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   Chapter 8 WHAT THE WAR IS DOING FOR WOMEN

What is Coming? By H. G. Wells Characters: 36988

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Section 1

To discuss the effect of this war upon the relations of men and women to each other is to enter upon the analysis of a secular process compared with which even the vast convulsions and destructions of this world catastrophe appear only as jolts and incidents and temporary interruptions. There are certain matters that sustain a perennial development, that are on a scale beyond the dramatic happenings of history; wars, the movements of peoples and races, economic changes, such things may accelerate or stimulate or confuse or delay, but they cannot arrest the endless thinking out, the growth and perfecting of ideas, upon the fundamental relationships of human Beings. First among such eternally progressive issues is religion, the relationship of man to God; next in importance and still more immediate is the matter of men's relations to women. In such matters each phase is a new phase; whatever happens, there is no going back and beginning over again. The social life, like the religious life, must grow and change until the human story is at an end.

So that this war involves, in this as in so many matters, no fundamental set-back, no reversals nor restorations. At the most it will but realise things already imagined, release things latent. The nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented modification of social relationships; but great as these changes were, they were trivial in comparison with the changes in religious thought and the criticism of moral ideals. Hell was the basis of religious thinking in A.D. 1800, and the hangman was at the back of the law; in 1900 both Hell and the hangman seemed on the verge of extinction. The creative impulse was everywhere replacing fear and compulsion in human motives. The opening decade of the twentieth century was a period of unprecedented abundance in everything necessary to human life, of vast accumulated resources, of leisure and release. It was also, because of that and because of the changed social and religious spirit, a period of great social disorganisation and confused impulses.

We British can already look back to the opening half of 1914 as to an age gone for ever. Except that we were all alive then and can remember, it has become now almost as remote, almost as "historical," as the days before the French Revolution. Our days, our methods and reactions, are already so different. The greater part of the freedom of movement, the travel and going to and fro, the leisure, the plenty and carelessness, that distinguished early twentieth century life from early nineteenth century life, has disappeared. Most men are under military discipline, and every household economises. The whole British people has been brought up against such elementary realities of need, danger, and restraint as it never realised before. We discover that we had been living like Olympians in regard to worldly affairs, we had been irresponsibles, amateurs. Much of that fatness of life, the wrappings and trimmings of our life, has been stripped off altogether. That has not altered the bones of life; it has only made them plainer; but it has astonished us as much as if looking into a looking-glass one suddenly found oneself a skeleton. Or a diagram.

What was going on before this war in the relations of men and women is going on still, with more rapidity perhaps, and certainly with more thoroughness. The war is accentuating, developing, defining. Previously our discussions and poses and movements had merely the air of seeking to accentuate and define. What was apparently being brought about by discursive efforts, and in a mighty controversy and confusion, is coming about now as a matter of course.

Before the war, in the British community as in most civilised communities, profound changes were already in progress, changes in the conditions of women's employment, in the legal relations of husband and wife, in the political status of women, in the status of illegitimate children, in manners and customs affecting the sexes. Every civilised community was exhibiting a falling birth-rate and a falling death-rate, was changing the quality of its housing, and diminishing domestic labour by organising supplies and developing, appliances. That is to say, that primary human unit, the home, was altering in shape and size and frequency and colour and effect. A steadily increasing proportion of people were living outside the old family home, the home based on maternity and offspring, altogether. A number of us were doing our best to apprehend the summation of all this flood of change. We had a vague idea that women were somehow being "emancipated," but just what this word meant and what it implied were matters still under exploration. Then came the war. For a time it seemed as if all this discussion was at an end, as if the problem itself had vanished.

But that was only a temporary distraction of attention. The process of change swirled into new forms that did not fit very easily into the accepted formulae, swirled into new forms and continued on its way. If the discussion ceased for a time, the process of change ceased not at all. Matters have travelled all the farther in the last two years for travelling mutely. The questions between men and women are far more important and far more incessant than the questions between Germans and the rest of mankind. They are coming back now into the foreground of human thought, but amended and altered. Our object is to state the general nature of that alteration. It has still been "emancipation," but very different in quality from the "emancipation" that was demanded so loudly and incoherently in that ancient world--of 1913!

Never had the relations of men and women been so uneasy as they were in the opening days of 1914. The woman's movement battered and banged through all our minds. It broke out into that tumult in Great Britain perhaps ten years ago. When Queen Victoria died it was inaudible; search Punch, search the newspapers of that tranquil age. In 1914 it kicked up so great a dust that the Germans counted on the Suffragettes as one of the great forces that were to paralyse England in the war.

The extraordinary thing was that the feminist movement was never clearly defined during all the time of its maximum violence. We begin to perceive in the retrospect that the movement was multiple, made up of a number of very different movements interwoven. It seemed to concentrate upon the Vote; but it was never possible to find even why women wanted the vote. Some, for example, alleged that it was because they were like men, and some because they were entirely different. The broad facts that one could not mistake were a vast feminine discontent and a vast display of feminine energy. What had brought that about?

Two statistical factors are to be considered here. One of these was the steady decline in the marriage rate, and the increasing proportion of unmarried women of all classes, but particularly of the more educated classes, requiring employment. The second was the fall in the birth-rate, the diminution in size of the average family, the increase of sterile unions, and the consequent release of a considerable proportion of the energy of married women. Co-operating with these factors of release were the economic elaborations that were improving the appliances of domestic life, replacing the needle by the sewing machine, the coal fire and lamp by gas and electricity, the dustpan and brush by the pneumatic carpet cleaner, and taking out of the house into the shop and factory the baking, much of the cooking, the making of clothes, the laundry work, and so forth, that had hitherto kept so many women at home and too busy to think. The care of even such children as there were was also less arduous; crêche and school held out hands for them, ready to do even that duty better.

Side by side with these releases from duty was a rise in the standard of education that was stimulating the minds and imaginations of woman beyond a point where the needle--even if there had been any use for the needle--can be an opiate. Moreover, the world was growing richer, and growing richer in such a way that not only were leisure and desire increasing, but, because of increasingly scientific methods of production, the need in many branches of employment for any but very keen and able workers was diminishing. So that simultaneously the world, that vanished world before 1914, was releasing and disengaging enormous volumes of untrained and unassigned feminine energy and also diminishing the usefulness of unskilful effort in every department of life. There was no demand to meet the supply. These were the underlying processes that produced the feminist outbreak of the decade before the war.

Now the debate between the sexes is a perennial. It began while we were still in the trees. It has its stereotyped accusations; its stereotyped repartees. The Canterbury Pilgrims had little to learn from Christabel Pankhurst. Man and woman in that duet struggle perpetually for the upper hand, and the man restrains the woman and the woman resents the man. In every age some voice has been heard asserting, like Plato, that the woman is a human being; and the prompt answer has been, "but such a different human being." Wherever there is a human difference fair play is difficult, the universal clash of races witnesses to that, and sex is the greatest of human differences.

But the general trend of mankind towards intelligence and reason has been also a trend away from a superstitious treatment of sexual questions and a recognition, so to speak, that a woman's "a man for a' that," that she is indeed as entitled to an independent soul and a separate voice in collective affairs. As brain has counted for more and more in the human effort and brute strength and the advantage of not bearing children for less and less, as man has felt a greater need for a companion and a lesser need for a slave, and as the increase of food and the protection of the girl from premature child-bearing has approximated the stature and strength and enterprise of the woman more and more to that of the man, this secular emancipation of the human female from the old herd subordination and servitude to the patriarchal male has gone on. Essentially the secular process has been an equalising process. It was merely the exaggeration of its sustaining causes during the plenty and social and intellectual expansion of the last half-century that had stimulated this secular process to the pitch of crisis.

There have always been two extreme aspects of the sexual debate. There have always been the oversexed women who wanted to be treated primarily as women, and the women who were irritated and bored by being treated primarily as women. There have always been those women who wanted to get, like Joan of Arc, into masculine attire, and the school of the "mystical darlings." There have always been the women who wanted to share men's work and the women who wanted to "inspire" it--the mates and the mistresses. Of course, the mass of women lies between these extremes. But it is possible, nevertheless, to discuss this question as though it were a conflict of two sharply opposed ideals. It is convenient to write as if there were just these two sorts of women because so one can get a sharp definition in the picture. The ordinary woman fluctuates between the two, turns now to the Western ideal of citizenship and now to the Eastern of submission. These ideals fight not only in human society, but in every woman's career.

Chitra in Rabindranath Tagore's play, for example, tried both aspects of the woman's life, and Tagore is at one with Plato in preferring the Rosalind type to the houri. And with him I venture to think is the clear reason of mankind. The real "emancipation" to which reason and the trend of things makes is from the yielding to the energetic side of a woman's disposition, from beauty enthroned for love towards the tall, weather-hardened woman with a spear, loving her mate as her mate loves her, and as sexless as a man in all her busy hours.

But it was not simply the energies that tended towards this particular type that were set free during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Every sort of feminine energy was set free. And it was not merely the self-reliant, independence-seeking women who were discontented. The ladies who specialised in feminine arts and graces and mysteries were also dissatisfied. They found they were not important enough. The former type found itself insufficiently respected, and the latter type found itself insufficiently adored. The two mingled their voices in the most confusing way in the literature of the suffrage movement before the war. The two tendencies mingle confusingly in the minds of the women that this movement was stirring up to think. The Vote became the symbol for absolutely contradictory things; there is scarcely a single argument for it in suffragist literature that cannot be completely negatived out of suffragist literature.

For example, compare the writings of Miss Cicely Hamilton, the distinguished actress, with the publications of the Pankhurst family. The former expresses a claim that, except for prejudice, a woman is as capable a citizen as a man and differing only in her sex; the latter consist of a long rhapsody upon the mystical superiorities of women and the marvellous benefits mankind will derive from handing things over to these sacred powers. The former would get rid of sex from most human affairs; the latter would make what our Georgian grandfathers called "The Sex" rule the world.

Or compare, say, the dark coquettings of Miss Elizabeth Robins' "Woman's Secret" with the virile common sense of that most brilliant young writer, Miss Rebecca West, in her bitter onslaught on feminine limitations in the opening chapters of "The World's Worst Failure." The former is an extravagance of sexual mysticism. Man can never understand women. Women always hide deep and wonderful things away beyond masculine discovery. Men do not even suspect. Some day, perhaps--It is someone peeping from behind a curtain, and inviting men in provocative tones to come and play catch in a darkened harem. The latter is like some gallant soldier cursing his silly accoutrements. It is a hearty outbreak against that apparent necessity for elegance and sexual specialisation that undercuts so much feminine achievement, that reduces so much feminine art and writing to vapidity, and holds back women from the face of danger and brave and horrible deaths. It is West to Miss Robins' East. And yet I believe I am right in saying that all these four women writers have jostled one another upon suffrage platforms, and that they all suffered blows and injuries in the same cause, during the various riots and conflicts that occurred in London in the course of the great agitation. It was only when the agitation of the Pankhurst family, aided by Miss Robins' remarkable book "Where are you going to ...?" took a form that threatened to impose the most extraordinary restrictions on the free movements of women, and to establish a sort of universal purdah of hostility and suspicion against those degraded creatures, those stealers and destroyers of women, "the men," that the British feminist movement displayed any tendency to dissociate into its opposed and divergent strands.

It is a little detail, but a very significant one in this connection, that the committee that organised the various great suffrage processions in London were torn by dispute about the dresses of the processionists. It was urged that a "masculine style of costume" discredited the movement, and women were urged to dress with a maximum of feminine charm. Many women obtained finery they could ill afford, to take part in these demonstrations, and minced their steps as womanly as possible to freedom....

It would be easy to overstate the efflorescence of distinctively feminine emotion, dressiness, mysticism, and vanity upon the suffrage movement. Those things showed for anyone to see. This was the froth of the whirlpool. What did not show was the tremendous development of the sense of solidarity among women. Everybody knew that women had been hitting policemen at Westminster; it was not nearly so showy a fact that women of title, working women, domestic servants, tradesmen's wives, professional workers, had all been meeting together and working together in a common cause, working with an unprecedented capacity and an unprecedented disregard of social barriers. One noted the nonsensical by-play of the movement; the way in which women were accustoming themselves to higher standards of achievement was not so immediately noticeable. That a small number of women were apparently bent on rendering the Vote impossible by a campaign of violence and malicious mischief very completely masked the fact that a very great number of girls and young women no longer considered it seemly to hang about at home trying by a few crude inducements to tempt men to marry them, but were setting out very seriously and capably to master the young man's way of finding a place for oneself in the world. Beneath the dust and noise realities were coming about that the dust and noise entirely failed to represent. We know that some women were shrieking for the Vote; we did not realise that a generation of women was qualifying for it.

The war came, the jolt of an earthquake, to throw things into their proper relationships.

The immediate result was the disappearance of the militant suffragists from public view for a time, into which the noisier section hastened to emerge in full scream upon the congenial topic of War Babies. "Men," those dreadful creatures, were being camped and quartered all over the country. It followed, from all the social principles known to Mrs. and Miss Pankhurst, that it was necessary to provide for an enormous number of War Babies. Subscriptions were invited. Statisticians are still looking rather perplexedly for those War Babies; the illegitimate birth-rate has fallen, and what has become of the subscriptions I do not know. The Suffragette rechristened itself Britannia, dropped the War Baby agitation, and, after an interlude of self-control, broke out into denunciations, first of this public servant and then of that, as traitors and German spies. Finally, it discovered a mare's nest

in the case of Sir Edward Grey that led to its suppression, and the last I have from this misleading and unrepresentative feminist faction is the periodic appearance of a little ill-printed sheet of abuse about the chief Foreign Office people, resembling in manner and appearance the sort of denunciatory letter, at once suggestive and evasive, that might be written by the curate's discharged cook. And with that the aggressive section of the suffragist movement seems to have petered out, leaving the broad reality of feminine emancipation to go on in a beneficent silence.

There can be no question that the behaviour of the great mass of women in Great Britain has not simply exceeded expectation but hope. And there can be as little doubt that the suffrage question, in spite of the self-advertising violence of its extravagant section, did contribute very materially to build up the confidence, the willingness to undertake responsibility and face hardship, that has been so abundantly displayed by every class of woman. It is not simply that there has been enough women and to spare for hospital work and every sort of relief and charitable service; that sort of thing has been done before, that was in the tradition of womanhood. It is that at every sort of occupation, clerking, shop-keeping, railway work, automobile driving, agricultural work, police work, they have been found efficient beyond precedent and intelligent beyond precedent. And in the munition factories, in the handling of heavy and often difficult machinery, and in adaptability and inventiveness and enthusiasm and steadfastness their achievement has been astonishing. More particularly in relation to intricate mechanical work is their record remarkable and unexpected.

There is scarcely a point where women, having been given a chance, have not more than made good. They have revolutionised the estimate of their economic importance, and it is scarcely too much to say that when, in the long run, the military strength of the Allies bears down the strength of Germany, it will be this superiority of our women which enables us to pit a woman at--the censorship will object to exact geography upon this point--against a man at Essen which has tipped the balance of this war.

Those women have won the vote. Not the most frantic outbursts of militancy after this war can prevent them getting it. The girls who have faced death and wounds so gallantly in our cordite factories--there is a not inconsiderable list of dead and wounded from those places--have killed for ever the poor argument that women should not vote because they had no military value. Indeed, they have killed every argument against their subjection. And while they do these things, that paragon of the virtues of the old type, that miracle of domestic obedience, the German haus-frau, the faithful Gretchen, riots for butter.

And as I have before remarked, the Germans counted on the suffragettes as one of the great forces that were to paralyse England in this war.

It is not simply that the British women have so bountifully produced intelligence and industry; that does not begin their record. They have been willing to go dowdy. The mass of women in Great Britain are wearing the clothes of 1914. In 1913 every girl and woman one saw in the streets of London had an air of doing her best to keep in the fashion. Now they are for the most part as carelessly dressed as a busy business man or a clever young student might have been. They are none the less pretty for that, and far more beautiful. But the fashions have floated away to absurdity. Every now and then through the austere bustle of London in war time drifts a last practitioner of the "eternal feminine"--with the air of a foreign visitor, with the air of devotion to some peculiar cult. She has very high-heeled boots; she shows a leg, she has a short skirt with a peculiar hang, due no doubt to mysteries about the waist; she wears a comic little hat over one brow; there is something of Columbine about her, something of the Watteau shepherdess, something of a vivandiere, something of every age but the present age. Her face, subject to the strange dictates of the mode, is smooth like the back of a spoon, with small features and little whisker-like curls before the ears such as butcher-boys used to wear half a century ago. Even so, she dare not do this thing alone. Something in khaki is with her, to justify her. You are to understand that this strange rig is for seeing him off or giving him a good time during his leave. Sometimes she is quite elderly, sometimes nothing khaki is to be got, and the pretence that this is desired of her wears thin. Still, the type will out.

She does not pass with impunity, the last exponent of true feminine charm. The vulgar, the street boy, have evolved one of those strange sayings that have the air of being fragments from some lost and forgotten chant:

"She's the Army Contractor's Only Daughter,

Spending it now."

Or simply, "Spending it now."

She does not pass with impunity, but she passes. She makes her stilted passage across the arena upon which the new womanhood of Western Europe shows its worth. It is an exit. There is likely to be something like a truce in the fashions throughout Europe for some years. It is in America if anywhere that the holy fires of smartness and the fashion will be kept alive....

And so we come to prophecy.

I do not believe that this invasion by women of a hundred employments hitherto closed to them is a temporary arrangement that will be reversed after the war. It is a thing that was going on, very slowly, it is true, and against much prejudice and opposition, before the war, but it was going on; it is in the nature of things. These women no doubt enter these employments as substitutes, but not usually as inferior substitutes; in quite a number of cases they are as good as men, and in many they are not underselling, they are drawing men's pay. What reason is there to suppose that they will relapse into a state of superfluous energy after the war? The war has merely brought about, with the rapidity of a landslide, a state of affairs for which the world was ripe. The world after the war will have to adjust itself to this extension of women's employment, and to this increase in the proportion of self-respecting, self-supporting women.

Contributing very largely to the establishment of this greatly enlarged class of independent women will be the great shortage for the next decade of marriageable men, due to the killing and disablement of the war. The women of the next decades will not only be able to get along economically without marriage, but they will find it much more difficult to marry. It will also probably be a period in which a rise in prices may, as it usually does, precede the compensating rise in wages. It may be that for some years it will be more difficult to maintain a family. This will be a third factor in the fixation of this class of bachelor women.

Various writers, brooding over the coming shortage of men, have jumped to the conclusion that polygamy is among the probabilities of the near future. They write in terms of real or affected alarm for which there is no justification; they wallow in visions of Germany "legalising" polygamy, and see Berlin seeking recuperation, in man power by converting herself into another Salt Lake City. But I do not think that Germany, in the face of the economic ring that the Allies will certainly draw about her, is likely to desire a very great increase in population for the next few years; I do not see any great possibility of a specially rich class capable of maintaining numerous wives being sustained by the impoverished and indebted world of Europe, nor the sources from which a supply of women preferring to become constituents in a polygamous constellation rather than self-supporting freewomen is to be derived.

The temperamental dislike of intelligent women to polygamy is at least as strong as a man's objection to polyandry. Polygamy, open or hidden, flourishes widely only where there are women to be bought. Moreover, there are considerable obstacles in religion and custom to be overcome by the innovating polygamist--even in Germany. It might mean a breach of the present good relations between Germany and the Vatican. The relative inferiority of the tradition of the German to that of most other European women, its relative disposition towards feminine servitude, is no doubt a consideration on the other scale of this discussion, but I do not think it is one heavy enough to tilt back the beam.

So far from a great number of men becoming polygamists, I think it would be possible to show cause for supposing that an increasing proportion will cease even to be monogamists. The romantic excitements of the war have produced a temporary rise in the British marriage rate; but before the war it had been falling slowly and the average age at marriage had been rising, and it is quite possible that this process will be presently resumed and, as a new generation grows up to restore the balance of the sexes, accelerated.

We conclude, therefore, that this increase in the class of economically independent bachelor women that is now taking place is a permanent increase. It is probably being reinforced by a considerable number of war widows who will not remarry. We have to consider in what directions this mass of capable, intelligent, energetic, undomesticated freewomen is likely to develop, what its effect will be on social usage, and particularly how it will react upon the lives of the married women about them. Because, as we have already pointed out in this chapter, the release of feminine energy upon which the feminist problem depends is twofold, being due not only to the increased unmarriedness of women through the disproportion of the sexes and the rise in the age of marriage, but also to the decreased absorption of married women in domestic duties. A woman, from the point of view of this discussion, is not "married and done for," as she used to be. She is not so extensively and completely married. Her large and increasing leisure remains in the problem.

The influence of this coming body of freewomen upon the general social atmosphere will be, I venture to think, liberalising and relaxing in certain directions and very bracing in others. This new type of women will want to go about freely without an escort, to be free to travel alone, take rooms in hotels, sit in restaurants, and so forth. Now, as the women of the past decade showed, there are for a woman two quite antagonistic ways of going about alone. Nothing showed the duplicate nature of the suffragist movement more than the great variety of deportment of women in the London streets during that time. There were types that dressed neatly and quietly and went upon their business with intent and preoccupied faces. Their intention was to mingle as unobtrusively as possible into the stream of business, to be as far as possible for the ordinary purposes of traffic "men in a world of men." A man could speak to such women as he spoke to another man, without suspicion, could, for example, ask his way and be directed without being charged with annoying or accosting a delicate female.

At the other extreme there was a type of young woman who came into the streets like something precious that has got loose. It dressed itself as feminine loveliness; it carried sex like a banner and like a challenge. Its mind was fully prepared by the Pankhurst literature for insult. It swept past distressed manhood imputing motives. It was pure hareem, and the perplexed masculine intelligence could never determine whether it was out for a demonstration or whether it was out for a spree. Its motives in thus marching across the path of feminine emancipation were probably more complicated and confused than that alternative suggests, and sheer vanity abounded in the mixture. But undoubtedly that extremity is the vanishing extremity of these things. The new freewoman is going to be a grave and capable being, soberly dressed, and imposing her own decency and neutrality of behaviour upon the men she meets. And along the line of sober costume and simple and restrained behaviour that the freewoman is marking out, the married woman will also escape to new measures of freedom.

I do not believe that among women of the same social origins and the same educational quality there can exist side by side entirely distinct schools of costume, deportment, and behaviour based on entirely divergent views of life. I do not think that men can be trained to differentiate between different sorts of women, sorts of women they will often be meeting simultaneously, and to treat this one with frankness and fellowship and that one with awe passion and romantic old-world gallantry. All sorts of intermediate types--the majority of women will be intermediate types--will complicate the problem. This conflict of the citizen-woman ideal with the loveliness-woman ideal, which was breaking out very plainly in the British suffrage movement before the war, will certainly return after the war, and I have little doubt which way the issue will fall. The human being is going to carry it against the sexual being. The struggle is going to be extensive and various and prolonged, but in the serious years ahead the serious type must, I feel, win. The plain, well-made dress will oust the ribbon and the decolletage.

In every way the war is accelerating the emancipation of women from sexual specialisation. It is facilitating their economic emancipation. It is liberating types that will inevitably destroy both the "atmosphere of gallantry" which is such a bar to friendliness between people of opposite sexes and that atmosphere of hostile distrust which is its counterpart in the minds of the over-sexual suffragettes. It is arresting the change of fashions and simplifying manners.

In another way also it is working to the same end. That fall in the birth-rate which has been so marked a feature in the social development of all modern states has become much more perceptible since the war began to tell upon domestic comfort. There is a full-cradle agitation going on in Germany to check this decline; German mothers are being urged not to leave the Crown Prince of 1930 or 1940 without the necessary material for glory at some fresh Battle of Verdun. I doubt the zeal of their response. But everywhere the war signifies economic stress which must necessarily continue long after the war is over, and in the present state of knowledge that stress means fewer children. The family, already light, will grow lighter. This means that marriage, although it may be by no means less emotionally sacred, will become a lighter thing.

Once, to be married was a woman's whole career. Household cares, a dozen children, and she was consumed. All her romances ended in marriage. All a decent man's romance ended there, too. She proliferated and he toiled, and when the married couple had brought up some of their children and buried the others, and blessed their first grandchildren, life was over.

Now, to be married is an incident in a woman's career, as in a man's. There is not the same necessity of that household, not the same close tie; the married woman remains partially a freewoman and assimilates herself to the freewoman. There is an increasing disposition to group solitary children and to delegate their care to specially qualified people, and this is likely to increase, because the high earning power of young women will incline them to entrust their children to others, and because a shortage of men and an excess of widows will supply other women willing to undertake that care. The more foolish women will take these releases as a release into levity, but the common sense of the newer types of women will come to the help of men in recognising the intolerable nuisance of this prolongation of flirting and charming on the part of people who have had what should be a satisfying love.

Nor will there be much wealth or superfluity to make levity possible and desirable. Winsome and weak womanhood will be told bluntly by men and women alike that it is a bore. The frou-frou of skirts, the delicate mysteries of the toilette, will cease to thrill any but the very young men. Marriage, deprived of its bonds of material necessity, will demand a closer and closer companionship as its justification and excuse. A marriage that does not ripen into a close personal friendship between two equals will be regarded with increasing definiteness as an unsatisfactory marriage.

These things are not stated here as being desirable or undesirable. This is merely an attempt to estimate the drift and tendency of the time as it has been accentuated by the war. It works out to the realisation that marriage is likely to count for less and less as a state and for more and more as a personal relationship. It is likely to be an affair of diminishing public and increasing private importance. People who marry are likely to remain, so far as practical ends go, more detached and separable. The essential link will be the love and affection and not the home.

With that go certain logical consequences. The first is that the circumstances of the unmarried mother will resemble more than they have hitherto done those of many married mothers; the harsh lines once drawn between them will dissolve. This will fall in with the long manifest tendency in modern society to lighten the disadvantages (in the case of legacy duties, for example) and stigma laid upon illegitimate children. And a type of marriage where personal compatibility has come to be esteemed the fundamental thing will be altogether more amenable to divorce than the old union which was based upon the kitchen and the nursery, and the absence of any care, education, or security for children beyond the range of the parental household. Marriage will not only be lighter, but more dissoluble.

To summarise all that has gone before, this war is accelerating rather than deflecting the stream of tendency, and is bringing us rapidly to a state of affairs in which women will be much more definitely independent of their sexual status, much less hampered in their self-development, and much more nearly equal to men than has ever been known before in the whole history of mankind....

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