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Issue #1907      March 16, 2020

Women and the war

War news does not find its way into the women’s columns, but war is just as much women’s affair as men’s nowadays. Bombs are dropping; indiscriminately on men, women, and children in Poland as this is being written.

In Australia we are at present feeling the war in a less terrible way, but at the same time the strain and stress and continual anxiety of world events combined with our own personal anxieties have reached such a pitch that we feel almost any action, any violent emotion, would be more welcome than the anti-climax of simply carrying on.

And this is where women feel it most. Perhaps the household routine has never seemed so pointless and dull as it has done in the last weeks.

Perhaps the children have never seemed so deliberately annoying in the whole of their innocent little lives before.

When we reach such a nervous pitch the time has come to take stock of ourselves and make up our minds in what spirit we can best attack the job in hand.

Our present feelings are, of course, merely an intensification due to outside influences of what has been going on all our lives.

It is only when our discontents reach such a pitch that it is so easy consciously to recognise and so deal with them.

Some do not suffer

There are some married women who do not suffer in this way, and some mothers who never get bad-tempered with the children, who never even feel bad-tempered with them.

They are to be envied as much as admired simply because in marriage and motherhood they have found the job which suits them.

This article is for those who are not so perfectly adjusted; for those who, whether they know it or not, would be much more useful and very much happier if they could supplement their maternal life with something else.

First of all it is necessary to make the point that women should have the right to fulfil themselves in their work.

But nearly all men and most women themselves think there is really something wrong with a woman if she is not happy in her narrow home-life and they blame her for it. “She has a good husband and healthy children. What more does she want?”

Want much more

Some women want much more, and they have a right to much more. For primitive woman mating and maternity and her ordinary tasks were fully satisfying.

But human nature changes and civilised woman is not the same as primitive woman and so the same things do not satisfy her.

In Soviet Russia women can do the work which interests them and at the same time carry on the function of maternity which for many women is an essential part of their development.

Crèches are provided for the babies of working mothers, crèches where the talents of the good-tempered mother women, by scientific training and by not allowing them to be wasted when their own children are grown up, can be used to the full.

At the same time the mother who works at something else has free access to her child and so can lead the all-round fuller life which is here denied her.

She can also give the individual love which is as important for herself as for her child.

Happiest in world

The women of the Soviet Union are the happiest women in the world today. But it is useless to sit back and envy them.

We who have to carry on with the thing which is called life in a capitalist State, must make the best of it because that is one of the ways of helping ourselves and those about us to be strong in the struggle to overthrow that State.

The first thing is to realise that there is a cause for our discontents.

The second thing is to recognise that we must find an intelligent way to satisfy and fulfil ourselves, that we can give to our homes and children the patience and care which every one of us longs to give.

The third thing is to realise that there are often activities outside the home possible to us if only we look for them, and that in such activities some of us may find the fuller life we crave.

This article originally appeared in the Tribune, September 1939

Next article – War is women’s business

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