The Unadjusted Girl

Chapter 3: The Individualization of Behavior

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FROM the foregoing it appears that the face-to-face group (family-community) is a powerful habit-forming mechanism. The group has to provide a system of behavior for many persons at once, a code which applies to everybody and lasts longer than any individual or generation. Consequently the group has two interests in the individual, -- to suppress wishes and activities which are in conflict with the existing organization, or which seem the starting point of social disharmony, and to encourage wishes and actions which are required by the existing social system. And if the group performs this task successfully, as it does among savages, among Mohammedans, and as it did until recently among European peasants, no appreciable change in the moral code or in the state of culture is observable from generation to generation. In small and isolated communities there is little tendency to change or progress because the new experience of the individual is sacrificed for the sake of the serenity of the group.

But. by a process. an evolution, connected with mechanical inventions, facilitated communication,- the diffusion of print, the growth of cities, business organization, the capitalistic system, specialized occupations, scientific research, doctrines of freedom, the evolutionary view of life, etc., the family and com-

(71) -munity influences have been weakened and the world in general has been profoundly changed in content, ideals, and organization.

Young people leave home for larger opportunities, to seek new experience, and from necessity. Detachment from family and community, wandering, travel, "vagabondage" have assumed the character of normality. Relationships are casualized and specializied. Men meet professionally, as promoters of enterprises, not as members of families, communities, churches. Girls leave home to work in factories, stores, offices, and studios. Even when families are not separated they leave home for their work.

Every new invention, every chance acquaintanceship, every new environment, has the possibility of redefining the situation and of introducing change, disorganization or different type of organization into the life of the individual or even of the whole world. Thus, the invention of the check led to forgery; the sulphur match to arson; at present the automobile is perhaps connected with more seductions than happen otherwise in cities altogether; an assassination precipitated the World War; motion pictures and the Saturday Evening Post have stabilized and unstabilized many existences, considered merely as opportunity for new types of career. The costly and luxurious articles of women's wear organize the lives of many girls (as designers, artists, and buyers) and disorganize the lives of many who crave these pretty things.

In the small and spatially isolated communities of the past, where the influences were strong and steady, "the members became more or less habituated to and reconciled with a life of repressed wishes. The repression was demanded of all, the arrangement was

(72) equitable, and while certain new experiences were prohibited, and pleasure not countenanced as an end in itself, there remained satisfactions, not the least of which was the suppression of the wishes of others. On the other hand the modern world presents itself as a spectacle in which the observer is never sufficiently participating. The modern revolt and unrest are due to the contrast between the paucity of fulfillment of the wishes of the individual and the fullness, or apparent fullness, of life around him. All age levels have been affected by the feeling that much, too much, is being missed in life. This unrest is felt most by those who have heretofore been most excluded from general participation in life, -the mature woman and the young girl. Sometimes it expresses itself in despair and depression, sometimes in breaking all bounds. Immigrants form a particular class in this respect. They sometimes repudiate the old system completely in their haste to get into the new. There are cases where the behavior of immigrants, expressing natural but random and unregulated impulses, has been called insane by our courts.

Case No. 37 represents despair, case No. 38 revolt, Nos. 39 and 40 extraordinarily wild behavior.

37. There is a saying about the peacock, "When she looks at her feathers she laughs, and when she looks at her feet she cries." I am in the same situation.

My husband's career, upon which I spent the best years of my life, is established favorably; our children are a joy to me as a mother; nor can I complain about our material circumstances. But I am dissatisfied with myself. My love for my children, be it ever so great, cannot destroy myself. A human being is not created like a bee which dies after accomplishing its only task.


Desires, long latent, have been aroused in me and become more aggressive the more obstacles they encounter. . . . I now have the desire to go about and see and hear everything. I wish to take part in everything -to dance, skate, play the piano, sing, go to the theatre, opera, lectures and generally mingle in society. As you see, I am no idler whose purpose is to chase all sorts of foolish things, as a result of loose ways. This is not the case.

My present unrest is a natural result following a long period of hunger and thirst for non-satisfied desires in every field of human experience. It is the dread of losing that which never can be recovered - youth and time which do not stand still -an impulse to catch up with the things I have missed. . . . If it were not for my maternal feeling I would go away into the wide world.[1]

38. I had been looking for Margaret, for I knew she was a striking instance of the "unadjusted" who had within a year come with a kind of aesthetic logic to Greenwich Village. She needed something very badly. What I heard about her which excited me was that she was twenty years old, unmarried, had never lived with a man or had any of that experience, had worked for a year on a socialist newspaper, and a socialist magazine, was a heavy drinker and a frequenter of Hell Hole, that she came from a middle class family but preferred the society of the outcasts to any other. Greenwich Village is not composed of outcasts, but it does not reject them, and it enables a man or woman who desires to know the outcast to satisfy the desire without feeling cut .Off from humanity. Hell Hole is a saloon in the back room of which pickpockets, grafters, philosophers, poets, revolutionists, stool-pigeons, and the riff-raff of humanity meet. Margaret loves this place and the people in it -- so they told me -- and there she did and said extreme things in which there was a bitter fling at decent society.

So that night, when she came with Christine, I invited


her to go with me to Hell Hole to have a drink. She drank whiskey after whiskey and showed no effect. As soon as we were seated in the back room alone she started to tell me about herself. I forget what unessential thing I said to get her started. She knew by instinct what I desired and she told me her story with utter frankness, and with a simple, unaggressive self-respect.

"I belong to what is called a respectable, middle-class family. My father is a prominent newspaper man. Whenever I was ill, as a child, he gave me whiskey instead of medicine. This began at the age of four. One of my childish amusements was to mix cordials and water to entertain my little friends with. We lived in the city, and I had from four years of age the run of the streets. At six or eight I knew everything - about sex, about hard street life. I knew it wrong, of course, for I saw it but did not feel it. I felt wrong about it all, and feared it, wasn't a part of it, except as an observer. I saw no beauty or friendliness in sex feeling. I think it was this that kept me away later from physical intimacy with men; it couldn't appeal to me after my early life in the street. I know it doesn't always happen so, but it did with me.

"When I got to be thirteen years old my father reversed his attitude towards me; before then, all freedom; after that, all restraint. I was completely shut in. Soon after that I became religious and joined the church. I had a long pious correspondence with another girl and used to brood all the time about God and about my transcendental duties. This lasted till I was sixteen, and then life, ordinary external life, came back with a rush and I couldn't stand my exclusive inner world and the outward restraint any longer. and I wanted to go away from home. So I worked hard in the High School arid got a $300 scholarship in Latin and Greek. With this I went to a Western College and staid there two years, working my own way and paying my expenses. I read a lot at this time, and liked revolutionary literature; read socialism, and poetry that was full of re-


-volt. I took to anything which expressed a reaction against the conditions of my life at home.

" I stood well in my studies, and suppose I might have completed the college course, except that I got into trouble with the authorities, for very slight reasons, as it seems to me. I smoked cigarettes,, a habit I had formed as a child, and that of course was forbidden. It was also forbidden to enter the neighboring cemetery, I don't know why. One day I smoked a cigarette in the graveyard - a double offense - and then, in the playfulness of my spirit, I wrote a poem about it and published it in the college paper. In this paper I had already satirized the Y. W. C. A. A few other acts of that nature made me an undesirable member of the college and my connection with it ceased.

"After an unhappy time at home - my father and I could not get on together; ever since my early childhood he had been trying to 'reform' me - I got a job on the socialist Call, a New York daily newspaper, at $-- a week. It was hard work all day, but I liked it and I didn't drink I didn't want to - and lived on the money without borrowing. Later I went on the Masses, and there I was well off. [Then I went to Washington to picket for the suffragists and got a jail sentence, and when I returned the Masses had been suspended.] It was at that time that I began to go with the Hudson Dusters [a gang of criminals] and to drink heavily. Greenwich Village seemed to think it was too good for me, or I too bad for it. Most of the women were afraid to associate with me. Only the Hudson Dusters, or people like them, seemed really human to me. I went, in a kind of despair, to the water-front, and staid three days and nights in the back room of a low saloon, where there were several old prostitutes. And I liked them. They seemed human, more so than other people. And *in this place were working men. One man, with a wife and children, noticed I was going there and didn't seem to belong to them, and he asked me to go home with him and live with his family; and he Meant it, and meant it decently.


"I want to know the down and outs," said Margaret with quiet, almost fanatical intenseness. "I find kindness in the lowest places, and more than kindness sometimes something, I don't know what it is, that I want."[2]

39. There came a day when my wife heard that there was an Atlantic City not far from Philadelphia. So I granted her wish and rented a nice room for her in a hotel there and sent her with the two children to that seashore. . . .

The next summer I did not make out so well and could not afford to send my wife to the country, but she absolutely demanded to be sent even if I had to "hang and bring." . . . My protestations and explanations were of no avail. She went to Atlantic City and hired a room in the same hotel. . . .

I took my wife's behavior to heart and became ill. Some of my friends advised me to teach her a lesson and desert her, so that she would mend her ways in the future. They assured me that they would take care of my family, to keep them from starving. I was persuaded by them and left Philadelphia for a distant town.

My wife in Atlantic City, seeing that I sent her no money, returned home. Upon learning what had happened, she promptly sold the furniture, which had cost $800, for almost nothing and went to New York. My friends notified me of all that had occurred in my absence, whereupon I came back.

I advertised in the papers and found my wife. My first question was about the children and she replied she did not know where they were. Upon further questioning she answered that she had brought the children with her from Philadelphia but as she could do nothing with them in her way she simply left them in the street.

After great efforts made through my lawyer, I succeeded in obtaining the release of my children from the Gerry Society, after paying for their two months' keep there. . . .

Since this unhappy occurrence, my wife has many times wrecked our home, selling the household goods while I was


at work and leaving me alone with the children. Whenever she feels like satisfying her cravings, or whenever she cannot afford to buy herself enough pretty clothes and hats, she deserts me. One time she was gone 9 months and never saw the children during this period. . . .

I tried to make up with her every time and give her another chance. But her cordiality lasted only until she again took a craving for some rag, when she would again leave home. She was even mean enough once to leave me with a five months' old baby who needed nursing and the only way out seemed to be the river for me and the baby. . . .

I assure you that everything I have written is the truth. If you do not believe me, you may convince yourself at the Desertion Bureau where my case has been recorded several times.[3]

40. She was one of the thousands of girls who are drawn to the great city from small towns. She perished because of her thirst for adventure. . . . While stopping at the Hotel Buckingham she went out one evening and never returned. A chauffeur told the police that he met the girl on the evening of her death and that she had been on a tour of the cafés and cabarets with him and that at 9. o'clock in the morning Miss Dixon became ill. She was taken to the Harlem Hospital, where her case was diagnosed as morphine poisoning. . . .

She came of a fine Virginia family and was educated at a fashionable boarding school. Four years ago she was married to a Yale graduate. (A friend] who had known her all her life said, " She had just gone mad with love of pleasure, though at heart she was a thoroughbred and exceedingly fine. She decided to make her own living and took a small part in a couple of shows. The discipline and routine were too much for her and she gave it up and went back to [her husband] from time to time. But always the lure of New York seemed to hold her in a spell."[4]


The world has become large, alluring, and confusing. Social evolution has been so rapid that no agency has been developed in the larger community of the state for regulating behavior which would replace the failing influence of the community and correspond completely with present activities. There is no universally accepted body of doctrines or practices. The churchman, for example, and the scientist, educator, or radical leader are so far apart that they cannot talk together. They are, as the Greeks expressed it, in different "universes of discourse."

41. Dr. Austin O'Malley writes rather passionately about the control of births, in the Catholic weekly, "America." Says Dr. O'Malley: "The most helpless idiot is as far above a non-existent child as St. Bridget is above a committee on birth control." Let us pause over the idiot and the nonexistent child. Must we say that all potential children should be born? Are we to take a firm stand against celibacy, which denies to so many possible children the right to be baptized? And will Dr. O'Malley tell us which is the greater virtue, to bear children that they may be baptized, or to have no children for the glory of one's own soul? This solicitude over the non-existent child has certain drawbacks'. How large a family, in fact, does Dr. O'Malley desire a woman to bear? May she stop after the fourteenth infant, or must she say to herself: "There are still non-existent children, some of them helpless idiots; perhaps I will bear them that they may be baptized."[5]

Or, if we should submit any series of behavior problems to a set of men selected as most competent to give an opinion we should find no such unanimity as prevailed in a village community. One set of opinions would be rigoristic and hold that conformity with

(79) the existing code is advisable under all circumstances; another pragmatic, holding that the code may sometimes be violated. For example, in 1919, the United States Interdepartmental Social Hygiene Board authorized the Psychological Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University to make an investigation of the "informational and educative effect upon the public of certain motion-picture films", and in this connection a questionnaire was sent to "medical men and women who have had most to do with problems in sex education and the actual treatment of venereal infections." From the manuscript of this investigation I give below some of the replies received to question 13.

42. Question 13. Do you consider that absolute continence is always to be insisted upon ? Or may it be taught that under 'certain conditions intercourse in the unmarried is harmless or beneficial?

Dr. A. I know of no harm from absolute continence. Intercourse in the unmarried cannot be justified on any grounds of health or morals.

Dr. B. No. For some absolute continence would be easy, for others, impossible. It is an individual problem to be decided by the individual, with or without advice.

Under certain conditions in the unmarried, male or female, intercourse is harmless or beneficial; under other conditions it is harmful and injurious (irrespective of venereal disease).

Dr. C. I think it is harmless and beneficial. But our standards are against it. And who could possibly conscientiously teach such a thing, no matter what he thought ?

Dr. D. Certainly not. It is probably well to teach young People that continence before marriage is in general very desirable, as contrasted with the results of incontinence.

Dr. E. It is best to teach conformity to custom.


Dr. F. Absolute continence should always be insisted upon.

Dr. G. I know of no condition where one is justified in advising the unmarried that intercourse is harmless or beneficial.

Dr. H. Absolute continence.

Dr. I. No. [Continence is not always to be insisted upon.]

Dr. J. The first should not be insisted on any more than the latter should be recommended. . . .

Dr. K. The latter may be taught.

Dr. L. Not convinced either way.

Dr. M. Absolute continence should be preached as a doctrine to the unmarried, and let the individual adjust himself to this stern law according to his lights.[6]

Fifty-one replies were received to this question. Twenty-four were, in substance, "not permissible"; fifteen, "permissible".; four, "in doubt"; eight were indefinite, as, foe example: "Adults will probably decide this for themselves."

As another example of general defining agency, the legal system of the state does not pretend to be more than a partial set of negative definitions. Am English jurist has thus described the scope of the law: " If A is drowning and if B is present, and if B by reaching out his hand can save A, and if B does not do this, and if A drowns, then B has committed no offense." All that the law requires of B is that he shall not push A into the water. The law is not only far from being a system capable of regulating the total life of men, but it does not even regulate the activities it is designed to regulate.


43. A misdemeanor may be much more heinous than a felony. The adulterator of drugs or the employer of child labor may well be regarded as vastly more reprehensible than the tramp who steals part of the family wash. So far as that goes there is an alarming multitude of acts and omissions not forbidden by statute or classified as crimes which are to all intents . . . fully as criminal as those designated as such by law . . . . For example, to push a blind man over the edge of the cliff so that he is killed . . . is murder, but to permit him to walk over it is no crime at all. It is a crime to defame the character of a woman if you write on a slip of paper, but no crime at all in the state of New York if you rise in a crowded hall and ruin her forever by word of mouth. It is a crime to steal a banana off a fruit stand, but no crime at all to borrow ten thousand dollars from a man whose entire fortune it is, although you have no expectation of returning it. . . . It is a crime to ruin a girl of 17 years and 11 months, but not to ruin a girl of 18. . . . Lying is not a crime, but lying under oath is a crime, provided it relates to a material matter, and what is a material matter jurists do not agree on. . . . Many criminals, even guilty of homicide, are as white as snow in comparison with others who have never transgressed the literal wording of the penal statute. "We used to have so and so for our lawyer," remarked the president of a street-railway corporation. "He was always telling us what we couldn't do. Now we have Blank and pay him $100,000 a year to tell us how we can do the same things."[7]

The definition of the situation is equivalent to the determination of the vague. In the Russian mir and the American rural community of fifty years ago nothing was left vague, all was defined. But in the general world movement to which I have referred, connected with free communication in space and free

(82) communication of thought, not only particular situations but the most general situations have become vague. Some situations were once defined and have become vague again; some have arisen and have never been defined. Whether this country shall participate in world politics, whether America is a refuge for the oppressed of other nationalities, whether the English should occupy India or the Belgians Africa, whether there shall be Sunday amusements, whether the history of the world is the unfolding of the will of God, whether men may drink wine, whether evolution may be taught in schools, whether marriage is indissoluble, whether sex life outside of marriage is permissible, whether children should be taught the facts of sex whether the number of children born may be voluntarily limited, -these questions have become vague. There are rival definitions of the situation, and none of them is binding.

In addition to the vagueness about these general questions there is an indeterminateness about particular acts and individual life-policies. It appears that the behavior of the young girl is influenced partly by the traditional code, partly by undesigned definitions of the situation derived from those incidents in the passing show of the greater world which suggest to her pleasure and recognition. If any standard prevails or characterizes a distinguished social set this is in itself a definition of the situation. Thus in a city the shop windows, the costumes worn on the streets, the newspaper advertisements of ladies' wear, the news items concerning objects of luxury define a proper girl as one neatly, fashionably, beautifully, and expensively gowned, and the behavior of the girl is an adaptation to this standard.


44. Supreme Court Justice Tierney remarked in the course of a trial between two women over the purchase of silk lingerie and paradise feathers yesterday, "The workings of the feminine mind are beyond me." . .

The articles which Mrs. Small admits buying and the prices asked by Mme. Nicole are as follows:

Six suits of silk underwear, $780; six suits linen underwear, $780; six pairs silk stockings, $180; paradise feathers for fan, $1,480; handle for fan, $720.[8]

45. . . My sweetheart remarked that she would like to have a great deal of money. When I asked her what she would do with it, she replied that she would buy herself a lot of beautiful dresses. When I said that it was all right to have them but it ought to be all right without them too, she protested that she loved fine clothes and this to such extent, that ---

Here she made a remark which I am ashamed to let pass my lips. I would sooner have welcomed an open grave than to have heard those words. She said that she would sell her body for a time in order to procure nice clothes for herself.

And since that day I go around like a mad person. I neither eat nor sleep. In short, I am no more a man.

She afterward excused herself, claiming that it was said in a joke, and that as long as one talks without actually doing it there is no harm in it. But this is not reassuring to me. I have a premonition that she would go further than mere talk after marriage, for if she carries such notions in her head now, what might happen after we are married.[9]

Intermediate between the home and work (or the -school) there are certain organized influences for giving pleasure and information - the motion picture, the newspaper, the light periodical - which define the situation in equivocal terms. They enter the home and are dependent upon its approval, and are there-

(84) -fore obliged to present life in episodes which depict the triumph of virtue. But if they limited themselves to this they would be dull. The spectacle therefore contains a large and alluring element of sin over which virtue eventually triumphs. The moral element is preserved nominally but the real interest and substance is something else.

46. A young girl may be taught at home and church that chastity is a virtue, but the newspapers and the movies feature women in trouble along this line, now painting them as heroines, now sobbing over their mystery and pathos. Apparently they get all the attention and attention is the life blood of youth. The funny papers ridicule marriage, old maids and bashful men. The movies, magazines, street conversation and contemporary life are filled with the description of lapses that somehow turn out safely and even luxuriously. If the modern young girl practises virtue she may not believe in it. The preliminaries to wrong-doing are apparently the accepted manners of the time. When the girl herself lapses it is frequently because of lack of a uniform, authoritative definition of the social code.[10]

Among well-to-do girls a new type has been differentiated, characterized by youth, seeming innocence, sexual sophistication and a relatively complete depudorization.

47. The modern age of girls and young men is intensely immoral, and immoral seemingly without the pressure of circumstances. At whose door we may lay the fault, we cannot tell. Is it the result of what we call "the emancipation of woman", with its concomitant freedom from chaperonage, increased intimacy between the sexes in adolescence, and a more tolerant viewpoint toward all things


unclean in life? This seems the only logical forbear of the present state. And are the girls causing it now, or the men? Each sex will lay the blame on the heads, or passions, of the other, and perhaps both sexes are equally at fault.

Whosesoever the fault may be (and that is not such an important question, since both sexes are equally immoral), the whole character of social relations among younger people is lamentable. The modern dances are disgusting - the "toddle" and its variations and vibrations, the "shimmy" and its brazen pandering to the animal senses, and the worst offspring of jazz, the "camel-walk." There is but one idea predominant in these dances - one that we will leave unnamed.

It is not only in dancing that this immorality appears. The modern social bud drinks, not too much often, but enough; smokes considerably, swears unguardedly, and tells "dirty" stories. All in all, she is a most frivolous, passionate, sensation-seeking little thing.[11]

48. "Flappers" usually are girls who believe personality is physical, who consider all advice as abstract, who love continual change, who converse in generalities and who are in many higher institutions of learning.

To present a picture of the normal girl as she exists today is a daring venture. She has no average, she has no group tie. She is a stranger to herself - sometimes especially to members of her own family - and cannot be compared with her kind of a previous age.

We are tempted to think of her as living in a spirit of masquerade, so rapidly and completely can she assume different and difficult roles of accomplishment.

She tantalizes us by the simpleness of her artfulness and Yet unrealness. We End her light-hearted, which is the privilege of youth. She believes with Stevenson that to have missed the joy is to have missed it all. We find her harbaring secrets and imbedded emotions which are her hidden


treasure in the mysterious discovery of herself as a private individual. If we do not understand these symptoms we call it temperament and try to dispose of the girl as difficult or as needing discipline.[12]

Formerly the fortunes of the individual were bound up with those of his family and to some degree with those of the community. He had his security, recognition, response, and new experience in the main as group member. He could not rise or fall greatly above or below the group level. Even the drunkard and the "black sheep" had respect in proportion to the standing of his family. And correspondingly, if a family member lost his "honor", the standing of the whole family was lowered.

Individualism, on the other hand, means the personal schematization of life,-making one's own definitions of the situation and determining one's own behavior norms. Actually there never has been and never will be anything like complete individualization, because no one lives or can live without regard to a public. Anything else would be insanity. But in their occupational pursuits men have already a degree of individualization, decide things alone and in their own way. They take risks, schematize their enterprises, succeed or fail, rise higher and fall lower. A large element of individualism has entered into the marriage relation also. Married women are now entering the occupations freely and from choice, and carrying on amateur interests which formerly were not thought of as going with marriage. And this is evidently a good thing, and stabilizes marriage. Marriage alone is not a life, particularly since the decline

(87) of the community type of organization. The cry of despair in document No. 37 is from a woman who limited her life to marriage, probably by her own choice, and is now apparently too old to have other interests. But on the other hand document No. 49 is a definition of marriage as exclusively a device for the realization of personal wishes and the avoidance of responsibility. This may be compared with No. 71 (p. 122) where a girl organizes her life similarly without marriage.

49. Girls, get married! Even if your marriage turns out badly, you are better off than if you had stayed single. I know half a dozen women whose first marriages were failures. They got rid of their first husbands easily and have made much better marriages than they could have made if they had stayed single. Their new husbands idolize them. One -of my women acquaintances who has been married four times is the most petted wife I know.

My own marriage has turned out well. Everything seemed against it. I was well known in my profession, and when I married I was making as much money as my husband. We were of different religions. He drank.

But he had one big quality. He was generous. Since our marriage he has refused to let me work. Girls, be sure the man you pick is generous. Look out for a tightwad. If a man is liberal with his money he is sure to be easy to get along with. Liberal men in money matters do not annoy their wives in the other concerns of life. . . .

But even if my marriage had turned out badly, I would have. been better off than if I bad neglected the opportunity to become married. I met new friends through my busband. If I had divorced him at any time, I know many of his men friends would have courted me. There is something about the magic letters "Mrs." that gives a woman an added attraction in the eyes of men. There is a middle-aged widow


in our apartment house that has more men taking her to theatres and dances than all the flappers and unmarried young women. . . .

I often wonder what men get married for. They take heavy financial responsibilities. They mortgage their free time to one woman. What a wife's clothes cost them would enable them to enjoy expensive amusements, extensive travel and better surroundings generally. Then, too, a bachelor, no matter what his age or social position, gets more attention socially than a married man. Children, too, give less pleasure and service to a father than a mother.

But for women, marriage is undoubtedly a success. It raises their position in the community. In most cases, it releases them from the danger of daily necessary work and responsibility. It brings them more attention from other men. Even when incompatibility intervenes, alimony provides separate support without work. In such cases, it also provides a more strategic position for a new and better marriage.[13]

In the same connection, the following cases show the growing tendency toward individualized definitions of sexual relations outside of marriage. In case No. 50 an immigrant girl explicitly organizes her life on the basis of prostitution instead of work. In No. 51 the girls commercialize a series of betrothals. In No. 59. the girl has worked out her own philosophy of love and calls herself a missionary prostitute.

50. [When I left Europe] my little sister's last words were, "Here, in hell, I will dream through the nights that far, far, across the ocean, my loving brother lives happily." And my last words were, "I shall forget my right hand if I ever forget you."

I suffered not a little in the golden land. . . . Five years passed. I loyally served the God of gold, saved some money


and sent for my sister. For three years I believed myself the happiest of men. . . . My sister bloomed like a rose in May and she was kind and motherly to me. We were tied by a bond of the highest love and on my part that love had until now remained the same. But listen what a terrible thing occurred.

About a year ago I noticed a marked change in my sister both physically and spiritually. She grew pale, her eyes lost their fire and her attitude toward me changed also. She began to neglect her work (I taught her a good trade), until half a year ago she entirely gave up the work. This angered me very much and I began to shadow her in order to discover the mystery in her life, for she had recently avoided talking to me, particularly of her life. I concluded that she kept company with a boy and that caused her trouble.

But I soon noticed that she was wearing such expensive things that a boy could not afford to buy them. She had a couple of diamond rings and plenty of other jewelry. I -investigated until I discovered, oh, horrible! that my sister was a prostitute. . . .

You can understand that I want to drag her out of the mire, but . . . she tells me that I do not understand life. She cannot conceive why it should be considered indecent to sell one's body in this manner. When I point out to her the end that awaits her she says in the first place it is not more harmful than working by steam for twelve to fourteen hours; in the second place, even if it were so, she enjoys life more. One must take as much as possible out of life. When I call her attention to the horrible degradation she replies that in the shop, too, we are humiliated by the foreman, and so on. . . .

I know that if I could convince her that I am right, she Would be willing to emerge from the swamp, but I am unfortunately too inadequate in words, she being a good speaker, and I am usually defeated.[14]


51. I read in the " Bintel " the letter of a young man who complained that his fiancée extorted presents from him and that when, as a result of unemployment, he was unable to buy her everything she demanded, she began to make trouble for him - that she was evidently playing to have him desert her and leave her the property she had extorted.

Well, I am a woman myself, and can bear testimony that there are unfortunately such corrupted characters among my sex, who rob young men in this disgraceful manner. With these girls it is a business to "trim" innocent and sincere young men and then leave them. To them it is both business and pleasure. It gives them great joy to catch a victim in their outspread net and press as much of his hardearned money out of him as possible.

I know a girl who . . . extracted from her naive victim everything she laid her eyes on. When he stopped buying her so many things she began to treat him so shamefully that the poor boy was compelled to run away to another town, leaving all his gifts with the girl. The poor fellow was not aware that his so-called fiancée merely tricked hi -in into buying her all kinds of jewelry and finery. He was afraid she would sue him for breach of promise and this fear caused him to leave town.

And don't think for a moment that that girl is ashamed of her deed. Not at all. She even boasts of her cleverness in turning the heads of young men and their pockets inside out. She expects to be admired for that. . . .

I attempted to explain to her that she is a common swindler and thief, but she replied that not only is it not wrong but a philanthropical act. Her argument was that there are many men who betray innocent girls and it is therefore no more than right that girls should betray men also.[15]

59. [After the marriage of a brilliant man who had flirted with her but never mentioned marriage] she went on the stage, and was immoral in an unhappy sort of way. She


met a young artist whose struggles for success aroused her pity and motherly instinct. With the memory of her faithless lover uppermost she plunged into a passionate realization of sex, more to drown her feelings than anything else. She roused the best in this boy, made a man of him, and steadied him. With her sexual tempests there came an after-calm when she forbade any familiarity. This was not studied but an instinct. She hated men, yet they fascinated her, and she them.

She studied stenography and worked as private secretary in a theatrical company. She tried to face life with work as her only outlet, but the restlessness of her grief made her crave excitement. She made friends easily, but her sexual appeal made it difficult for her to fit into a commonplace social atmosphere. She married the artist to the girl he loved, after a terrible struggle to make him realize it was not herself he loved. Later he came and thanked her. "The quiet women make the best wives," he said, "but my wife would not have loved me if you had not made me into a man. She cannot, however, give me what I get from you. I wish I could come to you once in a while?"

She said yes, and he came. That was five years ago and that is why she calls herself a prostitute. Her women friends have no idea she is not the quiet, dignified woman she appears to be, and men, many of them married men, want her for their own. She has no use for the man about town; only the man with brains or talent fascinates her at all. She says, "I suppose every one would think me a sinner; I am. I deliberately let a married man stay with me for a time. It is an art. I have learned to know their troubles. They tell me they are unhappy with their wives, wish to go away. are. desperate with the monotony of existMee. It is generally that they are not sexually mated, or the wife has no sex attraction. Of course she loves him, and he her. I give them what they need. It is weary for the brain to understand men, it is harder on me mentally than physically. I control them only because I have self-


restraint. I send them away soon. They are furious; they storm and rage and threaten they will go to some other woman. What do I care? They know it and I send them back to their wives. They will go to her; they would not go to any other woman. That is where I do good. This sex business is a strange thing. I am a missionary prostitute. I only do this once in a while, when I think a man needs me and he is one who will come under my influence. I know I have managed to avert the downfall of several households. If the wives knew? Never mind; they don't. I am not coarse; I can be a comrade to a man and doubt if I harm him. I make him sin in the general acceptance of the term, the common interpretation of God's commandments. How do we know God did n't mean us to use all the powers he gave us? [16]

In the two cases following, adjustment to life is highly individualized but moral and social. The one is a response adjustment, recognizing freedom for new experience, particularly for creative work, and in the other marriage is based on the inherent values of the relationship, and on nothing else.

53. Being firmly of the opinion that nine out of ten of the alliances I saw about me were merely sordid endurance tests, overgrown with a fungus of familiarity and contempt, convinced that too often the most sacred relationship wears off like a piece of high sheen satin damask, and in a few months becomes a breakfast cloth, stale with soft-boiled egg stains, I made certain resolutions concerning what my marriage should not be.

First of all, I am anxious to emphasize that my marriage was neither the result of a fad or an ism , but simply the working out of a problem according to the highly specialized needs of two professional people.


We decided to live separately, maintaining our individual studio-apartments and meeting as per inclination and not duty. We decided that seven breakfasts a week opposite one another might prove irksome. Our average is two. We decided that the antediluvian custom of a woman casting aside the name that bad become as much a part of her personality as the color of her eyes had neither rhyme or reason. I was born Fannie Hurst and expect to die Fannie Hurst. We decided that in the event of offspring the child should take the paternal name until reaching the age of discretion, when the final decision would lie with him.

My husband telephones me for a dinner appointment exactly the same as scores of other friends. I have the same regard for his plans. We decided that, since nature so often springs a trap as her means to inveigle two people into matrimony, we would try our marriage for a year and at the end of that period go quietly apart, should the venture prove itself a liability instead of an asset. . . .

On these premises, in our case at least, after a five-year acid test, the dust is still on the butterfly wings of our adventure. The dew is on the rose.[17]

54. 1 am a college graduate, 27, married five years and the mother of a three-year-old boy. I have been married happily, and have been faithful to my husband.

At six I had decided upon my husband. Jack was his name; he was a beautiful boy, fair, blue eyes, delicate and poetic looking. He was mentally my superior, he loved poetry and wrote good verses. He read a great deal and talked well. He loved me and I loved him, yet there was no demonstration of it in embraces. We played together constantly, and we spoke of the time when we might marry. great desire was to have a colored child with light hair and blue eyes for a daughter, and we had agreed upon it. All of our plans were spoken about before our parents, there was no effort made to hide our attachment. I was by nature


rough and a great fighter, Jack was calm and serious, and at times I fought his battles for him. I was maternal towards him. His mother died during our friendship, and I tried to take her place. It was a pure love, nothing cheap or silly. He was killed in the Iroquois Fire and my life was dreary for a long time. I remember the hopeless feeling I experienced when I heard the news. I did not weep, I turned to my mother and said, " I don't want to live any longer."

We had always been allowed to sit across from each other at school, and after Jack's death, I was granted permission to keep his seat vacant for the rest of the year, and I kept a plant on the desk which I tended daily as a memorial to my friend.

. . . In college, a coeducational school, I was not allowed to remain ignorant long. I was young and healthy and a real Bachfisch in my enthusiastic belief in goodness. I was fortunate in having a level-headed senior for my best friend. She saw an upper classman (girl] falling in love with me, and she came to me with the news. Then she saw how innocent I was and how ignorant, and my sex education was begun. She told me of marriage, of mistresses, of homosexuality. I was sick with so much body thrown at me at once, and to add to the unpleasantness some one introduced me to Whitman's poetry. I got the idea that sex meant pain for women, and I determined never to marry.

But the next year I felt very differently about sex. I was used to the knowledge and I went with a crowd of girls who were wise, and I had a crush. I had never been stirred before, but I was by her. She told me her ambitions, and I told her mine; it was the first time I had ever been a person to any one, and I was her loyal and loving friend. I kissed her intimately once and thought that I had discovered something new and original. We read Maupassant together and she told me the way a boy had made love to her. Everything was changed, love was fun, I was wild to taste it. I cultivated beaux, I let them kiss me and embrace me, and


when they asked me to live with them, I was not offended but pleased. I learned my capacity, how far I could go without losing my head, how much I could drink, smoke, and I talked as freely as a person could. I discussed these adventures with the other girls, and we compared notes on kisses and phrases, and technique. We were healthy animals and we were demanding our rights to spring's awakening. I never felt cheapened, nor repentant, and I played square with the men. I always told them I was not out to pin them down to marriage, but that this intimacy was pleasant and I wanted it as much as they did. We indulged in sex talk, birth control, leutic infection, mistresses; we were told of the sins of our beaux, and I met one boy's mistress, an old university girl. This was life. I could have had complete relations with two of these boys if there had been no social stigma attached, and enjoyed it for a time. But instead I consoled myself with thinking that I still had time to give up my virginity, and that when I did I wanted as much as I could get for it in the way of passionate love. Perhaps the thing that saved me from falling in love was a sense of humor. That part of me always watched the rest of me pretend to be swooning, and I never really closed my eyes. But there was a lot of unhealthy sex going around because of the artificial cut off - We thought too much about it; we all tasted homosexuality in some degree. We never found anything that could be a full stop because there was no gratification.

During this period of stress and heat I met a man, fine, clean, mature and not seemingly bothered with sex at all. I kissed him intimately too, but it was very different. He had great respect for me, and he believed in me. I respected him, admired his artistic soul and his keen mind. There was no sex talk with him, it was music and world-views and Philosophy. He never made any rash statements, nor false steps. He could sense a situation without touching it, and I felt drawn to him. I knew he had never been with a man and he told me once that he could never express


more than he felt for a person, and could sustain. After five years of friendship we married. There was no great flair to it; it was an inner necessity that drove us to it; we could no longer escape each other. We tried to figure it out, but the riddle always said marry. Sexually I had more experience than he, I was his first mistress, his wife, his best friend, and his mother, and no matter what our moods were, in one of these capacities I was needed by him. Our adjustment was difficult; he had lived alone for thirty years. I was used to having my own way, and he was a very sensitive man, nervous, sure of his opinion, and we quarreled for a while, but never very bitterly. Sexually we were both afraid of offending the other and so that was slow. But in four months we had found our heads again and were well adjusted. He was, and is, the best friend I ever had. I love him more as I know him longer. We can share everything, we are utterly honest and frank with each other, we enjoy our sex life tremendously as well as our friendship. But it was difficult for us to abandon ourselves. To allow any one to know you better than you know yourself is a huge and serious thing and calls for time and love and humor.

I have never known any one as fine as my husband. He is generous, honest, keen, artistic, big, liberal, everything

that I most want in a person. I have never been tired of him. I feel confident that he loves me more now than ever before and that he thinks me very fine, a good sport. We have been thrown together a great deal through poverty, and I feel that we are alone in the world and facing it together, a not too friendly world at that. Yet with all this love and closeness, I don't feel that I possess my husband, nor that he does me. I am still the same old girl, the same personality, and my first duty is to develop my own gifts. I have no feeling of permanency with him because we are legally married, but at present a separation is unthinkable. I am worth more to myself with him, and life is infinitely sweeter and richer within the home than any other place.

But if I had married the average American husband who


plays the business game as a. religion, then I should long ago have been unfaithful to him. I could never disclose myself and be happy with a man who had any interest more important to him than our relationship.

As long as our relationship continues as it is I think we will both be faithful to each other. But I need to have freedom to move about now with all this. And perhaps part of my happiness consists in the fact that I do have freedom. I have had intimate friendships with other men since I am married, kissed them, been kissed, been told that they would like to have me with them. But none of this seems to touch my relation with my husband. I want, and I need to be, intimate on my own hook in my own way with other people. I don't honestly know whether I would take a lover or not. If my husband gave me the assurance that he would take me back, on the old basis, I think I would try it to see if it's as great as it's said to be. But if I had to give up my husband, I would not. I need him as I need my eyes and hands. He is the overtone in the harmony, and I am that for him. I like to experiment, but from past experience I believe the cost would be greater than the gain. I am free at home as I am not anywhere else. I love it, I express myself freely and completely emotionally, and the only reason I could have for being unfaithful would be experimentation. And if I were unfaithful I should have to tell my husband the whole affair; I could not enjoy it otherwise. I have no feeling against it, and no urge towards it. I can honestly say that I am a happy woman, that I have every opportunity to develop my potentialities in my present relation, that I am free as any one can be, that my husband is superior, as a mate for me, to any one I have ever seen. I regret nothing of the past; it could have been improved tremendously, but it was Pleasant and human.[18]


  1. Forward, March 11, 1921.
  2. Hutchins Hapgood: "At Christine's" (Manuscript).
  3. Forward, December 8, 1910.
  4. Newspaper item.
  5. Editorial in The New Republic, June 19, 1915.
  6. These materials, edited by John B. Watson and K. S. Lashley, have been printed in part in Mental Hygiene, Vol. 4, pp. 769-847.
  7. A. Train: "The Prisoner at the Bar", p. 6.
  8. N. Y. World, February 4, 1922
  9. Forward, May 4, 1920.
  10. Miriam Van Waters: "The True Value of Correctional Education." Paper read at the 51st American Prison Conference, November 1. 1921.
  11. Editorial in the Brown University Daily Herald quoted in the New York World, February 3,1921.
  12. Mary Ide Bentley, Address at Berkeley, California. New York Sun, February 7, 1922.
  13. New York American, September 27, 1920.
  14. Forward, January 1, 1920.
  15. Forward, December 15, 1990.
  16. Edith L. Smith, in Collaboration with Hugh Cabot: "A Study in Sexual Morality", Social Hygiene, Vol. 2 p. 537.
  17. New York World May 4,1920.
  18. Autobiography (Manuscript).

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