“Thank heavens for little girls,
They grow up in the most delightful way.
– – – – –
Thank heavens for little girls,
For without them what would little boys do?”
Yes, even now I can hear Maurice Chevalier sing this song, with his delightful French accent. His gentle and humorous comment on the fair sex is not without it’s charm and warmth, but more than that, as a married man of some 34 years experience, I can truthfully say that my wife is equivalent to my home. Our four grown-up children are quite vociferous in agreeing with that. Somehow a wife and mother is a symbol of society that we should be very sad to lose. There are homes here, there, and everywhere, from which the warmth of a mother’s love has left an indelible mark. When Mum is away from home, there is something wrong. The “home” has (temporarily) departed with her, and everyone awaits her return, even if its only from a shopping spree. How often have I heard our children say in the past, “When will Mummy be coming back?” It’s not the same with us men. Somehow we’re expected to be away, at work, out doing something, or what have you, but not so with Mum. She is the hub of the home, and it is her presence which pervades the house. The flower arrangements, the decor, the ornaments, the pictures and photographs, the delicious smell of her cooking, and above all her kindly maternal advice, all contribute to make the house into a home, HER home. No matter what people say, there are things in life that a man is simply not cut out for, and cannot fulfil in quite the same way as a woman.
Yesterday, when the post came, the large new memorial stamp on one of the envelopes showed a womanbehind bars, presumably Emmeline Pankhurst, and the captions “DEEDS NOT WORDS” and “VOTES FOR WOMEN.” This year is apparently one of the 75th anniversaries of equal rights, the goal of Mrs Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement. She was imprisoned several times for destroying property, and went on hunger strikes to advertise her cause. British women have travelled a long way since then, until finally one became Prime Minister.
I have no slogans to shout from my Internet Soap Box. I don’t wish to get involved in the political side of this subject at all. It’s just that I retained the following letter that appeared in “The Daily Telegraph” on January 7th 1993, written by Mrs Joanna Bogle, of Malden in Surrey. I would like to share it. The heading was “Has feminism led to happiness?”
SIR – The round-up of women’s views on the 75th anniversary of female suffrage gave a curious, ideologically-centred view of history. I cannot altogether agree, for instance, with the opinion – stated as fact – that “the feminists of the Seventies took on the battle where their sisters at the turn of the century left off.”
Like those ladies quoted, I had a grandmother who supported the suffragettes – it is family folklore that she once hid Mrs Pankhurst in her kitchen – but Granny intensely disliked much of what the Seventies-style feminism represented. She certainly saw in it a total break with the ideals and hopes of her generation.
Lifelong faithful marriage, enthusiasm for child-rearing as among the most worthwhile of occupations, a delight in learning for its own sake and not merely for career potential, a commitment to the role of women as upholders of good manners and civilised values – these were among her most profound beliefs.
She was also, above all, a practical person who was less interested in slogans than in the everyday reality of life.
Many useful inventions have enormously benefited modern women, liberating us from exhausting chores which were the lot of earlier generations, and releasing energies and talents for more creative things.
These were not the result of feminist ideology but of a thriving free enterprise economy and (largely male) inventiveness, ingenuity and skill. Washing machines, wipe-clean surfaces, soap powders, disinfectants, vacuum cleaners, flushing loos and decent plumbing have almost certainly been of greater value to women than, say, Beatrice Webb’s sermons. Mrs Webb idolised the Soviet Union, where the lot of women was pitiful. She seemed to glory in their roles as factory hands and street cleaners while their children hungered in squalid state nurseries.
Can we honestly say that the present package of feminism, with its career pressures, emphasis on abortion and divorce, toleration of lesbianism and creation of super-woman imagery is really making today’s women happier? The rising figures for female alcoholism, crime and suicide point to another side of a muddled picture.”