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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Kate Richards, an internationally known political speaker, addressed “400 eager, applauding socialists” in Spokane, and she lived up to her reputation as a straight-talking orator.

For instance, here’s what Richards said about “the social evil,” meaning prostitution.

“I have worked in the slums of the big cities and have interviewed 3,000 so-called fallen women,” she said. “Only two of them were there because of their own wish, and they were the daughters of wealth and dissolute fathers. Seven had loved unwisely but too well, and the other 2,991 were there because their wages would not support life.”

She noted that every person in the U.S. who works produces an average of $2,457 worth of goods each year.

“Give every girl a salary of $2,457 and there will be no more brothels,” she said.

She also mocked the pious churchgoers of the U.S. for hypocrisy on this issue. “There is not a club in Spokane, not a church, not a labor union that would not receive with open arms the man who had caused the downfall of one of these girls,” she charged.

She said that what these girls want is simply a husband, a home and a family.

“Every normal woman in this world, whether she will confess it or not, wants most of all a man,” she said. “Whether he be bow-legged or knock-kneed or anything, she wants a man, and if you don’t believe it, just see what the women in this town put up with.”

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