This article was published on Page 8 of the El Paso Herald in 1918. So much about it is fascinating. Mary Schmidt, aka Mr Schmidt, was married her cousin, Anna Assade. She wore trousers and posed as a man because she could earn more money. The judge was apparently quite taken by her appearance, and felt that “If a woman can earn $4 a day by reason of wearing trousers, I say wear ’em”.
I’m curious how things went for her and her cousin after the trial, or even after the masquerade was originally discovered. Did she keep her job? Did they continue to live together? Why did they marry in the first place?
Seeing this story through several waves of feminism makes it hard to imagine exactly how this was perceived at the time. Was the judge progressive in general? Was he simply shutting down local busybodies who were scandalized by Schmidt?
This goes in my Steampunk period novel file!
2 thoughts on “Feminism in 1918”
Amazing snippet from history! Brilliant creative thinking from an early feminist!
It was quite creative! And she effectively demonstrated the pay disparity of her time. Faced with the evidence, the judge could have made an argument that paying women less is overall a good thing for families, as many later defenders of the status quo have done. Instead, he supported her.