Women and Economics, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Women and Economics
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
8:40 h Ideas Lvl 10.25
Women and Economics – A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution is a book written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and published in 1898. It is considered by many to be her single greatest work, and as with much of Gilman's writing, the book touched a few dominant themes: the transformation of marriage, the family, and the home, with her central argument: “the economic independence and specialization of women as essential to the improvement of marriage, motherhood, domestic industry, and racial improvement. Centrally, Gilman argues that women must change their cultural identities. Early on, she mentions that humans are the only species in which the female has to depend on the male for survival. This dependence requires women to pay off their debt through domestic services, or “sex-functions”. Gilman argues that women “work longer and harder than most men, and not solely in maternal duties.” Further, Gilman states that female activities in general are directed by men. These sexual distinctions have led to an odd distribution of power and have been detrimental to both genders, in Gilman's view.

Women and Economics

A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution

by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Women and Economics

Proem

In dark and early ages, through the primal forests faring,
Ere
the soul came shining into prehistoric night,
Twofold
man was equal; they were comrades dear and daring,
Living
wild and free together in unreasoning delight.

Ere the soul was born and consciousness came slowly,
Ere
the soul was born, to man and woman, too,
Ere
he found the Tree of Knowledge, that awful tree and holy,
Ere
he knew he felt, and knew he knew.

Then said he to Pain, “I am wise now, and I know you!
No
more will I suffer while power and wisdom last!”
Then
said he to Pleasure, “I am strong, and I will show you
That
the will of man can seize you, — aye, and hold you fast!”

Food he ate for pleasure, and wine he drank for gladness.
And
woman? Ah, the woman! the crown of all delight!
His
now, — he knew it! He was strong to madness
In
that early dawning after prehistoric night.

His, — his forever! That glory sweet and tender!
Ah,
but he would love her! And she should love but him!
He
would work and struggle for her, he would shelter and defend her, —
She
should never leave him, never, till their eyes in death were dim.

Close, close he bound her, that she should leave him never;
Weak
still he kept her, lest she be strong to flee;
And
the fainting flame of passion he kept alive forever
With
all the arts and forces of earth and sky and sea.

And, ah, the long journey! The slow and awful ages
They
have labored up together, blind and crippled, all astray!
Through
what a mighty volume, with a million shameful pages,
From
the freedom of the forests to the prisons of to-day!

Food he ate for pleasure, and it slew him with diseases!
Wine
he drank for gladness, and it led the way to crime!
And
woman? He will hold her, — he will have her when he pleases, —
And
he never once hath seen her since the prehistoric time!

Gone the friend and comrade of the day when life was younger,
She
who rests and comforts, she who helps and saves.
Still
he seeks her vainly, with a never-dying hunger;
Alone
beneath his tyrants, alone above his slaves!

Toiler, bent and weary with the load of thine own making!
Thou
who art sad and lonely, though lonely all in vain!
Who
hast sought to conquer Pleasure and have her for the taking,
And
found that Pleasure only was another name for Pain —

Nature hath reclaimed thee, forgiving dispossession!
God
hath not forgotten, though man doth still forget!
The
woman-soul is rising, in despite of thy transgression —
Loose
her now, and trust her! She will love thee yet!

Love thee? She will love thee as only freedom knoweth!
Love
thee? She will love thee while Love itself doth live!
Fear
not the heart of woman! No bitterness it showeth!
The
ages of her sorrow have but taught her to forgive!


Preface

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