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A girl smoking (1935)

Two young girls of Chicago were recently sent to the House of Correction for smoking in the street. The question is, Why is it more of a crime for a girl to smoke in the street than for a boy, many of whom, not over six or eight years of age, can be found with stubs of old cigars in their mouths.

The imment of women for smoking in the streets, is a high-handed outrage upon the part of our tyrants who make and executes the laws for their own benefit. Commence with your own sex, gentlemen. You have no business to punish woman for any crime. We did not help make the laws; we execute none, abrogate none. You, who do, should amuse yourselves by inflicting these penalties upon man.

But we forget. There is no penalty for a male being’s smoking in the street or elsewhere, nor is there a law to punish women. The penalties recently inflicted in Providence and in Chicago upon women who have been found smoking in the street, were arbitrary exercise of power — a part of that policy which assumes that woman is a being to be controlled by man, and that he has a right to punish her for acts he considers justifiable in himself. It is the result of the caste feeling of sex, — it is one phase of class legislation.

Until woman is at liberty to indulge in petty vices, if she chooses, she will not be free, as man is free; and a virtue which is the result of force or constriction, is a mere sham. It is only in the enjoyment of the greatest freedom that any person, man or woman, can be truly himself or herself.

Source: National Citizen and Ballot Box 1881-05