Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/410

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ness exposes them. There is no greater source of suffering and vice among women than the fallacy of taking for granted that they will not need to support themselves.

4. The wider the range of occupations for women, the more numerous will he the points at which the lives of men and women touch. One of the objects to be accomplished by advancing civilization is the bringing of men and women into easy and natural companionship. Under existing circumstances almost the only meeting-ground for young men and women is in society. Those who can not take an active part in this are almost shut off from acquaintance with the opposite sex. Numbers of girls educated at girls' schools, and afterward living at home in narrow circumstances, or going into work conducted by and among women, remain single because they pass the age for marriage without sufficient opportunity for meeting men of their own standing, or make unsatisfactory marriages, because they do not choose from knowledge, but accept the only opportunity that offers. The same is true of young men not in society. Their life is passed almost exclusively among men from their school-days upward. Their acquaintance with women of their own age is extremely limited and superficial. The more complete the separation of men and women in work, the more must this division in life be the result. The more numerous the common interests and occupations in which they meet in recognized and honorable companionship, the more numerous the chances for suitable and happy marriage. So far, therefore, from deploring the encroachments of business organization on domestic work as a danger to the happiness of domestic life, we should see in them an agency which will lead to its higher development.

But if, as we have shown, it be in the natural course of things for women to take part in industrial pursuits, what is the meaning of the warning notes that attend their steps in that direction? We are told that women break down under the strain of college education; that their health gives way under the requirements of book-keeping, telegraphy, factory-work, every kind of business; that their work is poor and unreliable, and will command only starvation wages, etc., and these discouraging reports come not only from illiberal opponents, but from sincere friends and well-wishers. The most important of these objections is based upon the assumption that the physical constitution of women unfits them for safely bearing the strain of brain-work or business.

It is true that the health of women is not what it should be; but the cause of this lies neither in their peculiar organization nor in their efforts in new directions. It is to be found in the influences surrounding them from infancy, which prevent our girls from acquiring the physical vigor which should accompany maturity. This defective health is nowhere shown more conspicuously than in domestic life. Nowhere do women break down more frequently and completely than