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A Telling Contrast

A Telling Contrast image
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The werking womau's sphere nsed to be confined cbiefly to household work. And it is a notable fact tliat in tbose days the newspapers oontained no stories about women dying of starvation and overwork in tenement houses. If anybody died from these causes it was a man. Descriptions of the agonies of starving workingwomen and their families are iow a feature of the penny papers. Only 3, few days ago a woman in Jersey City who had worked in a big tobáceo facfjry and was thrown out of employment by her advanced years and inability to handle tho tobáceo leaf as deftly as the younger generation locked herself up in her room to wait till the pangs of hunger snapped the life eord. She almost succeeded. Such an occurrence twenty years ago would hare been commented upon by the newspapers and statesmen all over the country, and the philosophers would have philosophized to the extent of a book on the subject; but so common have such events become in these days since "the extensión of women 's sphere" that they attract little or no attention. Perhaps some new3paper may, for the purpose of advertising itself , get up a Hubseription fund to buy a few neeessaries for the support, but the average citizen reads the little story without emotion. It disturbs him no more than a view of the dirty streets or a strnggle to get a seat in an elevated train. WHEBE WOMAN NEVEE STARVES. And right here it may be asked, in view of the present condition of worktngmen, "Has any one ever heard of a woman, sticking to the old limited 3phere of working women - domestic íervice - suffering for lack of the necessaries of life?" The newspapers record no sucfa instances. One would be such a novelty that the ambition of the museum men to secure unheard of curiosities would be aroused, The fact is that the only women dependent on their daily work for subsistence who are comfortably situated, with a few eiceptiona, are the domestic servante. All the thrifty ones have their bank accounts, and they don't know what it is to want for f ood or clothes. Moreover, their labor is comparatively light, and they have real homes. So thoroughly ia thia fact recognized that the societies devoted to improving the conditions of working women and helping them in their difficnlties with employers exelude servants from their range of work. Mrs. M. J. Creagh, superintendent of tbe Working Women's Protective onion, givee the reason, as follows: "The working women in stores, torios and offices need all the assistance the unión can gi ve, f or they are the sufferere. Women who work as domestica nay sometimes have reasonable grounds for complaint, but their condition ia so far above that of the other working women that they can always get along comfortably. They can get places whenever they want them, receive good wages, dont know what hunger is, and are well acquainted with the looks of a bank book. They dou't need help. "It is this poor saleswoman, the overworked factory girl and thesewing woman that has to be helped to live. MES. CREAGH'S OPINIÓN. "Considering the board matter, they do not get one-half or one-third as muck as the servants and have to work longer. Besides, they are often cheated out of their scant earnings. If they are sick for a time they lose their little pay, and perhaps their places are filled bef ore they recover. The servant girl, on the other hand, gets her wages right along, and if she is in a good family she receives such medical and other attention as the store girl cannot receive. She is, in fact, settled, while her sisters in the world of business depend on their week's salary for food and lodging the following week, and a few days' sickness means to them starvation and inadequate attendance or a journey to a charity hospital. "Therafore this society gives all its attention to women outside of domestic service. As women go further and further into the business world we have more to do than ever. Every day we have brought to onr notice cases where rich employers try to beat women out of sums varying from twenty-five cents to $50. "The records here show, better than anything I know of , the slavery into which women have been brought of late years. Employers know thát women have not the money to pay lawyers to sue for them, so they take advaniage of their helplessness whenever they can. It is remarkable, however, that they settle up with great rapidity when the women come here to complain. Our counsel conducta worthy cases free of charge and has got verdicts in the civil cotnts for more than $50,000 stnce the union began its work." When Mrs. Creagh was asked why the wages of girls in f actories, stores and offioes were so small, she answered m almost the same way as Miss Van Etten did. Women, Bhe said, took the places of men in many occupations without organizing themselves to obtain fair compensation. They took anything they could get, They expected to get married some time, and their work was a teanporary expedient, at first, to obtain pin money. Now many of them find that they have really to support themselves, and their meager wages won't do it. Stül they bear their hardships, waiiing ever for the gay cavalier who is tocóme along and relieve them. With some work is a necessity, wirthothers it is not. But few of them seem to consider that men have suffered in cortaeoTteoceof the