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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Portland's Experimental Woman Jury -- Editorial Reviews: The Evening Telegram -- "Why Drag Women Into the Filth of It?"

We've seen the Oregonian's editorial about the experimental all-woman jury in Portland. Now here is the reaction of the other Republican-leaning daily, the Evening Telegram.

In "The Woman Jury" the Telegram editors decried the "stage effect" of the trial, but emphasized that "like men jurors they could not agree" on a verdict. Therefore, the editors concluded, there was "not the slightest evidence that women are better fitted than men" for the trial of cases of other women, "and if that's the fact why drag women into the filth of it simply because it is possible to do so?"

Women may eventually "constitute the best tribunal for the trial of cases of this sort" but "at all events id does not appear that there is anything to be gained by breaking down the barriers of womanly delicacy, which must be done every time that women who are worthy are called upon to sit in a case like that of yesterday." (The case involved accusations of prostitution).

It appears that the Telegram editors feared most that women on juries would be harmed, would lose their "womanly delicacy."

In the final paragraph of the editorial the editors reiterated their concern about the theatrical, staged aspects of the experimental woman jury, noting that "thoughtful people" would not conclude that it was "edifying." But they also signaled ambivalence about women's jury service as a right of citizenship. "If women vote with good judgement they may also render good jury service. But the selection of women for such service should be made with discretion."

"The Woman Jury," Evening Telegram, December 5, 1912, 6.