Here we find most marked the personal affection, the intimate companionship, the community of interests, the common responsibility and care for the children, which are the characteristics of the family. The related life of the group so formed constitutes domestic life. But if the personal relations of woman to the family are thus fixed and enduring, her industrial relation to it is by no means so unchanging. The work which she must do for it varies according to external conditions. There is no one kind of work which absolutely belongs to domestic life; there is hardly any kind of work that has not in some phase of society been considered to belong to it.
In the savage state, women built the wigwam, raised the corn, prepared the clothes, carried on in its rudest and most elementary form all the work which is to-day the object of modern industry. But since these simple forms of labor have developed into architecture and agriculture and manufactures, it is held that women can not follow their old occupations under their new forms, under penalty of personal deterioration and social disaster. It is the conditions under which work is done, apparently, which constitute it domestic work, rather than the nature of the work itself. Weaving was domestic work when done at home, but ceased to be so when done in a factory.
Domestic work, therefore, is all work for the family which, under our present arrangements, must be done at home, upon a small scale, by individual workers, free from the organization and competition of business. Precisely in the degree that outside occupations partake of any of these characteristics of domestic work, are they considered appropriate to women. On the other hand, how feminine soever the nature of a work, as soon as it is seized upon by the modern system of outside labor, begins to be carried on upon a large scale, and to be subject to the laws of business competition, it thenceforth ceases to belong to women. It has departed from the conditions of domestic work.
If this definition of domestic work be correct, two questions naturally arise in connection with it: 1. Will the work now done at home always continue to be so done? 2. If the conditions of domestic work are those most favorable to the well-being of women, what is the reason of their growing distaste for domestic service? The answers to these two questions are very closely connected with each other, and with the main question of the industrial position of women.
When we consider, on one hand, how pressing and increasing an evil is the lack of skillful and reliable servants, how severely the want of efficient service weighs upon the mothers of families, and, on the other hand, how liberal is the compensation and how certain the employment for women having even a moderate degree of skill in housework, there seems, at first sight, some truth in the assertion that the difficulty with women is not the want of work, but the inclination to shirk their own work in order to invade that of men. The complaint