I posted this last year too at around about this time of year. The Girls Own Paper was a British magazine for girls and young women that ran from the 1880s to the 1950s. Flora Klickman was the editor at this point in time, and this is the editorial page from the May 1912 edition. It's about the Titanic and how the suffragist movement is full of, um, "orgies of female hooliganism". Below the dotted line.

—————————————————————————————————————

Just as I sat down to write my notes for this issue, the news was brought into my office of the awful tragedy of the Titanic. Like tens of thousands of other women, I cried unrestrainedly as I read the details, even though I had no relatives on board. The horror and terror of it all comes with especial vividness to those of us who have often crossed the Atlantic, and seen with our own eyes the cruel, deadly icebergs that defy all man's efforts to combat them. All that I had intended to write this month has been forgotten in the sudden stupefying tidings of this frightful disaster.

Advertisement

After hearing every available item of news, and listening to experts discussing the affair from every point of view - till I feel I have been through it all myself - there are two words that stand out above all the rest of the cabled data - words that have impressed themselves indelibly on my mind and have taken on a totally new significance, words that I think I shall remember as long as I live - that short command

"WOMEN FIRST!"

Do we at all realise what these words stood for to those thousands of human beings on that ship? Do we comprehend all that was implied in that brief order and in the instant acquiescence on the part of the men? I wonder!

Advertisement

For some time past a section of womankind has been agitating and clamouring to be placed on a footing of absolute equality with men; the question of women's "rights" has been their constant topic of discussion; and man's "unfairness" to the opposite sex perpetually enlarged upon.

But what of women's rights in a crisis of this sort? What about equality when there was a pitiful insufficiency of boats? What about man's "unfairness" to women when things suddenly resolved themselves down to the bare question of a life for a life?

Whose was the life to be given, and whose the life to be saved?

Supposing men had taken women at their word, and had placed them on an equality with themselves, where would those women have been in a hand-to-hand struggle for the lifeboats? And, still more awful to contemplate, how would their children have fared? For it must not be forgotten that when women step down from the higher plane assigned to them by Anglo-Saxon manhood and insist on being treated on a level of absolute equality, they will have to fight for their children's lives as well as for their own. The woman and the child must always go together, with - or without - the man's strength behind them; this is one of Nature's irrevocable laws.

Because of the centuries of Christian teaching at the back of him, the Englishman of today (and with him I include the American) has elevated the status of woman to an extent unparalleled in any other era. She now has entire liberty in every department of life; she is free to come and go as she pleases to work, to play, to trade, to possess, to study, to preach, to earn, to spend, to rule, to do anything and everything she likes, as a matter of fact.

The Englishman has given a woman all this; but he has given her a great deal more. He has striven to shield her from the brutal side of life, and bear for her the brunt of the outside world strife; he has placed her in a position of highest honour because of her lesser strength; he has reverenced her for the spirituality and goodness which he instinctively believes is inherent in every woman - a belief which eventually the woman he loves either strengthens or undermines. He has, in short, placed woman far above himself in his esteem; and from being a mere slave or chattel he has raised her, literally, to the position of ruler.

And what has been the outcome? What form has woman's gratitude for her emancipation taken?In return for all this, certain women have filled the air with shrieks of denunciation, indulging in orgies of female hooliganism that would be a disgrace to the women of a savage tribe - and all in support of a wild insistence for equality, equality! One of the grievances of these women is the fact that men did not reply at once to their demands.

Advertisement

But the reply has come at last, and in no uncertain terms. In that supreme moment, when the choice lay between life and death, between sacrificing the woman or sacrificing himself, the Englishman instantly and unhesitatingly made his decision -

"WOMEN FIRST!"

And in doing, his actions demonstrated, as no mere words could ever have done, that he still held a woman's life in higher estimation than his own, and had no intention of lowering her to his own level. Whether we women are worth so colossal a sacrifice is a point each one must answer in her own soul. But that those men ennobled their race by their deed is beyond all question; while their heroism is further witness to the stupendous Living power of Christianity to lift nations out of the slough of brutish selfishness, impelling men, irrespective of rank and riches, to follow - even though it be afar of - in the footsteps of the One who laid down His life for the salvation of others.

Advertisement

A pathetic interest attaches itself to the article we are publishing this month "How a Newspaper is Produced", which is probably one of the last things Mr Stead wrote. I received it on April 4th, only a few days before the famous journalist set out on that tragic voyage in the ill-fated Titanic.

While there were some views entertained by Mr Stead with which a large number of us did not agree, his sincerity was indisputable, his fine qualities were legion, and his genius was colossal. So far as the article we are now publishing is concerned, it deals with a subject on which Mr Stead was an undeniable authority. He had edited newspapers himself, and knew everything about their production from practical experience. I had intended to ask him to add a paragraph to this article dealing with the enormous expense a newspaper is put to in sending out special correspondents in time of war. But - he never saw the proof. It goes to press without his corrections.