Editorial: Home Hitlers (5-21-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 21, 1941)


By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

My mail convinces me that we have a good many Hitlers in the American home. Over and over, the same complaint comes from housewives suffering the worst form of tyranny – kitchen slavery.

Quotes from this Albuquerque, NM, letter are typical of many that arrive from every section of the country:

My husband pays all the bills, but will not give me one dime, although almost anyone else can get money out of him. He doesn’t drink and in every other way he is a good man. We’ve been married 15 years and I’ve never made any trouble for him. He won’t take me out and I never have a cent to spend on myself.

These women are American citizens, although you’d never believe it after reading their tales of financial woe, They receive no pay whatsoever for their work, and usually no thanks. They have no Social Security numbers. No pensions fortify their future. They can’t strike.

They must beg, plead, steal or fight for the meagerest sums of spending money. In short, they are the wives of stingy, domineering men, and to use a worn but apt phrase, their name is legion.

The strangest, the almost incredible inconsistency is that a good many of their husbands belong to labor unions and are committed to the belief that every male worker is worthy of his hire. They insist on short hours and top remuneration for themselves, with time and a half for overtime.

Nobody finds fault with this idea. It is an incontestable truth, to which all reasonable citizens subscribe. Why, then, do these men fail to share their own earnings with the women who wash and cook and mend and scrub for them?

Because they have an old-world notion – the same nation which sticks in the heads of all dictators – that women aren’t people and that wives are slaves.

Labor union leaders would do a good turn for democracy of the investigated domestic conditions in their groups to learn how unjust some of these collective bargainers are at home.