Advocates of women’s emancipation challenged virtually all conventional notions of female difference, whether of physical strength, intellectual acuity, or emotional stability, that were invoked to bar women from various kinds of work. During the prewar era, the British Olive Schreiner claimed for women “our share of honoured and socially useful human toil, our full half of the labour of the Children of Woman” as an indispensable condition of gender equality.24 But, argued the German socialist Lily Braun, feminists now faced a “great problem, how to reconcile this equality with the differentiation of the sexes.25 Without provision for that major form of gender difference, motherhood, the rights of women in the workplace could never be successfully won.26

In a climate of opinion that regarded the employment of married women as an evil to be avoided or a social problem to be solved, some feminists shocked public opinion by presenting such work in a positive light. Though they admitted that employment outside the home often brought more hardship than satisfaction, many also saw it as an essential condition for women’s emancipation. They expanded the critique of the laws of marriage discussed in the previous chapter by pointing out that an egalitarian marriage relationship was impossible for a woman who was economically dependent. During the nineteenth century, this was considered a problem chiefly for the unmarried women, who without a vocation often had no choice but to marry a man whom she did not love. But some influential authors, such as the socialists Friedrich Engels and August Bebel, declared that the dependency of the married woman was equally degrading. In the socialist state of the future, wrote Bebel, the married woman would “choose an occupation suited to her wishes, inclinations and abilities, and work under the same conditions as a man.” Released from the “sex slavery” of marriage, she would be economically and socially independent, “and the children that she will have will not impair her freedom, they will only increase her pleasure in life.”27

This analysis appealed across national boundaries to feminists, chiefly but not exclusively those of socialist or radical tendency. The British novelist Mona Caird, whose novel Daughters of Danaeus portrayed the soul-destroying effects of marital dependency on a talented woman, declared bitterly that “to be maintained, however luxuriously, without earning anything over which there is undisputed control, is to be, in so far, in the position of a slave. … It will be seen that the married woman is exactly in this position, inasmuch as her work in the home does not procure her independence. She is the working partner in a firm in whose profits she has no share.”28

Several theorists who gained international recognition offered appealing visions of a brighter future. Chief among these were the American Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the British Olive Schreiner, and the German Lily Braun. Gilman’s central work, Woman and Economics, was translated into at least six European languages—German, Dutch, French, Polish, Hungarian, and Russian—and her translators included prominent figures such as Aletta Jacobs in the Netherlands and Marie Stritt in Germany. Jacobs, who also translated Schreiner’s book, Woman and Labour, considered that both authors had laid a new scientific foundation for the women’s movement.29 Both Gilman and Braun were widely discussed in Hungary, and although no English translation of Lily Braun’s The Woman Question (Die Frauenfrage) seems to have existed, the British Fabian Women’s Group was sufficiently interested in her ideas to commission one of their members to report on them in 1910.30 British feminists also admired Gilman: the Englishwoman’s Review called Gilman’s Women and Economics “more calculated to stimulate thought than any book that has appeared of recent years.”31 In 1904, Gilman spoke at the International Women’s Congress in Berlin and looked forward to a utopian future when married women would be economically independent and “man and woman will stand together as free people.” By all accounts, the speech was received with great enthusiasm by delegates from many nations.32

Braun, Gilman, and Schreiner adopted a historical and anthropological perspective on the relationship of motherhood and work. From the prehis­toric period to the early modern era, they claimed, industry had been based in the household, and married women had engaged in productive as well as reproductive work. Only very recently had the industrial revolution removed productive work from the home—two-thirds of the world’s work, Schreiner speculated, had thus been removed from the hands of women.33 This trend had not elevated married women to an idealized domestic role, but had rather reduced them to a harmful state of idleness and economic dependency which Schreiner called “sex parasitism.” The consequences, she warned, were likely to be disastrous to a new generation born to mothers who were physically, morally, and psychologically debilitated. Gilman likewise asserted that the degrading dependency of the married woman was physically as well as psychologically harmful to her children: “the more absolutely woman is seg­regated to sex-functions only. . . the more pathological does her motherhood become.”34

Some critics of Schreiner’s book pointed out that the notion of “sex para­sitism” was highly specific to the leisured housewives of the middle class and hardly applied to the overburdened women of the working class, who might benefit from being relieved of their employment.35 But Lily Braun and others responded that, on the contrary, employment was of great importance to the working-class woman, for it transformed her from a “conservative element in society” to a “struggling and thinking human being.” Work alone, Braun insisted, was “the great emancipator, that leads her out of slavery to freedom.”36

Activists in many countries cited these popular works to support the expansion of women’s economic opportunities. Singled out as particularly unfair were the so-called marriage bars or celibacy clauses that forced women in civil service occupations to give up their positions when they married. Though they applied to all married women, these laws were justified by arguments that maternal employment damaged children and families, and thus targeted chiefly working mothers. As critics pointed out, such sentimental tributes to motherhood thinly disguised the self-interest of male professionals who hoped by this means to eliminate women from desirable jobs. In Germany, where such a clause applied to teachers, many delegates to a teach­ers’ conference held in 1904 asserted that the career woman who was fulfilled by her work was a better mother than the woman whose world was limited to her four walls. Hildegard Wegscheider-Ziegler, a teacher who had been ordered out of her classroom when she was pregnant, declared that “children need mothers who are role models. A teacher who has to work hard will be an example to her children and a valuable mother.”37 Several members of the British Fabian Women’s Group likewise deplored “the stultifying, paralyzing effect on children in the first years of their life of the mother whose activities are confined within the two or three-roomed homes of our great towns” and asserted that independent mothers raised healthier and happier children.38 And the Swiss Gertrud Woker, a university lecturer who was a disciple of Schreiner and Gilman, stated (along with many other theorists) that celibacy clauses actually discouraged motherhood, for many civil servants could not afford to marry and have children without the income from their employment.39

But if mothers were to be employed, the workplace must be adapted to their special needs. By contrast to the vanishing household system so nostal­gically described by Schreiner, Gilman, and Braun, the modern workplace was structured for men and made no allowance for women’s reproductive role. In 1890, an international conference called in Berlin by the new German emperor, Wilhelm II, recommended several measures designed to protect women from the vulnerabilities imposed by pregnancy and child­bearing, including a ban on night work and a shortened workday for women workers. During the succeeding two decades, these and other restrictions were legislated in many Western countries. Protective legislation gave rise to many protracted debates, the details of which were too complex to concern us here, within and among feminist organizations.40 Socialist women generally joined their male colleagues in supporting protection for women, while some middle-class leaders such as the Dutch Marie Rutgers-Hoitsema and Wilhelmine Drucker, opposed it as a limitation on female workers’ liberty and earning power.41 But even those who normally opposed protection conceded that some form of social support for pregnancy and childbearing was the indispensable condition for women’s participation in work, which otherwise they would be forced to leave when they became mothers. Those who took this position were faced with a theoretical problem of immense practical significance: how to redefine maternal obligations so that they could be combined with full-time work. Their solution to this problem was a min­imal definition of motherhood that limited full-time maternal care to the period required for pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding, and thus called for only a short interruption in the mother’s employment. Throughout Europe, feminists demanded that this short period be covered by a maternity leave—which many believed should be made compulsory—and supported by government-sponsored maternity insurance or some other form of public subsidy.

The need for maternity leave was documented by the research of French physicians such as the gynecologists Adolphe Pinard and Blanche Edwards- Pilliet and the pediatrician Pierre Budin, who gained an international follow­ing.42 Their findings were confirmed by colleagues in other countries, for example, by the Germans Christian Klumker and Gustav Tugendreich, the Norwegian Katti Anker Moller, the British Caleb Saleeby, and many others. Childbirth had traditionally been defined as a danger to the woman herself, but these physicians redirected public concern to the health of her child. They pointed out that when economic pressures forced mothers to return to work soon after the birth, the infant was more likely to be artificially fed and was thus (given the difficulties of obtaining pure milk and clean water) much more likely to die of malnutrition or digestive diseases. Most medical opinion favored the extension of the maternity leave for at least six, and ideally eight, weeks after the birth. Pinard, whose practice included prenatal care, also declared on the basis of research conducted throughout the 1890s that mothers who rested from work for the final three months of pregnancy produced healthier babies than those who worked to term.43

In many Western European countries governments used these data to justify laws that made maternity leave compulsory for some categories of workers. In 1877 Switzerland became the first European country to mandate a leave for four weeks before and four weeks after the birth; in 1878 Germany mandated a leave of three weeks after the birth (which in 1908 was expanded to a period of six weeks, two weeks before and four weeks after the birth); in 1879 Italy required a leave of two weeks (later expanded to four). Austria (1885), Hungary (1884), Belgium (1889), Holland (1889), Norway (1892), and Denmark (1901) also mandated maternity leaves of varying length.44 Ironically France, the country most concerned about infant mortal­ity, was among the last countries to decree a compulsory maternity leave, partly because of legislators’ reservations about state interference in the family. In 1913, the Strauss Law (Loi Strauss, named for Paul Strauss, a physician and legislator who was the most conspicuous advocate of protection for mothers) mandated a four-week leave following childbirth for all mothers who were employed outside the home.45

By 1900 the view that the survival and health of children were public concerns was so widely accepted that only a minority saw such measures as a restriction on the freedom of women to control their own working lives. Indeed, motherhood was often compared to military service, which also required a break from employment. Maguerite Durand, the editor of the main French feminist newspaper La Fronde, declared that the state had as much right to protect its children as to draft men into the army.46 But like military service, reformers added, motherhood deserved some form of compensation. “As motherhood is a social function,” explained Lily Braun, “the state must take it under its protection and ensure to all needy mothers the best possible care.”47

A model for such public assistance was provided by the work of private women’s organizations, which starting in the 1890s sponsored insurance funds to help working women through the economic hardships imposed by pregnancy and childbirth and to enable them to take additional time off in order to breast-feed their babies. In 1892, a garment makers’ union (Chambres syndicalistes des industries de l’aiguille) in Paris created the first such fund, known as a Maternal Aid Society (Mutualite Maternelle), which in return for premiums paid by mothers guaranteed a subsidy for six weeks before and six weeks after the birth.48 The concept rapidly spread to Italy, where in 1894 the socialist Paolina Schiff persuaded a Milan women’s organ­ization, the League for the Defense of Women’s Interests (Lega per la tutela degli interessi feminili) to set up a maternity insurance fund for working women. The funds were financed both by premiums from the members and by contributions from wealthy benefactresses. Soon, many such local funds were established in Italian cities. The brochure that advertized the Turin fund expressed the hope that such efforts would unite “well-to-do mothers and needy mothers, whom nature has made equal in the joys and suffering of moth­erhood.”49 The founders of organizations such as the Dutch Mutual Society for the Protection of Women (Onderlinge Vrouwenbescherming) and the German League for the Protection of Mothers (Bund fur Mutterschutz) provided charitable services that often included support to needy mothers for childbirth and breast-feeding, with a particular emphasis on the unmarried mothers that more conventional charitable organizations often sanctimoniously rejected.

But such private efforts could not suffice to solve the huge problem of maternal poverty. All these organizations called for public assistance, usually in the form of a state sponsored social insurance fund to support the com­pulsory maternity leaves which otherwise, they persuasively argued, merely deprived mothers of needed income.

Such a demand raised complex questions about the maternal role. Insurance was based on the concept of “risk,” but whom did motherhood place “at risk”? All working mothers, all mothers, all potential mothers, families including fathers, the entire society? And to what other “risk” could maternity be compared? The closest analogy seemed to be illness. But many reformers argued that pregnancy and childbearing were not illnesses, but healthy and normal states that contributed to the general welfare. They should thus be supported by special insurance funds that were funded, not just by women or by mothers, but by all members of the society that depended for its survival on women’s willingness to bear and rear the next generation.

The maternity funds that were founded in the prewar era hardly lived up to these ambitious claims. In 1912, a state-sponsored maternity insurance fund was founded in Italy, largely at the urging of the feminists who had been so active in founding private maternity funds. But because Italy had no compulsory public insurance system, no mechanism or precedent existed for extending the responsibility to the entire society. The fund was narrowly written for women industrial workers and supported only by the contribu­tions of the women themselves and their employers. The covered workers immediately protested against this equation of “women” and “mother,” for most women who had been forced to pay into the fund while they were employed quit their jobs when they became pregnant and thus were not entitled to claim the benefits! In this predominantly rural economy, moreover, industrial workers constituted a small percentage of the female workforce. Neither the large group of women who worked in agriculture and domestic service, nor the still larger group who did not work for wages were covered. And the fact that the fund covered unmarried as well as married mothers gave rise to a popular protest that was instigated by the clergy, who charged that such godless innovations encouraged immoral conduct.50

A similar fund was proposed by legislators in Sweden, another country that was still largely rural and lacked a compulsory public insurance system.

There, as in Italy, the insurance fund was designed to cover only female industrial workers, and to be supported only by their contributions and those of their employers. Feminists of both liberal and socialist persuasions objected vociferously to the essentialist assumption that all women workers ran the “risk” of motherhood, and must therefore carry the main financial burden. In Sweden as in Italy, many women resigned their jobs when they became mothers and thus never benefitted from their premiums. A still more important objection to this ill-conceived scheme focused on gender equality, a principle often forgotten amid the high-flown tributes to the glories of motherhood. “Fathers are not mentioned in the proposal,” protested a female trade-unionist in 1912. “Does the child have only a mother and no father?”51 Some opponents also believed such subsidies, especially to unmar­ried mothers, encouraged fathers to be irresponsible. Others pointed out that the limitation of coverage to the small group of industrial workers ignored the needs of the majority of mothers who did not belong to this category. Largely because of these objections, the proposal was withdrawn, and Swedish mothers had to wait for the passage of a comprehensive social insurance plan in the 1930s to gain coverage for maternity leaves.

Slightly better remedies were available in the few countries that already had compulsory social insurance systems that covered sickness, accidents, and old age. Unlike Sweden and Italy, Germany was a heavily industrialized country where women, though a minority of all industrial workers, were numerous in a few industries. Germany was the first country to establish a state-mandated compulsory insurance program (funded chiefly by workers and employers), which classified maternity as an “illness” and financed maternity leave for workers in the occupations that were covered. In 1883 new mothers who worked in industry were given coverage for three weeks after childbirth; in 1892 this period was extended to four weeks, and in 1903 to six weeks.52 In Austria, where a state-sponsored insurance system was established in 1888, some working mothers were entitled to insurance coverage for four weeks.53

These systems insured maternity on the same terms as illness or injury, at a rate—one-half to two-thirds of the normal wage—that was designed to discourage malingering. Critics pointed out that this low rate of coverage often forced women to return to work (sometimes illegally) before the end of the mandatory rest period. In 1901 Lily Braun, who was influenced by Paolina Schiff and by the Belgian reformer Louis Frank, called for the cre­ation of a separate insurance fund that would cover all mothers for four weeks before and eight weeks after birth at the level of the average wage and would provide free medical treatment, drugs, and home care for mother and child. Braun specified that the cost must be borne not by mothers alone but by all taxpayers, especially the single people and childless couples who she believed led “a much more carefree life than married people with large families.”54

By 1907 both the League of German Women’s Associations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine) and socialist women’s groups advocated government – subsidized maternity insurance. But they reluctantly decided that the improvement of the existing coverage through the reform of the health insurance system was a more practical goal than the creation of a separate maternity fund.55 In 1907 the League for the Protection of Mothers, which had placed maternity insurance at the center of its program, addressed a peti­tion to the Reichstag that asserted that the employment of mothers was not a social evil to be abolished but “a necessary result of our economic develop­ment.”56 The petition demanded financial support for mothers, married and unmarried, in all occupations (not just the industrial occupations that were currently covered) and for the female dependents of male workers for six weeks before and six weeks after the birth. In addition, the petition demanded that the services of a midwife or physician be provided if necessary, and that cash payments known as “nursing premiums” (“Stillpramien”) be issued to mothers who undertook to breast-feed their infants after the period of coverage expired. These campaigns gained limited results—in 1911 the term was extended to eight weeks, the granting of medical benefits was made optional, and coverage was extended to groups such as agricultural and domestic workers not previously covered.

In Austria, feminist groups launched a petition in 1907 for the extension of maternity coverage to twelve weeks. But such efforts brought few results until the war years.57 At the urging of the League of Swiss Women’s Associations (Bund schweizerischer Frauenvereine), Switzerland included six weeks of maternity coverage and four additional weeks’ allowance for mothers who breast-fed in a state-financed health insurance system that was founded in 1912, but because membership was voluntary a limited number of women received benefits.58 In 1911, partly due to the campaign waged by organizations such as the Women’s Cooperative Guild, Great Britain’s new social insurance system allotted a small maternity allowance to a limited group of wage-earning industrial workers. In 1913 the French law that made maternity leave compulsory also afforded a small government-financed allowance to mothers below a certain income.59

As many historians of social policy point out, these and other reforms, however limited, were highly significant as first steps toward the development of the welfare state. But they also illustrated the many problems involved in a model of motherhood that was confined to the biological functions of pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Despite feminists’ protest against this pejorative language, maternity insurance schemes classified motherhood negatively as an illness, which like other illnesses must necessitate only a short break in the woman’s employment. They did nothing for mothers who were not employed, and for the many employed women—such as those engaged in domestic or agricultural work—whose occupations did not fall into the covered categories. And the problem became even more serious when the social as well as the biological aspects of motherhood were considered. Obviously, child-rearing responsibilities did not end after one or two months of breast-feeding, when the infant was almost as much at risk as on the day of its birth. But to campaign for the lengthening of the compulsory maternity leave might play into the hands of those who proposed the exclusion of all married women from industrial or civil-service jobs. “A return to the old idea of ‘motherhood or work,’ ” warned the German Alice Salomon, would endanger the livelihood of the many mothers who “depend on their work to support themselves and their children.”60

If full-time motherhood was to be limited to such a short period, then the care of children must obviously be entrusted to someone other than the biological mother. In wealthy households, this assistance was provided by servants. But some utopian dreamers, most of whom were inspired by Braun and Gilman, looked forward to more fair and egalitarian solutions. Gilman, herself a divorced mother who had made the heart-breaking decision to relinquish custody of her child to her ex-husband, insisted that the prevalent tendency to idealize “mother-love” actually demonstrated a boundless contempt for the difficult and complex work of child-rearing. Mothers too often lacked both the natural talent and the specialized knowledge for this task, which Gilman recommended be left to experts. Both Gilman and Braun envisaged a reorganized form of the family in which the collective household with central kitchen, laundry facilities, and cleaning services would replace the scandalously inefficient labor of the housewife. Such households would provide child-care centers equipped with a playground and gymnasium and staffed by teachers trained in kindergarten methods. “It is no new and daring heresy to suggest that babies need better education than the individual mother now gives them,” Gilman explained. “It is simply a little further extension of the steadily expanding system of human education which is coming upon us, as civilization grows. And it no more infringes on the mother’s rights, the mother’s duties, the mother’s pleasures, than does the college or the school.”61

In the Netherlands the ideas of Braun and Gilman gained high prestige through the support of such leaders as Aletta Jacobs and Wilhelmina Drucker, head of the Free Women’s Association (Vrije Vrouwenvereeniging). This organization’s newspaper, Evolutie, championed the collective house­hold and claimed that children would be much better off with qualified kindergarten teachers than with their unqualified mothers, to many of whom motherhood was a “game, and the baby a toy.”62 The cause was also taken up in Britain, where both the socialist Fabian Society and the Society for the Promotion of Cooperative Housekeeping, led by Alice Melvyn, were instru­mental in the provision of facilities for “cooperative living” in several new communities (or “garden cities”). In Germany, a dwelling along the lines proposed by Lily Braun was built in the new suburb of Hellerau, outside Dresden.63 And in Berlin, reported a correspondent for the Austrian feminist journal Der Bund in 1909, several cooperatives were in the process of being founded by groups who “aimed to create a new culture of the home to replace the individual household. . . run by dilettantish housewives and untrained servants.”64

The supporters of these alternative communities joined in a polemic against traditional maternal practices, which they roundly condemned as ignorant, irresponsible, and often positively lethal. “It is impossible,” complained the British Mona Caird, “to go into the nursery of an average Christian household without being struck by the extraordinary ignorance there displayed of the simplest laws of hygiene, physical, mental, and moral. . . . The whole race is brought up in a manner that offends not only scientific acumen, but the simplest common sense.”65 Child-rearing, said the British socialist Ada Nield Chew, should be regarded as a vocation like any other: “women who are specially talented for taking care of babies should be employed by the state to mother the babies of the women who. . . though passionately loving and beloved mothers. . . . are quite unfit… to tend young children. Why should we always make such a virtue of putting square pegs in round holes?”66 To critics who charged her with plotting to destroy family life, Braun responded petulantly that conventional child-rearing methods too often produced “spoiled little tyrants,” who might well learn from the experience of communal living “that their little egos are not the center of the universe!” Their mothers, satisfied by their work, would exercise a far more positive influence than the full-time housewives whom Braun described with biting contempt as “prematurely aged, stupid women. . . who are able neither to be a parent and educator for their children nor a companion for their husbands.”67

Among the most influential of the era’s experiments with collective child-rearing was that of the Italian physician and social reformer Maria Montessori. Montessori, born in 1870, was one of the first Italian women to qualify as a physician. Her life-long concern for children probably arose partly from her own difficult experience of single motherhood. In 1898 she bore a son by a colleague, Giuseppe Montesano, who later acknowledged paternity. Montessori named her child for herself—Mario Montessori—and maintained a relationship with him, but did not acknowledge him publicly until he was an adult and her own reputation was sufficiently secure to withstand even the stigma of single motherhood.68 Montessori gained promi­nence both as a specialist in the field of child development and as a feminist who represented her country at the International Women’s Conference in Berlin in 1896.

In 1907 Montessori was appointed the director of a day-care facility in a new apartment block in the poorest section of Rome. The owners of the building had set up the day-care center less to educate the children, for whose mental capacities they had little esteem, than to prevent damage to the prem­ises during the time when parents were at work. Montessori had developed a pedagogy based on educational toys designed to develop the cognitive, motor, and social skills of retarded children. She found that this method produced even better results in children who were of normal intelligence. Her pupils showed an unexpected capacity for concentration, and even the most rambunctious were attentive. They were, she reported, “filled with life, and resembled those who have experienced some great joy.”69 Like other social reformers of her class, Montessori deplored the sanitary standards of the poor and added instruction in basic hygiene, which she encouraged the children to transmit to their parents. “Actually, these poor people became cleaner and tidier. . . . window panes began to sparkle, and geraniums began to blossom in the windows facing the courtyard.”70

Montessori’s work gained immediate attention in Italy, where similar centers, known as Children’s Houses (Case dei Bambini), were founded by philanthropic organizations in several cities. A speaker at the National Congress of Italian Women of 1914 saw in this pedagogical innovation “the basis of a new organization for the housing of the working classes.”71 Montessori, like feminist reformers in other countries, regarded communal child-care as a vital step in the “socialization of the home,” which would give even poor women a freedom to pursue work or other interests that was now available only to those who could afford nurses and governesses. Very possibly her own experience had made her painfully aware of how difficult it was to rec­oncile career and child-care obligations. “We are, then, communizing a ‘maternal function,’ a feminine duty within the home. We may see here in this practical act the solution of many of woman’s problems.”72

But though they appealed to a minority of feminists, these visions were unlikely to gain wide public support. The Berlin cooperatives soon fell into financial difficulties. In France, despite a high rate of employment among married women, communal living found few advocates. Madeleine Pelletier remarked with her usual acerbity that bourgeois Frenchwomen regarded child-care centers, known in France as “creches,” as unsuitable for people of their class, and were “full of prejudices about the duties of mothers to their children.”73 In Germany, Lily Braun’s picture of the communal household was ridiculed by the conservative press as the “hamster-cage of the future, where family life is limited to the bedroom,” by the liberal press as “the barracks as domestic ideal,” and by her socialist colleague and rival Clara Zetkin as a frivolous utopian fantasy.74 In the socialist periodical Sozialistische Monatshefte, Edmund Fischer scornfully remarked that upwardly mobile work­ing-class families were sick and tired of crowded “barracks-like” dwellings and longed for a private space where the housewife, relieved of wage-earning, could devote herself to “child-rearing and the cultivation of family life.”75 Jeanne Schmahl, who was herself one of few French disciples of Gilman, likewise observed that the workers for whom the collective household was primarily designed tended to regard it with a “marked antipathy” and to cling stubbornly to the “beloved intimacy of the home.”76

In fact, utopian visions of collective family life and child-rearing were not only impractical for the near future—the few institutions that were founded did little to solve the social problems affecting mothers and children—but unappealing to the majority of women who were not employed outside the home. These women, who often took pride in their household and child­rearing skills and considered their contribution to their families as valuable as that of the breadwinner, had every reason to feel disrespected by reformers whose professions of concern for mothers were punctuated by complaints about their ignorance, irresponsibility, and backwardness. Therefore, a femi­nism that extolled the dignity of domesticity and full-time motherhood also found an audience, and to this movement we will now turn.