What legal and social conditions lie behind Caird's critique of 19th century marriage? I. e., what were the laws regarding property ownership, husband's rights, child custody, and redress from abuse?
Under what circumstances was it possible for a wife to leave her husband legally and obtain divorce or a write of separation?
What defenses were given for these laws?
How were the domestic situations of women in the 1890s different from those in the later 20th century? Was birth control a possibility, and for whom? What kind of health care was provided for pregnant women?
What circumstances attended food preparation and house-cleaning? (no vacuum cleaners, wood and coal were sources of energy which required much cleaning, lack of refrigeration required constant shopping and careful planning)
Granted these conditions, do most of Caird's complaints about modern marriage seem to have a foundation?
Does she wish the abolition of marriage? What reforms does she suggest?
--possibility of divorce
--child custody for mothers in cases of separation
--friendships outside of marriage, sociability and independence permitted
--economic independence and jobs for women
--a limiting of the multiple births of children by birth control or other means
--acceptance that some women do not want to or are not able to marry; respect for independent women
--possibility of pre-nuptial contracts
Would the author of The Odd Women have agreed with most of her points? On which would he have differed? (unable to imagine an employed married woman)
Which of her suggestions do you think would have most offended Victorian readers? Have attracted them?
What place does religion have in her arguments? (none)
What does she seem to believe about heredity and health? What do you make of her use of such terms as "racial degeneration"? (influenced by racial theories of day, social Darwinism, identification with "the Anglo-Saxon race")
Stripped of prejudice, what does she seem to mean by degeneration? (bad health, the effect of bad conditions on children) Were other reformers of the time concerned about the health conditions for England's lower classes?
Which of Caird's suggestions for the reform of marriage have been since carried out? Have any of her proposals not not been implemented? (child custody is now usually joint)
Are there aspects of family life or marriage which Caird does not take into account in her descriptions? Do you think she adequately accounts for the care of children?
To what extent does Caird's class position affect her view of the most basic problems which afflict women? Do her criticisms apply to all classes? (does not stress need for equal pay or protection from violence as much as other issues)
What does Caird believe are the chief factors which inhibit social change? (social pressure, lack of education) Does she advocate government intervention in these matters? (no--essentially a libertarian; compare Augusta Webster, who was also a liberal non-interventionist)