Women

Voyeur Tools

Ì enjoyed Voyeur Tools but I found some things wanting in it. By far, my favorite feature was the word cloud; picking out information with it was straightforward and reminded me of Moretti's graphs in the distant reading piece. While the word trends tool was fun to play around with, I found myself increasingly frustrated with it. Instead of seeing the whole corpus represented and choosing a focus, searching the word trends had me wracking my brain to come up with combinations that would be fruitful or interesting. I did find an interesting spike in the use of the word "woman" in The Little Review's 11th issue (1915-02). When I went through the issue in the archive, I found a script with a character simply named "The Woman;" her name definitely contributed to the spike in iterations.

Voyeur Tools has already done a lot of the data reduction for the user, seemingly to the point of encouraging the user to do more additive functions ("oh, let's put 'violin' in contrast with 'music' and see how the relative graphs change"). It seems to me that it's far easier to miss out on interesting or important correlations with selective or additive functions such as this. Trying to guess at things (especially in using the various search bars) made reading The Little Review harder for me.

 

Women's Reproductive Rights in Early Twentieth Century Great Britain

 

The Freewoman was a periodical published weekly from 1911-1912, which served as a forum for the discussion of feminist- and gender-related issues in early twentieth-century Britain. About half of the periodical's contents from issue to issue was comprised of correspondence from readers who wished to voice their opinions on topics that included marriage and motherhood, and some of the periodical's contributors were male medical doctors. In the first two issues of The Freewoman, published in late November of 1911, the amount of content that advocates for the protection of unmarried women with children is surprising, specifically as it concerns marriage reform. Some of the contributions to these first two issues seem to be part of the early debate about the reproductive rights of both single and married women, and I would be interested in examining later issues of The Freewoman to see how the debate develops and to determine whether the rhetoric of contributors on the topic becomes less subtle.

 

The first item, "A Definition of Marriage," is the first contribution to the first issue of The Freewoman, published in November of 1911. Authored by Edmund B. D'auvergne, "A Definition of Marriage" defines marriage as not a legal right sanctified by a certificate of marriage, but rather by the union of two individuals joined together in parenthood (5). D'auvergne's authorship of "A Definition of Marriage" is interesting, first, because the D'auvergne is a male, and it is the first contribution to The Freewoman, following only the "Notes of the Week" section and the editors' explanation of what it means to be a freewoman versus a bondwoman. Second, D'auvergne advocates for the rights of mothers and children, but he maintains that a marriage without children is the equivalent of owning a gun license but no gun, likening the childless marriage to a sort of slave relationship between husband and wife (5). D'auvergne remarks that "[t]here are plenty of unmarried hussies who have children, and we do not rightly speak of them as fallen creatures and, with a fine disregard of biological fact, of their children as the children of nobody" (5). In other words, for D'auvergne, it is acceptable to have children without marriage, but it is not acceptable to have marriage without children. D'auvergne's argument against childless marriages seems to be an implicit argument for women's reproductive rights, as he also shames Great Britain's treatment of unwed mothers and of women who aim to have children outside of their marriages, due to their husbands' inabilities to reproduce (6).

 

D'auvergne's argument against marriages without children -- and, I think, for women's reproductive rights-- is directly followed by a contribution from Bessie Drysdale, entitled "Der Bund für Mutterschutz: A German League for the Protection of Mothers." Drysdale comments on Germany's "movement for [the] protection [of unmarried mothers]," comparing both the treatment of women and the "proportion of illegitimacy" between Britain and Germany; women are of a lower "position" in Germany, and the number of illegitimate children born to unwed German mothers exceeds the number of illegitimate children born to English mothers (6). The juxtaposition of Drysdale's contribution with D'auvergne's seems unlikely to be accidental. Drysdale comments on the political goals of the League, one of which is to lobby for marriage reform that might change the economic, political, and social wellbeing of unmarried mothers (6). Drysdale does not directly advocate for the founding of such a group in Great Britain, but she subtly suggests that a similar service be implemented, as she mentions how the League has spread to other countries, including Austria, Italy, and Sweden (5-6). She concludes the contribution by stating that "[t]he promoters [of the League for the Protection of Mothers] are most anxious to see a similar organisation in Great Britain" (6). Drysdale's contribution is structured like a report on Germany's League for the Protection of Mothers, but her rhetoric, at times, offers that she is of the opinion that a similar organization should be founded in Great Britain.

 

In the second issue of The Freewoman, published one week after the first, Dr. Thomas Allinson provides a brief preview of the chapters of his book, "A Book for Married Women." The book covers topics that extend from reproductive development to "the best ages for marriage" (39). Allinson seems to occupy a similar point-of-view to D'auvergne in terms of marriage, at least in that he links marriage to biology. His second chapter on marriage is stated to provide "useful information that one can ordinarily get only from an intelligent doctor," and his third chapter "condemns" marriages between blood relations (39). Since most of the book is concerned with educating women about their reproductive health, it seems to be an attempt at helping married women to obtain more control over their reproductive decisions, especially given that the preview of the book claims that the content of the book "ought to be known by every married woman" (39). Furthermore, although the book's title suggests an audience of strictly married women, Allinson's review notes that "it will not harm the unmarried to read" (39). Like D'auvergne and Drysdale, Allinson is an apparent proponent for the reproductive rights of both married and unmarried women. 

The Changing World of Women and Work: Cosmopolitan, June 1910

 

Throughout the June 1910 issue of Cosmopolitan, one finds multiple, though oblique, pieces which deal with the concept of women in various fields of work. All hint at a shift in prevailing social attitudes about the field in which these women are employed, and in some cases imply a shift in actual living and working conditions as well. 

1. Robert W. Chambers. "The Common Law." Cosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, 62-80.

The serial "The Common Law" was the first object of my examination. This serial deals with the forbidden romance between an artist, Louis Neville, and his model, Valerie West. Valerie and Neville can never marry, for models occupy a much lower and somewhat scandalized place on the social ladder. This is, obviously, a social situation in which limits are placed based on gender. As all of the mentioned artists are men, who retain their social power and standing, and all of the models are women, who are seen as a mere step above prostitutes, the social lines within the art world, within the act of a sitting, are drawn sharply between the two genders. Much of the section contained in this issue, rather than depicting the lovers together (they have only a single, short scene on pages 76-77), deals with Valerie's navigation of the social world. Though artists' models are thought undesirable social companions, Valerie seems to provoke positive feelings in all who encounter her: she is sought out as a companion by the Countess d'Enver, who pleads to West, "Can't we be friends? I do need one; and I like you so much[...] There is a place for you in my heart" (76). Likewise, though Neville's sister, Lily Collis, is determined to keep Neville and Valerie apart, and visits Valerie with the intention of dissuading her from any thoughts of marriage, she too seems charmed by the model. After Valerie reveals that she has always known of the impossibility of marrying Lily's brother, Lily remarks, "I look into your face, and I know you are good--good-- all the way through" (68). However, though much of her acceptance seems to hinge upon her uniquely winning personality, there is also evidence that Lily’s improving treatment reflects larger societal shifts. Lily suggests that her inability to accept Louis and Valerie’s romance stems from “something of their [her parents’] old fashioned conservatism clinging to” her despite “all [her] liberality, all [her] modern education” (64). Thus, though Lily's work is still perceived by all as a terrible social obstacle, there is also evidence within the story of changing social mores towards women and modeling work, and a suggestion of further, future change. I plan to do further research into the serial, as I am interested in seeing how things turn out.

 

2. "Stage Beauties Posed Exclusively for CosmopolitanCosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, 81-87.

Similarly to artists’ models, actresses have not, historically, been widely accepted as paragons of virtue, and although some became popular and respected entertainers, the profession as a whole violated middle-class mores enough to garner it a large dose of skepticism from society as a whole. Thus, it was surprising to me that Cosmopolitan chose to feature portraits of “Stage Beauties Posed Exclusively for Cosmopolitan within its pages (81). The photos feature short descriptions of the women’s accomplishments, previous and current appearances, and, occasionally, interests or other facts, such as in the case of Anne Murdock:

The most notable thing about this photo series, then, is that these actresses are not discussed as negative social factors, or even solely as beautiful faces. Rather, the career accomplishments of these women are highlighted. It is, indeed, notable that Cosmopolitan did a series on these women, and suggests that its readers would either be or wish to be theatre attendees, and ones dedicated enough to show interest in leading actresses and their accomplishments. 

 

3. Adler-Rochester-Clothes, "--With Sweatshop Misery Left Out." Cosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, Advertising, 43.

Finally, an advertisement for Adler-Rochester-Clothes alludes to one of the largest professions for women at this time: toiling away in garment-industry sweatshops. In a move similar to modern "Made In The USA" and "green" efforts, Adler-Rochester-Clothes asserts that their clothing is not made in sweatshops by exploited workers. Addressing such a topic--and in an advertisement rather than an article or public statement-- suggests that the reading public was opposed to poor working conditions and cognizant of the fact that they existed. Moreover, the company ties the idea of happy, healthy workers to better clothing, saying that the contrast between dingy sweatshops and the blissful Adler-Rochester factory is "a contrast similar to that which exists between Adler-Rochesters and other clothes" (43). Though the advertisement does not directly reference female factory workers, historical context-- as well as the contrasting image of the finely-dressed woman pictured above-- hint at her presence, and the advertisement's assertion that cleaner, happier shops are better shops indicate coming changes in her workplace. 

The Female Role in Pre-War Advertising

 

Introduction:

Throughout the 19th century, the role of females in society was one that encompassed the image of the household.  The stigma attached to women was one which gave them the burden of not only taking care of the children, but the chores in the home including the cooking and cleaning as well.  It was not until after the turn of the century that the role of women began to transform with the rise of feminism and women’s suffrage.  Although a shift occurred around the time that WWI began, around 1910 the advertising still focused on the stereotypical representation of women.  Through the context and images included in magazine advertising in the early 1900’s, the classic stereotype that women should remain poised and are in control of the household is upheld from the previous century.  This role is challenged through the rise of feminism, but it still exists strongly prior to the war.

 

Body Paragraphs:

History of the role of women at the turn of the century:

-Women were superior to men in one aspect, that of morality and virtue

-Besides that aspect of superiority, they were expected to stay in the home

-Stated in an article published in The American Transcendental Quarterly entitled “Changing ideals of womanhood during the nineteenth-century woman movement” it states that: “prescribed a female role bound by kitchen and nursery, overlaid with piety and purity, and crowned with subservience”

-how the role began to change with the rise of feminism, but still present prior to the war due as seen in the advertisements geared towards women

- the product variety directly related to women and their role

 

Examples in June Cosmopolitan, Vol. 51 No. 1 1920

Polish advertisement

            -Sapolio- cleaning product

            - context related to women

                        - Discussed how effective it is at cleaning: “It never fails to clean”

                        -“Cleans, Scours, Polished—Works Without Waste”

                        -Talks about how it is economical

- contained in a magazine geared towards women, trying to advertise the product directly to them

            -Images related to women

                        -shows two women cleaning the house and using the product

                        - One is admiring how it cleaned the floor and the other is using it on the door

 

Flour advertisement

            -Gold Medal Flour- Washburn Crosby Co.

            -context related to women

                        -saying they’re eventually going to use it so why not begin now?

                        -implies that the women are doing the cooking

            -image related to women

                        - huge bag of flour

                        -attracts attention so able to remember the brand and use in their own homes

  

Good Housekeeping, Vol. 51 No. 2 August 1910

-Johnson’s Kleen Floor Product

-Context of product relating to women

            - in a home magazine, know that women will be looking at it

            - starts off the description of the product with “every woman knows”

            -directs the product at women assuming they will be the ones cleaning the floor

-Image relating to women

            -shows a mom using the product and cleaning the floor

            -her children are standing by showing that she is left at home to take care of them

 

-Baker’s Chocolate product

-Context of product relating to women

            -assumption that they are going to be doing the cooking

            -put a baking advertisement, taking care of the home

-Image relating to women

            -shows the woman using the product

            -one woman preparing it on a plate, the other is caring it to be served

            -also exemplifies how the woman will be serving the chocolate after making it

 

Conclusion

Wrap up ideas from each of the body paragraphs and explain how advertising before the war clung onto the passé stereotype of women from the previous century.