Ashburton Guardian magna est veritas et prævalebit. FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 1919. HOUSEWIVES.
The investigations being made by the Influenza Commission into the cause of the recent epidemic have been seized as an opportunity by , some witnesses to criticise severely the housewives of the Dominion. It has been stated that many women know nothing of cooking 1, nursing, or elementary hygiene. Other defects were elaborated upon, and altogether, if- half the censures were justified,, it was no wonder that New Zealand men, when in the Motherland, or France, made haste to marry before they returned to a land where the other sex was said to be so lamentably lacking. At Christchurch, the deservedly respected Nurse Maude was one of the women's severest crtics, and at Dunedin the Rev. X* G. Bryan-King declared :—
The .vast mass of the people
are very ignorant as to attending the sick, and as to fresh air, they hate and abhor it. It is a rare thing to see a window open in certain quarters of Dunedin, and when a window is open, it is only an inch or two at the outside. __ These housewives have no , idea of nursing or cooking. They
leave school at an early age, and go straight into shops or factories. They spend their evenings at the picture shows, or promenading the park or streets. Then they marry, ami when a child comes and «ontracts some ailment, they have no knowledge of how to dea! with it.
All this is very dreadful, it' it, were true, that is, we mean, irue of the average New Zealaud housewife; With all due deference to,the reverend gentleman; we tliirili he was indulging in generalities that could not be substantiated. Were the statements mainly correct, our public health statistics would not be so satisfactory, our death-rate would not be one of the lowest in the world, children throughout the Dominion would not be so vigorous and strong, and the Motherland and other countries would not be emulating New Zealand's system of safeguarding the health of babies. The shut windows are due more to the blunders of house construction than to a dislike by women to ventilation; incidentally, the average church-building is more "stuii'y" than the average residence. When Mr. Bryan-King asserted that "housewives have no idea of nursing or cooking," he probably really meant that they were not expert nurses or cooks. The women might retaliate that there are often deficiencies in elocution and subject,matter where pulpit addresses are concerned,, but that would not justify sweeping condemnations of clergy as a class. Girls do not "leave school at an early age for shops or' factories" quite voluntarily; often the family exchequer is the deciding factor. Picture shows appear to be the stock bug-bear of many pastors, especially of those who never patronise' these entertainments. The complaint that young wives do not know how to deal with infantile ailments is possibly wellfounded, but the women are not to blame so much as the education authorities, who shirked an obvious duty when the women were at school. We do not contend that among the thousands of mothers in New Zealand, none is deficient in the performance of her high duties, but when the miscellaneous, and nerve-trying character of the average housewife's duties is considered it must, we think, be agreed that the task is achieved most creditably by the vast majority. It is doubtful if inefficiency among housewives is relatively greater than among members of any masculine occupation, and the women's' remuneration is rarely so generous, materially.