Working vs at-home mom debate (1915)

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Work and wear silk stockings — or stay at home and mend baby’s socks?

by Idah M’Glone Gibson

Feminists contend that married women can find lasting domestic happiness only through economical independence; that woman has for ages been a parasite, but that by achieving a regular salary she may emancipate herself from sex slavery. In fact, there are no ills endured by woman from which the great and sacred privilege of working for wages will not save her.

But thousands of married women workers have failed to prove this theory true. There is a letter which betrays the growing doubt of that unqualified joy which is supposed to come to the woman who fills her own purse:

“Dear Mrs Gibson — am a married woman, but I am also one of the ‘business girls’ who read your letters.

“I have two children in the grammar grades. I went back to work as soon as they were old enough to leave, but now I am tempted to give up my job and spend my time taking care of my family. For I know that even with the extra money I earn my children are not so happy as when I get along on less, but do my housework myself.

“More money spent on a home does not always mean greater comfort. And business life simply doubles trouble for a mother.

“To manage a home and work in an office is to do two days’ work in one, and that is what a married woman’s economical independence has amounted in so far in my own experience. – Janet J”

Evidently “Janet J” has discovered that it is much better fun to turn the pancakes for the kiddies than it is to earn money to pay somebody else for turning and probably burning them, and perhaps spoiling the griddle so that more money must be earned to buy a new one.

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Indirect processes are wasteful, A mother’s energy may be converted into wages to buy her silk stockings, but it will bring her more joy if used to darn the small boy’s socks.

This is a homely old theory, but it never disappoints. Undoubtedly “Janet J” will be happier if she reverts to parasitism, ignominiously but joyfully.

And, undoubtedly, many a woman who never earned a dollar in her life will have a different view of the matter. The Day Book will be glad to print all opinions.

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