Friday, 4 September 2015

Should Women Urge Men to Enlist?

From the Ladies' Page, The Illustrated London News, 4th September 1915. 

There is evidently some confusion of thought about the duty of women in regard to urging men to go out to help in the war.  Broadly speaking, one finds that men who are already "doing their bit  " in the field are anxious that women should exercise all the pressure at their command on the men who are stopping at home; while the men who are staying at home are, for their part, even ferocious in their denunciations of women who express an unfavourable view on the subject.  It is a puzzle for us to decide what we ought to do!  Thus, Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd, commanding the London District, says to us: "I charge you women of England to see that we fail not.  On you depends the issue!  You are doing magnificent things, but you can do more; that is, make every man in whom you have an interest come forward."  But on that very same day, a certain Deputy-Coroner in London, investigating the death of a man who was said to have gone out of his mind because women worried him for not going to the war, declared that "the conduct of such women was abominable"; those who try to induce men to enlist he declared to be "a pack of silly women," and "he hoped something would soon be done to put an end to such conduct."  The Deputy-Chairman of the London Sessions, again, dealing with a man who had knocked a woman down and broken her arm because she called him a coward, merely bound the prisoner over, on the ground that "the woman had failed to do a most excellent thing, namely, to mind her own business," and "no doubt the prisoner was annoyed by the women's provoking tongues."  On the other hand, the promoters of the movement to obtain immediate conscription consider it so much a part of women's business that they began their campaign by a meeting of women only at Queen's Hall, London.

National Service, such as France, Germany, and most European countries have installed, at least has this advantage, that it leaves no room for these painful alternate appeals to and abusive tirades about women's action in relation to the war service of men.  It is monstrously cruel to expect individual women to urge the enlistment of the men who belong to them: their very own sons, husbands, or sweethearts.  On the other hand, it is absurdly false to say that it is no business of ours whether an adequate number of men are nobly willing to volunteer to give their strength and risk their lives to defend our country and our homes, and to secure our personal safety from outrage, and our children from injury and death.....

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