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February 3, 1872

WOMAN ITEMS

"A Danbury, Conn., man saw his daughter into the cars and passed round to her window for a parting look at her. While he was passing out the daughter left the seat to speak to a friend, and at the same time a prim looking lady, who occupied the seat with her moved up to the window. Unaware of the important change inside, our venerable friend hastily put his face up to the window and hurriedly exclaimed: 'One more kiss, sweet pet.' In another instant the point of a blue cotton umbrella caught his seductive lips, followed by the passionate injunction, 'Scat, you gray-headed wretch!' and he scattered."

"Marion V. Churchill very sensibly says: "I would rather see a policewoman, club in hand, marching an offender to punishment than to see that same woman marched to punishment, by a policeman for lack of money which would have been her honorable salary in the police service. There are women in the world better fitted for police than for parlor duty. Let them do it."

SERVANT GIRLS

The very name expresses the servile position which this class of our dear sisters are forced to occupy. . .

To be a servant is to be little better than a slave. To be a 'servant girl' is to be worse than were the common run of black slaves in the South. They were fed, clothed, housed, nursed in sickness, doctored and decently buried. Nothing of this kind is done for the generality of servant girls among us, and no provisions made for it through their wages. What can be done with a dollar and a half or two dollars power week in the way of clothing, comforts, food for mind and soul, the accidents of sickness etc. Is it not the pittance of a slave? . . .

No class among us are so mercilessly trodden under foot as these defenseless, hopeless girls and women who wear out their cheerless lives in dismal kitchens and foul basements. The brave Irish or German girl who, by dint of energy and frugality, secures a passage 'to the land f the free' soon learns the bitter lesson that the women of America who 'boss establishments' or tyrannize by proxy in comfortless kitchens, are more to be dreaded than the hard fare of Ireland or the narrow opportunities of Germany. They fled from a noble aristocracy to find themselves ground down by a contemptible shoddy, one whose supercilious dictations and tyranny is ‘sharper than a serpent's tooth.’

These vixens who have nothing to recommend them to respectability but their nasal twang and god clothes, who pride themselves on keeping 'servants' and ruling with a sway of iron over their perhaps hired domain, crush every hope and aspiration of their God-made sisters who work in their kitchens, as remorselessly as they tread the dirt beneath their feet. These poor and oppressed menials are unworthy of their slightest consideration or regard. What is it to them if the 'girl,' is tired or sick, or pines for her foreign home and longs once more to hear the voices of her friends or kindred? What is it to them for the 'girl' to work sixteen hours a day and then go to her attic or cellar, and steep her pillow in hopeless tears? What is it to them if she does the work of two women and breaks down under the shameful load? When she is used up she is as ruthlessly thrust out of doors as the butcher thrusts his victims into the slaughter pen. And these women, as heartless as Nero, adorn 'good society,' are members of churches, and very much interested in foreign missions, and their 'dear pastor.' Shame on them!

Think of two dollars a week! Not enough to buy a calico dress! Seven days work for two dollars? Twenty-eight cents a day for clothing for books, for papers, for comforts? What else do they receive? The treatment of a dog. Are they recognized by the mistress? No. Are they allowed to eat with the family. No. Have they any privileges of thought or intelligence? No. Are they allowed to have an opinion of their own? No. Are their womanly natures allowed a single tithe of respect? No. Their feelings are continually outrages; their woman hood thrust into the mire of contempt; their inner sensibilities trampled upon and the whole fabric of their lives crushed into the miserable shapelessness of a menial servile drudge.

Twenty-eight cents for sixteen hours of weary, disheartening toil, loaded with unspeakable bitterness, and crowded with that sharp and burning abuse which a woman can only conceive and execute. How can a lot of a slave be worse? Is it any wonder that American girls would sooner sell their souls to damnation than to go into a woman's kitchen? Is it any wonder that they wear out their lives in stitching in garrets and cellars rather than bear the unbearable indignities of working in the kitchen for these bantam Neroes?

Only those girls who are forced by the direct necessity and those who have lost their self-respect and womanhood by the wretched demoralization of the kitchen, will submit to the exactions, indignities, a petty tyranny and slavery of doing 'housework' for ladies. We admit that there are ladies who are such in the kitchen as well as parlor, whose souls are alive with sympathy and love to their sisters, whether in their kitchen or on the street; but we regret to say, for the honor of womankind, that they are the exception and not the rule.

A pseudo aristocracy, supercilious pride and dictatorial affectation have poisoned the hearts and brains of a large portion of American women; and instead of being what God made them--ministering angels of love and good will--they are transformed into monstrosities of ugliness, and disgrace the name they bear.

When will women who employ servant girls remember that these girls are women as well as themselves, and that they are entitled to womanly treatment. Their lot at best is one of peculiar hardships and burdens; why will women make it more dismal, yea unbearably wretched, by unnecessary abuse and gratuitous indignities? It is lamentable that women should be such tyrants when they have the opportunity, yet we remember that women are incomparably the worst enemies of their sex.

There is no class of laborers among us so poorly paid as servant girls; is it not most lamentable that they should as well be the most abused? If any class of laborers need a vigorous trades union, it is servant girls. Why will they not try the experiment? We are satisfied they would have much help and encouragement from men. --Penn. Labor Journal

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Webmaster's Note: Except for some headings, these are actual extracts from the Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly. Some spelling and punctuation has been changed. If an article was too long, some sentences were removed. Sentences or paragraphs that have been removed are indicated with the ellipsis (....)