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Sex Standards in Moscow

Condensed from The Nation (May 12, '26)

Paul Blanshard

THE innovations in family and personal standards in Russia since the revolution constitute the first deliberate attempt by a modern nation to alter its fundamental sex ideals.

For the peasants the old habits continue. But among the city workers the change in outlook is much more obvious. The most striking result of the Communist regime in the field of sex life is the complete frankness of the younger generation in Moscow in facing and discussing sex problems. One night last August an outdoor meeting of young Communists was held in Moscow to discuss the problem of abortion. About 600 were present ranging in ages from 18 to 25. The meeting lasted five hours, everybody stayed, everybody listened. The young people discussed sex relations, abortion, and love with the candor of obstetricians.

The Communists persistently campaign against the reticences which have surrounded sex life. Their posters on venereal disease, pregnancy, and abortion have been plastered all Over Russia. The government film "Abortion" has been distributed to all the cities and towns. It shows the birth of an actual baby u one screen and depicts in excellent, n salacious diagrams the processes Conception and the growth of the foetus. It tells the story of a working girl who went to a midwife for an abortion and died. as the result. This film has drawn = enormous audiences.

Part of the attitude toward sexual facts among the young people of Moscow is a product of Russian tradition. Mixed bathing au naturel in the rivers near Moscow has been common for generations and can be witnessed any Sunday afternoon in warm weather.

The Communist censorship, although very rigid in political matters, makes no attempt to suppress any description of passion which is the work of a serious artist, but its hand falls heavily upon peep-hole obscenity.

Marriage as a legal form in the Bolshevik view is of little importance. Marriage is an agreement between two people to have each other; there is no legal compulsion to register marriage; there are no laws against people who The live together without marriage. Communist Party still expels any member who is married by a priest. But the Communists have been far from successful in imposing their view of marriage upon a majority of the Russian people.

When both parties agree to ask for a divorce there is no place on the official application blank for "grounds for divorce." The causes of divorce are matters of private concern, and, if the line is not too long, man and wife can get a divorce in Moscow in 15 minutes, provided both parties sign the application. Marriages and divorces for the Moscow area are granted in the same room of the court building, by the same clerks. It is diverting to study the faces of those waiting patiently, and to conjecture whether they are seeking marriage or divorce.

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husband satisfies the reasonable economic demands of his wife and children the divorce is granted in every case, but not until then.

The law also protects the children of the unmarried as rigorously as the children of the married. Children are rated as equals whether born in or out of wedlock. Hitherto if the paternity of the child of an unmarried mother was in doubt, all possible fathers who could be identified were compelled to contribute to the support of the child. This led to much confusion. Under a new law the court must choose one possible father and place the responsibility upon him.

The ideals of the Lucy Stone League have been sanctioned by the Russian Government. A woman in marrying signifies on her application blank whether she wishes to keep her own name or take her husband's name; if she fails to signify her choice, it is assumed that she keeps her own name. The names of children who have parents with different names are chosen mutually by the parents and, in the absence of agreement, a child takes the parental name which comes nearer the beginning of the alphabet.

In spite of these innovations there are not as many divorces in Moscow in proportion to marriages as there are in American cities. In Moscow in 1924 there were 7 divorces to every 100 marriages, while in the State of Ohio that year there were 22 divorces to every 100 marriages. No far-reaching conclusion can be drawn from these figures, because it is impossible to know the number of extra-marital unions in Moscow.

Probably no capital of Europe is more free from open vice than MosCOW. The government department of health is conducting a thoroughgoing campaign against venereal disease, by means of posters, lectures, books, and clinics, in all parts of Russia.

It is surprising to find almost no birth-control movement in Russia. The Russian peasant lacks all the prerequisites of birth control, including

money, knowledge, and inclination. The Russian birth-rate is still very high as compared with other nations.

In lieu of birth control the Govern. nient has turned to legalized and regu lated abortion. Abortion was legalized in 1920 by the health authorities in order to diminish the number of deaths from operations performed by incompetent midwives. Theoretically, it is illegal for any Russian woman to have an abortion performed outside of a licensed hospital, but the law cannot be enforced, because there are not adequate hospital facilities for all Russia. The problem of abortion is chiefly a city problem, because the practice is very uncommon among the peasants.

The Soviet Government has estab-. lished a definite order of preference in handling cases of abortion in its: hospitals. First come women out of work, then women who have many i children and no living husband, then women who are working who have a young child, then women who have many children with a husband. In 1924, overcrowded homes were given as causes for abortion in 67 per cent of the cases in the Moscow district.

The aim of the Soviet health authorities is to reduce the cases of serious illness due to abortion outside of a recognized hospital, first by urging women to avoid abortion whenever possible and second by educating them to use hospital facilities if they decide that abortion is necessary. In 1924 there were 150,000 women treated in Soviet hospitals due to abortion, of whom 40,000 came to the hospitals in weakened condition because of outside treatment. The Soviet health authori ties argue that their method of bring ing abortion into public use and regu lation is producing better results than the strict repressive penalties of Ger many. They declare that in 1924 in Berlin four out of every 100 cases of abortion resulted in death, while ir Moscow less than one-tenth of one percent resulted in death. They poin out also that the proportion of abor tion to births in Russia is decreasing


His Reaper Feeds the World

Condensed from Popular Science Monthly (June '26) Robert E. Martin

was a harvest time holiday in a fertile backwoods valley of Virginia in the year 1832. Farmers from miles around rolled into Lexington where, on this day, young Cyrus McCormick was to give a public show of his "crazy contraption," a mechanical reaper which, report said, could cut grain faster than half a dozen men with scythes! For years the persistent attempts of the youth and his fathe to build a horse-propelled contrivance that would harvest grain had been a standing joke in the community. Now the machine was completed. Would it work? The farmers winked slyly at one another, and joked about the machine.

The exhibition was staged at John Ruff's farm. Away the machine rattled, and immediately the spectators began to wag their heads and say, "I told you so." For the field was rough, and the reaper bumped, cutting the grain only in patches.

"Look here, young fellow," shouted Farmer Ruff, "you'll have to quit. You're rattling all the heads off my = wheat."

Then, as if by kind fortune, an imposing man in high beaver hat, longtalled coat and polished boots directed young McCormick to an adjacent field. He was Hon. William Taylor, leading politician of the whole countryside. There Cyrus, proud and jubilant, drove his machine up and down the level land, cutting the grain in clean swaths. Farmers who had come to scoff drove home in amazement.

The idea of the reaper had been born, some 14 years before, in the mind of the father, Robert McCormick, a skilled iron worker who mended tools and machinery. In those days, if some neighbor had passed the McCormick place in the small hours of

the morning, he would have seen a light still flickering in a log-cabin blacksmith shop in the rear of the homestead. Robert and his nine-yearold son, Cyrus, were hard at work on the reaping machine.

Their first machine proved a dismal failure. It mashed the grain and left it a tangled mass. More years of experiment, and in 1831 another reaper was ready for trial. But again, instead of cutting, it trampled the grain.

"I'm through," said Robert, "I shall waste no more time."

"But, father, it must work," insisted Cyrus. "Maybe it will go if we fix it so the horse will pull instead of push."

Cyrus, now 21, worked feverishly, and by fall his new machine was completed. It had been transformed. The horse no longer pushed, but pulled instead. The knives were given a slashing motion. To prevent flattening the grain, a row of fingers at the edge of the knife blades was to catch the stalks and hold them while they were being cut. Finally, the falling grain, lifted and straightened by revolving arms, was to be caught on a level platform and there raked to the side by a helper.

A brief trial convinced Cyrus that the goal was in sight. Throughout the winter improvements were made, and the next fall was staged the public demonstration at Lexington, already mentioned. It was one thing, however, to impress a crowd; another thing to persuade them to buy reapers.

Cyrus realized that he could not finance his invention with the profits from the home farm. With his father and a country schoolmaster as partners, he started an iron furnace. The business was beginning to prosper when, in the panic of 1837, the Mc

Cormicks lost everything they had except the homestead.

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In the darkest moment, fortune turned. One day, a stranger arrived. "Here's $50. I want one of your reapers. In like manner two more orders came that summer. Soon the country to the west began to hear of the reapper, and other orders came in quick succession.

The problem of manufacturing and delivery became a staggering one. Sickles for the reapers were made 40 miles away and carried in on horseback. In all the United States there were fewer than 100 miles of railroad. To deliver machines to Ohio, they had to be transported first in wagons to Scottsville, then by canal to Richmond, then reshipped down the James river to the ocean. From there steamers carried them to New Orleans, whence they were carried in river boats up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. From river points, they had to be delivered to their destination by wagon.

These were difficulties that might have baffled even the most aggressive of modern leaders of industry. To surmount them required a fighting man of high courage, immense selfconfidence and tenacity. Cyrus Mc. Cormick was just that kind of man.

The arrival of eight orders for reapers from Cincinnati in a single summer convinced him that the level lands of the West offered the most promising field for his reaper, so with $300 in his belt, he set out on horseback for the grain country. For 3000 miles he traveled through Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Out where the fertile fields stretched endlessly, he knew that only machinery could prevent waste of the crops as they ripened. In Illinois, he was appalled to see farmers turn pigs and cattle into the wheat fields. A gigantic crop had swamped the growers.

McCormick saw Chicago-a straggling town of 10,000, without railroads or canals. Yet he could vision here a future thriving center. In quick time he was located in Chicago, turning out his reapers. The gold rush of '49 gave him a promising start;

for thousands of farm hands, joining in the stampede for California, left the farmers helpless.

When the Civil War came, the ma. chine proved an invaluable aid to the North, releasing many men for duty at the front. Edwin M. Stanton, secre. tary of war, said: "Without McCormick's invention, I fear the North could not win and the Union would be dismembered." Europe, still reaping its grain by hand, could not understand how America, with every third man at war, could export to other lands= 200,000,000 bushels of wheat.

Seldom, if ever, has an inventor so thoroughly "sold" his creation to the, public through his own efforts. When public interest seemed to lag, McCor mick would load a reaper on a flat car, attach the car to a freight train and ride along with it. Whenever he came to a field of ripe grain, he would unload the reaper, reap for an hour or so, and then move on.

McCormick was quick to recognize improvements for his invention. One day, Charles Withington rang the doorbell of the handsome McCormick home in Chicago. "My name is Withington," the visitor said shyly. "I live in Janes ville, Wis. I have here a model of a machine that will bind grain automatically."

It so happened that McCormick had. worked all through the night settling a stiff business problem. The chair was soft, the stranger's voice soothing. He fell asleep! When he awoke, the stranger had departed.

Had it been a dream? The man had said “bind grain automatically." Just the thing McCormick had been seeking for years! He ordered one of his employees to go to Janésville at once and find a man named Withington. The next day saw Withington back in Chicago. This time McCormick listened eagerly. McCormick reapers immediately became self-binders.

McCormick lived to see half a mil lion of his reapers harvesting the world's grain, from the steppes of Russia to Peru. He lived to make America known the world over as "the land of the reaper."


The Silent Mr. Coolidge

Condensed from The New Republic (June 2, '26)

Charles Merz

R. COOLIDGE, in his quiet way, pours into the microphone an average of 8688 words a month, addresses by word of mouth or by special communication some 75 different kinds of public gatherings annually, unburdens himself each year of words enough in public addresses to fill two fair-sized novels, and preserves meantime a reputation as the silent man in the White House! I am speaking of course of Mr. Coolidge as a public igure. There is no reason to believe that away from his public life Mr. Coolidge is not a silent man. For instance:

tion, namely: Mr. Coolidge's alleged taciturnity.

We can begin with the fact that Mr. Coolidge not only talks in public frequently (265 times a year), but talks at length. His formal addresses average something more than 8700 words apiece. A single one of them, last year, out-ran by some 800 words the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, all of this comes apparently with little effort. Consider for a moment that category of public statement which the public knows as apple


All Presidents, like all captains of Fifteen public addresses annually industry and all moving picture stars, are about an average quota for an are constantly being asked to back American President in a year in which this or that worthy cause, to say there is no national election. Thus something friendly to this gathering Woodrow Wilson, who by comparison and drop a genial note to that one. with Calvin Coolidge might seem to be garrulity itself, delivered 13 public Compliance with such requests is no heinous crime, but a rather perfuncaddresses in the first year of his first tory practice which some men enjoy term and delivered 17 public addresses and others do their best to dodge. in the first year of his second term. Only because Mr. Coolidge has this Mr. Coolidge, in the matter of public amazing reputation as a man of sioratory, just about outmatches Woodlence is it worth noting that in matrow Wilson two to one. His record ters of this sort he is always ready to for last year consisted of 28 speeches oblige. The National League of Baseas against Wilson's best with 17. ball Clubs is celebrating its 50th birththis was only a beginning. In addiday? Congratulations from the White tion there are to be chronicled 61 House (Feb. 3). Mr. and Mrs. C. H. official statements, letters given to the Buckelew are celebrating their 70th press and messages to public meetings, wedding anniversary? Congratulaplus 176 unofficial statements via the tions from the White House (Jan. 10). Official Spokesman. Grand total for Mrs. G. Fox is 105 years old next Tuesthe year-265. One day in every four day? Congratulations from the White Mr. Coolidge is not talking.


Now it is no sin, surely, for a man in public life to talk a lot. The notes which follow do not argue that. They are simply addressed to the one factor in the tradition of a strong, silent, decisive President which lends itself most readily to quantitative examina

House (July 29). The Mikado of Japan is due to have a silver wedding? Congratulations from the White House (May 11). All this is perfectly proper and perfectly harmless, and in spots definitely gracious. What it shows is simply a great readiness without regard to the importance of the occasion

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