Statement on Modern Women, January 19, 1925


Jane Addams Unperturbed by Criticism of Modern Woman

Founder Of Hull House Believes Her Sex Is Progressing With Civilization And Is Not Alarmed By Present-Day Tendencies; Says Modern Woman Needs No Defense.

United News Staff Correspondent

Chicago, Jan. 19. -- The torrent of abuse and criticism which flows periodically from the pens of the verbose critics who insist on picturing the "modern woman" as an irresponsible creature sipping gin through lip-sticked lips, dancing to the nervous strains of "Red Hot Mama," conversing in snappy epithets, and hailing happiness as the "cat's pajamas," is idle chatter to Jane Addams, founder of the famous Hull House of Chicago, and known throughout the nation for her social and welfare work among women.

Not Alarmed.

Even the latest attack, coming as it does from a great English surgeon that woman is a victim of modern civilization, does not alarm Miss Addams. Neither is she disturbed by the admissions of 16-year-old Dorothy Ellingson of San Francisco, self-styled "Jazz Baby," who slew her mother because she was "always wrangling with her."

Miss Addams believes woman is progressing with civilization. She denies that woman is destroying the character of her sex in trying to dress like men.

"The changes, the reforms that are taking place in woman's attire," Miss Addams told the United News Monday, "may be explained by the fact that woman is taking her place with men in the modern business world. She is dressing for the part. It is inevitable that her attire should undergo drastic changes.

"Being a woman, however, she sacrifices as little as possible of what is ornamental, the result some times bringing down upon her ridicule and abuse. However, who can deny that bobbed hair and short skirts do not increase the efficiency of the working girl?"

Long Line Waiting.

The door of the office swung open, giving Miss Addams a glimpse of the long line of women in the anteroom waiting to see her -- perhaps to seek advice from her as to how to meet this complex called modern life.

A far-away look came into the eyes of one of "America's great women." Perhaps she was turning over in mind the idea that the first woman who really bobbed her hair was a slim stenographer who found that long and flowing locks are an impediment to the efficient use of the intricacies of a shorthand system. However, she made no speculations on the subject. The light returned to her eyes.

Needs No Defense.

"Oh, the modern woman needs no one to defend her," she said, almost defiantly. "She can stand on her own feet. Why bother about the silly attacks of critics who discover something fundamentally wrong with her because she adopts a new style of wearing her hair, or chooses to lengthen or shorten her skirts?

"Woman today is enjoying to the full her comparative freedom; she is developing into a radiant, splendid creature, strong, sure of herself and alertly aware of her duties to society. She is not perfect, of course, but I would say that in her present stage of development, she is infinitely stronger and superior to her sister of an earlier day."

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