An Open Letter to Young Women (Read: Slut shaming)

An Open Letter

The editor of the Paris Mercury has adopted a well known form of communication to the young women of the country. His letter is full of meaning and is worthy of the perusal of every young woman in the country. The letter follows.

Dear Little Sister—I am enclosing you a copy of the Kansas City Star containing the story of poor little Meta Zook of the Westport high school and of the three or four boy schoolmates responsible for her ruin and death. I want you to read it. It is heart-breaking and no one knows just where to place the blame unless it be upon the careless and over confident mothers and fathers. Meta was a high school girl, 18 years old, pretty and ardent, and like all high school girls, felt that she was amply able to look after herself.

She had a chum who had quit school and the chum, wise in all things that a girl of 18 should know little about, hard and unabashed, her head teeming with thoughts that would have shamed a woman of forty, no doubt poisoned her mind. In a spirit of playfulness the two of them threw water on a couple of high school boys who were passing the Zook home one afternoon and that night the boys came back. They belonged to a high school fraternity, were in a strata above the girls, and their attention no doubt flattered them. Other “frat” brothers called, their little heads were further turned, and soon there were automobile rides at night, picture shows and visits to the homes of the boys on evenings when the parents were absent—in the end a sordid promiscuity unsanctified by even semblance of romantic love, and now a dead girl from a criminal operation, another girl in a home of detention and two physicians and four boys of good family facing state prison. This happened at a high school, mind you, and that means that danger besets you every where and at every step you take, especially if you be pretty. A day does not pass that some young girl is not dragged out of a lake some where, is not found strangled or shot, or does not die of criminal abortion, yet foolish old people and licentious young ones continue to babble nonsense about “love.” The world is rotten as a result of such chatter, its literature diseased, its mad houses overflowing and its penitentiaries crowded, but nobody seems able to guess the cause.

However, this is not to be the letter on love which I promised to write you, for love, even at the worst, had nothing to do with the death of Meta Zook. It was a poisoned mind and imagination, filth where once were purity and innocence. Be careful in the selection of your friends, old and young. If Jennie is soft and mushy, her mind running on men and her conversation confined on sentimental slush, cut her. She is an erotic nine times out of ten, diseased perhaps, and carries a deadly infection for even the most healthy minds. If Mary’s mind is poisoned and she persists in insidious suggestion, flee her as you would the plague. Do not even frequent the company of older women who find their sole pleasure in peddling nasty talk or whose thoughts, even though not nasty dwell constantly on sex. Innocence and normality are never lost on the instant, but are corroded away by contact with that which is vile.

God doesn’t make anything so beautiful as a pure, innocent, eager girl of 18 nor do any of his creatures show so quickly or pitiably the outward results of inward vitiation. I know, of course, that you are human, and of necessity curious, that you have a natural and healthy interest in the central fact of your existence. Mother hasn’t told you all she should have told you, but don’t go abroad to find out. Keep safe that intrusted to you and suffer no girl or no woman to soil it with impure speech or improper suggestion. For your life is a fight. It will never be anything else but a fight and foolish or evil friends will be no help. Read the story of Meta Zook and get the unalterable tragedy it contains.

Chariton courier. (Keytesville, Chariton County, Mo.) 1878-current, August 29, 1913, Image 6 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress.

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