Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/694

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One fault, however, of modern industrialism is that girls rush hastily, blindly, and sometimes unnecessarily into self-supporting pursuits for which they are unfitted, and to the neglect of a legion of home duties. The desire for pin money, for more to spend on dress than clerks or mechanics can afford their daughters, sweeps into the ranks of competition a whole army of frivolous workers too young to understand the responsibility of the industrial career, untrained for it, and determined to end it by marrying the first bona-fide suitor. Such young women, half maintained at home, fond of excitement and of the crowd that congregates in shops and factories, thinking chiefly of self, unidentified with the interests of persisting labor, enter the economic market not on a fair business basis, but accepting any pittance that will supply pocket money and gratify their natural and in some respects commendable desire to make a good appearance. Then, having cut down pay below the life line for the self-supporting toiler, these transients join in condemning merchant and manufacturer for offering no more than starvation wages. Better economic conditions for women will not come until they enter the field less hastily and on strictly business terms; until they are trained enough, stable and responsible enough to deserve these ameliorations, and capable of the concerted and unselfish action required to win them.

Again, the true, the ultimate aim of education is not to prepare for mere self-seeking skill and the acquisition of wealth or social pre-eminence, but for life and a choice between difficult distinctions of right and wrong. The highest life consists in constant development of new aptitudes for usefulness and new faculties for enjoyment; and of this intellectual and moral life woman is the creator and the guardian. Its stage, if she be but a mortal, its altar, if she be a divinity, is the home.

The noblest use for the industrial arts and domestic sciences is to raise our daily living to loftier hygienic and ethical standards. Whether or not outside vocations offer for the sex, or a career independent of marriage be chosen, the true apostle of culture and promoter of industrial skill will strive to lift the popular ideas of sanitation, nursing, food preparation, ornament, beauty, education, and physical development. The "new woman" threatens to turn her back on the home which the primitive woman evolved. But, in reality, all paths revert to it, wherever the rationale of progress may lead her—whether to become sociologist, teacher, artist, writer, practical worker, reformer, or even voter. Only in the restful, well-ordered home does "earth reach its earthly best."