What about Women?
Eight articulate and distinguished people take a new look at a highly controversial sex at the most controversial time in its history
A MACLEAN'S PANEL DISCUSSION
Throughout this century of abrupt and dramatic change, nothing has changed faster than men's ideas about women and women’s ideas about themselves.. Not long ago most public discussion of women as women began and ended with the ancient realities of sex, motherhood and housekeeping. Today, even the most reactionary male has come, however reluctantly, to understand that woman is much more than a wife, a parent or a privileged domestic. She may be all those things and still he mayor of a large city, a diplomat, senator, president of a multi-million-dollar corporation, a mining prospector, engineer, scientist, labor leader or even cab driver or professional wrestler.
The periodic reassessment of woman’s place and future in society is as old as society itself. In the next few pages such a reassessment is undertaken, at the invitation of Maclean’s Magazine, by a highly articulate group of people who have devoted much time and much thought, in a great variety of ways, to the changing status of the more controversial half of the human race. The members of the panel, who gave their views and opinions to Editor Ralph Allen and Assistant Editor Sidney Katz in the course of a four-hour discussion, were:
“With women, women can't stop talking. With men, they clam up.”
“I hope women never become superior to men.”
“Women's values are distorted by too much emphasis on sex.”
“Women are in retreat.”
“Women hinder women more than do men in their fight for freedom.”
“Women are more comfortable with men today.”
“We've tarnished the concept of motherhood and bringing up children.”
“Women are superior to men.”
If women work harder than men, why do men die younger?
Were women happier before they gained their freedom?
Dr. Ashley Montagu, Princeton, N.J., anthropologist, and author of the well-known book, The Natural Superiority of Women.
Dr. Marion Hilliard, Canadian gynecologist and obstetrician, who, in the course of her lengthy practice, has shared the problems of thousands of young mothers and has latterly written on the subject in a widely read series of articles in Chatelaine.
Dr. Reva Gerstein, who besides being a psychologist and president of the National Council of Jewish Women, is the mother of two children.
Mrs. Renee Vautelet, former head of the Canadian Association of Consumers, who for many years has been active in promoting women’s rights.
Nathan Steinberg, who as vice-president of Steinberg's Limited, a large chain of food supermarkets in eastern Canada, has studied the habits and preferences of millions of women.
Miss Anne Hamilton, who as director of the employment service of Underwood Limited has helped thousands of women with their job problems.
Miss E. W. Loosley, editor of Food for Thought, the publication of the Canadian Association for Adult Education, and a co-author of the much-quoted book on living patterns of an urban Canadian community, Crestwood Heights.
Mrs. L. M. Baldwin, housewife and mother of two children, who also finds time to serve as an official of the Young Women’s Christian Association while running her home.
Are men jealous because they can’t bear children?
Dr. Montagu: Yes, and this is not merely a theory. It can be verified. Anthropologists have often found it to be true in their studies of primitive societies. Psychoanalysts often learn about it from their patients on the couch.
Mrs. Vautelet: 1 don’t think they actually want to hear children. They’d only like to know they could.
Dr. Hilliard: I think men are definitely jealous of women’s ability to bear children. I have noted in some men an abnormal curiosity and desire to participate in the birth of their children. This group shows more than the husband’s normal anxiety about the birth. They must be right there all the time, share in everything. They’re very difficult to deal with.
Dr. Montagu: In some societies the husband actually goes to bed too at the time of the wife’s confinement.
Dr. Hilliard: We have a few of those too.
Dr. Gerstein: . . . But the man has counterbalancing advantages. True, he can’t bear the child but he works and earns money to support him. Our society places such great importance on this bread-winning role of the husband that I think it’s difficult to say whether or not he seeks the actual biological ability to bear the children.
As the editors had anticipated, the panel members found no agreed or conclusive answers to any of the many questions raised. They 'fid provide stimulating and often conflicting views on many facets of women’s present status and likely future.
The men women marry— are they really men or children?
Mme. Vautelet: Today too many women find themselves married to men who are not mature; they are like sons rather than husbands. Women have to keep them happy by humoring them, coddling them. lying to them. As the modern woman becomes more adult herself she’s going to refuse to accept this kind of mate. It’s already happening. For instance:
In one city I know a brilliant woman married to a brilliant man. She earns more than he does, has received more recognition in her field than he has in his. Because of jealousy, he frequently belittles her in private and public. She said to me, “What chance has my marriage for success? If I keep on humoring him and allow him to sound off. I’ll slowly learn to despise him—as you despise anybody who wants to claim prestige without earning it. Or I can ask him to put up or shut up—demand that he be superior instead of just talking about it. Or I can break him by pointing out all his weaknesses and undermining his self-confidence. In this event, he’ll hate me for the rest of his life.”
This is the second case of this kind I’ve run across recently. Within twenty years they’ll be common. Women will demand, more and more, full adult attitudes from their men.
To meet a remarkable woman in a remarkable job turn the page
On the whole, the panelists thought that women today were happier than they were a generation ago, but with some qualifications: modern woman is “in a state of turmoil,” “not at peace with herself” and “in conflict.” One of the causes of the conflict is that too much is demanded of her. She’s expected to be gracious, beautiful, a desirable sex object, keep a clean house, mind the children and take part in community life. “Young mothers today are tired and overworked,” Dr. Gerstein said. It was agreed that men and women are more comfortable with each other than they used to be. One panelist, Mrs. Vautelet, said flatly: “You can’t appeal to a man through his intelligence.. You have to work through his emotions.” Dr. Montagu advanced the theory that one of the causes of friction between the sexes was man’s jealousy of women because he can’t bear children. Other panel members agreed with him.
Most panelists joined in a demand for better working conditions in the home. Dr. Montagu doubted if the average male could survive the housewife's routine: sixteen hours of work a day, seven days a week, for years at a stretch. Husbands as a class were ticked olf for not giving their wives more money; governments were criticized for not spending more tax money on programs that would make women’s life in the home easier. Surprisingly, it was felt by some panel members that women are hindering women in their fight for equal rights more than men are hindering them. Women, from all the evidence, seem to eschew politics as a means of improving their lot. “Women don’t seem to enjoy themselves in politics,” said Dr. Marion Hilliard. “It’s almost impossible to get them interested.”
“A man could not survive long leading a housewife’s life — 16 hours a day”
What lies ahead? Dr. Montagu was the most optimistic of the panelists: women will win more freedom and eventually they’ll rebuild Western civilization. Automation will usher in the four-hour day and four-day week that will give new freedom to women because their husbands will have time to help around the house. At the opposite pole, Dr. Hilliard felt that if the present economic prosperity continued, women might become increasingly complacent and selfsatisfied and settle down to a snug domestic life. “I may have a low opinion of human nature,” said Dr. Hilliard, “but 1 believe that nobody wants to work. They only work because they have to.”
Here is an edited account of the discussion between the Maclean’s editors and the eight panel members:
Are women happier today than they were a generation ago?
Dr. Montagu: I would say they’re a great deal happier than they’ve ever been before. They’re raising many questions and they haven’t yet resolved a large number of problems—but that doesn’t mean they’re not happy. Women are in a state of turmoil but they are very happy to be so. Until recently they weren’t even permitted to be in a state of turmoil.
Mrs. Vautelet: I don’t completely agree with Dr. Montagu. Some women are happier nowadays—those with a natural, built-in drive for personal freedom. They can reach out and get what they want and need more easily than the woman of thirty or forty years ago.
But the average woman is not yet completely at peace with herself. She’s in conflict. On the one hand she has instincts, hundreds of years old, which tell her to conform, to take a subservient place in society as a woman. In the old days woman’s path was destined from the cradle to the grave. This lack of choice bred an inevitable resignation, a semi-contentment. Freedom has one great disadvantage when you are beginning to enter into it ... You have to choose. Today women are caught between the past and the present and this doesn’t represent the happiness Dr. Montagu talks about. Most women are not adventurous.
Miss I.oosley: I think my position is halfway between Dr. Montagu and Mrs. Vautelet. Today we’re living in a more complex society where both men and women are having a bigger problem knowing what their role in society is. They’re confused.
Dr. Gerstein: The contest to be happy always worries me. 1 don’t quite know what that is supposed to be. I'd rather discuss it on other terms. I think women have more opportunities in education.
They are far more vocal. They have been taught to be far more introspective which may only mean they have learned to put into words things that were always there.
Miss I.oosley: I myself feel that we
have gone back from the position we held between the two world wars. A sociologist I know who has treated this question carefully thinks that women are in retreat. Between the wars the middleclass North American young woman was insistent on being included in shaping the paths of civilization. There’s quite a movement now for women to abandon this position.
Dr. Gerstein: I don’t think women
have withdrawn or gone back. Twentyfive years ago women did not have the same domestic aids and had less opportunity to work in the community. I think a woman today is much more aware of all the things she might be doing and can’t get around to. This may be disturbing.
Mrs. Baldwin: I think one of the problems that may contribute to women’s unhappiness is that they have more education and have existed in this world in their own right before marriage. After marriage they move into a small, personal world that may seem a little uncomfortable because they’ve been conditioned to think objectively, impersonally and about a great many things. I think this causes a good deal of friction.
Mr. Allen: Miss Hamilton, you help thousands of young women find jobs. On the whole, is their happiness increasing or not?
Miss Hamilton: I do not think that
women are in retreat. 1 don’t think that they are unhappier. They feel they have a place in the community; that they’re making an active contribution. Of course it's also true that some working women are in a state of turmoil because they're ambitious and are impatient because they want to forge ahead.
Mr. Allen: Of the thousands of women you find jobs for, how many are going to be career girls and how many are marking time until they’re married?
Miss Hamilton: I don’t think a job is so much a case of marking time any longer. A large proportion of women get married with the thought that they'll always be working. They believe they have a career ahead of them married or single.
Mrs. Vautelet: Women who have
worked for a while have acquired different tools for happiness.
Dr. Montagu: I’d like to say again
that 1 think there can be no doubt that women today are happier. Until recently, there were millions of women in the lower and middle classes who had no future whatsoever. All they had to look forward to was a life of slavery as domestic servants. If they lost their jobs as domestic servants they were out on the streets.
Mr. Steinberg: I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Montagu. Happiness or un-
happiness is hard to pinpoint but perhaps there are a few concrete indications that women are happier. For example, in 1955 our young couples produced the largest baby crop in the history of Canada. If freedom and convenience in home life is a measure of happiness, then I say women today are perfectly happy. They’ve got vacuum cleaners, automatic refrigerators, ready-mixed foods and onestop shopping at the big new centres. These centres are open at night and you see people going shopping as a family. If everything is centred about the family, you know people are happy; if not, they are running away from their families.
Do women work harder than men?
Dr. Montagu: They do. Men are always saying how hard they work, that the stresses and storms and pressures in their daily work shorten their lives and no woman could stand up to this work. Yet it is well known that a man could not survive for long leading the housewife’s life—-on duty sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for many years.
Mr. Allen: But on an average the female lives about six years longer than the male.
Dr. Montagu: That’s true of all species of animal life. If the average male were put into housewifely duties his life span would be even less.
Mr. Allen: What do you think about this, Mrs. Baldwin? Could your husband keep house and live?
Mrs. Baldwin: I don’t think he’d be terribly content to live that way. I don’t think he’s in any condition to live that way.
Dr. Gerstein: There is one point I
want to clear up. It is one thing to live longer, but another point is what kind of life? I come in contact with many young mothers and my impression is that they’re exhausted. I think we overestimate how much physical strength they have. I think they arc overworked. 1 think that they really do get very, very tired. We expert them to carry far more than they should, particularly when the children are very young.
Dr. Hilliard: I would say that as a rule every woman who has preschool children is tired all the time. When they are young and tied in the home by their small children they don’t get the proper —it isn’t admiration—but they don’t get the proper value for what they’re doing, and they’re being pounded at all the time to be beautiful and gracious and all those other things. And during that period they're not getting the right kind of help and they often become discontented and don’t go on having more children. But when they get into their fifties or sixties they often have a tremendous volume of energy. Women’s life is such a cyclic type of thing, I believe, that they survive longer because although they have these types of fatigue as a housewife they don’t have the same kind of pressures that lead to degenerative diseases men experience.
Mrs. Vautelet: There’s an enormous strain put on women and not only in their roles as housewives. 1 worry about it. More and more social responsibility is being put into women’s hands. They’re called on to work on charity drives, cultural activities, adult education and so on. 1 suspect that this arises from the theory that women can get into trouble if they haven't enough work to do around the home. During the last war, society gave women every burden that our men had to drop when they went overseas. At the end of the war 1 saw all kinds of valuable women leadership material burned up for good. Society suffered because it demanded of women’s physical capacity more than women could give.
Mr. Katz: What kind of help do overworked women need?
Dr. Gerstein: They should be given time off from the home. One free day a week will help the average housewife feel that she's not locked up in jail. Some mothers (and mothers-in-law) are now saying to their daughters, “I'll take charge of things every Thursday. Take the day off.” There are other techniques that work. A family can “adopt” a grandmother for one day a week. In some city blocks or apartment houses wives work co-operatively to give each other a day or an afternoon off.
Mrs. Baldwin: At the YWCA we have a “Mothers’ Day Out” project where mothers obtain recreation and skills and the children are cared for.
Mr. Katz: But haven't electrical appliances made the modern housewife’s task easier?
Dr. Gerstein: For the vast majority,
the labor-saving devices have been an asset. They've made it possible for women to take their children outdoors for a walk and not be tied to the home all day.
Mrs. Vautelet: That applies to one
caste . . . the caste that used to do the washing by hand. The caste that used to have two or three maids is now working far harder despite all these mechanical aids.
Dr. Montagu: There’s one important factor that’s been overlooked. In England recently women were asked, "What’s the most useful domestic gadget around the house?” The reply was, “A husband.”
Is discrimination against women in business and the professions increasing or decreasing?
Miss Hamilton: I think that male employers are learning to be more tolerant. But there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I still get the feeling that many men are a little afraid of women. They don’t want to give women a free hand through fear that they’ll replace them in many positions. It would be much healthier if men realized that women could be a great asset to them and encouraged them rather than held them back. I find this negative attitude on the part of many businessmen a cause of great unhappiness among women—especially if they’re ambitious.
Dr. Montagu: Some men are more
than fair. I’ve actually been consulted by a business tycoon in Chicago who wants to employ virtually an all-female staff. Fie believes that they can succeed in jobs that are normally reserved for men. He’s convinced that women are superior to men. But discrimination does exist in many places. Medical schools, for instance, will only accept a certain number of women each year.
Miss Hamilton: The argument often used to keep women out of responsible
jobs is that they’re going to get married and quit working. It’s not true today.
Dr. Hilliard: No, but you can’t overlook the fact that marriage and babies do interrupt careers in many cases. In medicine, we have many girls taking their degrees and going into general practice. But there’s real difficulty getting women to go into specialized fields that require three or four years of postgraduate training. This even applies to the field of obstetrics which is a natural one for women. For these specialized medical jobs—and the same would apply to im-
portant positions in business—it’s essential that these girls have a sense of commitment to their jobs. They promise, “We won't get married or have children before we complete our training.” But of the last six seniors I’ve trained in obstetrics four have got married and given up their obstetrical jobs.
Mr. Steinberg: I’m quite sure business is not as sex-conscious as it was, say, twenty-five years ago. In our own organization, we have women accountants, designers and location engineers. We have great faith in our women and with good
reason. Just before the last war we hired a girl in our advertising department to help out with filing and other odd jobs. Then the war started and we gradually began to lose our men to the armed services. This girl took on more and more responsibility until she became our advertising director—a job she held for almost four years.
Are women held back simply because they’re not as good as men?
Mrs. Vautelet: Certainly not. You can’t say that an entire sex have the same characteristics or that they all lack the same characteristics. Is there any reason why human beings, after thousands of fathers and mothers have crossed their inheritances since Adam and Eve, should be different to other human beings who had the same crossing of inherited traits?
Dr. Montagu: But you don’t have the same crossing of the same traits.
Mrs. Vautelet: Well, I take after my father and my brother takes after my mother. This has been going on since Adam and Eve, so one sex can’t possibly have all the same traits . . .
Dr. Montagu: You remind me of the man who said, “My mother and father were cousins, that is why I look so much alike.” Genetically, men and women are very differently structured despite the fact they have common heritages. Women are endowed with two X chromosomes and men are endowed with only one and thereby hangs the tale.
Miss Hamilton: But getting back to
executive positions ... I do think that in past years we have had women in big jobs who have become tyrants. In many cases it was because they were unaccustomed to power and they were on the defensive. That’s changing. I know of one large company in Ontario that’s headed by a woman. Both her general manager and field manager have said that working for her was the happiest work experience they’ve ever had. Mind you, I’m not denying that sometimes women executives do get too much emotionally involved in their jobs . . .
Dr. Montagu: This has nothing to do with sex.
Miss Loosley: Regarding executive positions, 1 don’t think that there’s as much conflict between men and women as we imagine. Women often don’t go out after the big jobs because they don’t appeal to them. In executive jobs you have to manipulate people and material as a means of getting something done. Women prefer doing something direct and concrete and to deal with an individual as an individual.
Mr. Allen: For example?
Miss Loosley: Well, 1 work in the field of adult education. In our office, the women do the jobs that are more concrete, quieter and out of the public eye. I myself edit our organization’s magazine. I prefer that kind of work. I’d far rather be quietly working on my magazine right now than taking part in this panel discussion, for example. 1 can also tell you about a girl friend of mine who had a chance of getting an executive job. She said she didn’t want it. It was a tough job that included fund raising. She was quite happy to let a man have the job along with the pressures and responsibilities that went with it.
Do women help—or hinder—women in their struggle for freedom?
Miss Hamilton: In business, I think that women often hold back women. I have had many girls turn down nice positions because it would have meant working for a woman boss. That doesn't enhance women’s status in industry.
Mrs. Vautelet: I think that’s a carryover of the "harem mentality.” For years our security depended on winning the favor of the lord and master of the harem. Women competed for this favor. This bred antagonism among them. When I first started helping my mother serve tea to her friends, her generation women spent their time tearing the other women they knew to shreds. Now that we are gaining our freedom this antagonism among women is dying out. I think that
in two more generations it will be forgotten.
Mr. Allen: How about in politics?
Mrs. Vautelet: Almost every effort of women to advance out of this silly bondage society has imposed on them has been hindered far more by women than by men. In many years of suffrage work I have found that men will put up an initial fight against women moving in on what they think is their domain but they will surrender more graciously and rapidly than will the older women whose social ideas have forever jelled. Man is a peaceloving animal. He has been tamed by his mother. He knows that in the long run it’s safer and wiser to give in and make peace with women. But it’s hard to bestir women who have been given the idea by society that they must be in bondage. I feel dubious of the better understanding that depends almost exclusively on women.
Dr. Montagu: 1 can only partially agree with that because women have often fought vigorously for their rights and achieved their objectives. I’m thinking of the struggle women had in England to enter the medical profession. They gained admission to the medical schools and took their training. When they presented themselves for the final qualifying examination, the entire medical examining
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board, which was all male, resigned in order to block them. But the women persisted until they were granted examinations. After that, men began supporting women who chose a medical career.
Mr. Allen: Do some women look askance at other women who choose to exercise a newly won right?
Dr. Montagu: There are always some women who are in the opposition camp in order to protect themselves.
Why don’t women go into politics?
Dr. Hilliard: I think that women as a whole just don’t like politics. It’s one of the fields in which they don’t seem to enjoy themselves.
Mr. Katz: Are they apt to enjoy it any more in the future?
Dr. Hilliard: I don’t know. Women don’t seem to be able to take a long-range view of the future. They are not inclined to do the long-term groundwork that politics requires. Also, they don’t like the rough and tumble of electioneering and political life.
Mrs. Vautelet: Politics brings out the worst in both men and women. Some women have entered political life but unhappily it isn't always the best element that goes into it. I served my apprenticeship in politics. Elections are like turning over a stone and seeing strange things crawling out from under. You have to learn to handle these things, along with the good elements. That's a lot to ask of women who, forty years ago, didn’t even have a vote. But once a woman does get into public office and shows that she knows what she's talking about she ceases having any trouble with men. Her chief difficulty is that men will lean on her and ask her to do too much.
Mr. Allen: Is it true that women won’t support a woman candidate?
Mrs. Vautelet: I haven't found it so, particularly in the west. Women have worked very hard for women candidates.
It’s the men who have a prejudice against working for a woman in an election campaign.
Dr. Gerstein: I was thinking that while women in Canada don’t wield influence through holding office they do have influence through their organizations.
Dr. Hilliard: . . . Such as the women’s institutes. They’ve got branches all over Canada and they’ve done a magnificent job of raising the standard of living in the home, particularly in the west.
Dr. Montagu: May I tell you of my experience traveling around the length and breadth of the United States from the smallest nooks and crannies, towns and hamlets? The greatest power for good in the whole world is the women of the United States. They’re a bright candle in a world of darkness.
Do the sexes get along better than they used to?
Mrs. Baldwin: I think men and women are much more comfortable with each other than ever before. I think that’s because women get around more today and can talk more interestingly and objectively with men.
Mrs. Vautelet: But to get along with men you have to handle them. You have to appeal to them through their emotions rather than their intelligence. You have to use charm and tact. Many times I've been on the board of a charitable organization where there are one or two women and a dozen men. A woman will make a suggestion but it’s brushed aside. Later, some man will pick up her idea and put it forward to the group. The chairman likes it. And the woman too shows enthusiasm. “Oh, Mr. Brown!” she’ll say, “What a wonderful idea you’ve had!”
Dr. Hilliard: Not long ago I was working with a group of men doctors on some job and I said to them. “Shall 1 act as a woman or as a doctor?” 1 was asking a civil question and I wanted to know. They said, "Can’t you be both?” I told them that this was difficult and that sometimes I am one and sometimes the other. 1 found out early in my career that you get much farther by deliberately using charm. But sometimes you don’t know exactly how to act—like when you’re giving a scientific paper to a so-called scientific group. In the past ten years I have found that you do very much better just being yourself—a woman.
Dr. Montagu: Women are more competent today in handling men. A typical situation is George seated at the breakfast table glancing at the paper. He tells his wife that he has an important board meeting that morning and that he’s going to be called on to make some remarks about the important new project. Whereupon his wife says, “George, I with my peanut brain know nothing about this kind of thing . . .” and then proceeds to feed him a dozen excellent suggestions. He comes home that night and tells his wife (quite innocently) about all the wonderful original ideas he presented at the board meeting and how it looks as if he’s slated for another promotion. A wife with this kind of “peanut brain” and tact will go far.
Mr. Steinberg: Here’s a peculiarity I've noticed about women in their relations with men. Put them on an all-female committee and you can't stop them talking: they talk all the time. But on a committee where the majority are men they’ll just sit there listening. With men they clam up. Yet they’re as capable as the male members of the committee. Fortunately, they become a little more vocal after the fourth or fifth meeting.
Mr. Allen: Is this because women feel inferior to men? Dr. Montagu: I think it’s just that they’re much too tactful to say what they’re really thinking.
Miss Hamilton: I think it’s fear. Doesn’t the housewife deserve more prestige and, if JO, why doesn’t she get it?
Dr. Montagu: Mothers are the makers of humanity. There’s an old Hebrew saying that since God couldn’t be everywhere he made mothers. Yet society is mating the terrible mistake of giving the leajt recognition to the most important job—motherhood.
Mrs. Vautelet: Look at the man who takes tickets at a movie for eight hours a da>. He’s respected as a wage earner and because he’s doing a useful job. Yet his wife, who works sixteen hours a day at a much more difficult job, goes unrecognized. Today, a woman’s status is much more dependent on how much money she has and how much freedom she has to jpend it as she likes.
During the war I sat on an economic advisory board in the province of Quebec. We found that most women who had gore out to work in factories and other places were planning not to go home after the war. “Why go home and have to be dependent on your husband for every cent?’’ they said. "Here 1 get good pay, holidays and a regular income.” Society is driving women out of the home. And than will continue until the housewife’s job has better working conditions and mo'e prestige.
Dr. Gerstein: We’ve tarnished the concept of motherhood and bringing up children. All our emphasis has been on the economic factor. We have many university-trained women raising families and working in their communities. They’re making a tremendous contribution. But how do we regard them? We take the attitude that since she’s not working at the specific job she was trained for she’s a failure.
Dr. Hilliard: Women’s values are being distorted by too much emphasis on sex. Nearly everyone is hammering at them to be a desirable sex object. They’ve got to do this or that; or use this or that product to get a man if they haven’t got one; or to hold on to the man they’ve already got.
Mrs. Vautelet: The Canadian Association of Consumers protested against this oversexing when we presented a brief to the Royal Commission on Broadcasting. We said radio and television are giving women of sixteen to sixty a strong dose of unreality by constantly suggesting that love and marriage are dependent entirely on the kind of face cream they use.
Mr. Steinberg: 1 think someone once said “the cleaner and shinier the hair, the better the husband you can get.”
Mrs. Vautelet: . . . And you can be a skunk in disposition but if you use the proper deodorant and gargle with the right brand of antiseptic you’ll be an angel and your married life will run smoothly.
Do men give women their fair share of money?
Mrs. Vautelet: Too often husbands hold back money from their wives. A woman has a moral right to fifty percent of everything her man earns. This is only logical. When a man proposes to a woman he’s saying in effect, "Don’t work anywhere else; work for me. I’ll earn enough for both of us.” Thus she’s entitled to half of what he makes.
Mrs. Baldwin: I don’t think along those lines. Women receive rewards in marriage other than money. She’s compensated in the joys and feeling of preativeness in bringing up a family. In some ways she’s more fortunate than her husband. She
has more quiet times, more time to think, freedom from many of the problems that her husband has to grapple with.
Dr. Hilliard: I’ve been anxious at times about some of my women. Not the young brides but women in the older groups. Many of them still live under a regime where the husband will only dole out a little bit of money each week.
Mr. Allen: How about putting wives on a regular weekly salary? Would that be a satisfactory solution?
Mrs. Vautelet: No, it would lower women's prestige. While I'm talking. I’d
like to mention another way, economically, where women are being treated unfairly. They’re not getting their fair share of the tax dollar. Women are citizens. They pay taxes. Yet so far as I know very little tax money is spent improving the working conditions of women in the home. There are all kinds of taxsupported activities that benefit men and their businesses and industries—like the various kinds of vocational training schemes. But how much is spent to prepare girls to be mother's helpers? How many government dollars support day
nurseries where a tired mother can get rid of her five children for a few hours a day? Expectant mothers often need many kinds of assistance — money, supplies, helpers. But how often do governments seriously consider spending their money on these things? And remember, this is tax money that comes from both sexes.
Should there be a legal Bill off Rights ffor Women?
Dr. Gerstein: I don’t have too much faith in a set of rules and regulations. I don’t see how you can change the position of women by a legal code. The thing to do is work toward changing the attitudes of men toward women.
¡VIr. Allen: But isn’t it a fact that many improvements in social attitudes have followed legislation? Take the abolition of slavery and child labor and, more recently, the desegregation of schools in the U. S. There was a general feeling that these were desirable measures but they didn’t gain their greater impetus until formal laws were passed.
Dr. Gerstein: I think the question of women’s rights is more complicated. You're going to have to change attitudes whether you have a Bill of Rights for Women or not.
Miss Loosley: I think that the most effective approach is through education, not legislation. A tremendous amount is being written to show what the young mother is up against and it’s already having an influence. Public opinion will force a change in attitudes. Already a great deal is being done on a voluntary basis.
Mrs. Baldwin: I agree. You can't legislate values. Mass communication is much more effective.
Mrs. Vautelct: I’m against a Bill of Rights for Women because the very title is offensive. It gives the impression that women are not part of the human race. I think women should keep working on many fronts, attacking inequalities. Once women have achieved equality everybody —including men—will be happier.
Miss Hamilton: I’m against a formal Bill of Rights for Women. I think women should improve themselves and train themselves so that they can meet men on equal ground. Then they can educate them to the fact that women have a place in the world on an equal footing with men.
Dr. Montagu: I think history testifies to the fact that you can legislate certain human attitudes into existence as well as legislate them out of existence. But there are limits. The prohibition laws in the United States failed, for example, because the people didn’t favor them, no matter how many laws were passed. Now as far as legislating laws for women is concerned the countries of the Western world have already gone a long way in that direction.
Dr. Hilliard: I'd agree with that and I’d like to give a few examples of how they apply in Canada. We have laws that require employers to give equal pay for equal work. One of the reasons that women have done so well in the medical profession is that the fee scale is laid down and applies to all doctors, men and women. I remember that when 1 first started my private practice one of the senior obstetricians said to me, “Make sure that your fees are the same as your competition. That’s the way you’ll establish your practice and your ability."
Another step is the establishment of the women's bureau in the Department of Labor in Ottawa. They’ve already finished a study of working women in Canada. This body is going to be in an excellent position to suggest ways and means of improving women’s position.
The third thing I want to mention is the social-security measures such as oldage pensions, baby bonuses and mothers’ allowances. These bring money into the home and mean a lot to women. 1 think that women should work through their organizations and through the women in parliament to get more action along these lines.
Mr. Steinberg: I’m not enthusiastic about a Bill of Rights for Women because I don’t think you can write down in concrete fashion the so-called rights a woman should have. A lot of them are
quite vague and abstract. They might consist of nothing more than an understanding between a man and his wife.
What lies ahead for women? How will their status change?
Dr. Montagu: 1 see the present trend continuing, namely women being granted more and more political, social and economic rights and using them even more intelligently than they have in the past. Eventually Western civilization is likely to be made over by women’s achievement in freedom. The reappraisal of values that is necessary to the happy development of humanity will largely come about as the doing first of women and then by the process of re-educating men. Of course, until this last thing happens, that is, until the men are trained, this beautiful state of society that I envisage will not come about. It is men who have to change as well as women.
Miss Loosley: I agree with Dr. Montagu, although I don’t think that there will ever be a state of happy perfection. It is a bit too much to ask of human beings, whether they are men or women,
to be at exactly the same state of maturity at the same time. I think there has to be a great deal more tolerance and understanding on both sides and my own feeling is that women will have to work hard at it and men will have to work a bit harder because this is not normally the direction in which they want to think or are comfortable in thinking.
Dr. Gerstein: Women are going to have a lot of growing pains—and so are the men. As women assume more responsibility they start to mimic men, and this raises all kinds of problems because as women become men it becomes more complicated for men to be men. Over a period of years, I think women will stop the mimicry and go back to their role as women.
There are other problems. Sometimes women grow more quickly than men. In a society where it’s the man who grows more quickly, it’s easy to respect the man and it’s easy for the man to drag along his wife who isn’t so socialized, civilized or emotionally mature. But when it’s the women who are more mature, it becomes more difficult, particularly because we’ve assumed that everyone, like water, should seek his or her own level. If a woman hasn't a man who is on the same level that she thinks she’s on, a feeling grows that the marriage has to be unsuccessful.
But on the whole I think we are getting more insight. There is much more looking into ourselves. Our diagnosis is just a little better. I can’t tell you whether in ten or twenty-five years from now we will be mature or have learned to live better together but I think we’ll be trying harder.
Dr. Hilliard: I don’t believe that in the Western world women are going to seek new values or be more part of the making of the world. What happens to women depends on what happens to the world. If we go on in a very booming economy. I’m afraid women are going to take less part. Given economic security and plenty and no demands, women, like all human beings, settle down. 1 don’t think anybody wants to work.
Another point ... I think a lot depends on the women of the East. In my whole field the best women I have seen are the Indian doctors, from Madras and Bombay. They are married and with children yet they seem to be working out their destiny frightfully fast.
Mrs. Vautelet: If we don’t blow ourselves up with A-bombs, I think we’ll move rapidly toward a far saner relationship between the sexes than we ever did in an equal time in the past. Young men and women today seem more willing to be partners on more reasonable terms. The young men of today are a far cry from the male of fifty years ago—the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table or the Life with Father type of men who were accepted as being almost a norm seventy years ago.
Mrs. Baldwin: I can't foresee the world of the future other than that we will have automation and with it more leisure time. 1 hope that the present trend where mothers with small children leave their homes to work will not continue. It’s true that staying at home with young children has its frustrations and loneliness but it’s also the most creative job you can work at. You have the feeling that you are fulfilling your purpose as a woman. I hope that I won’t be of a bygone age in twenty years.
Mr. Steinberg: I don’t think women will desert their homes on a wholesale basis. For those who seek it. there will be greater opportunities in both business and community affairs. In the past five and ten years, I’ve noticed women filling increasingly important positions in charitable and civic organizations. In some ways, I think we’re going just a little too far too fast, but the future is bright.
Miss Hamilton: I’m optimistic about the future. By using their natural grace and charm I think women are going to educate men as to their rightful place in the world. I’m old-fashioned enough to hope that women will never replace men and that they will never become superior to men.
Mr. Allen: Will we ever have a woman prime minister or a woman head of Steinberg’s?
Miss Hamilton: 1 think a woman could be the head of Steinberg’s. There are several women today presiding over big businesses. As for a woman being prime minister or president — I’m not sure whether or not that would be good for a country.
Mr. Steinberg: . . . I’d like to inject here that my mother, of blessed memory, was the founder of our company and her policies and philosophy still guide our business. She always feit strongly that a woman should take her place beside her man and she did so in her own lifetime.
Dr. Montagu: And if a woman has the qualities that would make her a good prime minister then let her be prime minister, by all means.
May I insert another word. When Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst dropped into the London office of the women’s movement she came upon a young woman suffragette leader in desperate despair of the future of the movement. She placed her hand on the young woman’s shoulder and said: “Pray to God, my dear. She will help you.”