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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

I do not see any inherent deficiency of female organization


Men

and women act upon these views too much, as well in regulating as in establishing a home. They recognize and make liberal allowance for palpable, outspoken wants, yet are unmindful or contemptuous of others equally important, but less on the surface, and less sharply defined. A man who would incur self-reproach and the contempt of his neighbors by allowing his wife to suffer from lack of bread in his house, will not suspect so much as a slight dereliction of duty in allowing her to suffer from lack of beauty there. A woman who is never weary of meeting the demands upon her husband's palate, who will have the joint cooked exactly to his liking, and the dinner prompt to his convenience, would scout the thought of leaving her morning's occupation to give him her company in a two hours' drive. People will devote their lives uncomplainingly to meeting each other's wants, but will neutralize all their efforts and sacrifice happiness hand over hand by neglecting or disregarding each other's tastes. They will spend all their money in thatching the roof, but will do just nothing at all to keep the fire alive on the hearth. There are very few indeed who are not able to do both. Of course if people lavish their whole strength on gross matters, they have none left for the finer; but it is not often that gross matters _need_ the whole strength. A careful observation and just views would be able, as a general thing without detriment, to wrest many an hour from vain, vulgar, useless, or harmful
pursuits, to bestow it upon adornments and amenities that do not perish with the using. And if a man or a woman is so deteriorated as to prefer the indulgence of a coarse or frivolous appetite, or the inordinate indulgence of a merely natural appetite, to the gratification and cultivation of refined and elevated tastes,--the more's the pity!

XIII.

I marvel that men who lay so little stress on the heart, by reason of the great stress they lay upon the intellect, should use their intellects to so little purpose in matters so important, and which come so closely home to their business and bosoms as those we have been discussing. I marvel that, while they see facts so distinctly, they have so little skill to trace out causes. Many instances have been given to show how far more unreasonable, intense, malignant, vulgar, and venomous is the hatred of their country shown and felt by Southern women than that evinced by Southern men. It is very commonly said that they have done more than the men to keep alive the rebellion. The coarseness and impropriety of their behavior have been relatively far greater than that of the men. Has any one ever suggested that the narrowness, the utter insufficiency of their education, the state of almost absolute pupilage bedizened over with a gaudy tinsel of tilt and tournament chivalry in which they have been kept, absolutely incapacitating them for broad views, rational thinking, or even a refined self-possession in emergencies, had anything to do with it? In a newspaper published under the auspices of one of our Sanitary Fairs, a contributor says: "I never saw a nurse from any hospital, but I asked her the question if the ladies there worked without jealousy or unkind feeling toward each other? _and I have not found the first one who could answer 'yes' to that question_.... I know a gentleman (a noble one, too) who urged his daughter _not_ to go to the hospitals, 'because,' said he, 'you will surely get into a muss: it cannot be helped; women cannot be together without it." Is it indeed an arrangement of Divine Providence, that women cannot act together without so much bickering, jealousy, petty domineering, small envies, and venomous quarrels, as to make it undesirable that they should act together at all? Is magnanimity impossible to women? Are they incapable of exercising it towards each other? Or may it not be that their lives have generally so little breadth, they are so universally absorbed in limited interests, their "sphere" has been so rigidly circumscribed to their own families, that when they are set in wider circles, they are like spoiled children? In the troubles that arise in female conventions and combinations, I do not see any inherent deficiency of female organization, but every sign of very serious deficiencies in female education.


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