The Forerunner, Volume 1 (1909-1910)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Part 18 out of 18
of itself was a pleasure palace--wholly unostentatious, full of gaiety
and charm, offering lovely chambers for guests and residents, and every
opportunity for healthful amusement. There was the rare luxury of a big
swimming-pool; there were billiard rooms, card rooms, reading rooms,
lounging rooms and dancing rooms of satisfying extent.
Outside there were tennis-courts, badminton, roque, even croquet; and
the wide roof was a garden of Babylon, a Court of the Stars, with views
of purple mountains, fair, wide valley and far-flashing rim of sea.
Around it, each in its own hedged garden, nestled "Las Casas"--the
Houses--twenty in number, with winding shaded paths, groups of rare
trees, a wilderness of flowers, between and about them. In one corner
was a playground for children--a wall around this, that they might shout
in freedom; and the nursery thereby gave every provision for the
happiness and safety of the little ones.
The people poured along the winding walls, entered the pretty cottages,
were much impressed by a little flock of well-floored tents in another
corner, but came back with Ohs! and Ahs! of delight to the large
building in the Avenue.
Diantha went all over the place, inch by inch, her eyes widening with
admiration; Mr. and Mrs. Porne and Mrs. Weatherstone with her. She
enjoyed the serene, well-planned beauty of the whole; approved heartily
of the cottages, each one a little different, each charming in its quiet
privacy, admired the plentiful arrangements for pleasure and gay
association; but her professional soul blazed with enthusiasm over the
great kitchens, clean as a hospital, glittering in glass and copper and
cool tiling, with the swift, sure electric stove.
The fuel all went into a small, solidly built power house, and came out
in light and heat and force for the whole square.
Diantha sighed in absolute appreciation.
"Fine, isn't it?" said Mr. Porne.
"How do you like the architecture?" asked Mrs. Porne.
"What do you think of my investment?" said Mrs. Weatherstone. Diantha
stopped in her tracks and looked from one to the other of them.
"Fact. I control the stock--I'm president of the Hotel del las Casas
Company. Our friends here have stock in it, too, and more that you
don't know. We think it's going to be a paying concern. But if you can
make it go, my dear, as I think you will, you can buy us all out and own
the whole outfit!"
It took some time to explain all this, but the facts were visible
"Nothing remarkable at all," said Mrs. Weatherstone. "Here's Astor with
three big hotels on his hands--why shouldn't I have one to play with?
And I've got to employ _somebody_ to manage it!"
Within a year of her marriage Diantha was at the head of this pleasing
Centre of Housekeeping. She kept the hotel itself so that it was a joy
to all its patrons; she kept the little houses homes of pure delight for
those who were so fortunate as to hold them; and she kept up her "c. f.
d." business till it grew so large she had to have quite a fleet of
Orchardina basked and prospered; its citizens found their homes happier
and less expensive than ever before, and its citizenesses began to wake
up and to do things worth while.
Two years, and there was a small Ross Warden born.
She loved it, nursed it, and ran her business at long range for some six
months. But then she brought nurse and child to the hotel with her,
placed them in the cool, airy nursery in the garden, and varied her busy
day with still hours by herself--the baby in her arms.
Back they came together before supper, and found unbroken joy and peace
in the quiet of home; but always in the background was the current of
Ross' unspoken disapproval.
Three years, four years.
There were three babies now; Diantha was a splendid woman of thirty,
handsome and strong, pre-eminently successful--and yet, there were times
when she found it in her heart to envy the most ordinary people who
loved and quarreled and made up in the little outlying ranch houses
along the road; they had nothing between them, at least.
Meantime in the friendly opportunities of Orchardina society, added to
by the unexampled possibilities of Las Casas (and they did not scorn
this hotel nor Diantha's position in it), the three older Miss Wardens
had married. Two of them preferred "the good old way," but one tried
the "d. s." and the "c. f. d." and liked them well.
Dora amazed and displeased her family, as soon as she was of age, by
frankly going over to Diantha's side and learning bookkeeping. She
became an excellent accountant and bade fair to become an expert manager
Ross had prospered in his work. It may be that the element of
dissatisfaction in his married life spurred him on, while the unusual
opportunities of his ranch allowed free effort. He had always held that
the "non-transmissability of acquired traits" was not established by any
number of curtailed mice or crop-eared rats. "A mutilation is not an
acquired trait," he protested. "An acquired trait is one gained by
exercise; it modifies the whole organism. It must have an effect on the
race. We expect the sons of a line of soldiers to inherit their
fathers' courage--perhaps his habit of obedience--but not his wooden
To establish his views he selected from a fine family of guinea-pigs two
pair; set the one, Pair A, in conditions of ordinary guinea-pig bliss,
and subjected the other, Pair B, to a course of discipline. They were
trained to run. They, and their descendants after them, pair following
on pair; first with slow-turning wheels as in squirrel cages, the wheel
inexorably going, machine-driven, and the luckless little gluttons
having to move on, for gradually increasing periods of time, at
gradually increasing speeds. Pair A and their progeny were sheltered
and fed, but the rod was spared; Pair B were as the guests at
"Muldoon's"--they had to exercise. With scientific patience and
ingenuity, he devised mechanical surroundings which made them jump
increasing spaces, which made them run always a little faster and a
little farther; and he kept a record as carefully as if these little
sheds were racing stables for a king.
Several centuries of guinea-pig time went by; generation after
generation of healthy guinea-pigs passed under his modifying hands; and
after some five years he had in one small yard a fine group of the
descendants of his gall-fed pair, and in another the offspring of the
trained ones; nimble, swift, as different from the first as the
razor-backed pig of the forest from the fatted porkers in the sty. He
set them to race--the young untrained specimens of these distant
cousins--and the hare ran away from the tortoise completely.
Great zoologists and biologists came to see him, studied, fingered,
poked, and examined the records; argued and disbelieved--and saw them
"It is natural selection," they said. "It profited them to run."
"Not at all," said he. "They were fed and cared for alike, with no gain
"It was artificial selection," they said. "You picked out the speediest
for your training."
"Not at all," said he. "I took always any healthy pair from the trained
parents and from the untrained ones--quite late in life, you understand,
as guinea-pigs go."
Anyhow, there were the pigs; and he took little specialized piglets
scarce weaned, and pitted them against piglets of the untrained lot--and
they outran them in a race for "Mama." Wherefore Mr. Ross Warden found
himself famous of a sudden; and all over the scientific world the
Wiesmanian controversy raged anew. He was invited to deliver a lecture
before some most learned societies abroad, and in several important
centers at home, and went, rejoicing.
Diantha was glad for him from the bottom of her heart, and proud of him
through and through. She thoroughly appreciated his sturdy opposition
to such a weight of authority; his long patience, his careful, steady
work. She was left in full swing with her big business, busy and
successful, honored and liked by all the town--practically--and quite
independent of the small fraction which still disapproved. Some people
always will. She was happy, too, in her babies--very happy.
The Hotel del las Casas was a triumph.
Diantha owned it now, and Mrs. Weatherstone built others, in other
places, at a large profit.
Mrs. Warden went to live with Cora in the town. Cora had more time to
entertain her--as she was the one who profited by her sister-in-law's
Diantha sat in friendly talk with Mrs. Weatherstone one quiet day, and
admitted that she had no cause for complaint.
"And yet--?" said her friend.
Young Mrs. Warden smiled. "There's no keeping anything from you, is
there? Yes--you're right. I'm not quite satisfied. I suppose I ought
not to care--but you see, I love him so! I want him to _approve_ of
me!--not just put up with it, and bear it! I want him to _feel_ with
me--to care. It is awful to know that all this big life of mine is just
a mistake to him--that he condemns it in his heart."
"But you knew this from the beginning, my dear, didn't you?"
"Yes--I knew it--but it is different now. You know when you are
Mrs. Weatherstone looked far away through the wide window. "I do know,"
Diantha reached a strong hand to clasp her friend's. "I wish I could
give it to you," she said. "You have done so much for me! So much!
You have poured out your money like water!"
"My money! Well I like that!" said Mrs. Weatherstone. "I have taken my
money out of five and seven per cent investments, and put it into ten
per cent ones, that's all. Shall I never make you realize that I am a
richer woman because of you, Diantha Bell Warden! So don't try to be
grateful--I won't have it! Your work has _paid_ remember--paid me as
well as you; and lots of other folks beside. You know there are
eighteen good imitations of Union House running now, in different
cities, and three 'Las Casas!' all succeeding--and the papers are
talking about the dangers of a Cooked Food Trust!"
They were friends old and tried, and happy in mutual affection. Diantha
had many now, though none quite so dear. Her parents were
contented--her brother and sister doing well--her children throve and
grew and found Mama a joy they never had enough of.
Yet still in her heart of hearts she was not wholly happy.
Then one night came by the last mail, a thick letter from Ross--thicker
than usual. She opened it in her room alone, their room--to which they
had come so joyously five years ago.
He told her of his journeying, his lectures, his controversies and
triumphs; rather briefly--and then:
"My darling, I have learned something at last, on my travels, which will
interest you, I fancy, more than the potential speed of all the
guinea-pigs in the world, and its transmissability.
"From what I hear about you in foreign lands; from what I read about you
wherever I go; and, even more, from what I see, as a visitor, in many
families; I have at last begun to grasp the nature and importance of
"As a man of science I must accept any truth when it is once clearly
seen; and, though I've been a long time about it, I do see at last what
brave, strong, valuable work you have been doing for the world. Doing
it scientifically, too. Your figures are quoted, your records studied,
your example followed. You have established certain truths in the
business of living which are of importance to the race. As a student I
recognize and appreciate your work. As man to man I'm proud of
you--tremendously proud of you. As your husband! Ah! my love! I am
coming back to you--coming soon, coming with my Whole Heart, Yours!
Just wait, My Darling, till I get back to you!
"Your Lover and Husband."
Diantha held the letter close, with hands that shook a little. She
kissed it--kissed it hard, over and over--not improving its appearance
as a piece of polite correspondence.
Then she gave way to an overmastering burst of feeling, and knelt down
by the wide bed, burying her face there, the letter still held fast. It
was a funny prayer, if any human ear had heard it.
"Thank you!" was all she said, with long, deep sobbing sighs between.
"Thank you!--O--thank you!"
OUR OVERWORKED INSTINCTS
Instinct is a good thing in its place. We, in common with other
animals, have instincts, especially in our racial youth; but as reason
waxes, instinct wanes. At present, thanks to the development of the
brain and even the beginnings of education, we have few instincts left.
What we have, we work pretty hard.
Among both men and women, the most primal instincts are still deified.
The instinct of self-preservation, which in every species is promptly
subordinated to race preservation, we solemnly hail as "Nature's First
Law!" It may be first, as creeping comes before walking, but is no more
honorable for that!
Then there is the sex instinct, a good second to this first, an ancient,
useful and generally pleasant incentive to action; but we, in our
simplicity, have set up this contributive impulse as the Lord of Life.
"The Life Force," we call it; when it is only one form of expression for
the Life Force, and a limited one.
Self-preservation does very well to keep the cards on the table, and
race preservation goes on giving us a new deal, but neither of them
alone, nor both of them together, is The Game.
What we are really here for is Growth, Improvement, Progress--and we
have a deep and UNIVERSAL instinct towards that, too; but little is said
about it! It is our primitive animal instincts we are so proud of: our
social instincts we scarcely recognize.
Men have the instinct of combat, a very useful thing in its place. But
in their exclusive preoccupation of being men, they have assumed this
masculine proclivity to be something of universal importance and
solemnly assure us that "Life is a Struggle."
Life is a Growth, a Progress, a Journey, if you will. It may be
interrupted by having.to stop and struggle, but the struggling is at its
best only incidental. Nature, seeking always the line of least
resistance, avoids opposition when possible: the masculine instinct of
combat courts it, and he idealizes his own instincts.
So also the woman. She has her one, great original maternal instinct;
and both man and woman worship it. They assume something intrinsically
holy in the feelings of a mother, and something superlatively
efficacious in her ministrations. Motherhood is a beautiful and useful
institution, but it is not enough to take right care of children.
Every furry animal has a mother: every naked savage has a mother: every
ignorant peasant has a mother; and every mother has a compelling
instinct which causes her to love and protect her young. But furry
animal, naked savage, ignorant peasant they remain for all of their
Evolution needs more than mothers! It is not enough to live, not enough
to reproduce one's kind: we have to change, progress, improve--and
instinct is no help here. Instinct is nothing but inherited habit. It
always dates a long way behind us. It is never any guide in new
conditions or a incentive to betterment. Instinct holds us in chains to
the past; or it would if it could.
In human life--especially in modern human life--conditions change so
rapidly that we have scant time to form individual habits, much less
develop instincts. What we have left are very old ones, prehuman or
savage in origin and mostly applying to physical relations. Suppose we
recognize these early assistants, regard them with respect as once
useful, and lay them where they belong--on the shelf.
Instinct is no guide to proper food to-day: we have to use our brains
and learn what is right to eat. It is no guide to proper clothing--as
witness the unhealthy, uncomfortable, unbeautiful garments we wear. It
is no guide to success in any kind of human industry, business, science
or art. These things have to be learned: they do not come "by
instinct." It is no suitable guardian of our behavior, either in public
or private: all good manners and established government are achieved at
considerable expense to "our natural instinct." And assuredly our
instincts are not reliable as leaders in education, religion or
Why then, seeing the inadequacy of instinct in all these lines, are we
so sure of its infallible guidance in the care of babies? A modern
human mother has far less instinct to guide her than her arboreal
ancestors: the real advantage her babies profit by are obtained through
the development of the father--in reason, in knowledge, in skill, in the
prosperity and progress of the world he makes.
He prepares for his children a Home, a School, a Church, a Government, a
Nation: he provides them all manufactured articles--each last and least
dish, utensil, piece of furniture, tool, weapon, safeguard, convenience,
ship, bridge, plaything, jewel. He makes the world.
Into this world of reason, knowledge, skill, training and experience
comes the baby, richer in each generation by a new and improved father.
He is born and cherished, however, by the same kind of mother, bringing
to her tremendous task no new tool worthy of the time, but merely the
same old dwindling, overworked "maternal instinct."
The children of today need mothers of today, and they must begin to
supplement their primitive impulse by the very fullest, highest, richest
powers of the human intellect and the human heart--the real human heart,
which cannot be satisfied until every child on earth is more than
Love came on earth, woke, laughed and began his dominion.
Strong? Just the Force of Creation. Glad? Merely Joy of Existence.
Love cast about for Expression--for work, which is Love in Expression,
And the fluctuant tissues of life began burgeoning, blooming and
Up through dim ages laughed Love, flowing through life like a fountain,
Pouring new forms and yet newer, filling each form with new passion,
Playing with lives like a juggler, life after life, never dropping;
Till a new form was developed: Humanity came: it was daylight.
Love laughed aloud, rose in splendor, offered up hymns of thanksgiving.
"Now I have room for expression! Here is a vehicle worthy!
Life that is lovelier far than all these poor blossoms and creatures;
Life that can grow on forever, unlimited, changeful, immortal.
Here I can riot and run through a thousand warm hearts in a moment,
I can flash into glories of art! I can flow into marvels of music!
I can stand in Cathedrals and Towers, and sit splendid, serene, in fair
These exquisite, limitless beings shall radiate love from their faces,
Shall uphold it with emulous arms, and scatter it wide with their
Shall build me, through ages and ages, new forms and new fields of
I have worked through the mosses and grasses till the world was all
sweetened with roses,
Warm-clothed with the soft-spreading forests, and fed with ripe wheat
and red apples;
I have worked with fur-children and feathered, till they knew the
delights of my kingdom;
I have shown, thousand-fold, throughout Nature, my
Now love shall pour like the sunlight, shall cover the earth like the
Love encompassing all, as the air does, not only in fragrance and color,
Not only in Nature and Mothers, but now, in this Crown of Creation--
Latest fruit of the Tree Everlasting, this myriad-featured fulfillment--
With unlimited force I shall fill them, in unnumbered new voices be
By millions and millions and millions they shall pour out their love in
And the millions shall love one another.
THE PERMANENT CHILD
I sat watching my baby, my little son, who was asleep--a year old child,
fair and strong; and it did not seem a day since he was a tiny red
creature, helpless and faintly groping.
As I looked and loved, I thought how it would not seem another day till
he was a sturdy boy--a tall youth--a man grown; and I should lose my
Then I thought of all the other mothers whose babies were flying from
them by day and night--growing up, pushing away; of how we loved our
babies and could not keep them even if we would. And I seemed to see
the million babies of mankind all over the earth--black and white and
yellow and brown, well-loved little ones of a million mothers--breaking
into life like bubbles, blossoming, sprouting, coming into being
everywhere, every hour, every minute, every second--this budding glory
of babyhood--all over the earth: human life springing up in babies, like
the Spring grass. And they fled as fast as they came. The days flew
by--the weeks, the months, the years--and the babies changes and grew
like a transformation scene; taking new shape, new size, new power;
disappearing as I watched them, and becoming boys and girls, men and
But while I watched this millionfold swift flutter of unceasing change,
suddenly something happened to it. The million and million all seemed
to coalesce and become one--one little child; and the swift flutter of
change grew vague and faint around it, so that although there was a soft
uncertainty around the child and a half-visible smoke of growing forms
arising from it, yet that small, dimpled shape remained, a little
uncertain in outline as in a composite photograph, but steady and
changeless as to the eyes--the clear, deep, searching eyes of a child.
My whole heart yearned to him: something rose and swelled within me,
deeper, wider, stronger than anything I had ever felt before. I loved
him as I had never loved my own, as I had never known I could love--and
suddenly I felt that I too had changed, and that I was now not only a
mother but THE MOTHER; and I saw what it was I loved: it was THE CHILD.
And I longed to feed and guard and shelter and serve that Child as might
a million mothers made into one, with all the sweet helplessness, all
the glorious promise of a million children made one for her to love.
Then as I watched those deep child eyes: as my heart swelled and ached
with that great love: I saw--I felt--I knew--what had been borne, and
still was borne, by this; The Child in human history. I saw the savage
mother and the savage father caring for the children the best they knew,
with all the torture and distortion, all the cruel initiations, all the
black, blind superstitions of those old times, to the crowning horror of
infant sacrifice when the child went through the fire to Moloch--for his
parents' sins!--the living, loving, helpless child, sacrificed by his
parents. I saw the bent skull of the Flathead Indian child, the
crippled feet of the Chinese girl child, the age-long, hideous life and
death of the child-wife and the child-widow of Hindoostan. I saw The
Child in Sparta, and The Child in Rome, The Child in the Dark Ages, The
Child scourged, imprisoned, starved, its mind filled with all manner of
black falsehoods, its body misunderstood, and maltreated; and my heart
ached, and I cried out, "Were there no Mothers for those children?"
And then I saw behind The Child, The Mother visible--the vague,
composite, mighty form of a million mothers made as one--but her heart
was my heart to feel and know.
I said to her--aching for her yet full of awful blame--"Could you not
have saved The Child from this?"
And she wrung her hands. "I loved my child," she said.
"Loved? Loved?" I cried. "Could Love allow all this? Could Love not
guard and feed, could Love not teach and save?"
"Alas, no!" she said. "I gave Love: it was all I had. I had neither
Knowledge nor Freedom, nor Wisdom, nor Power: and I could not guard nor
feed nor teach nor save. But I could love and I could serve--and I
And the eyes of The Child, steady, clear, deep as all Time, were on me;
and I felt his pain.
Then the moving screen of The Past was swept away and The Present spread
and widened before me 'till I saw the whole wide range of Earth in all
its starlit glory and sunlit joy--and everywhere The Child. Also
everywhere The Mother--still loving, still serving, still suffering,
still without Knowledge or Wisdom or Freedom or Power, still unable to
guard or feed or teach or save.
Disease seized upon The Child, disease planted in his bones and blood by
his Father while the Mother, blind and helpless, became partner in this
Unnatural Crime. Disease preyed upon The Child, disease from ignorance
and disease from poverty and disease from pride; and the Doctors strove
with the diseases--and they strove also with the Mothers, but in vain.
Poverty preyed upon The Child: he suffered for lack of life's
necessities, for decency and comfort, for peace and beauty and
cleanliness. And the Fathers strove with Poverty. But the Mothers
remained alone--and loved and served and suffered.
Labor preyed upon The Child. Forced Labor, Premature Labor, hard,
grinding, destructive Labor such as wastes the tissues of strong men;
and The Child went down before it like grass before the scythe, for
Childhood is meant for Growth and not for Waste and Toil. The Mind of
The Child was dulled, the Body of The Child was stunted and crippled and
broken: accidents fell upon him, with the Special Diseases of Labor and
And I cried out to The Mother--that mighty figure I saw dimly there
behind The Child--to save The Child. But there replied only the faint,
piping voices of a million mothers, isolated and alone, each sorrowing
one heart-full for one child--and sorrowing in vain.
"My child is dead!" said one, and wept.
"Mine is a cripple!" said another, and wept.
"Mine is an idiot!" said another, and wept.
"Mine is stunted by the mill work!" said another, and wept.
"Mine is ignorant and grows vicious because of our poverty and the
vileness wherein we must live!" said another, and wept.
And I cried to them again, "But you are millions upon millions--and you
are Mothers! And you can have today--if you will but take it--Wisdom
and Freedom and Knowledge and Power, and you can feed and teach and
guard and save. And if you do not, the blood of The Child is on your
hands! And The Child is The World--the Whole World--a Baby World--and
But the great picture faded and fled away. The Child disappeared and
left first the flickering flight of a million babies like the leaves of
a forest, and then but one, my child, asleep before me. That vague and
mighty figure of The Mother disappeared, leaving first the sad-eyed
faces of a million mothers--loving, serving and suffering--and then
nothing but myself and my child.
But in my heart remained an emptiness that nothing could fill. I caught
my baby to my heart--but he was not enough! I had seen and I had loved
the Child--the Baby World.
"Oh Child of Mine!" I cried, "I will love you and serve you and I will
feed and guard and teach and save--but that is not enough! You are but
one, oh Child of Mine, and there are millions and millions! There
were--there are--and there will be! It is a stream--a torrent. It is
everlasting. Babyhood upon earth continuously, always Babyhood, Human
Babyhood--and not yet Motherhood to meet its needs!"
No savage Mother is enough. No slavish Mother is enough. No narrow,
selfish Mother is enough. No pitiful offered sacrifice of one Mother's
life is enough.
The Child does not need sacrifice. It needs Wisdom and Freedom and
Knowledge and Power. It needs Social Motherhood--the conscious, united
Mother Love and Mother Care of the Whole World.
THE NEW MOTHERHOOD
I have been reading Ellen Key's "Century of the Child," reviewed in this
number, and am moved to add, in connection with that review, a "brief"
for the New Motherhood.
Agreeing with almost all of that noble book and with the spirit of the
whole of it, I disagree with its persistence in the demand for primitive
motherhood--for the entire devotion of each and every mother to her own
children--and disagree on the ground that this method is not the best
for child service.
Among animals, where one is as good as another, "the mother"--each one
of them--can teach her young all that they need to know. Her love, care
and instruction are all-sufficient. In early stages of human life, but
slightly differentiated, each mother was still able to give to her
children all the advantages then known, and to teach them the few arts
and crafts necessary of attainment. Still later, when apprenticeship
taught trades, the individual mother was still able to give all the
stimulus and instruction needed for early race culture--and did so,
But we have now reached a stage of social development when this grade of
nurture is no longer sufficient, and no longer found satisfying either
by mother or child. On the one hand, women are differentiating as human
beings: they are no longer all one thing--females, mothers, and NOTHING
ELSE. They are still females, and will remain so; still mothers, and
will remain so: but they are also Persons of widely varying sorts, with
interests and capacities which fit them for social service in many
On the other hand, our dawning knowledge of child culture leads us to
require a standard of ability in this work based on talent, love,
natural inclination, long training and wide experience. It is no longer
possible for the average woman, differentiated or undifferentiated, to
fulfill the work of right training for babies and little children,
unassisted. Moreover, the New Motherhood is belying to-day the dogma of
the high cultural value of "the home" as a place of education for young
children--an old world assumption which Miss Key accepts without
question and intensifies.
The standards of the New Motherhood are these:
First: The fullest development of the woman, in all her powers, that she
may be the better qualified for her duties of transmission by
Second: The fullest education of the woman in all plain truths
concerning her great office, and in her absolute duty of right
selection--measuring the man who would marry her by his fitness for
fatherhood; and holding him to the highest standards in his duty
Third: Intelligent recognition that child culture is the greatest of
arts, that it requires high specialization and life service, and the
glad entrance upon this service of those women naturally fitted for it.
Such standards as these recognize the individual woman's place as a
human being, her economic independence, her special social service; and
hold her a far more valuable mother for such development, able to give
her children a richer gift by inheritance than the mothers of the
past--all too much in femininity and too little in humanity.
A mother who is something more--who is also a social servant--is a
nobler being for a child to love and follow than a mother who is nothing
more--except a home servant. She is wiser, stronger, happier, jollier,
a better comrade, a more satisfying and contented wife; the whole
atmosphere around the child at home is improved by a fully human mother.
On the second demand, that of a full conscious knowledge of the primal
conditions of her business, the New Motherhood can cleanse the world of
most of its diseases, and incidentally of many of its sins. A girl old
enough to marry, is old enough to understand thoroughly what lies before
her and why.
Especially why. The real cause and purpose of the marriage relation,
parentage, she has but the vaguest ideas about--an ignorance not only
absurd but really criminal in the light of its consequences. Women
should recognize not only the personal joy of motherhood, which they
share with so many female creatures, but the social duty of motherhood
and its unmeasured powers. By right motherhood they can build the
world: by wrong motherhood they keep the world as it is--weak, diseased,
The average quality of the human stock today is no personal credit to
the Old Motherhood, and will be held a social disgrace by the New. But
beyond a right motherhood and a right fatherhood comes the whole field
of social parentage, one phase of which we call education. The effect
of the environment on the child from birth is what demands the attention
of the New Motherhood here: How can we provide right conditions for our
children from babyhood? That is the education problem. And here arises
the insistent question: "Is a small, isolated building, consecrated as a
restaurant and dormitory for one family, the best cultural environment
for the babyhood of the race?"
To this question the New Motherhood, slowly and timidly, is beginning to
answer, "No." It is becoming more and more visible, in this deeper,
higher demand for race improvement, that we might provide better
educational conditions for the young of the human species. For the
all-engrossing importance of the first years of childhood, it is time
that we prepared a place. This is as real a need as the need of a
college or school. We need A PLACE FOR BABIES--and our homes arranged
in relation to such places.
A specially prepared environment, a special service of those best fitted
for the task, the accumulated knowledge which we can never have until
such places and such service are given--these are demanded by the New
For each child, the healthy body and mind; the warm, deep love and
protecting care of its own personal mother: and for all children, the
best provision possible from the united love and wisdom of our social
parentage. This is not to love our children less, but more. It is not
to rob them of the life-long devotion of one well-meaning average woman,
but to give them the immortal, continued devotion of age after age of
growing love and wisdom from the best among us who will give successive
lives to the service of children because they love them better even than
HOW WE WASTE THREE-FOURTHS OF OUR MONEY
The waste of Nature is great, and seems unavoidable: it is Nature's way.
She is prodigal of time, of material, of life itself; and seems to have
unlimited supplies to draw from. But the waste in our human processes
is conspicuously absurd. We submit to it because we are not, in
general, awake to what is going on.
Recent spasms of civic investigation have revealed to us one large
source of waste in the dishonest use of public money. We are taxed more
than is necessary to meet expenses in no way essential to good
government. Ten per cent is a moderate allowance for this loss.
We waste more largely and less noticeably in carelessness of our natural
resources, as is now beginning to be realized. Waste of timber is
followed by waste of water, and that by waste of land. The earth's
surface of arable soil is being washed into the ocean at a wholly
unnecessary rate, the foundation of all wealth--of our very life on
earth--thus slipping away from us unobserved. Every barren, naked hill
is a ruined garden; every yellow, muddy river is leaking gold dust from
our pockets; every choked harbor is a loss in money. Another ten per
cent is scant allowance for this.
The waste of sewage in almost every city so provided, as well as the
loss of the same valuable fertilizing material in smaller places, is
grotesquely foolish. If we saw a farmer gathering all the material from
his stables and cow sheds and throwing it into the sea, we should think
he was a fool. We in towns and cities are just as foolish in wholesale
waste of what is worth good money to the farmer. The sale of this
material by any great city, together with the sale of its garbage, would
be a large and steady source of income. At present we pay out large
sums for sewage systems to throw away this product, and pay further sums
to persons to take away the garbage and other refuse. We then, to
accumulate idiocy, pay more large sums to dredge out the harbors we have
ourselves obstructed, and furthermore charge ourselves with a heavy
death rate and a burden of disease from the effects of the defiled water
and poisoned fish--defiled and poisoned by ourselves. Taken altogether
this makes another ten per cent. of our wealth wasted. (All these sums
are arbitrary, but well below what they would really amount to.)
We pay very heavily to support our public institutions for the
defective, crippled and criminal population--in terrible numbers and
increasing. Practically all this is pure waste of money--to say nothing
of the loss and suffering to humanity. Prisons, hospitals, insane
asylums, poor houses, and the like cost the community a prodigious
This is very largely unnecessary. Our criminal population is made--not
born! The born criminal belongs in the hospital or asylum. Our
crippled and blind are mainly made so by vicious parents--and all that
contributes to vice can be avoided. It is a tremendous expense to
produce and maintain such a lot of poor human stock--and it is wholly
unnecessary--the most utter waste. We will call it another ten per
Our all too numerous diseases with their premature deaths constitute
another heavy loss. The waste of human life force in the infant
mortality alone is enormous. The cost of medicine, of doctors, of
undertakers, of graveyard rents; the loss of services of those
prematurely taken from us--all this is a groaning burden of pain and
loss amounting easily to another ten per cent.
We lose by fire, unnecessarily, other huge sums--and fire loss is
absolute; there is no "come back," no compensating circumstance. More
human life is lost in fighting fire. In this, and in the terrible death
roll from accident in mill and mine and railroad, we lose in money more
than another ten per cent.
In the foolishness of throat-cutting competition with all its
multiplication of plant and service, its interruptions and interference
and delay, another ten per cent is gone--and more. In the general
inadequacy of our people--low grade people where we might have high
grade ones, like poor stock in cows or hens, or poor kinds of corn or
wheat instead of first-class varieties, we waste again good ten per
cent--and more. Also in the blind, careless assortment of occupation
where people work grudgingly at what they do not like we lose largely.
The vigorous output of happy, well placed workers would be worth ten per
cent. added to our present wealth.
Then comes our method of domestic industry in which we waste forty-three
per cent. of the productive labor of the world--and three-fourths of our
Put these all together--and every one of them is modestly within the
mark--and three-fourths is a small allowance to cover our wastes. Isn't
it time we had a Social Secretary and a Financial Expert to teach us a
OUR ANDROCENTRIC CULTURE; OR, THE MAN-MADE WORLD
A HUMAN WORLD.
In the change from the dominance of one sex to the equal power of two,
to what may we look forward? What effect upon civilization is to be
expected from the equality of womanhood in the human race?
To put the most natural question first--what will men lose by it? Many
men are genuinely concerned about this; fearing some new position of
subservience and disrespect. Others laugh at the very idea of change in
their position, relying as always on the heavier fist. So long as
fighting was the determining process, the best fighter must needs win;
but in the rearrangement of processes which marks our age, superior
physical strength does not make the poorer wealthy, nor even the soldier
The major processes of life to-day are quite within the powers of women;
women are fulfilling their new relations more and more successfully;
gathering new strength, new knowledge, new ideals. The change is upon
us; what will it do to men?
As we are a monogamous race, there will be no such drastic and cruel
selection among competing males as would eliminate the vast majority as
unfit. Even though some be considered unfit for fatherhood, all human
life remains open to them. Perhaps the most important feature of this
change comes in right here; along this old line of sex-selection,
replacing that power in the right hands, and using it for the good of
The woman, free at last, intelligent, recognizing her real place and
responsibility in life as a human being, will be not less, but more,
efficient as a mother. She will understand that, in the line of
physical evolution, motherhood is the highest process; and that her
work, as a contribution to an improved race, must always involve this
great function. She will see that right parentage is the purpose of the
whole scheme of sex-relationship, and act accordingly.
In our time, his human faculties being sufficiently developed, civilized
man can look over and around his sex limitations, and begin to see what
are the true purposes and methods of human life.
He is now beginning to learn that his own governing necessity of Desire
is not _the_ governing necessity of parentage, but only a contributory
tendency; and that, in the interests of better parentage, motherhood is
the dominant factor, and must be so considered.
In slow reluctant admission of this fact, man heretofore has recognized
one class of women as mothers; and has granted them a varying amount of
consideration as such; but he has none the less insisted on maintaining
another class of women, forbidden motherhood, and merely subservient to
his desires; a barren, mischievous unnatural relation, wholly aside from
parental purposes, and absolutely injurious to society. This whole
field of morbid action will be eliminated from human life by the normal
development of women.
It is not a question of interfering with or punishing men; still less of
interfering with or punishing women; but purely a matter of changed
education and opportunity for every child.
Each and all shall be taught the real nature and purpose of motherhood;
the real nature and purpose of manhood; what each is for, and which is
the more important. A new sense of the power and pride of womanhood
will waken; a womanhood no longer sunk in helpless dependence upon men;
no longer limited to mere unpaid house-service; no longer blinded by the
false morality which subjects even motherhood to man's dominance; but a
womanhood which will recognize its pre-eminent responsibility to the
human race, and live up to it. Then, with all normal and right
competition among men for the favor of women, those best fitted for
fatherhood will be chosen. Those who are not chosen will live
Many, under the old mistaken notion of what used to be called the
"social necessity" of prostitution, will protest at the idea of its
"It is necessary to have it," they will say.
"Necessary _to whom?_"
Not to the women hideously sacrificed to it, surely.
Not to society, honey-combed with diseases due to this cause.
Not to the family, weakened and impoverished by it.
To whom then? To the men who want it?
But it is not good for them, it promotes all manner of disease, of vice,
of crime. It is absolutely and unquestionably a "social evil."
An intelligent and powerful womanhood will put an end to this indulgence
of one sex at the expense of the other; and to the injury of both.
In this inevitable change will lie what some men will consider a loss.
But only those of the present generation. For the sons of the women now
entering upon this new era of world life will be differently reared.
They will recognize the true relation of men to the primal process; and
be amazed that for so long the greater values have been lost sight of in
favor of the less.
This one change will do more to promote the physical health and beauty
of the race; to improve the quality of children born, and the general
vigor and purity of social life, than any one measure which could be
proposed. It rests upon a recognition of motherhood as the real base
and cause of the family; and dismisses to the limbo of all outworn
superstition that false Hebraic and grossly androcentric doctrine that
the woman is to be subject to the man, and that he shall rule over her.
He has tried this arrangement long enough--to the grievous injury of the
world. A higher standard of happiness will result; equality and mutual
respect between parents; pure love, undefiled by self-interests on
either side; and a new respect for Childhood.
With the Child, seen at last to be the governing purpose of this
relation, with all the best energies of men and women bent on raising
the standard of life for all children, we shall have a new status of
family life which will be clean and noble, and satisfying to all its
The change in all the varied lines of human work is beyond the powers of
any present day prophet to forecast with precision. A new grade of
womanhood we can clearly foresee; proud, strong, serene, independent;
great mothers of great women and great men. These will hold high
standards and draw men up to them; by no compulsion save nature's law of
attraction. A clean and healthful world, enjoying the taste of life as
it never has since racial babyhood, with homes of quiet and
content--this we can foresee.
Art--in the extreme sense will perhaps always belong most to men. It
would seem as if that ceaseless urge to expression, was, at least
originally, most congenial to the male. But applied art, in every form,
and art used directly for transmission of ideas, such as literature, or
oratory, appeals to women as much, if not more, than to men.
We can make no safe assumption as to what, if any, distinction there
will be in the free human work of men and women, until we have seen
generation after generation grow up under absolutely equal conditions.
In all our games and sports and minor social customs, such changes will
occur as must needs follow upon the rising dignity alloted to the
woman's temperament, the woman's point of view; not in the least denying
to men the fullest exercise of their special powers and preferences; but
classifying these newly, as not human--merely male. At present we have
pages or columns in our papers, marked as "The Woman's Page" "Of
Interest to Women," and similar delimiting titles. Similarly we might
have distinctly masculine matters so marked and specified; not assumed
as now to be of general human interest.
The effect of the change upon Ethics and Religion is deep and wide.
With the entrance of women upon full human life, a new principle comes
into prominence; the principle of loving service. That this is the
governing principle of Christianity is believed by many; but an
androcentric interpretation has quite overlooked it; and made, as we
have shown, the essential dogma of their faith the desire of an eternal
reward and the combat with an eternal enemy.
The feminine attitude in life is wholly different. As a female she has
merely to be herself and passively attract; neither to compete nor to
pursue; as a mother her whole process is one of growth; first the
development of the live child within her, and the wonderful nourishment
from her own body; and then all the later cultivation to make the child
grow; all the watching, teaching, guarding, feeding. In none of this is
there either desire, combat, or self-expression. The feminine attitude,
as expressed in religion, makes of it a patient practical fulfillment of
law; a process of large sure improvements; a limitless comforting love
This full assurance of love and of power; this endless cheerful service;
the broad provision for all people; rather than the competitive
selection of a few "victors;" is the natural presentation of religious
truth from the woman's viewpoint. Her governing principle being growth
and not combat; her main tendency being to give and not to get; she more
easily and naturally lives and teaches these religious principles. It
is for this reason that the broader gentler teaching of the Unitarian
and Universalist sects have appealed so especially to women, and that so
many women preach in their churches.
This principle of growth, as applied and used in general human life will
work to far other ends than those now so painfully visible.
In education, for instance, with neither reward nor punishment as spur
or bait; with no competition to rouse effort and animosity, but rather
with the feeling of a gardener towards his plants; the teacher will
teach and the children learn, in mutual ease and happiness. The law of
passive attraction applies here, leading to such ingenuity in
presentation as shall arouse the child's interest; and, in the true
spirit of promoting growth, each child will have his best and fullest
training, without regard to who is "ahead" of him, or her, or who
We do not sadly measure the cabbage-stalk by the corn-stalk, and praise
the corn for getting ahead of the cabbage--nor incite the cabbage to
emulate the corn. We nourish both, to its best growth--and are the
That every child on earth shall have right conditions to make the best
growth possible to it; that every citizen, from birth to death, shall
have a chance to learn all he or she can assimilate, to develop every
power that is in them--for the common good--this will be the aim of
education, under human management.
In the world of "society" we may look for very radical changes.
With all women full human beings, trained and useful in some form of
work; the class of busy idlers, who run about forever "entertaining" and
being "entertained" will disappear as utterly as will the prostitute.
No woman with real work to do could have the time for such petty
amusements; or enjoy them if she did have time. No woman with real work
to do, work she loved and was well fitted for, work honored and
well-paid, would take up the Unnatural Trade. Genuine relaxation and
recreation, all manner of healthful sports and pastimes, beloved of both
sexes to-day, will remain, of course; but the set structure of "social
functions"--so laughably misnamed--will disappear with the "society
women" who make it possible. Once active members of real Society; no
woman could go back to "society," any more than a roughrider could
return to a hobbyhorse.
New development in dress, wise, comfortable, beautiful, may be
confidently expected, as woman becomes more human. No fully human
creature could hold up its head under the absurdities our women wear
to-day--and have worn for dreary centuries.
So on through all the aspects of life we may look for changes, rapid and
far-reaching; but natural and all for good. The improvement is not due
to any inherent moral superiority of women; nor to any moral inferiority
of men; men at present, as more human, are ahead of women in all
distinctly human ways; yet their maleness, as we have shown repeatedly,
warps and disfigures their humanness. The woman, being by nature the
race-type; and her feminine functions being far more akin to human
functions than are those essential to the male; will bring into human
life a more normal influence.
Under this more normal influence our present perversities of functions
will, of course, tend to disappear. The directly serviceable tendency
of women, as shown in every step of their public work, will have small
patience with hoary traditions of absurdity. We need but look at long
recorded facts to see what women do--or try to do, when they have
opportunity. Even in their crippled, smothered past, they have made
valiant efforts--not always wise--in charity and philanthropy.
In our own time this is shown through all the length and breadth of our
country, by the Woman's Clubs. Little groups of women, drawing together
in human relation, at first, perhaps, with no better purpose than to
"improve their minds," have grown and spread; combined and federated;
and in their great reports, representing hundreds of thousands of
women--we find a splendid record of human work. They strive always to
improve something, to take care of something, to help and serve and
benefit. In "village improvement," in traveling libraries, in lecture
courses and exhibitions, in promoting good legislation; in many a line
of noble effort our Women's Clubs show what women want to do.
Men do not have to do these things through their clubs, which are mainly
for pleasure; they can accomplish what they wish to through regular
channels. But the character and direction of the influence of women in
human affairs is conclusively established by the things they already do
and try to do. In those countries, and in our own states, where they
are already full citizens, the legislation introduced and promoted by
them is of the same beneficent character. The normal woman is a strong
creature, loving and serviceable. The kind of woman men are afraid to
entrust with political power, selfish, idle, over-sexed, or ignorant and
narrow-minded, is not normal, but is the creature of conditions men have
made. We need have no fear of her, for she will disappear with the
conditions which created her.
In older days, without knowledge of the natural sciences, we accepted
life as static. If, being born in China, we grew up with foot-bound
women, we assumed that women were such, and must so remain. Born in
India, we accepted the child-wife, the pitiful child-widow, the ecstatic
_suttee_, as natural expressions of womanhood. In each age, each
country, we have assumed life to be necessarily what it was--a moveless
All this is giving way fast in our new knowledge of the laws of life.
We find that Growth is the eternal law, and that even rocks are slowly
changing. Human life is seen to be as dynamic as any other form; and
the most certain thing about it is that it will change. In the light of
this knowledge we need no longer accept the load of what we call "sin;"
the grouped misery of poverty, disease and crime; the cumbrous,
inefficatious, wasteful processes of life today, as needful or
We have but to learn the _real_ elements in humanity; its true powers
and natural characteristics; to see wherein we are hampered by the wrong
ideas and inherited habits of earlier generations, and break loose from
them--then we can safely and swiftly introduce a far nobler grade of
Of all crippling hindrances in false ideas, we have none more
universally mischievous than this root error about men and women. Given
the old androcentric theory, and we have an androcentric culture--the
kind we so far know; this short stretch we call "history;" with its
proud and pitiful record. We have done wonders of upward growth--for
growth is the main law, and may not be wholly resisted. But we have
hindered, perverted, temporarily checked that growth, age after age; and
again and again has a given nation, far advanced and promising, sunk to
ruin, and left another to take up its task of social evolution; repeat
its errors--and its failure.
One major cause of the decay of nations is "the social evil"--a thing
wholly due to the androcentric culture. Another steady endless check is
warfare--due to the same cause. Largest of all is poverty; that
spreading disease which grows with our social growth and shows most
horribly when and where we are most proud, keeping step, as it were,
with private wealth. This too, in large measure, is due to the false
ideas on industry and economics, based, like the others mentioned, on a
wholly masculine view of life.
By changing our underlying theory in this matter we change all the
resultant assumptions; and it is this alteration in our basic theory of
life which is being urged.
The scope and purpose of human life is entirely above and beyond the
field of sex relationship. Women are human beings, as much as men, by
nature; and as women, are even more sympathetic with human processes.
To develop human life in its true powers we need full equal citizenship
The great woman's movement and labor movement of to-day are parts of the
same pressure, the same world-progress. An economic democracy must rest
on a free womanhood; and a free womanhood inevitably leads to an
THE NUN IN THE KITCHEN
When you gaze upon a row of large, beautiful houses; those "residences"
to which the citizen "points with pride;" those "homes" which form our
ideal of life's fulfillment; bear this in mind:
For every one of those proud, spacious mansions must exist somewhere one
or more huts or hovels or crowded city tenements.
Why? To furnish from the daughters of the poor the servants necessary
to maintain such a domicile. So long as each woman performed with her
own hands the labors of the home; there were physical limits to the size
and splendor of that building.
The Palace has its slaves, the Castle its serfs, and the capacious
mansions of today owe their splendor--yes, their very existence--to the
nun in the kitchen.
"Why nun?" you will ask. Because in entering our service she is
required to be poor, chaste and submissive; she gives up home and
family; hers is a consecrated life--consecrated to the physical comfort
of our families.
We expect our servants to be women as a matter of course: are not women
made to serve? As a matter of fact, they are. That is, they are made
to serve children, but we make them serve men. And since a married
woman must serve her own husband exclusively, we must have unmarried
women to serve other women's husbands! Hence the demand for maid
service; hence the constant--though futile--effort to prevent our maids
from marrying; and hence--this we have hitherto utterly overlooked--the
continuous inadequacy of that service.
Thus an endless procession of incompetent young people--necessarily
incompetent--is forever passing in and out of our back doors; and our
domestic life--its health and happiness--is built upon these shifting
When slaves were owned we had a secure foundation, such as it was; but
the present servant is not held by a chain or collar, and as she flits
through the kitchen--either slowly or swiftly--the mistress of the
mansion is drawn upon, in varying degree, to be a stop-gap.
The family and the home are far too important to our happiness to be
left at the mercy of such a fleeting crowd of errant damosels.
Affection and obedience they may give--or may not--but competence does
not come to ignorant youth. We need, to keep the world well fed and
really clean, skilled, specialized, experienced, well-paid workers; and
it is none of our business whether they are married or single.
LETTERS FROM SUBSCRIBERS
Being wholly unable to respond individually to the kind and helpful
letters, I wish here to personally thank each friend for his or her
really important contributions to the establishment of this magazine.
It is the rich response which gives assurance that the work is worth
doing, and that it reaches those for whom it is written.
CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN.
COMMENT AND REVIEW
THE CENTURY OF THE CHILD
This is the well chosen title for one of the most important books of
this Twentieth Century, written by Ellen Key, that great Swedish woman
who so intensely loves "the child," a book which has set all Europe
thinking, has revolutionized the attitude of mind of thousands of young
women, and filled thousands of old ones with vain remorse.
In Germany a very considerable movement among girls of the upper
classes, involving a new attitude towards marriage and maternity, has
resulted from this one work.
I take a special, personal interest in it because my "Woman and
Economics" was held to represent the opposite pole of thought regarding
women from that of this book.
What is Miss Key's position?
She holds that "the child" is the most important of personages, that
life should all be bent to its service, that the woman's one,
all-inclusive purpose is the right bearing and rearing of children. She
shows how painfully inadequate is our present provision for child
culture, how unprepared is the average mother, how unsuitable the
atmosphere of the average home and also of the average school; and makes
searching comment on our methods of teaching--especially in teaching
Her chapter on "The Education of the Child" is so important that it has
been taken out and made a book by itself.
There is present throughout the book a deep sincerity, a boundless love
and sympathy, and evidence of the widest and most searching observation.
It throws a relentless light on our cheap and trivial way of facing the
gravest issues of life, and should stir every woman's heart to new
enthusiasm for the power and glory of motherhood.
The most controversial chapters--to most of us--are the first, in which
marriage is discussed, and the one on religion; but to my mind the most
important question here, as in all deep study of child culture, is this:
Is the mother the best person to supply the entire care for and culture
of the child?
Miss Key holds that she is. For that reason she deprecates any
education, any profession, any interest or purpose in a woman's life
which at all interferes with this primal claim of motherhood. She
allows to women the right, as individuals, to forego motherhood and
develop their egos as they will; but of women as a class she demands the
most entire consecration to this function. Her requirements are
soul-absorbing and exclusive of all others. It is not alone in the
hours spent with the child that the mother should be at work upon him,
but in every waking hour--in her work and rest times--the child should
be always on her heart, and she should ceaselessly revolve in her mind
the problems of her work as a mother.
The book is a determined protest against the present tendency to
specialization among women: it is thrown up like a rampart against the
rising tide of independence and free human life demanded by the girls of
today--and its strength lies in the deep truth of its attitude towards
It is true that the child is the most important personage. In him--in
her--must appear the inherited growth of the world. Unless our children
are born better, born stronger, born cleaner and more beautiful than we,
the race does not progress. And unless the first years are rightly
treated, we lose in wrong education much of the fruit of right breeding.
It is true that we need among women a new, strong, clear "class
conscious" motherhood which shall recognize that this deep duty is
superior to that of the wife; that it is woman's worst crime to consent
to bear children of vicious, diseased fathers; that it is woman's first
duty, not merely to reproduce, but to improve the human race.
So far I am in hearty agreement with Ellen Key, and congratulate the
world of to-day upon her book. She herself is a "human mother," a
"social mother," loving children because they are children not because
they are her own. Such love, such high intelligence and insight, such
quenchless enthusiasm, are in themselves the proof that wise and
beneficial child-service may be given by extra-maternal hearts, heads
and hands. Wherein I disagree with this world-helper will be found in a
few remarks on "The New Motherhood," elsewhere in these pages.
I was asked by a justly indignant subscriber to review Molly Elliot
Sewell's amazing performance in the September "Atlantic" called "The
Ladies' Battle," and replied at the time that I had not seen the
article. Since then I have, and am glad to say a few words on a matter
the only importance of which is that The Atlantic Monthly should have
committed itself to such a presentation.
There is but one reasonable way to oppose Woman Suffrage today: that is
to bring definite proof that it has worked for evil in the states and
countries where it has been long in practice. This means not merely to
show that evil still exists in these communities, or even that some
women take part in it: it must be shown that new or greater evils exist,
and that these are proven due to use of the ballot by women. We have
yet to wait for such legitimate opposition.
This effort of Miss Sewall's, like all the others, consists almost
wholly of prophesies of horror as to the supositious effects of an
untried process, and where she does bring definite charges of corrupt
behavior in a woman suffrage state, the corruption charged is one common
to man suffrage everywhere, and is in no way attributable to the
presence of voting women. Her anti-suffrage opinions, quoted from these
states, can be overwhelmingly outnumbered by pro-suffrage ones from
equally good sources.
She repeatedly alludes to woman suffrage as "a stupendous governmental
change," "the overturning of the social order which woman suffrage would
work," and other similar alarmist phrases; yet, as a matter of fact,
women have voted more than a generation, and are now voting, in various
of our states and in foreign countries all over the world without the
slightest "governmental change" or "overturning of social order" other
than a gradual improvement through legitimate legislation.
The notable essence of this paper lies in two statements, advanced with
the utmost solemnity as "basic principles" and "basic reasons," whereas
they might both be dismissed by sweeping legal exclusion as
"incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial."
First, no electorate has ever existed, or ever can exist, which cannot
execute its own laws.
Second, no voter has ever claimed, or ever can claim, maintenance from
To dismiss the second with an airy wave of the hand, us its merely
inquire if it is a fact that in our four woman suffrage states married
women have no legal claim to support from their husbands? As a matter
of fact, they have. Therefore it is apparent that even now in this
country, as in many others, one voter has claimed, does claim, and
succeeds in getting, maintenance from another voter. Exit the second
The first one looks quite formidable. It calls up in one's mind a
peculiar alignment of the sexes in which all the women voters are
segregated and opposed to all the men voters and that this all-woman
vote is on some matter which concerns all men, and that all men utterly
object to doing what all women want them to do, and that all women could
not make all men do what they wanted them to do--against their wills.
Perhaps they couldn't. Perhaps they could. There are more ways of
coercing them than by brute force. But in any case what has this
preposterous vagary to do with woman suffrage?
Have the women voters of any state or country ever united as a body
against the men voters? Is there any reason to suppose that they ever
will? There are some measures, as in dealing with the social evil,
wherein women might conceivably vote "solid" against a considerable
number of men; but even then there would remain a large proportion of
wise and good men on the side of virtue and health--and this proportion
is increasing daily. Decisions made by all women on questions of this
sort could be efficiently enforced by them.
The absurdity of this first "basic proposition" is in its innocent
assumption of flatly opposing interests between men and women, whereas
most of their interests are identical. In following out her grisly
fears of valiant man forcibly preventing womankind from voting, our
authoress again forgets existing facts and again surrenders herself to
"A dozen ruffians at a single polling place could prevent a hundred
women from depositing a single ballot," she says.
Yes. But do they?
A dozen ruffians could do alarming damage to a hundred women almost
anywhere if the women had no guns. Has Mrs. Seawell ever had the
pleasure of observing the absence of "ruffians" at the polling places in
Woman Suffrage states? She seems to imagine that women, in acquiring
the ballot, instantly thereby lose, not only all their male relatives,
but the protection of the law, and become a species of "enemy," with
men, terrified and enraged, banded together against them--which is a
The errors of fact in this article are gross and unpardonable. If Mrs.
Seawell had ever examined "The Woman's Bible" she would have noticed
that it was not "Miss Anthony's," but was undertaken by Mrs. Elizabeth
Cady Stanton with collaboration of some others, and that it was not an
attempt to make the Bible a "suffrage document" but to show how it
discriminated against women.
She alleges that the divorce rate is "practically higher" in the four
suffrage states than in any others in the Union whereas Wyoming is the
one state where divorce has decreased rather than increased. She speaks
of Colorado as having had "more than thirty years of suffrage" whereas
it was only introduced in 1893.
Any person capable of real interest in this question of practical
politics and world improvement are urged to concentrate their study, not
on the most fiercely sentimental presentation of what woman suffrage
will do or will not do, but on the numerous and easily accessible facts
as to what it really does, information concerning which can be readily
obtained at the National Woman Suffrage Headquarters, 505 Fifth avenue,
New York city.
In the preliminary announcement of this magazine, twelve short articles
were promised by name.
As the months came round, other matters arose for attention, other
articles were urgent, and this arbitrary set was much in the way.
One, The Nun in the Kitchen, was seized upon by another magazine. They
wanted the title particularly, so it was given them--and the price
thereof goeth to feed the Forerunner. But, being a much larger
magazine, they benevolently allowed the same name and a similar article
to appear in these modest pages.
The others, "Our Overworked Instincts" and "How We Waste Three-Fourths
of Our Money" being promised, are now printed, altogether and with most
gratifying brevity, their length never having been specified. The New
Year is not going to be hampered with any such too previous
We mean to carry lists of books useful to our readers. We wish to prove
that it will pay publishers to advertise with us. If you order any book
reviewed here, please send your order to THE FORERUNNER.
"Pure Sociology," by Lester F. Ward, Macmillan, Pub., $4.00.
"Hygiene and Morality," by Lavina L. Dock, R.N., G. P. Putnam's Sons,
"Marriage as a Trade," by Cicely Hamilton, Moffat, Yard & Co., Pub.,
"To-day's Problems." Trade Union Book Concern. Chicago, Ill.
"The Century of the Child," by Ellen Key; G. P. Putnam's Sons., Pub.,
For December and January
Our Prize Fiction Number'
When "MOLLY MAKE-BELIEVE" appeared, our readers gave us no peace until
we promised another story by the same author. Our Christmas number
opens with "THE PINK SASH," by _Eleanor Hallowell Abbott._
In "THE HAZARD," _Katherine Cecil Thurston_ gives an exciting romance of
the days when feelings ran high in the fight for a maiden's hand.
_Rupert Hughes'_ story, full of snow, Christmas presents, soldiers and a
girl, is entitled "DUMBHEAD."
In the "FIRE_BLUE NECKLACE," by _Samuel Hopkins Adams,_ the well-known
detective hero, "Average Jones," while in search for the adventure of
life, lends Cupid a helping hand.
"THE IRISH SCHOOLMASTER," by _Seumas MacManus,_ is the first of a series
of delightful Irish sketches. _John Kendrick Bangs_ comes into our
Christmas issue with one of his up-to-date fairy stories; "PUSS IN THE
Among the many entertaining stories in our January issue there is one by
_Mary Heaton Vorse,_ entitled "THEY MEANT WELL"--a story of too many
chaperons and what happened to the girl; also, in "THE LITTLE MOTHER AND
THEIR MAJESTIES," _Evelyn Van Buren_ accomplishes her usual feat of
making the reader laugh and cry at the same time.
The Boy Scout movement, its purpose and its laws, is treated by _Ernest
Thompson Seton_ in the article "ORGANIZED BOYHOOD.
_Miriam Finn Scott_ in "SHOW GIRLS OF INDUSTRY" relates interestingly
how beauty of form and features figure as a big asset in the Business
"THE STORY OF WENDELL PHILLIPS," by _Charles Edward Russell,_ is a
vivid and inspiring character sketch of this great orator and friend of
A Few Of Our January Articles
_Franklin Clarkin,_ in a beautifully illustrated article, "CITY BEAUTY
PAYS," proves that it pays big to make a city beautiful--pays in actual
dollars and cents. In "THE EVERYDAY MIKADO," _Adachi Kinnosuke_ gives a
lot of interesting and hitherto unknown facts about the Emperor of
Japan, his daily life and his responsibility for the modern movement in
the Island Empire.
"A SOFT-PEDAL STATESMAN," by _Robert Wickcliffe Woolley,_ is a slashing
character picture of the rich, influential and reactionary Senator
Murray Crane, of Massachusetts.
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THE FORERUNNER, of 1911.
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