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The Business of Being a Woman   By: (1857-1944)

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Transcriber's note: The few spelling mistakes found in this text were left intact.

THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WOMAN

by

IDA M. TARBELL

Associate Editor of the "American Magazine" Author of "Life of Abraham Lincoln" "History of the Standard Oil Co." "He Knew Lincoln," etc.

New York The MacMillan Company New York · Boston · Chicago Dallas · San Francisco Macmillan & Co., Limited London · Bombay · Calcutta Melbourne The Macmillan Co. of Canada, Ltd. Toronto Norwood Press J.S. Cushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

1921

TO

E.I.T. AND C.C.T.

INTRODUCTION

The object of this little volume is to call attention to a certain distrust, which the author feels in the modern woman, of the significance and dignity of the work laid upon her by Nature and by society. Its ideas are the result of a long, if somewhat desultory, observation of the professional, political, and domestic activities of women in this country and in France. These observations have led to certain definite opinions as to those phases of the woman question most in need of emphasis to day.

A great problem of human life is to preserve faith in and zest for everyday activities. The universal easily becomes the vulgar and the burdensome. The highest civilization is that in which the largest number sense, and are so placed as to realize, the dignity and the beauty of the common experiences and obligations.

The courtesy of the publishers of the American Magazine , in permitting the use here of chapters which have appeared in that periodical, is gratefully acknowledged.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE UNEASY WOMAN 1

II. ON THE IMITATION OF MAN 30

III. THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WOMAN 53

IV. THE SOCIALIZATION OF THE HOME 84

V. THE WOMAN AND HER RAIMENT 109

VI. THE WOMAN AND DEMOCRACY 142

VII. THE HOMELESS DAUGHTER 164

VIII. THE CHILDLESS WOMAN AND THE FRIENDLESS CHILD 190

IX. ON THE ENNOBLING OF THE WOMAN'S BUSINESS 216

THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WOMAN

CHAPTER I

The Uneasy Woman

The most conspicuous occupation of the American woman of to day, dressing herself aside, is self discussion. It is a disquieting phenomenon. Chronic self discussion argues chronic ferment of mind, and ferment of mind is a serious handicap to both happiness and efficiency. Nor is self discussion the only exhibit of restlessness the American woman gives. To an unaccustomed observer she seems always to be running about on the face of things with no other purpose than to put in her time. He points to the triviality of the things in which she can immerse herself her fantastic and ever changing raiment, the welter of lectures and other culture schemes which she supports, the eagerness with which she transports herself to the ends of the earth as marks of a spirit not at home with itself, and certainly not convinced that it is going in any particular direction or that it is committed to any particular worth while task.

Perhaps the most disturbing side of the phenomenon is that it is coincident with the emancipation of woman. At a time when she is freer than at any other period of the world's history save perhaps at one period in ancient Egypt she is apparently more uneasy.

Those who do not like the exhibit are inclined to treat her as if she were a new historical type. The reassuring fact is, that ferment of mind is no newer thing in woman than in man. It is a human ailment. Its attacks, however, have always been unwelcome. Society distrusts uneasiness in sacred quarters; that is, in her established and privileged works... Continue reading book >>




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