Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/286

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which has specialized her for housework. To be sure, a custom which has continued as long as this one of woman remaining by the fireside must have as its foundation something which is fundamentally right for social development. Yet so many myths have grown up about this custom that we are in danger at times of mistaking these additions for the good of the original idea. Because of these erroneous ideas current, popular opinion is inclined immediately to conclude, if for economic reasons a woman strays from the fireside, that she and her husband are incompatible, or that he is unwilling to support her and that in some way she is neglecting what is popularly supposed to be her divinely appointed mission. Of course such a conclusion is often unjust and not warranted by the facts.

In discussing the subject of the preparation of food, we accept conditions as they are; that woman is specialized by society as the housekeeper and food purveyor to the various groups called families.

In spite of the fact that many of the home industries have developed into world-wide industries there still remains for the housemother much of the food preparation for her family. The necessary meals for one's family are the essential fact which confront each housewife anew each day. No matter what other home activity can be neglected, that one duty of preparing food can not be omitted. How often we hear women make some such remark as this, "I was too sick to do anything else but get barely enough for the family to eat." This shows that every other home duty can in extremity be left undone except that one. Food preparation then is the fundamental duty of the housewife to-day. "A good stomach kept in a healthy condition is the foundation of all true greatness," says Dr. Tyler, professor of biology at Amherst College.

The housemother's first duty then after bearing her family is to provide them with food for their growing needs which shall give them the best endurance for life's conflict. But her responsibility is much greater than this, for closely connected with the necessity for food are the other hygienic necessities for survival—air, water, sunshine, shelter, rest, all in due season; and depending upon these vital necessities are the opportunities for the development of the mental, moral and social personality or the completely social man. Because woman is specialized for home work, these wider responsibilities for individual growth have, in a large measure, become hers also.

The home as a social organization stands as an agent of help or hindrance midway between the well-established theories of the scientists concerning human welfare, on the one hand, and society, on the other, where the finished product of personality asserts itself as a social force. What that force shall be the home can alone determine for by its agency, the theories concerning human welfare must be put into practise and through it as a clearing house must pass in their operation