Copyright
Harriot Stanton Blatch.

Mobilizing Woman-Power online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryHarriot Stanton BlatchMobilizing Woman-Power → online text (page 1 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


MOBILIZING WOMAN-POWER

By HARRIOT STANTON BLATCH

1918


[Illustration: Jeanne d'Arc. - the spirit of the women of the Allies.]


TO THE ABLE AND DEVOTED WOMEN OF GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE

Who have stood behind the armies of the Allies through the years of the
Great War as an unswerving second line of defense against an onslaught
upon the liberty and civilization of the world, I dedicate this volume.

HARRIOT STANTON BLATCH


CONTENTS

FOREWORD BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT

I. OUR FOE

II. WINNING THE WAR

III. MOBILIZING WOMEN IN GREAT BRITAIN

IV. MOBILIZING WOMEN IN FRANCE

V. MOBILIZING WOMEN IN GERMANY

VI. WOMEN OVER THE TOP IN AMERICA

VII. EVE'S PAY ENVELOPE

VIII. POOLING BRAINS

IX. "BUSINESS AS USUAL"

X. "AS MOTHER USED TO DO"

XI. A LAND ARMY

XII. WOMAN'S PART IN SAVING CIVILIZATION


ILLUSTRATIONS

Jeanne d'Arc - the spirit of the women of the Allies

They wear the uniforms of the Edinburgh trams and the New York City
subway and trolley guards, with pride and purpose.

Then - the offered service of the Women's Reserve Ambulance Corps in
England was spurned. Now - they wear shrapnel helmets while working
during the Zeppelin raids.

The French poilu on furlough is put to work harrowing.

Has there ever been anything impossible to French women since the time
of Jeanne d'Arc? The fields must be harrowed - they have no horses.

The daily round in the Erie Railroad workshops.

In the well-lighted factory of the Briggs and Stratton Company,
Milwaukee, the girls are comfortably and becomingly garbed for work.

The women of the Motor Corps of the National League for Woman's Service
refuting the traditions that women have neither strength nor endurance.

Down the street they come, beginning their pilgrimage of alleviation and
succor on the battlefields of France.

How can business be "as usual" when in Paris there are about 1800 of
these small workshops where a woman dips Bengal Fire and grenades into a
bath of paraffin!

Countess de Berkaim and her canteen in the Gare de St. Lazarre, Paris.

An agricultural unit in the uniform approved by the Woman's Land Army of
America.

A useful blending of Allied women. Miss Kathleen Burke (Scotch)
exhibiting the X-ray ambulance equipped by Mrs. Ayrton (English) and
Madame Curie (French).


FOREWORD


It is a real pleasure to write this foreword to the book which Mrs.
Harriot Stanton Blatch dedicates to the women of Great Britain and
France; to the women who through the years of the great war have stood
as the second line of defense against the German horror which menaces
the liberty and civilization of the entire world.

There could be no more timely book. Mrs. Blatch's aim is to stir the
women of this country to the knowledge that this is their war, and also
to make all our people feel that we, and especially our government,
should welcome the service of women, and make use of it to the utmost.
In other words, the appeal of Mrs. Blatch is essentially an appeal for
service. No one has more vividly realized that service benefits the one
who serves precisely as it benefits the one who is served. I join with
her in the appeal that the women shall back the men with service, and
that the men in their turn shall frankly and eagerly welcome the
rendering of such service _on the basis of service by equals for a
common end_.

Mrs. Blatch makes her appeal primarily because of the war needs of the
moment. But she has in view no less the great tasks of the future. I
welcome her book as an answer to the cry that the admission of women to
an equal share in the right of self government will tend to soften the
body politic. Most certainly I will ever set my face like flint against
any unhealthy softening of our civilization, and as an answer in advance
to hyper-criticism I explain that I do not mean softness in the sense of
tender-heartedness; I mean the softness which, extends to the head and
to the moral fibre, I mean the softness which manifests itself either in
unhealthy sentimentality or in a materialism which may be either
thoughtless and pleasure-loving or sordid and money-getting. I believe
that the best women, when thoroughly aroused, and when the right appeal
is made to them, will offer our surest means of resisting this unhealthy
softening.

No man who is not blind can fail to see that we have entered a new day
in the great epic march of the ages. For good or for evil the old days
have passed; and it rests with us, the men and women now alive, to
decide whether in the new days the world is to be a better or a worse
place to live in, for our descendants.

In this new world women are to stand on an equal footing with men, in
ways and to an extent never hitherto dreamed of. In this country they
are on the eve of securing, and in much of the country have already
secured, their full political rights. It is imperative that they should
understand, exactly as it is imperative that men should understand, that
such rights are of worse than no avail, unless the will for the
performance of duty goes hand in hand with the acquirement of the
privilege.

If the women in this country reinforce the elements that tend to a
softening of the moral fibre, to a weakening of the will, and
unwillingness to look ahead or to face hardship and labor and danger for
a high ideal - then all of us alike, men and women, will suffer. But if
they show, under the new conditions, the will to develop strength, and
the high idealism and the iron resolution which under less favorable
circumstances were shown by the women of the Revolution and of the Civil
War, then our nation has before it a career of greatness never hitherto
equaled. This book is fundamentally an appeal, not that woman shall
enjoy any privilege unearned, but that hers shall be the right to do
more than she has ever yet done, and to do it on terms of
self-respecting partnership with men. Equality of right does not mean
identity of function; but it does necessarily imply identity of purpose
in the performance of duty.

Mrs. Blatch shows why every woman who inherits the womanly virtues of
the past, and who has grasped the ideal of the added womanly virtues of
the present and the future, should support this war with all her
strength and soul. She testifies from personal knowledge to the hideous
brutalities shown toward women and children by the Germany of to-day;
and she adds the fine sentence: "Women fight for a place in the sun for
those who hold right above might."

She shows why women must unstintedly give their labor in order to win
this war; and why the labor of the women must be used to back up both
the labor and the fighting work of the men, for the fighting men leave
gaps in the labor world which must be filled by the work of women. She
says in another sentence worth remembering, "The man behind the counter
should of course be moved to a muscular employment; but we must not
interpret his dalliance with tapes and ribbons as a proof of a
superfluity of men."

Particularly valuable is her description of the mobilization of women in
Great Britain and France. From these facts she draws the conclusion as
to America's needs along this very line. She paints as vividly as I have
ever known painted, the truth as to why it is a merit that women should
be forced to work, a merit that _every one_ should be forced to work! It
is just as good for women as for men that they should have to use body
and mind, that they should not be idlers. As she puts it, "Active
mothers insure a virile race. The peaceful nation, if its women fall
victims to the luxury which rapidly increasing wealth brings, will
decay." "Man power must give itself unreservedly at the front. Woman
power must show not only eagerness but fitness to substitute for
man power."

I commend especially the chapter containing the sentence, "This war may
prove to us the wisdom and economy of devoting public funds to mothers
rather than to crèches and juvenile asylums;" and also the chapter in
which the author tells women that if they are merely looking for a soft
place in life their collective demand for a fair field and no favor will
be wholly ineffective. The doors for service now stand open, and it
rests with the women themselves to say whether they will enter in!

The last chapter is itself an unconscious justification of woman's right
to a share in the great governmental decisions which to-day are vital.
No statesman or publicist could set forth more clearly than Mrs. Blatch
the need of winning this war, in order to prevent either endless and
ruinous wars in the future, or else a world despotism which would mean
the atrophy of everything that really tends to the elevation of mankind.

Mrs. Blatch has herself rendered a very real service by this appeal that
women should serve, and that men should let them serve.

Theodore Roosevelt


I

OUR FOE


The nations in which women have influenced national aims face the nation
that glorifies brute force. America opposes the exaltation of the
glittering sword; opposes the determination of one nation to dominate
the world; opposes the claim that the head of one ruling family is the
direct and only representative of the Creator; and, above all, America
opposes the idea that might makes right.

Let us admit the full weight of the paradox that a people in the name of
peace turns to force of arms. The tragedy for us lay in there being no
choice of ways, since pacific groups had failed to create machinery to
adjust vital international differences, and since the Allies each in
turn, we the last, had been struck by a foe determined to settle
disagreements by force.

Never did a nation make a crusade more just than this of ours. We were
patient, too long patient, perhaps, with challenges. We seek no
conquest. We fight to protect the freedom of our citizens. On America's
standard is written democracy, on that of Germany autocracy. Without
reservation women can give their all to attain our end.

There may be a cleavage between the German people and the ruling class.
It may be that our foe is merely the military caste, though I am
inclined to believe that we have the entire German nation on our hands.
The supremacy of might may be a doctrine merely instilled in the minds
of the people by its rulers. Perhaps the weed is not indigenous, but it
flourishes, nevertheless. Rabbits did not belong in Australia, nor
pondweed in England, but there they are, and dominating the situation.
Arrogance of the strong towards the weak, of the better placed towards
the less well placed, is part of the government teaching in Germany. The
peasant woman harries the dog that strains at the market cart, her
husband harries her as she helps the cow drag the plough, the petty
officer harries the peasant when he is a raw recruit, and the young
lieutenant harries the petty officer, and so it goes up to the
highest, - a well-planned system on the part of the superior to bring the
inferior to a high point of material efficiency. The propelling spirit
is devotion to the Fatherland: each believes himself a cog in the
machine chosen of God to achieve His purposes on earth. The world hears
of the Kaiser's "Ich und Gott," of his mailed fist beating down his
enemies, but those who have lived in Germany know that exactly the same
spirit reigns in every class. The strong in chastizing his inferior has
the conviction that since might makes right he is the direct
representative of Deity on the particular occasion.

The overbearing spirit of the Prussian military caste has drilled a race
to worship might; men are overbearing towards women, women towards
children, and the laws reflect the cruelties of the strong towards
the weak.

As the recent petition of German suffragists to the Reichstag states,
their country stands "in the lowest rank of nations as regards women's
rights." It is a platitude just now worth repeating that the
civilization of a people is indicated by the position accorded to its
women. On that head, then, the Teutonic Kultur stands challenged.

An English friend of mine threw down the gauntlet thirty years ago. She
had married a German officer. After living at army posts all over the
Empire, she declared, "What we foreigners take as simple childlikeness
in the Germans is merely lack of civilization." This keen analysis came
from a woman trained as an investigator, and equipped with perfect
command of the language of her adopted country.

"Lack of civilization," - perhaps that explains my having seen again and
again officers striking the soldiers they were drilling, and journeys
made torture through witnessing slapping and brow-beating of children by
their parents. The memory of a father's conduct towards his little son
will never be wiped out. He twisted the child's arm, struck him savagely
from time to time, and for no reason but that the child did not sit bolt
upright and keep absolutely motionless. The witnesses of the brutality
smiled approvingly at the man, and scowled at the child. My own protest
being met with amazed silence and in no way regarded, I left the
compartment. I was near Eisenach, and I wished some good fairy would put
in my hand that inkpot which Luther threw at the devil. Severity towards
children is the rule. The child for weal or woe is in the complete
control of its parents, and corporal punishment is allowed in the
schools. The grim saying, "Saure Wochen, frohe Feste," seems to express
the pedagogic philosophy. The only trouble is that nature does not give
this attitude her sanction, for Germany reveals to us that figure, the
most pathetic in life, the child suicide.

The man responding to his stern upbringing is in turn cruel to his
inferiors, and full of subterfuge in dealing with equals. He is at home
in the intrigues which have startled the world. In such a society the
frank and gentle go to the wall, or - get into trouble and emigrate. We
have profited - let us not forget it - by the plucky German immigrants who
threw off the yoke, and who now have the satisfaction of finding
themselves fighting shoulder to shoulder with the men of their adopted
country to free the Fatherland of the taskmaster.

The philosophy of might quite naturally reflects itself in the education
of girls. Once when I visited a Höhere Töchter Schule, the principal had
a class in geometry recite for my edification. I soon saw that the young
girl who had been chosen as the star pupil to wrestle with the pons
asinorum was giving an exhibition of memorizing and not of mathematical
reasoning. I asked the principal if my surmise were correct. He replied
without hesitation, "Yes, it was entirely a feat in memory. Females have
only low reasoning power." I urged that if this were so, it would be
well to train the faculty, but he countered with the assertion, "We
Germans do not think so. Women are happier and more useful
without logic."

It would be difficult to surpass in its subtle cruelty the etiquette at
a military function. The lieutenant and his wife come early, - this is
expected of them. For a few moments they play the role of honored
guests. The wife is shown by her hostess to the sofa and is seated there
as a mark of distinction. Then arrive the captain and his wife. They are
immediately the distinguished guests. The wife is shown to the sofa and
the lieutenant's little Frau must get herself out of the way as best
she can.

My speculation, often indulged in, as to what would happen if the
major's wife did not move from the sofa when the colonel's wife
appeared, ended in assurance that a severe punishment would be meted out
to her, when I heard from an officer the story of the way his regiment
dealt with a woman who ignored another bit of military etiquette. A
débutant, once honored by being asked to dance with an officer at a
ball, must never, it seems, demean herself by accepting a civilian
partner. But in a town where my friend's regiment was stationed a very
pretty and popular young girl who had been taken, so to speak, to the
bosom of the regiment, danced one night at the Kurhaus early in the
summer season with a civilian, distinguished, undeniably, but
unmistakably civilian. The officers of the regiment met, weighed the
mighty question of the girl's offense, and solemnly resolved never again
to ask the culprit for a dance. I protested at the cruelty of a body of
men deliberately turning a pretty young thing into a wall-flower for an
entire season. The officer took my protest as an added reason for
congratulation upon their conduct. They meant to be cruel. My words
proved how well they had succeeded.

Another little straw showing the set of the wind: we were sitting, four
Americans, one lovely early summer day, in a restaurant at Swinemünde.
We had the window open, looking out over the sea. At the next table were
some officers, one of whom with an "Es zieht," but not with a "by your
leave," came over to our table and shut the window with a bang. The
gentleman with us asked if we wanted the window closed, and on being
assured we did not, quietly rose and opened it again. No one who does
not know Prussia can imagine the threatening atmosphere which filled
that café.

We met the officers the same night at the Kurhaus dance. They were
introduced, and almost immediately one of them brought up the window
incident and said most impressively that if ladies had not been at the
table, our escort would have been "called out." We could see they
regarded us as unworthy of being even transient participants of Kultur
when we opined that no American man would accept a challenge, and if so
unwise as to do so, his womenfolk would lock him up until he reached a
sounder judgment! The swords rattled in their sabres when the frivolous
member of our party said with a tone of finality, "You see we wouldn't
like our men's faces to look as if they had got into their mothers'
chopping bowls!"

Although I had often lived months on end with all these petty tyrannies
of the mailed fist, and although life had taught me later that peoples
grow by what they feed upon, yet when I read the Bryce report,[1] German
frightfulness seemed too inhuman for belief. While still holding my
judgment in reserve, I met an intimate friend, a Prussian officer. He
happened to mention letters he had received from his relatives in Berlin
and at the front, and when I expressed a wish to hear them, kindly asked
whether he should translate them or read them in German as they stood.
Laughingly I ventured on the German, saying I would at least find out
how much I had forgotten. So I sat and listened with ears pricked up.
Some of the letters were from women folk and told of war conditions in
the capital. They were interesting at the time but not worth repeating
now. Then came a letter from a nephew, a lieutenant. He gave his
experience in crossing Belgium, told how in one village his men asked a
young woman with her tiny baby on her arm for water, how she answered
resentfully, and then, how he shot her - and her baby. I exclaimed,
thinking I had lost the thread of the letter, "Not the baby?" And the
man I supposed I knew as civilized, replied with a cruel smile,
"Yes - discipline!" That was frank, frank as a child would have been,
with no realization of the self-revelation of it. The young officer did
the deed, wrote of it to his uncle, and the uncle, without vision and
understanding, perverted by his training, did not feel shame and bury
the secret in his own heart, but treasured the evidence against his own
nephew, and laid it open before an American woman.

I believed the Bryce report - every word of it!

And I hate the system that has so bent and crippled a great race.
Revenge we must not feel, that would be to innoculate ourselves with the
enemy's virus. But let us be awake to the fact that might making right
cuts athwart our ideals. German Kultur, through worship of efficiency,
cramps originality and initiative, while our aim - why not be frank about
it! - is the protection of inefficiency, which means sympathy with
childhood, and opportunity for the spirit of art. German Kultur fixes an
inflexible limit to the aspirations of women, while our goal is complete
freedom for the mothers of men.

The women of the Allies can fight for all that their men fight for - for
national self-respect, for protection of citizens, for the sacredness of
international agreements, for the rights of small nations, for the
security of democracy, and then our women can be inspired by one thing
more - the safety and development of all those things which they have
won for human welfare in a long and bloodless battle.

Women fight for a place in the sun for those who hold right above might.


[Footnote 1: Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages
appointed by his Britannic Majesty's Government, 1915. Macmillan
Company, New York.

Evidence and Documents laid before the Committee on Alleged German
Outrages. Ballantyne, Hanson & Co., London. 1915.]


II

WINNING THE WAR


The group of nations that can make the greatest savings, will be
victorious, counsels one; the group that can produce the most food and
nourish the populations best, will win the war, urges another; but
whatever the prophecy, whatever the advice, all paths to victory lie
through labor-power.

Needs are not answered in our day by manna dropping from heaven. Whether
it is food or big guns that are wanted, ships or coal, we can only get
our heart's desire by toil. Where are the workers who will win the war?

We are a bit spoiled in the United States. We have been accustomed to
rub our Aladdin's lamp of opportunity and the good genii have sent us
workers. But suddenly, no matter how great our efforts, no one answers
our appeal. The reservoir of immigrant labor has run dry. We are in
sorry plight, for we have suffered from emigration, too. Thousands of
alien workers have been called back to serve in the armies of the
Allies. In my own little village on Long Island the industrious Italian
colony was broken up by the call to return to the colors in Piedmont.

Then, too, while Europe suffers loss of labor, as do we, when men are
mobilized, our situation is peculiarly poignant, for when our armies are
gone they are gone. At first this was true in Europe. Men entered the
army and were employed as soldiers only. After a time it was realized
that the war would not be short, that fields must not lie untilled for
years, nor men undergo the deteriorating effects of trench warfare
continuously. The fallow field and the stale soldier were
brought together.

We have all chanced on photographs of European soldiers helping the
women plough in springtime, and reap the harvest in the autumn. Perhaps
we have regarded the scene as a mere pastoral episode in a happy leave
from the battle front, instead of realizing that it is a snapshot
illustrating a well organized plan of securing labor. The soldiers are
given a furlough and are sent where the agricultural need is pressing.
But the American soldier will not be able to lend his skill in giving
the home fields a rich seed time and harvest. The two needs, the field
for the touch of the human hand, and the soldier for labor under calm
skies, cannot in our case be coördinated.

Scarcity of labor is not only certain to grow, but the demands upon the
United States for service are increasing by leaps and bounds. America
must throw man-power into the trenches, must feed herself, must
contribute more and ever more food to the hungry populations of Europe,
must meet the old industrial obligations, and respond to a whole range
of new business requirements. And she is called upon for this effort at
a time when national prosperity is already making full use of man-power.

When Europe went to war, the world had been suffering from depression a
year and more. Immediately on the outbreak of hostilities whole lines of
business shut down. Unemployment became serious. There were idle hands
everywhere. Germany, of all the belligerents, rallied most quickly to
meet war conditions. Unemployment gave place to a shortage of labor
sooner there than elsewhere. Great Britain did not begin to get the pace
until the middle of 1915.

The business situation in the United States upon its entrance into the
war was the antithesis of this. For over a year, depression had been
superseded by increased industry, high wages, and greater demand for
labor. The country as measured by the ordinary financial signs, by its
commerce, by its labor market, was more prosperous than it had been for
years. Tremendous requisitions were being made upon us by Europe, and to


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryHarriot Stanton BlatchMobilizing Woman-Power → online text (page 1 of 10)