Says this writer: “Canadian men treat their women too well . . . and the women do not like it”
LADY RENA TERRINGTONSeptember151932
Says this writer: “Canadian men treat their women too well . . . and the women do not like it”
LADY RENA TERRINGTON
GOOD NIGHT, my dear. And if my husband beats me tonight, I think I shall like it."
A strange remark to hear after a pleasant dinner party at Government House in one of the Provinces of the Dominion—but nevertheless true. Made by the wife of one of the most popular ministers, and the reply to a long tirade on my part on "How to treat women!”
My opinions on women and marriage have caused controversy, but I mean every word I have said and until I came to Canada I did not realize how true my views were.
Canadian men do treat women too well. They have an old-time chivalry which can only be born of long years of hard fighting and rough living. They have made their women idols and they are too clean-souled to see the feet of clay. It is not entirely the fault of the women. They have come to take everything as a matter of course. Their men work for them, live for them, provide them with homes, and live in them, and the wives do not quite realize what a wonderful break they have got.
I have travelled in many countries and seen life at its best and unfortunately at its worst. There are certain codes of honor which are adhered to, but the Canadian goes farther and throws himself into the scales. It is understood that a man cares financially for his wife and family—I am naturally only dealing with the type of man who recognizes this responsibility; but how many of them in Europe ‘‘stand by” as well and will stay at home and help them to enjoy it?
And the women do not like it. Not a bit. They have broken out and are talking a great deal about votes and independence. They do not take this independence as far as providing for themselves. Oh, dear no! That is the man’s privilege. They are to have freedom of action. They are to have their own friends and order their lives as they wish, but the man must always be on hand. They may take a trip to the city, but he must stay at home and look
after the house. They may have their parties and their golf, but in many cases heaven help the man who wants to take an evening at the club-stag!
“Pick ’em Young and Treat ’em Rough”
T AM not being unjust. And I am not entirely blaming
the women. It is the men who are primarily responsible for a condition that is hurting themselves.
It is as if, long ago, when the women of Canada were pioneers, when they worked, bred children and worked again. When they suffered cold in winter and heat in summer, and gave up all the little things that mean so much to their sex. Then man made a promise—to his women and to his God. He would make all this up to her when the world was a smoother place.
He has kept his bargain—and she has failed.
There is an old saw ‘‘Pick ’em young, treat ’em rough, and never tell ’em anything.” In these enlightened days it would be hard to ‘‘tell a woman anything,” however young. They learn independence in their cradles. They read newspapers at school and discuss frankly subjects that would not have been mentioned by their grandfathers in a stable. Perhaps there is not much harm in this. Possibly it is better to be frank about facts, but it always seems to me a pity to lose the beauty of life in the mud. Men do not like it. No real man likes to hear a woman swear, talk loosely, or drink excessively. However, this has nothing to do with the subject, or at any rate, very little.
Marriage is taken a great deal more seriously in Canada. In the first place, families are generally larger, men marry younger, and it is harder to break up a home of twenty years standing with a family than it is to pack up a small apartment where there was never any room for children, or any time between parties to have them. That is one of the greatest differences between marriage here and in the Old Country. The growth of amusements, the increased population and the economic situation in England have all combined to wreck home life. Women think their responsibilities are ended when they have produced a small family, and that they are at liberty to go out into the world and live their own lives. The children go to boarding school, and if they arrive home one holiday and find their parents are separated or even remarried—well, they all stay good friends.
That does not happen here. People build up their homes and stay together. Mostly they are too afraid of public opinion to do anything else. I do not say I advocate it, but in many cases it would be better for them to take the plunge and start again, but fundamentally it is right. A man here gives, and gives and goes on giving. First, he gives his youth, his love. Then he gives the middle years of his life in work -and in fatherhood, and then when he comes to the time when he wants to be a husband, perhaps a lover again, then he finds the woman is too used to it all. She has come to take everything as a matter of course. She has cared for her husband, borne his children and looked after his home, and she simply does not understand that the boy in him is predominant. Like Peter Pan, he has never grown up. He is searching blindly for the lost childhood
7 days which were smothered in the years of work.
She has grown, too. She has grown
used to having some one to do everything for her, some one to foot the bills and to be always at hand. If he turned round and beat her she would be shocked: her
Continued on page 28
Continued from page 12
lir»,.i soul would be cowed. But if she is reai, then primitive instinct would flash cut and she would love him again for his domination of her.
"And if my husband beats me tonight. I think I shall like it.” 1 shall always think of the Hon. Mrs. X., stately and beautiful in a white dinner gown. A woman proud and sought after, smiling in love and friendship toward the man she married as a girl twenty years ago, and in her eyes she admitted that it was true.
Pal as Well as Wife
THERE is another type of woman in Canada, and again I can take my friend as an example. The type of woman who earns everything a man gives her, because she is not only his wife and the mother of his children, but his pal. There are many women like that over here, especi - ’/ among the younger generation. 1 know families wliere the husband and wife are just like two children together, where the understanding is perfect and the love supreme. They have fought the little petty barriers of jealousy and discontent and come to a fine clean friendship which allow's them both liberty and in this way welds them closer together.
Canada is a country where friendship must of necessity be the groundwork of life. The whole mode of living demands this. Parties camp together, miles away from anywhere, and this alone means there must be freedom between the sexes. Two people cannot always be “alone together.” It is physically impossible. Certain little jarring
notes must arise. There is not enough to do to keep the mind balanced, and everything, however beautiful, however perfect, must pall witn perpetual contact. If women would only let their men alone, they would never have any trouble with them. Give a worried man a day’s golf or a day’s fishing, and when he comes home, instead of sulks, let him find an at tractive-looking wife awaiting his pleasure, and the battle is won. Badger a man when he has outside troubles and he will soon find other places where he can at least find peace.
This is the trouble with many of the women over here. They have always had too much and they still expect it. Their men have spent so much of their lives with them, coming home as soon as the day’s work is over, that they take it for granted this will continue for ever. The women find relaxations during the day. There is far more social life in the smaller towns in Canada than in a town of similar size in England. And a woman always has somewhere to go. If she hasn’t her own car, there is usually a family car. “Father” can take the street car, and at the end of the day he is expected to show a lively interest in some petty little scandal that does not even amuse him. It is the men’s fault. They have worshipped their women and allowed them to ride rough shod over them, and the women are not sensible enough to realize the great possession that is theirs.
I cannot help thinking of a girl friend of mine in London who married a newspaper man. She took it very well, but her experience of married 1 ife consisted of flack-
ing bags, preparing meals at odd hours and training the dog not to bite her husband when he did come home. Nevertheless they adored each other, and just because she did not nag at him or ask questions, he always came home and strained a great many efforts to be with her. As she herself said, there is no point in asking a man questions. If he wants to tell you he will, and if he does not, then he will just tell lies. A sound philosophy, and one which women might follow to their great benefit.
Men Demand A Return
THE generation which went through the war, men of forty now, are the ones to make the first break. They spent years of their youth in a living hell, they had to pick up the threads and work harder than ever to catch up, and now, when they see the distant sunset, they are beginning to think. What is it all about? They have fought and worked and given generously, and now they demand some return. Women must realize this. They have, many of them, reached the stage where their business is on a settled basis and they have at last the liberty to pause. Now' they are begin ning to weigh up the years, and in Canada this is where the women are going to be found wanting. They have worked, too, through the years, and their families are gro wing up. It is up to them now to repay a litt le of that great love and generosity, and stan d by these men who want to recapture the lost years. The majority of women over here are selfish. They demand, and it is not up to a woman to demand. Basically it is wrong. Man is the
stronger animal and woman should be thecomplement. She should accept gratefully and graciously, and if she has any sense she will know that there are more ways than one of killing a cat !
One of the best traits of Canadian women is their friendship among themselves. I have met women over here, and only over here, who can run a friendship on lines as firm and as honorable as a man. Women who do not know what “cattiness” means. Women who are tender and understanding,, and who will never let you down. The type of woman who by some mischance has not. married, and has turned all her wasted maternal instinct into a character which combines the faith and affection of a woman, with the good comradeship of a man.
Some of these women are married now. and very' happy are their homes, because, understanding their men, they treat them, as they treated their friends, and on the rock of friendship they find love. Others are still alone, with friendships both of men and women that console them for the lonely hours.
I have found these friends chiefly among the women who work, who stand side by side with men, and are accepted by men as their equals. These are the ones who will never encroach, who will never take their lives for granted, and when they find a man to be all in all to him, they will understand and appreciate them, giving willingly as they receive, and above all, they will look up to them as the "boss” and in their subservience find happiness and peace.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.