Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Women Help Men.
    A great many letters similar to the following
have come to me from time to time.  Each
young woman who addresses me believes she has
newly discovered the wickedness of man, and she
frequently expresses the opinion that the world is
growing worse and humanity degenerating.  This
writer says:

    I am the fourth daughter of good, honest, country folk,
and was thrown upon my own resources when just entering
my teens.  All along I have had a pretty discouraging road
to travel, and just two years ago decided to come to this city.
I had letters to several of the leading business men of the
Wall Street district, and, of course, applied to them, for a
position in the clerical line.  Every one of them had an open-
ing for me at a good salary, but as soon as they discovered
that I would not answer their requirements outside of the
business line, they refused me the position.  I tried and tried,
oh, so hard, to get work without being obliged to give my
very soul in return, but after many days of fruitless efforts to
do so, and being reduced to want, I returned to one who of-
fered me work in the first place and told him I would like to
have the position at just half the salary he had offered.
He certainly was able to see that I was a good, honest girl,
but he was bound to cause my downfall, and after two months
discharged me in order to place a "new face" in his office.
What is to become of the working girl?
    No one under the sun knows what a dependent girl has to
bear in this way, especially if she is of pleasing appearance,
as they all seem to think I am.  I can tell you this, for you
do not know me, but pity the working girl who is cursed with
beauty and a fine form.
    I could tell you so much that has made me sad and lonely,
in fact, wrecked my young life completely, as I have only just
entered my twenties.  I am already tired and disgusted with
life, since I can have nothing to look forward to.

    This young woman's experience is not excep-
tional.  Nine self-supporting young women out of
ten meet some time, somewhere a similar trouble.
The tenth girl escapes and is mercilessly severe
upon those who have been tempted.
    Since an experience of this kind never occurred
to her, it need not occur to any one.  There is
nothing in life the average woman so much resents
as having other women offered temptations which
she has never known.  Meanwhile we hear men
gravely declaring in favor of the tenth girl's
    "No girl is ever insulted," they tell us, "unless
she first commits some indiscretion of deportment,
dress or speech.  The really modest, dignified and
properly dressed young woman is safe to go any-
where in America, and she will receive nothing but
respectful attention from men."
    Platitudes!  Empty platitudes! They know bet-
    These theories are bearded with age and so de-
crepit they have not a foot to stand upon.  Man is
in a state of evolution and is making sure progress
toward the divine selfhood, but it is also slow prog-
ress, and the animal still predominates.  He is a
better, cleaner and more aspiring creature than he
was a few hundred years ago, but he needs some
centuries more of development before he will be-
come a wise, safe and worthy protector of virgin
    There was an era in the world's history when car-
dinals, monks, kings, lords and gentlemen of high
degree thought woman to be man's rightful prey,
and it was not at all an unusual event for any one
of these noble creatures to kidnap and carry off to
castles or dungeons a young woman who resisted
their blandishments.  Where fair means seduc-
tion failed foul ones were resorted to, and brute
force was made to triumph over stubborn virtue.
    I have read some interesting annals of the
methods of wooing of those old days, and were the
writer of the letter quoted above to compare her own
experience with that of her persecuted sisters of
those "good old times" of romance, over which sen-
timentalists sigh in this prosaic age, she would re-
gard the men of to-day as on the road to reforma-
    To every girl who is starting out in self-sup-
porting career I would offer this advice:
    Regard men as your superiors in the physical and
the mental domains.  From a purely intellectual
standpoint they excel us.  Do not trust them in any
matter, where a question of wise behavior is con-
cerned, if they suggest a single act on your part
which you could not have the whole world know.
When they make any such proposition to you do
not fly into a temper or preach a sermon.  It will
do no good.  Keep perfectly calm and express pity
rather than anger.  Remember what centuries of
license the world has granted them, and how recent
are the moral restraints imposed on them.  Even
our own sex has until a very modern day encour-
aged them in their idea of two codes of morals for
the world.  Think of yourself as a sort of kinder-
garten teacher who can train men's morals and
help them to a knowledge of their own better
    Give them an object lesson in the beauty of self-
control.  Do not pretend to be an angel, free from
moral taint, but prove to them that you are a sen-
sible woman, who knows how utterly commonplace
it is to sell yourself to any man for a little worldly
advancement or for a few fleeting pleasures.
    Never imagine for a moment that your tempta-
tion is a peculiar one, or that it is a tribute to your
beauty or charm.  Try and realize that thousands
of girls all over the civilized world are subjected to
the same.
    Once convince your temper that you understand
all this, and it is more than likely that he will cease
to annoy you and will become your good friend.  I
have known many such instances.  I never knew
any continued prosperity or happiness to result
from yielding to the temptation to make worldly
progress by violating a principle.
    A girl may have brief vogue by such methods,
and she may have a series of hardships and misfor-
tunes by resisting them, but the tide always turns,
and good fortune comes the way of one who is
determined to keep true to her womanhood.
    However hard the pathway of the self-supporting
woman to-day, there is never any need for her to
relinquish her self-respect or her virtue in the
struggle with adverse circumstances.
    Do not become bitter or pessimistic as a "man
hater" because of these experiences.  They are
only steps on the great ladder of evolution.  Every
victorious struggle, every temptaion overcome,
strengthens the moral fiber of the world and brings
you nearer the heart of humanity.
    Remember there are good, true men in the
world, and that every time a weak or bad man
encounters a strong, pure woman, he is one step
nearer the standard of worthy manhood.  Help men
up, not down.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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