Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Toronto Star on "Wife Spanking"

I guess times have changed. At least I hope so. I came across this while doing some research on Holy Joe Atkinson, the creator of the modern incarnation of the Toronto Star:

Toronto Star editorial, March 1, 1938 

The Spanking of Wives

Husbands and wives in every part of the American continent and possibly throughout the world, have been intrigued by news from Winnipeg that a man in that city had been convicted for assault for spanking his wife and a year’s sentence suspended over his head. The unfortunate husband may have been influenced by news reports to the effect that in other communities had commended he-men for administering chastisement that the court considered to be well-deserved. Everyone will agree that the uncertainty of justice towards such a matter constitutes a grave domestic problem in the nine provinces of confederation that has its counterpart in other countries. Most decidedly, it is unfair that the authorities should leave husbands in doubt about the extent of their marital rights, privileges and responsibilities.

In this particular case at Winnipeg the husband may have been indiscreet. He resorted to corporal punishment to break his wife of the smoking habit. Now as everyone knows that habit has become fashionable among women and as prim and proper a woman as the Queen Mother smokes an occasional cigarette. Thus the Winnipeg man was a decade or two late. The time for husbands to spank their wives for smoking passed a long time ago, if ever they were to set themselves against the practice, before the habit became accepted as a matter of course.

A lone man, setting himself against the customs of his times, plainly invited disaster. He should have known that his fellows had capitulated without reserve and that he could expect no aid or empathy from that quarter and at the best only surreptitious sympathy from a few. As likely as not the majority of men-folk would explain that they were too broad-minded to object when, in reality, they lacked the courage.

Thousands of years ago, a king who was befuddled with wine sent for his royal consort to dance in semi-nakedness before his boon companions. The queen, to her everlasting credit, declined to obey his majesty’s command. The men-folk were thrown into consternation by the queen’s disobedience and decided that their lives would not be worth living of the example set by the queen went unpunished. So a new queen was chosen, and every husband breathed more easily. The men of today are not so tough nor so arrogant. They would not relish the prospect of a war between the sexes. Has not the League of Nations proved that sanctions are a thing of the past?