Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/461

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THE STATUS OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

carried on; and necessarily the more males are drafted off for military service, the more females must be called on to fill their places as workers. Hence the extent to which in Germany women are occupied in rough, out-of-door tasks—digging, wheeling, carrying burdens; hence the extent to which in France heavy field-operations are shared in by women. That the English housewife is less a drudge than her German sister, that among shopkeepers in England she is not required to take so large a share in the business as she is among shopkeepers in France, and that in England the out-of-door work done by women is both smaller in quantity and lighter in kind, is clear; as it is clear that this difference is associated with a lessened demand on the male population for purposes of offense and defense. And then there may be added the fact of kindred meaning, that in the United States, where till the late war the degree of militancy had been so small, and the industrial type of social structure and action so predominant, women have reached a higher status than anywhere else.

Evidence furnished by existing Eastern nations, so far as it can be disentangled, supports this view. China, with its long history of wars causing consolidations, dissolutions, reconsolidations, etc., going back more than 2,000 years b. c., and continuing during Tartar and Mongol conquests to be militant in its activities and arrangements, has, notwithstanding industrial growth, retained the militant type of structure; and absolutism in the state has been accompanied by absolutism in the family, qualified in the one as in the other only by the customs and sentiments which industrialism has fostered: wives are bought; concubinage is common among those adequately well off; widows are sometimes sold as concubines by fahters-in-law; and women join in hard work, sometimes to the extent of being harnessed to the plough; while, nevertheless, this low status is practically raised by a public opinion that checks the harsh treatment legally allowable. Similarly Japan, which, passing through long periods of internal conflict ending in integration, acquired an organization completely militant, under which political freedom was unknown, showed a simultaneous absence of freedom in the household—buying of wives, concubinage, divorce at mere will of husband, crucifixion or decapitation for wife's adultery; while, along with the growth of industrialism characterizing the later days of Japan, there went such improvement in the legal status of women that the husband was no longer allowed to take the law into his own hands in case of adultery; and now, though women are occasionally seen using the flail, yet mostly the men, according to Sir Rutherford Alcock, "leave their women to the lighter work of the house, and perform themselves the harder out-door labor."

It is, of course, difficult to generalize phenomena into the genesis of which there enter factors so numerous and involved—character of