Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) preferred to be considered a “sociologist”, not “feminist”. Her interest in the issue of suffrage for women, as well as its relationship with the organized suffrage movement was not for her main. However, it is widely supported by various women’s groups across the United States and wrote a lot on issues related to women’s emancipation.
Charlotte Gilman considered the economic dependence as the main obstacle in the way of progress for women. She believed that women should work outside the home — more and more women at that time started to do so — not only to perform “his personal debt to society,” but to further “the development of those abilities that are not directly related to their sex.”
Gilman very early acquired financial independence. After marriage the traditional role of the wife of the XIX century caused her to experience emotional crisis, characterized by depression, fatigue, feeling of despair and hopelessness. However, in her works, she did not oppose marriage per se, it is a protest called the “hideous yoke”, the “excruciating boredom”, which necessarily accompany marriage, if a woman economically depends on her husband.
Being a socialist (non-Marxist sense), Gilman advocated socialization of housework for professional cleaners, community kitchens and canteens, nurseries and gardens— debunking the Victorian notion of the sacred hearth. Gilman argued that the economy in most of the houses are built badly, the house did not meet sanitary standards and do not satisfy the human need for friendship, warmth and peace.
Work “Women and Economics”, which appeared in 1898, was won by Charlotte Perkins Gilman famous. Presented here are excerpts taken from Chapter I, which deals with the low economic status of the housewife and of Chapter XI, devoted to those duties that went along with her floors, especially the cooking.