‘Chicago’s Socialist Women at the Garrick Theater’ from the Socialist Woman. Vol. 2 No. 13. June, 1908.

‘Chicago’s Socialist Women at the Garrick Theater’ from the Socialist Woman. Vol. 2 No. 13. June, 1908.
Corrine Brown.

Sunday, May 8, 1908, was a red letter day for the Socialist women of Chicago. Through the courtesy or Arthur Morrow Lewis and the Twenty-first Ward Branch, the Garrick theater meeting was given over to the cause of the working class woman, and was addressed by Comrades Gertrude Breslau Hunt, May Wood Simons and Ben Hanford, with Corinne Brown as chairman.

The big theater was well filled and from the generous applause it seemed that the audience thoroughly understood and sympathized with the need or women in the matter of education along Socialistic lines. In fact, Mrs. Hunt was compelled to ask her bearers not to interrupt her with applause. She sketched briefly woman’s place in the evolution or society, showed how she bad been the first toiler, how she had invented the first rude vessels with which to work, how she had always been the faithful mother and the conservator of home relations. How later her work had been taken from her and placed in the hands or men, how she had been compelled to follow it into the factory, shop and mill; how she bad been exploited in these industries, and how, because she could not vote, she had been used as a lash over the workingman, keeping down his wage as a competitor, and lowering the standard of living. She told how in the various States women had no right to property; in some States they have no right to their wages; in others they are only secondary guardians to their own children, and in some few States their unborn children may be willed away from them by the rather and may pass into foreign hands as soon as they are born, against the mother’s will.

Gertrude Breslau Hunt.

“Women suffer from all the ills, all the burdens that men suffer from,” Mrs. Hunt Bald, “and many bitter ones besides. And against all these oppressions they have not even the right of the ballot, women need Socialism for the same reason that men need it, and for their own special reasons besides. Because of these special reasons women must have special education as to what Socialism will do for them.”

Mrs. Simons spoke on the education of the working class. She showed the necessity of an education for the workers that will teach them self-reliance and independence, rather than making of them machines for capitalistic exploitation, as they are being made today in all our schools and colleges. She believes in the working woman coming out side by side with the working man, and fighting, even as he fights, the battle against capltallstlc oppression. She told of how the women or Lyons, France, had helped win a great strike there, and said: “I sometimes wonder if our American women have no iron in their blood. Why it is that they, too, do not come out and take their stand against tyranny and oppression.” She said that the real test of value was in doing things, and that women must learn this fact and must do their part toward the emancipation of the race.

May Wood Simons.

Ben Hanford said that the saddest thing in all the world to him; sadder than the underpaid toll of women; sadder than the legalized prostitution of women; sadder even than child labor, was the fact that good women the whole country over had to share the bed and board of some man because in all the world there were no other homes for them. “They are the mothers of the race,” he said “and they are tied hand and foot through their economic dependence ; forced to sell themselves in the marriage market even as their prostitute sisters sell themselves in the public market.” He also read a fine prose poem on Chicago, showing the hideousness of a modern industrial mart -and giving a forecast of what the city will be under a sane social order.

Corinne Brown, the chairman of the meeting, always bright, intelligent and responsive, was in her element at this particular meeting. She evoked both applause and laughter in making her announcements, and introducing the speakers. The Socialist Woman was being sold in the audience, and in announcing this fact Comrade Brown made a good speech for our woman’s paper, and said: “You cannot afford to miss this paper. Everybody in the audience ought to buy a copy and subscribe for it. As long as we women have to suffer so much injustice and oppression, just so long will we have to use the best means with which to fight our battles. Besides, this Socialist Woman is worth reading. The best women writers in the movement contribute to it every month. The other day an editor of a dally paper in this city said to me: “Where in the world do you Socialists get your women writers? We can’t find such women to write for us.” I told him : “Of course, you can’t. They don’t exist outside the Socialist movement.”

More than $55 was taken in the collection, and numbers of pamphlets and copies of the Socialist Woman were sold. And just here we would offer a suggestion – in every city there are Socialist women who can make good speeches. Especially can they tell of the need for women to learn about Socialism. Why not arrange for just such meetings as the one held in the Garrick theater May third?

Progressive Woman replaced The Socialist Woman. The Socialist Woman was a monthly magazine edited by Josephine Conger-Kaneko from 1907 with this aim: “The Socialist Woman exists for the sole purpose of bringing women into touch with the Socialist idea. We intend to make this paper a forum for the discussion of problems that lie closest to women’s lives, from the Socialist standpoint”. In 1908, Conger-Kaneko and her husband Japanese socialist Kiichi Kaneko moved to Girard, Kansas home of Appeal to Reason, which would print Socialist Woman. In 1909 it was renamed The Progressive Woman, and The Coming Nation in 1913. Its contributors included Socialist Party activist Kate Richards O’Hare, Alice Stone Blackwell, Eugene V. Debs, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and others. A treat of the journal was the For Kiddies in Socialist Homes column by Elizabeth Vincent.The Progressive Woman lasted until 1916.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/socialist-woman/080600-socialistwoman-v2w13.pdf

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