In the words of Laura McLaren: Women and work
Laura McLaren of Bodnant Garden recognised that without a vote many of her sex were relegated to a kind of slavery, at home and in the workplace.
“I know of no other civilised county where a man is allowed to enjoy his wife’s services for a lifetime without payment, and then leave her destitute at his death. Under the most common form of marriage in France husband and wife are partners in the common property, and the wife has a half-share in everything earned by the pair. Contrast this with the position of a wife in England, who may assist in her husband’s business, may manage his hotel, may serve in his shop, may work in his fields, and yet never, during the course of a long life, own a farthing of all the value produced by her work. Throughout the animal world, the female is free to seek her food as she will, and even the tiger permits his mate to hunt in the same jungle. Amongst human beings, women are dictated to by men as to how, when and under what conditions they shall be allowed to earn their bread. Our whole society is a gigantic trades union of men combined against fair wages and free employment for women. (Prime Minister) Mr Asquith does not believe 'there is any legislate in the world that has ever done so much for women as the man-elected legislature in this country.' Does he not know that in every country where women possess the franchise equal wages are given by law to men and women school teachers and in many there is equal payment for equal work in Government service? …He will find …that woman suffrage has largely aided in banishing crime, pauperism and vice from their dominions.” - The Legal Inequality of Women (May 1913)
‘Woman is at present despised because she is an amateur. She drives in nails with the heal of her slipper and uses hairpins as tools. Numbers of women cannot even draw a cheque. The first thing is to train her so as to be useful to the world. Now she gets no systematic training at technical colleges. She is confined by the trade unions to the lower branches of work when her faculties point to the more skilled. Arbitrary regulations must be removed and wages raised which are now assessed at less than their commercial value. Then the women of the future must none of them be idle. The rich woman must work for the advance of the welfare and happiness of all." The Woman of the Future, Daily Chronicle (July 1910)
"I assert without fear of contradiction that the laws under which women live have been framed from an entirely masculine point of view. They have been based on the theory that women are subordinate to his interests, pleasures and desires. Nature has laid certain burdens upon women, which are cheerfully and often proudly borne, but that men should make these sufferings the excuse for shutting women out from worldly honours, from independent careers, from guardianship over their own children, and from the inheritance of money, is an injustice which it is difficult to bear. The troubles of women are due tenfold more to the disabilities which men have imposed than to anything which nature has decreed. Compare the human home with the nest of the bird. Do you find the father bird feeding the male nestlings more copiously than the female? Does he teach the birds of the male sex to rise upon the wing, while he forbids the female any such adventure? Do the cocks reserve all the best feeding grounds for themselves and confine the hens to the poorer pastures? Not at all: both sexes are free to feed where they will, and both spring into the air together with equal power, when they flit away into the sunshine. ..How different to the human mother so often forced by artificial disabilities to wed in order to live. Given a fair field and an equal training, a woman would be as capable of earning her own bread as a man." - The Times (April 1912)