What you need …

LHJ What you need is a good husbandThe quotation marks around the title clue us to read the advice that follows with an open mind, though it is hard for a feminist not to bring her twenty-first century sensibilities to bear on the first sentences:

“There is not much doubt that if every woman in the last hundred years had acquired a good husband at the age of twenty – and kept him alive and well for the next thirty or forty years – there would be no Woman Movement today. The world has ever been a fair place for women happily married to good men whom they love. That is every woman’s inherent need, the normal and ideal way for her to satisfy her human instinct for happiness, usefulness and achievement.”

There follows a saving “but,” a but more significant for Canada than for the United States, which had yet to enter the Great War. For the daily roster of Canadian dead and wounded in the newspaper limited women’s chances to meet that “inherent need.”

But are there enough men of the good-husband caliber to take each girl as she reaches twenty and give her her chance? [Janie, you remember, turned twenty a couple of days ago.] The fact remains that many woman and girls of all ages and all stations in life, and due to all kinds of reasons, have to satisfy their need of happiness, usefulness and achievement in some other way. They have in any case an uphill fight for their ‘place in the sun,’ and there is no doubt that the world owes them certain social and economic conditions that will enable them to live their lives to the fullest and sweetest.

Ah, says our twenty-first century feminist, would that those social and economic conditions were yet in place for all women!

The article concludes with a story that explains the quotation marks in the title:

‘What you need is a good husband,’ said a middle-aged man to a young business woman after listening to her arguments.
‘I know it,’ she answered, ‘but before that remedy will ever be a practical cure-all for the Woman Movement, there must be a Good Husband Movement. Do you see?’ she added sweetly.
And the man had to admit that he saw.

Ladies’ Home Journal. April 1916. 12

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”

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