The condition of women then largely depends on the equities involved in the division or ultimate ownership of such production. The present inequality of division does not spring from the circumstance of sex. It is the labor of the workers whether men or women and what that labor will effect, that begets the desire to command their service. The commercial brigandage under which labor now toils is not more or less unjust towards women than towards workers of the other sex, except that in the marital union the woman has been ignored as a partner in the division of the results of the partnership business, much the same as the laborer has been ignored as a partner in the otherwise co-operative workshop, factory or farm. He was once cared for as a slave, now in lieu thereof he is paid wages, and their acceptance is assumed as a release of his share. The wife has a home and support from her husband and so is assumed to have renounced her title to her life long earnings in favor of her superior. Her subordination then so far as it is not cheerfully yielded, is the same as that of her working brother, wholly economic. The peculiarity of her subjection lies mainly in her necessity for a home wherein her womanhood can have scope and opportunity for self-support and personal independence.
In the slow development of rational and equitable methods of division, woman has been the greatest sufferer, because in addition to sharing the depressed condition of her toiling husband, the same discriminating rule applies between him and herself. In the following number we shall inquire into the fundamental evil in our civil and economic systems upon which this monstrous injustice to woman and to the wealth producer rests, the power of the state to interfere and force eviction from home and opportunity, under a legal fiction of the commercial ownership of the land, and of constructive possession against actual possession.
Let us briefly notice now the attitude of the later school of political economists toward the industries of home, its toil and compensations, reciprocal or otherwise. Home, its wealth in comforts, luxuries or bare necessaries, is wholly denied a place in the science limited to “profits in trade.” The home of the trader, humble or pretentious, is no factor in speculation, so all its services are ignored. Even thus narrowed the science might he tolerated for the ingenuity displayed and serve a useful purpose, but it oversteps its self appointed sphere. It seeks to justify the class laws and discriminations, derived from ages of barbarism and nescience, as elemental factors in economics, and so to rule out all remonstrance against the exactions of a capital or governing class, from the working world, of which woman s the major position. How interesting to woman to be told that the home is not wealth in the exact sense; that her principal labors have no relation to political economy; and yet that “demand and supply” operate universally and invariably under whatever social and civil system, and therefore that equity and justice must ever result to labor and to woman in the very sequence of things! The school I refer to does not embrace J. Stewart Mill, J. E. Cairnes or Prof. Jevons, but McLeod, Giffen, Profs. Perry and Sumner. The first named, as the sole hope of the laborer, suggests that he “should keep down his numbers.” Doubtless if noticing woman at all he would make a similar suggestion. To increase wealth by reducing the number of its producers, and to enhance the awards of labor by limiting its products, seems in the light of this science to be the sole chance the working man and the working woman have of escaping destitution, the necessary consequence of having produced too large a supply of the comforts and luxuries of life for those who trade in them! Will they sometime discover, that it is not the law of supply and demand, but class law and bought legislation which enable the few to appreciate the wealth which industry creates, by studied evasion of the economic law, and of the competition forced upon the worker?
The ruling motives affecting human conduct are well defined. Individual or social good is the sole aim. Good to self or to others, immediate or remote, sways every rational attempt in every sphere of activity. Certain distinctions may be justly drawn however between a class of activities which seek good through the exercise of one’s own powers over the materials and forces of nature, or in mutual co-operation with others, and a class which aims simply at appropriation to self of the goods others have toiled to produce.
The distinction here stated will be more fully discussed in a future number. I wish merely to say here that mankind long since outgrew the stage in which this latter aim at controlled human conduct in general. Yet it is assumed to be the universal impulse governing men and women, and the all-controlling force in political economy. That but few accumulate large fortunes, while the many toil in penury proves that the latter are actuated by quite different motives. Otherwise we should have constant war. No industry except that compelled from slaves, and all freedom and equitable commerce would be unknown. But one half of the work of the world, at least, is and ever has been from nobler motives; since what is done to serve one’s self, family, friends or the public good, is wholly beyond such conception. Even in trade, as it now exists, there are more fair minded men than sharpers and cheats. To seek one’s own good is nominally just. To seek the goods others have toiled to produce without equivalent is robbery. Solely to seek the good of others is emotional unwisdom. By self denial and self abnegation woman has contributed to her own subjection. To seek the good of self in mutual effort and good will with others is rational and human. Divergence from these aims results in strife, subordination and servitude of the weaker, and general misrule and suffering, only to be remedied by return to reciprocal services, equitable division and exchange of products.
In my next I shall treat of man’s relation to the land; and particularly to woman in its allotment.
No. 3.—In Relation to Land Ownership
Heretofore we have treated of woman as subject to the rule of the opposite sex, and of her relation to her active partner and co-worker. Let us now consider the relation of both to the complemental passive element, the land upon which all industry depends, and without which work and worker of both sexes would disappear. Sir William Petty, the seventeenth century herald of the Science of Political Economy, in a single sentence anticipates, by nearly a hundred years, the hypothesis, both of the French Economists, and of Adam Smith and his school: “Labor is the Father, the Lands the Mother of Wealth.” These two agencies are present in the formation and procuration of all descriptions of goods. Without land and the forces and opportunities its occupancy yields, labor is a mere abstraction, without means of becoming embodied. And land is sterile, produces nothing in any economic sense, until labor is practically applied in its search, gathering, transportation and preparation for consumption.
To one who desires the products of toil without sharing the labor of procuring them, even by capture, the subjection of the worker becomes a primary object. Hence slavery, and its necessary adjunct, dominion of the land required for its operations, arose as complemental parts of the system. Now exclusive ownership of land is dominion rather than property, and when covering land occupied by others, is a kingly prerogative rather than a civil right. Thus, under the Roman republic the equality of ownership, originally established, was a feature of the public constitution. But when, through wars with neighboring states or the barbarians, great numbers of slaves were captured. And large territories were conquered, or obtained by treaty, the parties to whom the slaves were awarded or sold, asked an extension to their domicile, or to use the common lands. Renting from the state for such purpose became common. At first the state received considerable income from this source: but favoritism, betrayal of the public trust, assumption of ownership by the farmers of this revenue, to the lands for which they had only been employed by the government to receive the rents, connivance of venal officials, and the growing power of the patrician order, developed in time those “large estates “ which ruined the citizens and at last destroyed the republic.
Under our “allodial ownership,” with all our immense domain, a single century has wrought as wide a departure from equity as six centuries wrought for Italy, and confronts us now with as weighty problems as menaced the Roman people in the century which began our era. To the unreflecting, who have not made a study of this subject, it may appear just that land should be trafficked in, and these will be surprised to learn that such traffic is a comparatively modern usage. We are able to trace land titles among all peoples, to a common ownership, and from which all existing tenures to land have sprung, in every part of the world.
In the growth of monarchical or hierarchal governments, the title to land came first to be controlled by the leader of the tribe. Afterwards, as regal power developed, by a convenient legal fiction, the title vested in the king. All titles in England to day are supposed to be derived from that source. But it is unnecessary to pursue this line of thought further. Those who seek to do so should consult Maine, Laveleye, Mosier, George and others. Our inquiry is mainly to see how exclusive land ownership affects woman socially and industrially.
Since two agents, and only two, are employed in the production of any wealth and both are indispensable, if one is able to reduce either of these agents to a condition of properly, he virtually controls the other. If a human being is made a slave no objection can be made to the ownership by the same party of the land necessary to the slave’s proper employment. And ownership of the land another requires to occupy and cultivate inevitably gives dominion over that other’s labor, as complete, as if he were a slave. To have dominion over the homes and lands of others, is not to make things of commerce of them merely, but to give sovereignty over their persons and live as well. A legal title to the space another already occupies gives power far greater than any defending rights of property in the products of industry, a power to invade and forcibly levy tribute, or effect eviction. Woman’s relation to this commercial dealing in a “kingly prerogative,” is more terribly tragic than that of all other inversions and oppressions she has ever suffered from civil misrule, chattel slavery perhaps excepted.
The home is especially the citadel of woman’s power and influence. With this in the legal ownership of another, her sphere is without an orbit, and she becomes the slave and satellite of another: And when that other is not her husband but a penurious landlord whose “right it is to receive rent,” when they have only the “duty to pay rent,” any danger to fulfill this one sided contract—“unilateral,” as Macleod calls it—involves eviction. It is a matter of vulgar belief that only in countries where the feudal system has obtained do people suffer from landlordism, and oppressive rents. But under our commercial ownership of land, more direful consequences result than from entailed estates and the right of primogeniture. For though the descent in family may be broken sometimes, the land invariably passes to those able to pay the monopoly price, and if not to the oldest son then to the wealthiest builder. The question is only one of purse versus pedigree. All the potential dominion of the one has been appropriated by the other, without the responsibilities, so that levying rent is reduced to a matter of business, and eviction the mere conclusion of contract, Foreclosures by the thousand, yearly, in any of the states of the union, evictions by the hundred from a single large estate in Iowa, we already have, not to mention cases of outright and undisguised injustice, like that done to the settlers of Mussell Slough and other localities where scores of families have been dispossessed of houses made on public lands under the guaranty of the government, disregarded and repudiated at the instance, and for the benefit of soulless corporations and corrupt lobbyists. And this state of things is growing no better, but worse, as the inheritance of the whole people is becoming absorbed by a plutocratic class.
But for the laws which sanction the traffic in the homes of women, and in the complemental factor to the worker in every line of industrial protection, the land, evictions would be acts of invasion and violence, which they really are, however sanctioned by statutes made at the bidding and in the interest of a predatory class; the useful cultivator could not be wrenched from the bosom of his mother earth, nor the woman dethroned and banished from the home she had beautified and made comfortable, at suggestions of greed. It has been sought by well-meaning legislators to secure the exemption of the homestead from ordinary involvements of business; but under the rule of commercial ownership of the land it has proved as futile as it is illogical. While land is a matter of traffic, and recognized as a commodity, exchangeable with the products of labor, it is difficult to frame exemption laws, which will prevent it from following the course of other commodities. The error lies in classifying land, “the inheritance of all the living,” with things which man, through his labor, has created. The land is no product of human labor, invention or discovery. The occupying man only can have use of it. This use can never legitimately deprive another of place or opportunity.
The operation of the private right, now made legal, of taking the earnings of labor, for the privilege of using the forces and elements of Nature, falls with crushing power on woman. Home is her all. To place that in the category of things which may be bought and sold reduces her condition to one of absolute negation. Once in feudal times the lord of the manor could not dispose of his estate without the consent of his vassals. And so our laws generally have required that a wife should join her husband in conveying away (he home or any real estate. But when we consider how many homes have had mortgages foreclosed, we see how little the wife has been benefitted by such requirement. The wife who has confidence in her husband, is easily misled by him when he is crowded by business embarrassments. But if she fully understood the matter, her economic dependence has left her little choice but to obey the desire of her husband.
What is the effect upon the woman of foreclosure, or of eviction from rented premises? Humiliation, dependence, subordination, more toil, less comforts, departure of hope. It is not intended to dwell upon the deprivations not to say demoralization, which follow the breaking up of the ties of the home and family, but merely to trace the consequences which flow from the unnatural sundering of the home attachments, and the discouragements and greater dependence it begets. Moral purity may survive these unnatural circumstances which involve a living martyrdom. But the gross impurity, often referable to inability to obtain comfortable subsistence, may be escaped by the more respectable shift of “marrying for a home and support,” with incessant toil, or alternative of a pampered life of idleness and vanity. Sexual purity, lapse from which has such fearful consequences for woman, so far as it has reference to the laws of health, is as much violated in the marrying for convenience, as in the shameless lives of the social outcast. And that form of vice which springs from suppressed emotions, from lack of healthful surroundings, and genial and refining social intercourse, and results in self-abuse, is directly traceable to the unsocial character of our industries, and the deprivation which young people suffer through lack of proper home training, education and diversion.
And the same may be said of intemperance, from which woman, though the less offender, becomes through her dependent situation the greater sufferer. Intemperance arises largely from lack of opportunity for social culture and enjoyment, and the orderly living, which a home broken up cannot secure as a rule the intemperate belong to the idle or to the overworked, to the over-fed or to the under-fed classes. To the industrial system which rewards idleness and robs the labor it brands with dishonor, most of the intemperance of the world can be remotely or directly traced
It may be asked how any change in our system of land ownership can help women? In the same way a child would be helped by the recovery of a lost inheritance, because with freedom and access to the natural elements, all wealth may be acquired by industry and frugality. Deprived of home and place to apply one’s labor, not one in one thousand can ever do more than toil through life, to pile up wealth for those who control the land, and limit production and exchange in league with other privileged classes.
“But woman wants no land,” we are told. Even Mr. George, after writing “Progress and Poverty,” says he himself does not; does not wish to be confined to a particular location, and does not care to work it. But he wants his proportional share of what it yields to other’s labor just the same. Now woman’s first want is a home, and this must occupy a certain space upon the land. She needs more than this if she follows any useful calling not confined to her own rooms. Next to this want is one to have all the cultivable land free to the toiler who produces food, And articles desired for her consumption personally or in her particular industry, so that the same competition to which she has to submit, may be made to apply in the production and exchange of the goods she requires.
Under a strictly “occupying ownership,” not only the woman but the man of business, the workman and the professional man, would share on equal terms, according to useful service, the produce gained by the plodding cultivator from the teeming earth. Freedom and competition, not forceful taxation, would secure to each and all an equitable proportion and just award.
The importance of home to the family integrity has long been felt, and the common law has been amended by statute, so that married women can hold property in their own names; and thoughtful business men in years of success, have largely taken advantage of this change in the laws to have their homes deeded to their wives; and this will be found, during the continuance of commercial land ownership, the most effective method of exemption. What is needed in the interest of the woman and of the worker, is the absolute exemption of all land from traffic, by the recognition of occupancy as the sufficient sole title to land.
In No. 4, I will consider the anomalous condition of woman, as her principal services are related at present to the division and exchange of the wealth produced by social industry.
No. 4.—In Exchanges of Labor and its Product
The relation between the early industrial pair was one thoroughly communistic. Individual possession was but feebly distinguished. What belonged to one belonged to the other also, particularly when the other exercised a dominating power. But, as we have seen, a rude allotment and division of labor was soon developed, even under the most barbaric rule. And this involved, however obscurely, a certain degree of reciprocity on exchange of labor and what it produced, quite within the limits of the primitive home. The hunter brought game and fish, captured by him, to the family store. The woman gathered wild fruits, and ultimately had the care of domestic fowls and animals, and cultivated the ground. She cooked the food, made the clothing, and furnished and kept the cabin or wigwam. Of course the division of the labor and ownership of the products continued for long periods, indefinite, but in the simple fact of such division and sharing were the rudiments of an economic process of co-operation, and interchange of services and products. From such simple beginnings the entire economic and industrial forces of society have been developed.
It does not affect the importance of this statement, to say that the question of property in the mutual produce has been heretofore largely ignored. Ignorance or disregard for a law does not abrogate it; for in some way it will vindicate itself. And although our popular political economy ignores the services of the wife and mother, and treats the home and its comforts as non-wealth, because in its purblind sense unproductive, yielding neither rent, interest nor profit, it is truly woman’s home service and economy which enables the ordinary tradesman or man of business, or even the day-laborer, to meet the requirements of his calling and earn the wages or income his efforts yield. And it is to the disregard of this potent fact, that we owe the present dependence of the toiling woman as distinct from that of the toiling man. Yet what it denied to her in despite of equity is yielded unwittingly from necessity, for the labor of the most abject slave, at last reduces the profits of his labor to the cost of his support. While such dependence inflicts great wrong upon the subjected class, it does not, in the end, advance the true interests even of the dominant class. It does however, generate in the subject a sense of injustice or abject dependence, wholly incompatible with the development of social qualities or of individual growth.
Woman is the equal producer and equitably the true partner with man in the world’s wealth. Her present relation to industry and exchange can only be appreciated by clear understanding of the matter of value, which is simply “an estimate of the mind,” placed upon any service of another relative to some service of one’s own, or of the products of such labor or service.
If this definition of value is retained in the mind it will enable us to escape much vague confusion of thought. Exactly, it is a Ratio, by which two parties agree to exchange services or commodities with each other. Money value, in the terms of which most exchanges are now made, is merely the price in current funds of any commodity transferred, and is supposed to equal the money price of so much of another commodity as is desired by the seller. It is never money with which a thing is bought or sold but the ultimate satisfaction which the money is supposed to command at the pleasure of the holder. Such satisfaction is always in the Ratio:
First—Of the relative utility of the thing;
Second—Of the degree and quality of the energy exerted in their respective production at time and place of transfer multiplied by the time through which such energy is exerted.
Now however varied may be the estimates of men as to the usefulness of any product the ratio is capable of exact scientific determination, and need not be left to the idle guesses of indolent ignorance. In respect to the time, that is measured by mechanical instruments of the utmost accuracy. The average amount of work accomplished in a given time, by man or woman, is also quite well understood in every trade and calling. It is therefore matter capable of quite exact determination and not as some suppose “a mysterious uncertainty “ as to what is the “labor cost” of the commodities or services exchanged and this as Adam Smith says is “the original price paid for all things “ In trade the money price is greatly varied by imperfect valuation. Economically it is supposed to be determined only by what is termed “the law of supply and demand,” which has an inevitable tendency, when allowed full sway, to bring all commodities, from whatever cause affected in their money value, back to an equilibrium, which is the labor cost at which they can be reproduced
The legislation of the world has hitherto mainly been employed to thwart and defeat this “natural law of commerce.” And hence government monopolies, business privileges tariffs, subsidies, patent rights, etc., and innumerable devices and special statutes to prolong to favorites the “rise” or “flood,” which “leads onto fortune,” to bar and prevent the “fall” or ebb, which economic law pursues every inflation, or disproportioned estimate of things produced by human industry. The main monopoly, which inverts all labor values in behalf of privilege, is “the private dominion of the land.” Potentially, this destroys labor’s ownership of its own products, since land is indispensable to the employment of labor, or the production of any wealth whatever. How “labor cost” will fare in a contest of this kind is seen in practice, compelling the toiler to yield up one half of the earnings of his toil, and the woman to toil without accounting to her at all. It is difficult to understand how any equitable exchange can take place between parties so diversely situated as the landlord and tenant. The slave and serf have no place as persons in “the political economy” to which chattel slavery and feudalism have given birth; and thus woman except as wage-worker or an occasional operator has still no place in its estimations. While it lauds competition and offers demand and supply as a satisfactory explanation of every inequality and injustice caused by laws which prevent their operation, it pivots the whole science upon “profits to capital” produced wholly through organized measures for evading the working of the great economic law, through governmental interferences with commerce and by the legalized monopoly of one of the prime factors in production.
Bastiat, in admiration of the hypothesis that competition tends to reduce price everywhere to labor cost or actual service rendered exultingly exclaims “Services only are exchanged;” but then to reconcile this theory with the glaring inequalities of industrial life, under human codes, contends that the services rendered by ancestors not only descend unimpaired to descendants, but that they increase in quantity and quality by lapse of time in a duplicate geometrical ratio. Economists do not explain, if generally they do not justify this devouring absorptive power of statute-made increase, which goes on doubling artificial values every decade or two, which no human production can ever equal and which can have no possible equation with useful service.
Now it is to such an entertainment that the labor of the world has constant invitation, by those who control the making of our laws. It is invited to a market where it is compelled to sell itself for that which “costs the buyer nothing.” Woman is hardly invited at all, and is not treated as an equal even of him “who has nothing but his labor to sell.” In the slave market they often brought more than the price of a man; but in our stock and produce markets no quotations of her services are given. There the wife and mother have no valuation.
To many it seems vastly important that woman who is now anticipating the franchise should study to know the nature of our constitutions, and the methods of conducting government and of law-making. Else how will she know what beneficent institutions we enjoy, or how grateful she should be to live under a system of law where more than one half of labor’s production goes to the proprietors, stockholders, landholders and mortgagees!
I would suggest that that she begin at the rudimental problem. Enquire what labor, what her labor produces; where its product goes, and if possible ascertain why she has to labor unrecognized, without partnership in the mutual earnings, and why life-long toil gives her no voice in the control of its product and in determining what is law, to be obeyed by her and her brother alike, the law of reciprocation and of equal justice!
As a consequence of the failure to apply the principles of economy to mutual efforts in the family relation, several gross theoretical errors have been adopted exerting a most pernicious influence in estimating the forces employed in the production of wealth. The planter with ten thousand dollars in lands, as much more in slaves, puts in also his own services as manager. At the end of the year he figures up the result, and credits his twenty thousand dollars with the entire net increase. But this increase has come from the land, and from the labor including his own, and from his skill as a manager, and perhaps from the services also of a careful and judicious wife. It is plain that this increase is not from the accumulated capital at all (but that the land and human effort are the source of the increase; and the only real capital.) The money or previously accumulated stock has at best been only preserved undiminished and would not have increased, but deteriorated, but for faithful care and honest service.
The farmer does the same with himself and such members of his family as work, without being accounted with. And even the day laborer thinks his weeks’ wages are due to himself alone. The wife and home-helpers are not taken into account. From the error here indicated, we have that fatal mistake now controlling debt and credit, that money or accumulated wealth, is of itself productive
Several very important inquiries are here suggested. The franchise once accorded to woman, will she use it to rectify such legislation as now protects riches and privilege by the sacrifice of toil? Or will she employ the vote to build up the privilege and power of the lordly and scheming plotters, who now run our politics through the party machine and the unscrupulous use of the very means which have been added to their hoards by interested or bought-up legislators! Ignorant of economic law, she is almost certain to follow the example of her earlier enfranchised brother, and be won by appeals to prejudice and ignorance—not to emancipate herself, but to suppress liberty and oppress both women and men. This is not given as a reason why she should not have the ballot, even if she do no more with it than her hoodlum brother who sells it for a few dollars or a good deal of bad whiskey; there is no equity in withholding it from her, while he is empowered to vote, and she must submit to his will. Whether the ballot is sought to prevent the evil her brother’s brother does or may do for her, or simply as a power to subject somebody to a collective, despotic rule, we need not enquire. In the nature of things, questions of indubitable right and equity cannot be voted up or down. Majorities do not tell in determining facts or principles, and justice and the Golden Rule can never be safely set aside by a show of hands. Knowledge is the only protective power. The ballot, at best, is but an instrument, and used without knowledge is mainly dangerous to him who wields it. The history of all times show that slavery is impossible where intelligence abounds, and that liberty is impossible with the ignorance and cowardice of any people or class. If it is to some extent true that “no people are better than their laws,” it is still more true that statutes can never lift the people above their own estimate of the value of freedom and of equal justice.
The great law of unity most be understood and acted from. The fiat of law-makers cannot reach the true springs of human action. Fear of pain or love of gain is the only motive they can appeal to. What is good, what promotes progress and civilization, is the appreciation by mankind of the truth that reciprocity is the law of the social life, and that the good of one is the good of all. Human laws cannot make this more true. All attempts to establish principles by force over the person, leaving the minds uninformed, can only result in despotic rule, and unreasoning subjection, however general may be the franchise, or ponderous the Majority. All despotism have ever rested or the concurrence of an ignorant and imbruted multitude. Napoleon the Third re-established the empire and a despotic personal government though the plebicite, universal as far at least as the male population were concerned.
Was there a political party aiming at the prospective withdrawal of powers from our law-makers woman might safely join her cause with theirs. There is no such party and can never be until men and women abate a little their reverence for manufactured law and turn to the study of those invariable laws which govern the movements and growth of society with frock as inexorable as that which determines the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, and the return of the sexes. The laws which lumber the statute books of all nations have no other human use or service than to intimate to us the degree of progress nations and communities have made in apprehending or misapprehending the laws which govern human conduct, and promote human well-being. If however woman wants to “see the folly of it too” we may hope she will learn by experience what man has not, that self-government alone can give security to the people
—J. K. Ingalls.