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'Ingersoll on Marriage and Divorce,'
Alice Win, in 'The Australian Radical,' April 1889.

I know nothing about this person at all. The name may be a pseudonym as women were not encouraged publically and the subject, 'Free love' was especially controversial. 'The Radical' contains no clues, and I have no other references to anyone of this name. The most likely possibility is that it is by Winspear's wife, the 'former' Miss Drake.

Colonel Ingersoll, in reply to a reporter who questioned him concerning his ideas on the subject of marriage, said:

This is quite true. People should make their own marriage contracts with whatever conditions best suit. They should also be allowed to make them in their own way to keep the matter private or to publish it abroad. But Colonel Ingersoll says no,

Now, why, if marriages are not made by the State, is it necessary to make every marriage public? If men and women enter into marriage on their own responsibility, they should be free to do so in whatever way suits them best, and to dissolve it at pleasure. There would be no need for State officialism, no need for publicity, no need for witnesses, unless desired by the parties themselves. Those who are happy in each other's society are not likely to treat each other badly, or to require witnesses to see that they do not break any part of the contract entered into. Men and women come together to satisfy their needs, either physical or mental, very often both. Their need of sympathy, of companionship, of sexual gratification cause them to enter into marriage relations, and so long as they can satisfy each others needs they will remain together. And who would wish them to remain longer? Who would be benefited by it if they did so? Not the man, whose wife's companionship no longer has any charms for him; not the woman, who finds the dreams of her youth rudely dispelled, and her ideal changed into very common clay; and certainly not the children, who would see their parents continually quarrelling, each wishing to go in a different direction, or at best would perceive coldness between them which would effectually prevent any concerted action. The children in such cases being very often worse off than if they had no parents at all.

Where then is the need for State interference of any kind? When asked what was his idea in regard to divorce, he replied:-

Now why should Ingersoll make this distinction between the rights of men and women? listen to his reply:-

Had Colonel Ingersoll intended to insult the women he could not have succeeded more effectually. 'A woman's capital,' her 'youth', her 'beauty'. Such things cannot be used apart from the individual? In order to use her youth and beauty as capital she must sell herself - become the slave of some man or men. Is this what Colonel lngersoll means? She may be forced into marriage in order to preserve her life, just as in other cases she is forced into the prostitution of the streets; but not because she has no other capital than 'her youth and beauty', not because such qualities as energy, perseverance and skill are wanting in the character of woman, not because she is incapable of earning her own living. No; the cause is the same as that which forces men to become dependent on women for support; and again, in turn, for both to become dependent on the labor of children; and its name is monopoly. And the cure for this lies far deeper than any tinkering with the marriage laws.

But it is not true that 'as her life advances, her chances decrease', at least up to a certain point, which is the same in the life of a man, the point where strength begins to fail by reason of old age or overwork! unless he means her chances of selling her body, by legalised or other prostitution, in order to gain the necessaries of life. When I realise that this is what marriage means to numbers of women, I could exclaim with the despairing, maddened woman in George Sim's 'During Her Majesty's Pleasure:-

Do you think such a woman as Mrs Besant has lost, or is losing her chances of winning the love and admiration, not only of one, but of many?

It seems to me that Ingersoll insults, not only the women, but the men also, when he makes it appear that they look for nothing but 'youth' and 'beauty' in a wife. Do they give no thought to her character - her truthfulness, honesty, commonsense, skill, and above all, her love?

He would give the woman 'a divorce for the asking.' So far, good. But a woman, in my opinion, should not even have to ask for it. The man and woman who come together voluntarily, should separate by mutual consent. But you ask, 'What about the child- ren?' Well, there are very few people so destitute of affection for the little ones dependent on them, that they would not contrive some plan for their maintenance until such time as they were able to provide for themselves.

I cannot see in what way it would benefit a woman to know that her husband could not escape from her so long as she kept to the letter of the contract; that in fact, before he can obtain release, he would have to blacken her character before the whole world. Of what use would it be to reverse the positions - making the husband, hitherto the master, the slave, and the woman, who in the past has been treated as a slave - suddenly assume the role of master? No, this will not give us what we desire - Equality. Let us have freedom - freedom for both man and woman - freedom to earn our bread in whatever vocation is best suited to us, and freedom to love where we like, and to live only with those whom we love, and by whom we are loved in return.

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