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Nellie McClung. Credit: Cyril Jessop (Public domain)
"I remember one day when I was leaving for a ten-day lecture tour," the famous feminist Nellie McClung recalled, "I bought an Accident Insurance Policy for five thousand dollars at the railway wicket, paying two dollars and a half for ten days' insurance. I had often done this before but had never really read the blue slip which I had received. But on this day I went over it carefully. It contained some excellent clauses, all beginning: 'If the insured be male.' It told how much he would be paid in case of total disability, partial disability, the loss of a hand or a foot or an eye, but always the sentence began in that ominous way: 'If the insured be male.' I wondered what the company had for me. On the other side of the slip I found it. In a little enclosure, fenced off in black, as if someone were already dead, appeared this inscription:

"'Females are insured against death only.'

"When I went back to the office I sought out the man who had sold me the policy and laid the matter before him.

"'Why is it,' I asked,'that you take a woman's money and give her lower protection than you give men?' He said he didn't know anything about it, but he would find somebody who might know. The next man assured me that he didn't know that women ever bought accident policies. He didn't know they could buy them, but he would take me in to see Mr. Brown; Mr. Brown would know. Mr. Brown did know. Mr. Brown knew so well he was rather impatient with me for asking.

"'Don't you know,' said Mr. Brown severely, taking off his glasses, as if to let his brain cool, 'that women are much more highly sensitized than men, and would be more easily hurt in an accident, they would be a victim of pure nerves, would like nothing better than to lie in bed for a week or two, and draw her seven-fifty a week. They would think they were hurt when they really were not, andthere would be no end of trouble.

"'But, Mr. Brown,' I said, 'what about the clause relating to the loss of hand or foot? You would not be altogether dependent on the woman's testimony in that, would you? You could check them up—ifthey are pretending, could you not?

"Mr. Brown's face indicated that he couldn't be bothered answering any more foolish questions. He put on his glasses, and I knew I was being dismissed. I thanked Mr. Brown for his information and told him that I hoped to have an opportunity of bringing the matter before the next convention of insurance men.

"Mr. Brown looked up then quickly.

"'Have the insurance men invited you to speak to them?' he askedsharply.

"'No,' I answered truthfully. 'They haven't. But they will.'"

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