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HOME > Classical Novels > The Unadjusted Girl > CHAPTER IV THE DEMORALIZATION OF GIRLS
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 The r?le which a girl is expected to play in life is first of all indicated to her by her family in a series of ?sthetic-moral definitions of the situation. Civilized societies, more especially, have endowed the young girl with a character of social sacredness. She has been the subject of a far-going idealization. “Virginity” and “purity” have almost a magical value. This attitude has a useful side, though it has been overdone. The girl as child does not know she has any particular value until she learns it from others, but if she is regarded with adoration she correspondingly respects herself and tends to become what is expected of her. And so she has in fact a greater value. She makes a better marriage and reflects recognition on her family. But we must understand that this sublimation of life is an investment. It requires that incessant attention and effort illustrated in document No. 36 (p. 62) and goes on best when life is economically secure. And there are families and whole strata of society where life affords no investments. There is little to gain and little to lose. Social workers report that sometimes overburdened mothers with large families complain that they have no “graveyard luck”—all the children live. In cases of great neglect the girl cannot be said to fall, because she has never risen. She is not immoral, because this implies the loss of morality, but a-moral—never having had a moral code.
9955. Nine of the fifteen families [of the working class in Rome] are formed on a non-legitimate basis.... In fourteen of the fifteen families there is habitual obscenity.... The children hear and repeat the obscenity and are laughed at. Each member lives on the average on 25 lire a month.... Criminals and prostitutes frequent the homes and have liaisons with the girls. Mothers, going to work, leave the children with a prostitute.... The finer sentiments are notably lacking. Brothers and sisters quarrel and fight.... Fights are habitual in eight of the fifteen families.... The sentiment of modesty and delicacy does not develop in the young. The regard for the child is expressed in the remark of a father (about children who were not fed and picked up scraps on the street): “Let them have food when they make their own living.”[57]
56. Any person who has dwelt among the denizens of the slums cannot fail to have brought home to him the existence of a stratum of society of no inconsiderable magnitude in which children part with their innocence long before puberty, in which personal chastity is virtually unknown, and in which “to have a baby by your father” is laughed at as a comic mishap.[58]
57. The experiences of Commenge in Paris are instructive on this point. “For many young girls,” he writes, “modesty has no existence; they experience no emotion in showing themselves completely undressed, they abandon themselves to any chance individual whom they will never see again. They attach no importance to their virginity; they are deflowered under the strangest conditions, without the least thought or care about the act they are accomplishing. No sentiment, no calculation, pushes them into a man’s arms. They let themselves go without reflexion and without motive, in an almost animal manner, from indifference and without pleasure.” He was acquainted with forty-five 100girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen who were deflowered by chance strangers whom they never met again; they lost their virginity, in Dumas’s phrase, as they lost their milk-teeth, and could give no plausible account of the loss.... A girl of fourteen, living comfortably with her parents, sacrificed her virginity at a fair in return for a glass of beer, and henceforth begun to associate with prostitutes. Another girl of the same age, at a local fête, wishing to go round on the hobby horse, spontaneously offered herself to the man directing the machinery for the pleasure of a ride.... In the United States, Dr. W. T. Travis Gibb, examining physician to the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, bears similar testimony to the fact that in a fairly large proportion of “rape” cases the child is the willing victim. “It is horribly pathetic,” he says, “to learn how far a nickel or a quarter will go towards purchasing the virtue of these children.”[59]
58. In round numbers nine tenths of the delinquent girls and three fourths of the delinquent boys come from the homes of the poor. Sixty-nine per cent of the girls and 38 per cent of the boys come from the lowest class, the “very poor”, the class in which there exists not merely destitution, but destitution accompanied by degradation, or destitution caused by degradation....
In Table 19 it appears that 31 per cent of the delinquent boys and 47 per cent of the delinquent girls before their appearance in court had lost one or both parents by death, desertion, imprisonment, or similar misfortune, and that they had not had the benefit of the wholesome discipline which normal family life affords....
These children come in many instances from homes in which they have been accustomed from their earliest infancy to drunkenness, immorality, obscene and vulgar language, filthy and degraded conditions of living....
Among the 157 girls in the State Training School from 101Chicago, for whom family schedules were obtained, 31 were the daughters of drunken fathers, 10 at least had drunken mothers, 27 had fathers who were of vicious habits, 16 had immoral, vicious, or criminal mothers, while 12 belonged to families in which other members than the parents were vicious or criminal. In at least 21 cases the father had shirked all responsibility and had deserted the family.
There were also among these girls 11 who were known to be illegitimate children or children who had been abandoned, and there were 10 who had been victims of gross cruelty. Forty-one had been in houses of prostitution or had been promiscuously immoral, one having been “a common street walker” at the age of eleven. Four had sisters who had become immoral and had been committed to such institutions as the Chicago Refuge for Girls or the house of correction, while in seven cases two sisters had been sent to Geneva; nine had brothers who had been in such institutions as the parental school, the John Worthy School, the Bridewell, the state reformatory at Pontiac, or the state penitentiary at Joliet.
The worst cases of all are those of the delinquent girls who come from depraved homes where the mother is a delinquent woman, or from homes still more tragic where the father has himself abused the person of the child. As a result of the interviews with the girls in the State Training School at Geneva, it appeared that in 47 cases the girl alleged that she had been so violated by some member of her family. In 19 cases the father, in 5 the uncle, in 8 the brother or older cousin had wronged the child for whom the community demanded their special protection. In addition to these cases discovered at Geneva, the court records show that in at least 78 other cases the girl who was brought in as delinquent had been wronged in this way—in 43 of these cases by her own father. In families of this degraded type it is found, too, not only that the girl is victimized by her father but that she is often led to her undoing by her mother or by the woman who has undertaken to fill a mother’s place. 102It was found, for example, that in 189 cases where the girl was charged with immorality, the mother or the woman guardian—an aunt, a grandmother, or an older sister with whom the girl lived—was implicated in the offense if not responsible for it....
Attention should be called to the fact that degraded and drunken habits of life are not the peculiar product of large cities. The personal interviews with the girls at Geneva who came from the smaller cities and rural communities of the state, together with the statements in the school records regarding the circumstances responsible for their commitment, show a degradation in family life which parallels that found in the homes of many of the Chicago children. Out of 153 of these country girls, 86 were the children of fathers with intemperate habits, and 13 had intemperate mothers. In 31 cases the girl’s delinquency had been caused by her father or some other relative.[60]
59. Helen comes from a large family, there being eight children. Her father is a miner and unable to support the older girls. She was told at the age of fourteen that she was old enough to support herself and to get out. She came to Chillicothe because of the draftees from Western Pennsylvania, some of whom had been her acquaintances. She came to Chillicothe with $30.00 given her by a man in Ellsworth, but we could never learn his name.
The girl was found living in a dirty basement room with “Mag” Strawser, a character of local repute, and spent every evening either at the movies or at the public dance halls with soldiers. She was taken home from the movies and an effort was made to place her in a decent room, but twice she ran away and back to the same environment. The Juvenile Judge wrote to the father, asking him to send money for her return home, but he responded by saying that he didn’t want the girl home as she must make her own living. As he couldn’t send her money she was sent back 103with money furnished by Protective Bureau. Three months later she was picked up in the park with soldiers. At the time she was dressed like a trapeze performer, in pink satin trimmed with eider down, grotesque in the extreme. She escaped from the Detention Home and three days later was picked up in the woods back of the Base Hospital with five soldiers. Upon examination, was found to have gonorrhea.... In a few weeks she had developed from the little red hood and mittens with the stout shoes of the foreigner into a painted-cheeked brow-blacked prostitute. She had her name and address written on slips of paper that she passed out to soldiers on the streets. She was never able to give the names of soldiers with whom she cohabited, but upon first acquaintance would lend her bracelet or ring without hesitation.[61]
60. Evelyn claims to know absolutely nothing of her family or relations. Was found in a room in a hotel, where she had registered as the wife of a soldier. Seemed entirely friendless and alone. Had scarcely any clothing, and there was no evidence of refinement to be found about her. She is small, slight and an?mic, has an active syphilis as well as an acute gonorrhea. At first she seemed to be entirely hardened, not caring what any one thought of her or what became of her. Later however she broke down and was just a poor broken-hearted child. Admits to many dreadful experiences for her tender years. Claims for the past year has been on the vaudeville stage and has had illicit relations with a number of members of the company. Left the troop at Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania. Here she picked up with a soldier who brought her to Columbus, Ohio, and she has been picking up soldiers on the streets and going out with them in taxis.
The only person who could be reached having an acquaintance with the girl is Mrs. Harding at Columbus. She wrote us that her daughter Gladys had become acquainted 104with her while on a visit to Wheeling where the girl was working as a little household drudge in a private home. When the girl came to Columbus she came to the Harding home and was treated as one of the family until she became incorrigible, when she went to the working girls’ home.
Evelyn believes herself to be an illegitimate child. From her earliest recollection she was in a Catholic institution. Was placed out when she was nine years old and from that time has been in many cities, in private homes, in institutions and out again. Has had no supervision of any kind. Has sought companionship and friendliness of any one that would show her any affection. Did not seem to feel that she had done anything very wrong. It seems to be a case of society’s neglect to an orphan. She was taken to the Isolation Hospital for treatment for syphilis infection and escaped within 24 hours.[62]
61. Frances was 12 years old when in July, 1912, a probation officer of the Juvenile Court reported that she remained out late nights, sometimes all night, refused to obey father or mother, would go into a room and lock the door, compelling parents to force an entrance, etc. When 14 years old she was brought into court on the complaint of her mother that she kept bad company and was known in the neighborhood as a depraved child, being accused by one neighbor of stealing a bracelet. She had been on probation and the reports had been fairly encouraging. Every little while there were reports of disobedience with threats of sending her to an institution, followed by improved conduct for a while. For a short time Frances had tried boarding outside her home.
At the hearing in court her mother testified: “She did not want to go to work and also stayed away from home nights, would not tell where.... When I looked for her I almost got a licken from the old man. He says I did not have to look for her when she was no good. He licked me 105many times on account of her; does not want me to go to look for her.” The officer stated: “The father is a hard drinker and very quarrelsome. Sets very bad example for the children. The other children [4 younger ones at home] seem to get along and mind the mother, but this girl and an older married sister were the wayward ones.” Frances said her father sometimes struck her with a strap when he got drunk. Her mother drank but was never intoxicated. She was sent to the House of Good Shepherd where she remained a full year and “made good.” There was no complaint against her there. Her mother then applied for her release on the ground that she had rheumatism and a new baby 6 months old.
An investigation of the home was made. The neighbors reported the “family are quarreling, parents continually drunk, use vile language, and while well fed and kept, the environment is such that just as soon as the girls become self-supporting they leave home. Mr. Sikora is abusive to his wife, insanely jealous, charges his wife with immorality constantly.” Probation officer was called to house to put down a disturbance one night at 9 P.M. The mother, when questioned, admitted that an older daughter, now 18 years old, had had a “wild” career and then married. The next daughter left home because of complaints of her staying out late nights. She had been in the House of the Good Shepherd, was not 17 years old and her mother knew nothing of her whereabouts.[63]
62. Catherine was sent to the industrial class at Geneva when only nine years old, apparently for immorality. She said her mother was a very “nice woman” but her father was a “poor sort of father.” He drank, beat her mother and was in jail “a lot of times.” Two years after she entered the school her mother took sick. Catherine was allowed to return to her until she died three months later. The father disappeared and Catherine returned to Geneva. Catherine 106had an uncle in Wisconsin whom she had not seen for 4 years and a brother, who considered Catherine “wild” and was willing she should stay in Geneva.
The Genevan authorities reported that Catherine was hard to control at first but after she had been made to see that the whole world was not against her, she settled down, became very obedient and was one of their best girls. She had nothing vicious about her, was easily influenced for good and showed she had a great deal of good in her and much energy, which if properly directed would make her develop into a good woman.
When Catherine was fourteen years old her brother had her released from Geneva on parole to him. He took her to live with him in Rockford, Ill., where he had the reputation of being a very industrious man. He got Catherine a job, topping stockings in a factory for $7.00 a week and took all her earnings. Catherine worked steadily and well for six months.
Catherine got acquainted with her brother’s sister-in-law, Jennie Sopeka, a girl ten years older, with an exceedingly bad reputation. Ever since she came from New York six years before she had led a disgracefully immoral life, was known to have a venereal disease, which was thought to be affecting her mind. Catherine said she knew nothing of this girl when she came to see her and proposed they go to Chicago “to have a nice time and nice clothes.” But Catherine left Rockford with Jennie at once. They came to Chicago and registered at the Imperial Hotel. For a week some man supported them. They then became acquainted with two junior medical students.... These boys called on them at the hotel and after a two weeks’ acquaintance took them and another girl to their rooms. All lived together for about two weeks. The police then raided the apartment, arrested the boys and Jennie and the other girl. Catherine happened to be out when the raid was made, but the following day she called at the police station to know what had become of her friends and she was detained there. The boys 107were charged with rape, as Catherine was under the age of consent. Jennie, who was going under one of her many aliases, was fined $50.00 and sent to the House of Correction. She was later accused of pandering.
Every one felt sorry for Catherine. The Court said: “It seems as if she had never had a chance, but it would be dangerous to give her one now.” The Probation officer also felt sympathetic, though she thought Catherine had had a chance in Rockford and had not tried quite hard enough. Her brother refused to take her back into his home and the Court was in a quandary what to do with her. At first she said she would do housework, especially taking care of children, as she was very fond of babies and would like to be a nurse. Later, however, she decided she would not do housework and asked to be sent back to Geneva. This the Court would not do, and Catherine was sent to the House of Good Shepherd.[64]
63. Carrie is a colored girl, 23 years of age at the time of her commitment. She was sentenced to Bedford for possessing heroin. She was born on Long Island—the illegitimate child of a notorious thief and prostitute known only as “Jennie.” She was adopted when fifteen months old and went to public school until she was fifteen, in spite of which at the time of her commitment she could read and spell only with great difficulty. Foster mother was a very poor housekeeper, went out to work, and the rooms she occupied were unspeakably filthy. Carrie had served five previous terms in the New York City Workhouse and 30 days in White Plains jail. She was first sentenced to the House of The Good Shepherd, but returned to the Court on account of her color. She was then sent to Inwood House and returned for the same reason. She had been committed to the Workhouse Hospital for treatment for the drug habit. She had practiced prostitution since she was fifteen years of age, during which time she lived for considerable periods with 108two consorts, by one of whom she had a child, born in the New York City Workhouse. She had used drugs steadily for eight years, beginning with opium and more recently using cocaine and heroin. Her foster mother states that she was always a difficult child and very stubborn. When she was as young as nine years old the neighbors complained of her immoral conduct with young boys on roofs and cellars. She seemed to have no feeling of shame.
Physical examination showed Carrie’s condition to be fair. The mental examination showed her to be a trifle over nine years by the Stanford-Binet tests. Her attitude was that she preferred the life of prostitution and planned to return to it upon her release. It was felt that she would be a bad influence in the Reformatory and that in view of her sociological as well as her mental history she should be given permanent custodial care.[65]
I was present in a Juvenile Court when a young girl who showed charm and dignity was brought in for stealing from department stores an astonishing number of pretty things—a mirror, beads, a ring, a powder box, etc.—all on the same afternoon. And she did not forget to include a doll for her baby sister. The inquiry brought out that she worked in a book bindery in a suburb of the city. She had not lost a day for two years, until laid off temporarily. Then she visited the city. She gave all her pay, which was $9.00 a week, to her mother. Of this her mother returned ten cents for the girl’s own use. The girl had no other blemish and her thoughtfulness in stealing the doll for her sister created some consternation. On the advice of the court the mother agreed to increase the girl’s allowance to twenty-five cents a week.
On another occasion a father was asked by the court 109what he had to suggest in the case of his girl who had left home and was on the streets. He complained that she had not been bringing in all her pay. When told he must not look at the matter in that way, that he had obligations as a parent, he said, “Do what you please with her. She ain’t no use to me.”
The beginning of delinquency in girls is usually an impulse to get amusement, adventure, pretty clothes, favorable notice, distinction, freedom in the larger world which presents so many allurements and comparisons. The cases which I have examined (about three thousand) show that sexual passion does not play an important r?le, for the girls have usually become “wild” before the development of sexual desire, and their casual sexual relations do not usually awaken sex feeling. Their sex is used as a condition of the realization of other wishes. It is their capital. In the cases cited below Mary (case No. 64) begins by stealing to satisfy her desire for pretty clothes and “good times”, then has sexual relations for the same purpose. Katie (No. 65) begins as a vagabond and sells her body just as she does occasional work or borrows money, in order to support herself on her vagabonding tours, sexual intercourse being only a means by which freedom from school work is secured. In the case of Stella (No. 66) the sexual element is part of a joy ride, probably not the first one. Marien (No. 67) treats sexual life as a condition of her “high life”, including restaurants, moving pictures, hotels, and showy clothes. Helen (No. 68) said, “I always wanted good clothes.” To the young girl of this class sexual intercourse is something submitted to with some reluctance and embarrassment and something she is glad to be over with. Nothing can show better the small 110importance attached to it than the plain story of the many relations of Annie (No. 69). She objects only to being used by a crowd.
64. When Mary was 14 years old she was arrested on the charge of stealing some jewelry and a dress and waist, altogether worth $100. While employed as domestic she had entered a neighboring flat through the dining-room window and helped herself. When arrested she said her father and mother were dead. But it was found they were both alive. The mother said she was glad the police had gotten hold of Mary, who stole and refused to work. The probation officer stated that the home was very poor, the father would often not work and they had made Mary begin to work when 12 years old and give all her wages to them.
Mary had obtained her present position by going to Gad’s Hill Center a month and a half before and representing herself as an orphan. She had tried to throw the neighbor off her track by going to her with a story of a “big noise” she had heard in the flat, but they had searched her and found the stolen things. Her employer also complained that Mary had taken clothing from her and hidden it. Mary was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd, but after her mother’s death in April, 1915, she was given some housework to do. On Dec. 17, 1915, she took $1 from her aunt and went away. She was sent to the Home for the Friendless. From there she wrote the probation officer complaining that the girl friends with whom she had been staying refused to let her have her clothes.
On Jan. 4, 1916, work was found for Mary at $7 a week. She worked one half day and then disappeared. She was located Jan. 10 and admitted remaining over night at a hotel four different nights with men. She didn’t know their names.... “I was drove away from home by my aunt. How could I stay there?”
“Q. to aunt: Did you drive Mary away from your home?
“A. Yes. She took $1 and I did not want her home.
111“Officer: I found out something since then. When she came from the House of the Good Shepherd she worked at housework and took two rings there and silk stockings and underwear.
“Q. You hear, Mary? Why did you do that?
“A. Because I did not have no clothes.”[66]
65. Katie, 13 years old. August 22, 1913, in court. Picked up by an officer late at night after having wandered about the streets the two nights previous. Begged not to be taken home.... The home is poor. The mother sometimes goes out to work, leaving the girl at home alone. Parents are not capable of giving her the protection and supervision she ought to have. Though the mother claimed she had proper care she wanted her sent to an institution for a few months and then to have her home again. Girl sent to St. Hedwig’s. She was released in October and behaved well for a few months, helping with the new baby at home.
April 16, 1914, brought to court with another younger girl for having stolen money and a watch from the purse of a woman in the shower-bath room in Eckhard Park.
Katie told the court she did not know why she left home, that she often left home and wandered around—could not control wandering impulse and habit she had fallen into, that when she left she worked in a hat factory half a day, for which she received 75 cents, which she used for meals, and on Feb. 14th she secured work and remained at it until arrested April 1st. Josephine, the younger girl, told the court that Katie asked her to go to a show with her. On the way Katie said her hair was falling down and suggested going into the park to arrange it. They went to the shower-bath rooms and Katie wished to take a bath. They looked into different bathrooms and in one room saw a purse which Katie suggested taking, saying she wanted money for a nickel show. Josephine took the purse and hid it under the bench, 112but when the owner complained to the matron and threatened the girl with prison, Katie confessed and gave the purse back, putting most of the blame on Josephine. As it was proved that Josephine did not have a proper home atmosphere she was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd, while Catherine, who was a good girl, according to her mother, except for her wandering impulses, and who had never before stolen, was paroled.
May 19, 1914, held at police station. Claims to have known Robert Smith, a colored man 64 years of age, for several years. He lives in 2 rooms.... Learning that girls went there she too went and had immoral relations with Mr. Smith at different times. On one occasion he gave her 15 cents and other occasions 25 cents.... [She said] “I went away from home that day. My uncle [father] wanted to send me away to school, so I ran away.... I stayed [away 3 days and spent the night] in front of our house in the hallway.”
Katie was sent to the House of Good Shepherd and released at her parents’ request at the end of May, 1915, and behaved until July 31, she was arrested in a rooming house with 2 young men. She had intercourse with one, 21 years old, whom she knew before she was sent away and whom the officer described as a “bum.” A social worker testified: “I met the girl at the police station ... and I suggested that she be sent to the House of Good Shepherd, but she was very much prejudiced by her past years there.... I told her that if she met boys on the street she couldn’t protect herself. She was very indignant in the police station.” At her mother’s request she was given another chance but was soon arrested for going with another girl, a saloon keeper and a photographer. When asked by the court what she had to say for herself she replied, “I don’t care what you do; I deserve it.” But she requested to be sent to Geneva instead of the House of The Good Shepherd—“they all say it is better.” She ran away from Geneva after a few weeks but was apprehended through an anonymous telephone message 113from a house on S. Michigan Ave. After she was sent back to Geneva she again escaped.[67]
66. Stella was 15 years old when she told this story to the Juvenile Court: “On the night of June 7, 1916, about 8 o’clock Helen Sikowska and I were standing at the corner.... Mike and Tomczak and another Mike came along in an automobile and Helen asked them for a ride. We went quite a ways, and then Tomczak said he wanted to [have intercourse with] me. He said if we did not do it he would not take us home.... They drove up in front of a saloon and all three of the fellows went in the saloon and stayed there about one hour. Helen and I sat in the car and waited for them. They came out and we started back for home. We drove for a ways, and when we came to a place where there was no houses they stopped the machine and said it was broke. Tomczak went to sleep. Mike, the driver of the car, got out and took me with him and walked me over the prairie. There he knocked me down and ... did something bad to me.... Then they took us back home.”[68]
67. Marien was arrested for acting “obstreperous” with another girl in a railway waiting room. She had no underclothing on when arrested [in June]. She was 16 years old, had left home before Easter and had been going much to shows and moving picture theaters. She told a police woman that she had been drugged on the North side and carried to a room by two men on different nights.... Marien said she had “no fault to find” with her home, her father and mother were kind to her.
The following letter was received from her while she was away: “Dear Mother, I am feeling fine. Everything is all right, don’t worry about me. I am leading high life because I am an actress. I got swell clothes and everything, you wouldn’t know me. I had Clara down town one day I was out with the manager. She had a nice time.... I never had such nice times in all my life. Everybody says that I 114am pretty. I paid 65 dollars for my suit and 5 dollars had [hat], 6 dollars shoe 3 gloves 2 dollar underwar 5 dollar corest. Know I have hundred dollars in the bank but I want you to write a letter and say youll forgive me for not telling the truht but I will explain better when I see you and will return home for the sake of the little ones. I will bring a hundred dollars home to you and will come home very time I can its to expensive to liv at a hotel now sent the letter to me this way General Devilery Miss Marion Stephan.”
Her father testified: “After Easter got a letter from her something like that one only more in it. She was rich and everything else, which is not so. So she says answer me quick as you can because I to go Milwaukee tomorrow. And I answer it right away to come home as soon as possible. Thought maybe the letter would reach her and heard nothing more until 3 weeks ago and then this letter come and I begging her to come home and be ... a good girl. She come home and asked if wanted to stay home now and she feel very happy that she is home and thought maybe she would behave.... Next day she said she was going for her clothes ... and I says I go with you. And I could not go and left my boy and girl to go with her Sunday. And she left them in the park and did not come home. Then she was back again Tuesday and in the evening when I come home from work she was not there.”[69]
68. “When I saw sweller girls than me picked up in automobiles every night, can you blame me for falling too?”
Pretty Helen McGinnis, the convicted auto vamp of Chicago, asked the question seriously. She has just got an order for a new trial on the charge of luring Martin Metzler to Forest Reserve Park, where he was beaten and robbed. The girl went on:
“I always wanted good clothes, but I never could get them, for our family is large and money is scarce. I wanted good times like the other girls in the office. Every girl 115seemed to be a boulevard vamp. I’d seen other girls do it, and it was easy.”[70]
69. Annie was brought into the Juvenile Court when she was 15 years old. Her story was as follows: She first had relations with a man 7 months before. He was an usher in the Eagle Theater. She went many times to this theater and saw him often. Once she stayed in the theater after the show and they had relations. He later left town but she had his address. Then she met a boy who sold papers in her neighborhood. Another fellow introduced him as “John Johnson” and she knew him under that name, though it was not his right one. They used to go to the park together and had intercourse once in the hallway of her home. She was not sure who the next man was but thought his name was “Nick.” She met him in a theater and knew him for two weeks.
Later she met Simon Craw in an ice-cream parlor, flirted with him and they became acquainted. He asked her to go joy riding. She said “no”, but made a date with him to go to Lawy’s Theater. After the show they went to the ice-cream parlor and had hot chocolate. She told him she was afraid to go home so late—it was 12 P.M. He talked to a man and then said a friend had offered to let them have his room in the Triangle Hotel. She did not want to go at first, but he said if anything came up in court he would marry her. Simon’s friend took them to his room and went after coal. Meanwhile she and Simon had relations. The boys went to bed and she sat up all night in a chair, none of them undressing.
A week later, on Sunday evening she met Simon in the ice-cream parlor at 7 P.M. They stayed until 8 o’clock and then went to Lawy’s Theater. They returned to the ice-cream parlor and Simon introduced a soldier whose name she forgot. She told them she did not want to go home as it was 11 P.M. and she had promised to be home at 8 116P.M. The soldier said he knew that the proprietor of the Ohio Hotel would let all three of them have one room for the night. She said: “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be used by everybody.” Simon said: “You don’t have to,” and they persuaded her to go.[71]
Doctor Katharine B. Davis, formerly superintendent of the New York State Reformatory for women, at Bedford Hills, has made a careful analysis of the life-histories of 647 prostitutes committed to that institution from New York City which throws light on the conditions under which girls begin their sexual delinquency. The study shows that very few prostitutes come from homes where all the conditions are good,—good family life, opportunity for education, economic security. The occupations of the fathers show a low economic status. Of the 647 girls only 15, or 2.4 per cent, had fathers belonging to the professional classes, and this category is stretched to include a veterinary surgeon, a colored preacher, a trained nurse, a musician, etc. Thirty-four fathers were farmers or farmhands, 29 shopkeepers, 1 a brewer, 5 sea captains, 1 gambler, 106 cases where there were no records, and the remaining fathers were mainly laborers or artisans, plasterer, plumber, peddler, miner, shoemaker, blacksmith, hod-carrier. Also janitor, porter, cook, waiter, coachman, street sweeper, teamster, elevator man, sandwich man, etc.[72]
As to the schooling of the girls, “fifty individuals, or 7.72 per cent, cannot read or write any language. Of these 15 are American born. Thirty-two can read 117and write a foreign language; 45.3 per cent have never finished the primary grades, while an additional 39.72 per cent never finished the grammar grades. Thirteen individuals had entered but not finished high school; only four individuals had graduated from high school; three had had one year at a normal school, and one out of 647 cases had entered college.” In addition, the average wage of the girls who had worked was very low. This point was determined in only 162 cases. “The average minimum,” says Doctor Davis, “is $4 and the average maximum $8. It will be noted that even the average maximum is below $9, an amount generally conceded to be the minimum on which a girl can live decently in New York City.”[73]
In comparison with this the girls reported relatively high wages from prostitution. The average weekly maximum, as reported by 146 girls, was $71.09, and the average weekly minimum, as reported by 95 girls, was $46.02. Thirty-eight girls gave figures of $100 or more, up to $400.[74]
These statements, as Doctor Davis says, are to be taken “with allowances”, but other statistics show that the earnings of prostitutes are about four times as great as the same girl could make at work.
An attempt was made also in this investigation to determine the causes leading up to prostitution from the standpoint of the girl. Two hundred and seventy-nine girls gave 671 reasons. That is, some of them gave a number of reasons. Among these reasons 306 were bad family life (in 166 cases no father or mother 118or neither); 55, bad married life; 48, desire for pleasure (theater, food, clothes); 38, desire for money; 17, “easy money”; 20, lazy, hated work; 13, dances; 15, love of the life; 9, stage environment; 4, tired of drudgery; 5, idle or lonely; 4, sick, needed the money; 10, no sex instruction; 2, white slave; 3, desertion by lover; 10, lover put girl on street; 10, “ruined anyway”; 7, previous use of drink or drugs; 1, ashamed to go home after first escapade; 75, bad company; 5, couldn’t support self; 1, couldn’t support self and children; 13, couldn’t find work.[75]
In spite of the bad economic conditions apparent here and in any report on prostitution it is remarkable that very few girls ever allege actual want or hunger as a reason for entering prostitution. In Doctor Davis’ list only 23 girls named something like this among the 671 reasons. There is no doubt that economic determinism is present, that if they had an abundance of money they would not lead the life, but they are unstabilized as the result of a comparison between what they have and what they want and what others have. The servant class affords the best illustration. Between 37 and 60 per cent of professional prostitutes have been servant girls, according to different reports from different countries. The average is perhaps 50 per cent. Yet this class is well fed and housed, they supply a universal demand and have no economic anxieties. But they are treated as an inferior class, shown no courtesies, come and go by the back door; their work is monotonous and long, and they rebel against what they call “that hard graft”, and seek pleasure, response, and recognition in the evening.
119The cases which I have cited do not represent at all, and the report of Doctor Davis represents only slightly, a large and equivocal class of girls who participate in prostitution without becoming definitely identified with it. The present tendency of irregular sex life is definitely toward limited and occasional sexual relations on the part of girls who have more or less regular work, and the line between the professional and the amateur prostitute has become vague.
The usual beginning is in connection with an acquaintanceship, keeping company, which is not necessarily regarded by either side as preliminary to marriage but as a means of having a good time. The charm of the girl is an asset, a lure, which she may use as a means of procuring entertainment, affection, and perhaps gifts. Where marriage was assumed as an object of association, marriage was also assumed as the payment which the girl would ultimately make as her contribution to the expense of the association, but in the more casual associations of the “great society” there has grown up a code that the girl shall pay something as she goes, and she does not pay in cash but in favors. Girls of the class who have “fellows” tend to justify sexual intimacy if they are “going to marry”, if the man says he will marry if there are “consequences”, if the relation is with only one man, and not for money. These are called “charity girls” by the professional prostitutes. When the girl has had some experience in sexual life she will multiply and commercialize her casual relationships. Girls talk of these matters, say “they all do it”, create a more favorable opinion of it, and show the less sophisticated girl how to make easy money.
The shop or office girl who makes sexual excursions 120does not usually become a public prostitute. Her work is more attractive, her income better, she has more class, frequently a home, and she may often find marriage among her acquaintances. There are also girls who do not work, who live in comfortable homes, and are yet found on the street; married women who prostitute themselves in order to have luxuries; women who go on the street when work is slack and return to work; others who limit their relations to a small group of men; mistresses who are promiscuous between periods when they are kept by one man; factory girls and other workers who regularly supplement the work of the day by work on the street. There is thus a general tendency to avoid identification with the prostitute class. Illegal sexual relations are becoming more individualized. Even regular prostitution is not and has never been so fixed a status as we should suppose; it is rather a transitory stage from which the girl seeks to emerge by marriage or otherwise. In his profound work on French prostitution Parent-Duchatelet pointed out that “prostitution is for the majority only a transitory stage; it is abandoned usually during the first year. Very few prostitutes continue until extinction.”[76] And this is confirmed by other reports.
Document No. 70 represents a type of organization which has arisen in connection with occasional prostitution, and in No. 71 the girl operates independently.
70. Mrs. X seems to take great pride in the fact that her girls are always fresh, young and attractive. She will not have a prostitute in her place who has ever been in houses of ill-fame.... These girls, she said, will never do in a 121quiet place. They love excitement, the music, lights and large business at small prices. They also want to have cadets. Once she took such a girl, but she could not keep her as she longed to return to the excitement of her former life and her cadet. The girls who do come to her are in many instances from surrounding towns or from other States. They stay long enough to earn a few clothes and then return home, where they tell other girls of the easy way they earned their clothes. She has a list of 20 or 22 girls who have been with her at different times. They come and go.
One of the girls now in the flat is called Rosie. This girl lives in Iowa, and was so wild at home that her mother could do nothing with her, so she came to Chicago. Sometimes Rosie and the keeper have a quarrel and the girl returns home. After awhile she writes and says she wants to return to the flat, so Mrs. X sends her a ticket. Rosie is one of a family of three or four boys and three girls. One of these sisters, called Violet, has also been an inmate of the flat and comes occasionally. Rosie’s mother says she realizes that Mrs. X can do more with her daughter than she can, so she allows her to come [not knowing what is happening]. The last time Violet was in the flat she stayed 10 days and earned $50.00, then went home again. She is 25 years old. Rosie is younger and a good money maker. During July, Rosie earned $156.00 as her share. During 27 days in August she earned $171.00.
The men who come to this flat are mostly married. Mrs. X says they are “gentlemen” and do not make any trouble. They prefer a place that is quiet and secret. Other customers are buyers from commercial houses, bringing out of town men who are here to purchase goods. In addition to this there are many traveling men who bring friends who gradually become regular customer.... The business depends largely on the telephone service. The girls are summoned to go to similar flats about town if they are needed, and in turn Mrs. X secures girls from other flats when her regular inmates are out when a customer calls. For instance, 122on September 20th the investigator was in the flat when only one girl was at home. In a few moments a telephone call came for the girl Helen to go to a flat near by. On September 30th a phone call came for three girls to go to a restaurant in Madison Street and report in the back room where they had been the previous night.[77]
71. American girl, twenty-one years old, semi-prostitute, typical of a certain class one grows to know. Works as salesgirl in one of the high class shops—a pretty girl, languid manner but businesslike; popular with business associates. Has a very clear skin, grey-blue eyes, perfect features. Father is a contractor, mother a hard-worked woman whose morals, personally, are beyond reproach but who regards her daughter’s affairs as only partly her business, preferring to let surmising take the place of knowledge.
She grew up the eldest of seven children, went through grammar school and through one year at the high school, then to work. She was bright and was soon promoted to position of salesgirl, where she worked in an atmosphere of luxury and, with a cleverness very common in this type, aped the manners and dress of the women she served. She had been a shy child and had never confided in her parents about feelings or her comings and goings, and they left her absolutely untaught, except that she attended church regularly (Roman Catholic) and was expected to do as she was told.
Sex had been a closed book to her and, as she was naturally cold and unawakened, she was not tempted as some girls are. She did not care about being loved, but the wish to be admired was strong within her and love of adornment superseded all else, particularly when she realized she was more beautiful than most girls.
The department store is sometimes a school for scandal. Many rich women are known by sight and are talked over, servants’ gossip sometimes reaching thus far, the intrigues 123between heads of departments and managers are hinted at and the possibility of being as well dressed as some one else becomes a prime consideration.
Freedom from household cares, independence of home obligations, and parental weakness all began to have their effect.
When she was seventeen years old she was first approached by college students who wanted her to go to dinners, dances, to the theatre, and for motor rides. This was innocent enough for a time. She did not dare do anything wrong because of the Church and her traditional standard of virtue. Then she met an artist who asked her to pose for him, and she consented; and after several sittings he asked her to pose in the nude. Five dollars an hour was a temptation, for it meant almost a whole week’s work in the store (she got seven there) so she consented, not telling her mother. Then her knowledge of sex began. This man kissed her, glorying in her beauty and promised her everything she wanted if she would be his mistress. Shocked, yet tempted, she hesitated. She was not at all passionate, but he roused in her her dominant emotion—love of power, conquest over men—and she realized in one short week that this was to be her life’s exciting game.
Other girls in the shop began to tell her their experiences. The career of a clandestine prostitute seemed rather the common thing. The good girls seemed rather pathetic and poverty struck; most of them were homely anyway; but there was her virtue to consider, the Church, the future. She would want to marry some one who would appreciate her beauty, who would demand that her womanhood be unscathed. She must compromise. She would give the man all that he wanted without losing her virtue technically. No man would have her completely. Then she could play the game. She had never heard of the perversions of sex, but she soon learned them and practised her arts with no sense of shame.
She has no use for the working man—indeed, her life 124for the last four years has been a mixture of shop work or posing in the day and luxury at night. It would be impossible for her to live at home in an atmosphere of soapsuds and babies, hard work and poverty.
When forced to think out the situation as it is, she is fair-minded. Virtue to her has become a technicality. She is not harmed and no man is strong enough to overcome her if she herself is frigid. She likes to be kissed and adores to rouse men’s passions. She thinks many girls are like her who have never given themselves wholly to men, but most of them are more easily roused. She seldom stays all night with a man. She likes to “keep them guessing.” Besides her mother would make trouble if she stayed out all night. If she thinks she is at a dance, she says nothing about her coming in late.
She admits her scorn of her own station in life but says the luxury-loving age is responsible for that, that no girl who loves pretty things (which most women do) is going to be content with shabby clothes and stupid makeshifts if she can be as feminine and as lovely as other women who do not work and yet have their hearts’ desires. She does not think she does the men harm; in fact, she is a good companion and coarseness of speech is repugnant to her. She smokes cigarettes but drinks very little. She admits she has no motive in life except to marry, some day, a man who has a good deal of money. She could easily marry a rich man; several have already asked her but she intends to wait a while. She knows the pleasures of the intellect are not for her. She says excitement has been her master and that nothing else in the world matters greatly. Cold and superficial, she admits she is not much of a woman but denies that her conscience is dead,—says it has never been born. The girls who are mistresses to one man have more womanly qualities than she because they are aroused and fully developed.
She has no desire for children, does not care for them, but has no aversion to having one. It would have to be a pretty 125baby and must be brought up nicely. Clutter, pots and pans and drudgery are as remote from her life a............
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