September 30, 1911, To the Editor of The Morning Advertiser, “Modern Marriage”
Davison’s conviction that the “present” position of women is an historical anomaly owing
to an incomplete transition from a feudal to a more modern system of laws underlies her
conviction that the franchise will have a direct, beneficial effect on women’s position in the
laws of England and in their households. She asks for equality and “fair play” rather than
favoritism or patronizing deference. The same letter was sent and published under the
heading “Wages for Wives” in the Daily Express on September 30, 1911.
Sir,– In your columns to-day you deal with the question of the position of the wife with
regard to the family income, apropos of the remarks made by Yorkshire women Liberals.
The present position of the wife in the matter is entirely unsatisfactory. But the idea of a
wife receiving ‘wages’ is of course equally unpleasing for many reasons, amongst which
is the one that her services are priceless. Some people suggest a ‘wife’s charter’ of rights;
others suggest equally futile remedies. The plain truth of the matter is that the present
position of women in marriage is an anomaly, and due to clumsy attempts made from time
to time to tinker up the laws of marriage, which have descended to us from feudal days.
Now, the root of the matter is the position of women itself. When women are
enfranchised the marriage laws, which are more unjust in England than in most European
countries, will be overhauled and put right on a just basis. Neither privilege nor injustice is
desirable, but fair play. Let those Liberal women therefore who complain of the economic
position of the wife, see to it that no tricks are played with the Conciliation Bill next year.—
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31 Coram-street, W.C., Sept. 29