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necessarily must mean lead to tha breaking dqvyn of the physical constitu
tion and hence the motel fiber of SOME working girls. (
And. the reason this is so supremely important is simply' because the
poorly paid working girls of -America, as a class, constitute thVmast moral
class among American women.
Some society women go wrong. But they go wrong chiefly because
they want to. Some daughters of the well-to-do go wrong. But they, go
wrong chiefly because they try to imitate the daughters of the, idle rich.
Some daughters of the middle class go wrong. But they generally go wrong
because some man under a false mask of love tempts them to their .fall.
But many daughters of the working crassesVthe lonely working girls
of America, when they do go wrong, are forced info wrong when their- souls
and their minds and their bodies have been so crushed in the industrial
mill that they have no power or resistance left when the white slaver knocks
at the door.
The women of the so-called higher clas'ses of society GO wrong; the
women of the so-called lower classes are forced into wrong. That is the
The effect-of 'low wages cannot be counted in dollars and cents.
Low wages mean underfeeding; low wages mean '.insufficient clothing,
clothing that makes a proud, independent girl scorned in the eyes of her
friends; low wages mean bad home environment; "low wages mean lack of
decent, needful amusements; low wages mean loneliness and hunger and
cold and sickness. l
Arid all these things taken together are the things that are meant when
the O'Hara commission and the federal government say, "There unques
tionably is a connection between low wages ' and vice."
The great majority of working girls come through the inill clean "and
pure. That should be America-'a proudest -boast
They fight on when they are cold and hungry; when it seems as.ifvthe
hand of every man were turned against them; when they see no ray of hope,
no glimpse of gladness. v
. And when their hours of anguish are upon them, they grit their teeth
u' i fight the harder, or lock themselves in their rooms and weep until their
weakness has passed. ' '
That is what the strong girls do. And by strong I do not, mean morally
strong alone. I also mean the physically strong, because moral strength
cannot long continue if undermined by physjcal weakness.
But what of the girf brought'up in some home where low wages have
caused an hideous environment, a liome in some tenement, some over
crowded, evil-smelling place without fresh air or sunlight?
What of the girl constitutionally weak, whose frail body ben'ds and
breaks under the strain of her suffering, and whose morar character goes
out with her physical strength? "
What of the girl so constituted physically she cannot withstand .the
cold when she is underclothed? " y .
What of the girl (to whom hunger means physical nauseau and col
lapse? What of YHESE girls when their hours of trouble are upon them and
when the" white slaver, oily and suave, with his lavish promises of .rfches and
fine clothing, and good food, is waiting without? , T . .,' ,
There lies the connection between low wages and'-ice; there" lies the
reason and the justification for-the O'Hara' commission's searching probe
into forbidden subjects.