Monday, September 9, 2013

“The Man-Hating Feminist” by Sophie Irene Loeb - 1926


The article’s author: Sophie Irene Loeb (July 4, 1876, Rivne, Volhynia, Russia (now Ukraine) – January 18, 1929; born Sophie Irene Simon) was a US journalist and social-welfare advocate. She was a school teacher in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, at the East End Public School before she married Ansel F. Loeb, in 1896. She was the president of the Board of Child Welfare of New York for seven years, and in 1921 she established the first child welfare building. In 1924, she became president of the Child Welfare Committee of America. [Wikipedia]

The year this article was published, 1926, was a year after the man I call the first Men’s Rights Activist in the USA, Samuel Reid, began his nearly four-year long protest and a year before the organization I consider to be the first formal Men’s Rights organization in the US, the American Alimony Payer’s Protective Association, was established.

The terms “New Woman” and “New Era” were common terms used in the 1920s to describe feminist conceptualizations of women’s status.

Some readers might find the following 87-year old story to a an uncannily familiar ring to it – even though there has been such great social change and progress (so we are told) since 1926!

***

FULL TEXT: Once upon a time there was a young woman. She lived in the New Era. That is to say, she was permeated with propaganda, which she not only preached but practiced.

She talked about the “economic independence of women,” “the slavery of womankind,” man’s long mastery over woman,” etc., etc. in a word, she looked with little favor on her father’s sex.

So long had she absorbed the New Era doctrines that she could not think of anything else. Her chief aversion was man. Each and every one was a brute in her eyes – a being who “lorded” it over woman, and altogether a creature to be subdued, to be made to realize that woman could have none of him if she so desired.

All of these notions she took to heart early. At school and directly after leaving there she began to carry them out. That is, she secured a position as a school teacher and earned her own living.

Now, as it happened, this girl was a very attractive one. She was pretty of face. So many a worth-while youth came to court and Cupid was “on the jib.” But she would have none of it.

She would let them call for a little while and be “friends,” but the moment there was any sign of sentiment it was all off. She would laugh at the youth and send him off, feelingly keenly what a fool he had been. After a while he would turn his attentions elsewhere.

She would let them call for a little while and be “friends,” but the moment there was any sign of sentiment it was all off. She would laugh at the youth and send him off, feeling keenly what a fool he had been. After a while he would turn his attentions elsewhere.

The view would gather her girl friends about her (other followers of the cult) and gleefully tell them how silly she had made him appear and how she had completely disarmed him and his ardor.

Thus it went along for several years, and the girl continued to be the strong propagandist with ultra-strong feminism as the glowing banner to live up to. She gave up her public position and, with two of her “devotees,” went into private business. They opened a general store in a small town, where they sold everything.

The girl became the dominant spirit, the leader of the concern. She it was who did all the bullying, who met the men, and, woe unto them! She put them on the everlasting defensive, approached them with a beat-me-if-you-dare attitude.

Then the partners would get together and the lady leader would relate her experience – how he had not been able to “put it over” on her, and what a splendid bargain she had made.

More and more this woman hugged the belief close to her breast that man was her enemy, to battle against continually. Each was “out to get the best of her,” she thought. Further, that the woman who married one of the creatures was continuously his debtor.

Therefore, the thing to her was never to be indebted to him in any way. To get enough money so as never to need man was the thing.

Now this might have all been very well, but coupled with it was the slow but sure shutting him out entirely as well as all sentiment, all romance, all love.

Money was the monitor of all this woman surveyed. She labored for years and got her goal-money. Now she had leisure, and being “independent” she could choose to love whomever she pleased.

She would look about. She would find a mate for the remaining years and marry him instead of his marrying her. she would be boss, for hadn’t she done the earning? Didn’t she deserve it?

But, alas! The woman was no longer attractive. Her hair was gray and there were wrinkles in her face. Though her energy was still strong, she had grown hard and cynical, and Cupid could not come near, he was that unhappy around her.

Many a time she watched the youths that were, each with a happy wife and delightful children.

Many a time she looked at a happy wife and mother and thus saw herself ride by – as she might have been.

True, in her search for a mate she found one or two, but her illusions having she fled she realized that they wanted only their money.

Now she was very lonely. She had shut love out for she had always found only fault with those who might have been lovers. She found that after all she had not been able to reform the world and man had not even herself. For she was only human and needed the human element of love that goes with it.

At last she understood she had missed, even though that something was imperfect. She died leaving her wealth to heirs who had dubbed her “the New Era manhater.”

Moral:

Love, no matter how imperfect, is needed by the best of regulated feminists.

[Sophie Irene Loeb, “The Man-Hating Feminist,” Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Aug 12, 1926, p. 20]

***

No comments:

Post a Comment