“Let a man repose the same trust in the woman he marries that she reposes in him.”

Lavinia Goodell, November 1879

A previous post discussed how in the fall of 1879 Lavinia Goodell, in a series of articles published in the Woman’s Journal, countered editorials in the Christian Union newspaper which advised women to submit to their husbands.

In its October 29, 1879 issue, the Christian Union called out Lavinia by name and said her proposition that a wife is her husband’s equal was “a delusion and a snare.”

Christian Union, October 29, 1879

The Christian Union closed its piece by proclaiming in capital letters, “WE EXHORT THE WIFE TO SUBMIT HERSELF TO HER HUSBAND RATHER THAN HAVE STRIFE WITH HIM.” Read the entire Christian Union piece here.

Lavinia was not about to let the Christian Union have the last word. Her diary entry for November 1, 1879 read, “Wrote a piece for Woman’s Journal in reply to Chr. Union.” In her opening salvo, she said the Christian Union’s editorial might be briefly summarized as, “I say ‘tis, too, so there, now! I TELL YOU I SAY IT IS, NOW!”

Lavinia wrote:

The condition of uneasy irritation in which the article appears to have been written, suggests the first stage of conviction of sin; and we shall watch the Union’s symptoms anxiously, tremblingly, hopefully, trusting its present ‘concern of mind’ will result in conversion, and not in further hardness of heart.

Lavinia said, “It is a little singular that in a country which maintains a republican government, and in the Congregational Church, an intelligent writer should be found to claim the necessity of king or pope to justify family tyranny.” She continued:

Selfish and brutal men make it a pretext for tyranny, and will do so to the end of time. There is no remedy but in repudiating the doctrines as a relic of barbarism, unjust, unchristian, and unworthy our country and our age. Let a man repose the same trust in the woman he marries that she reposes in him. If she can trust him to choose and supply the home, he can also trust her to properly guide the household and rear the children. There is no reason why his trust, his love, or his self-abnegation should not be as great as hers; and only where it is so can there be perfect harmony.

Read Lavinia’s full article here.

.Sources consulted:  Lavinia Goodell’s diary, November 1, 1879; “Spherical Domesticity,” October 29, 1879 Christian Union; Lavinia Goodell, “Spherical Domesticity,” November 22, 1879 Woman’s Journal, Vol. 10, No. 47, seq. 375, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

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