Library Collections: Document: Full Text

What Are Women Interested In?

Creator: Helen Keller (author)
Date: September 1931
Publication: Home Magazine
Source: Towson University

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"One of the ten greatest women of today," says John Haynes Holmes, the fighting New York pastor, naming Helen Keller -- "most pitifully handicapped and most triumphant of women -- her life the proudest personal achievement of modern times"


I AM often disturbed when I read magazines devoted to women's affairs. Much space is given to the consideration of dress, personal appearance and habits.


"Do you bob your hair?" "Should young girls smoke?" "How many hours should they sleep?"


A great deal is written about the motion pictures, and as far as I know, they are not less degraded. The endless discussion of the theater does not criticize its tawdry sentimentalism and sensational excitement. It is rare to read an article protesting against the triviality of the subjects supposed to interest women. I should like to see well-written articles on serious questions now and then interspersed between costumes and theater gossip.


It is true that there are many women engaged in social welfare work in New York, but one has to read dry reports for facts and figures gathered by social researchers. I think the facts and figures given by the Social Welfare Council, of which Robert W. De Forest, a wealthy citizen, is president, would surprise women generally.


Despite the oft-repeated boast that New York is the richest city in the world, the report showed there was need for alleviating great suffering here even in the city's most prosperous days. Public and private charities were spending a hundred million dollars a year for relief work before the heavy weight of economic depression settled down upon us. Unorganized philanthropy contributed as much more in order that destitute people of all ages might not starve or be destroyed by preventable disease.


Why is there always unemployment in the large cities in the Winter time? What is poverty? Why are not some women trying to get to the bottom of these questions, instead of adding up their bridge scores day by day?


It is for us women to try to understand what prevention means, and how to apply it to the evils which are sapping the strength of millions of people around us every day.