It is well known that labor performed by females commands but little when compared to that what is paid to men—though the work may be of the same character. Why is this? What possible difference can it make to the employer whether he pays A or B one dollar for accomplishing a piece of work, so that it be done equally as well by the one as the other? A female generally receives but about one-half as much as is paid to a man for doing the same amount of labor. It has been urged that they are the weaker sex, and are dependent upon us for assistance, and per consequence this difference in the price of labor should be made. But this very dependence is the result of inequality, and would not exist were the proper remedy applied. There are, it is well known, hundreds of families in our cities supported solely by females, who are obliged to labor with the needle twelve and fourteen hours out of the twenty-four, to gain hardly a comfortable subsistence for themselves and those dependent upon them, so trifling is the compensation they receive. Whole families are supported in this way—not an hour can be devoted to the improvement of the mind.
Why is it that so many of the wealthy, whose whole lives are filled to overflowing with luxuries and plenty, use every possible endeavor to crush down to the lowest imaginable point, the seamstress , milliner and manteau-maker. And even though this mean and selfish spirit is so universally practised, they are very apt to think the recipients thereof owe them an everlasting debt of gratitude for such manifestation of their unbounded charity and benevolence!
The female teachers in our public schools receive but about one third as much as those whose labors are no more arduous or responsible. If a certain amount of labor is performed, it can make no difference by any manner of rational reasoning, by whom that labor is done. It is folly to argue that labor performed by females is not in every respect done as well as by men; and there is no earthly reason why they should not receive as much. When it is considered that it requires ten and twelve hours a day, and the most strict regard to economy and industry on the part of the laboring men and our mechanics to acquire a comfortable living—so low are the wages of labor—is it not a wonder how our female laborers can succeed as well as they do with such a meagre and miserable pittance? It cannot be done but by the greatest deprivation of the common wants of nature. We are happy, however, to notice that this subject is beginning to attract the attention of the mo re philanthropic portion of community. This is gratifying, and it is hoped the matter will continually be agitated until the rights of woman, in this respect at least, shall be duly appreciated.
Pro Bono, Voice of Industry, April 2, 1847
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