An Appreciation of the American Woman by John Muirhead, 1898
Quotes from John Muirhead’s chapter on women in “The Land of Contrasts A Briton’s View of His American Kin”:
- The American woman has never learned to play second fiddle.
- …what chiefly strikes the stranger in the American woman is her candour, her frankness, her hail-fellow-well-met-edness, her apparent absence of consciousness of self or of sex, her spontaneity, her vivacity, her fearlessness.
- In England when we meet a girl in a ball-room we can generally “place” her after a few minutes’ talk… In the United States every new girl is a new sensation.
- There is one type of girl, with whom even the most modest and most moderately eligible of bachelors must be familiar in England, who is seldom in evidence in the United States—she whom the American aborigines might call the “Girl-Anxious-to-be-Married.”
- The American girl has all along been so accustomed to associate on equal terms with the other sex that she naturally and inevitably regards him more in the light of a comrade than of a possible husband. She has so many resources, and is so independent, that marriage does not bound her horizon.
- It cannot be sufficiently emphasised that the doings of a few wealthy people in New York are not characteristic of American civilisation.
- The American girl may not be in reality better educated than her British sister, nor a more profound thinker; but her mind is indisputably more agile and elastic.
- Among the most searching tests of the state of civilisation reached by any country are the character of its roads, its minimising of noise, and the position of its women.
- In no other country is the legal status of women so high or so well secured, or their right to follow an independent career so fully recognised by society at large. In no other country is so much done to provide for their convenience and comfort. All the professions are open to them, and the opportunity has widely been made use of. Teaching, lecturing, journalism, preaching, and the practice of medicine have long been recognised as within woman’s sphere, and she is by no means unknown at the bar.
- There is one profession that is closed to women in the United States—that of barmaid. That professional association of woman with man when he is apt to be in his most animal moods is firmly tabooed in America.
Quotation is observation, not endorsement.