Young Women Who Live Alone.XVI.
Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Mrs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
Dear madam--Will you kindly give me your opinion on
the following question: Where should young women, board-
ing away from home, receive men callers?
I am a young woman of twenty-three years, and have
several friends call, whose companionship is very agreeable
and who tend to make my life more pleasant because of it.
And a boarding-house parlor is about the most cheerless
place on the face of the globe.
I am told that many young women in New York boarding
houses receive their callers to their rooms, and no one com-
ments upon it. What do you think of it? "Perplexed."
It may be possible that young women in New
York boarding-houses sometimes receive callers
in their rooms, and are not commented upon un-
pleasantly in consequence, but I do not think the
custom is at all universal. It could not be while
humanity remains what it is to-day.
Young women who live in studios, or in what
they sometimes term "girl bachelor style," often
make laws unto themselves, and receive their
callers in a room which is at once drawing room,
sleeping apartment and kitchen. But in these cases
there are usually two young women to receive. It
is a sort of Americanized type of foreign Bohemian-
ism, which only an American girl would dare at-
tempt to establish and retain her good name. But
that scores of young, unprotected girls in New
York and other cities do live in this independent
fashion, and do retain the respect of the men whom
they receive as callers, is an interesting truth.
Nevertheless, the situation is full of danger.
While men are accustomed to the independence of
the American girl, and most of them are ready to
respect it, yet there are always some masculine
specimens walking to and fro on the earth and up
and down in it seeking whom they may devour.
Of course, no woman is devoured, as a rule, un-
less she wills it so; yet a man of this type can make
a girl's unprotected position a very uncomfortable
one. I have known a young woman to be obliged
to show a man of this sort the door, and to erase
his name from her list of acquaintances thereafter.
She had known him in a casual manner during
several years, but so soon as she established herself
in a studio he seemed to imagine she had thrown
convention to the winds. Fortunately, such men
among our own countrymen are in the minority.
Foreigners are liable to misconstrue the freedom
of our girls because it is wholly at variance with
their habits of thought or their ideas of propriety.
Every unprotected girl should bear this fact in
mind, and make it her business in dealing with a
foreigner to guard against any possible mistaken
impression of his part. She is not only protecting
herself from misconstruction, but all her country-
The young woman who is obliged to live in a
boarding-house with no older woman as a protector
must accept the many deprivations and inconve-
niences attendant upon this life with philosophy and
patience, and not attempt to change the customs of
the world in which she lives to suit her conve-
Boarding-houses are usually hotbeds of gossip,
and any girl who undertakes to defy the conven-
tions will be the sufferer and gain nothing. Rules
regarding the association of the sexes were formu-
lated according to the peculiarities of human
nature, and are not without their justification.
American women are doing much to bring the
world and men up to a higher standard, in these
matters, but it is well to make haste slowly.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox