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Why War Proves The World Needs a Mother
It Happened on January 03, 1915
By Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the well-known suffragist.
His great world and all that is in it belongs to women as much as to men. It is our world in full half share; not to divide and manage separately, but to administer as a whole together. All our previous history up to date has made the mistake of assuming this to be man’s world; and, laboring under this initial error, man has run it all by himself in his own way. Woman, meanwhile, was carefully relegated to a circumscribed region called home. This, she was told, was her world, all the rest was his. She was the “queen of the home” and he was everything else.
Now, if the home really was a separate world, entirely under her management, our story would have been very different. As a matter of fact, the home was his home, like everything else. The home belongs to man and woman both, of course; and the whole world belongs to man and woman both- equally, of course. It is time that the women of the world realized this, and accepted the responsibility.
Men tell us housework is nobler than theirs. It is, we make people. There is no nobler work than that. But look at the people we make. Are you satisfied with them? The world is woman’s home- if she makes her world happy, all will go well. Suppose men get up a war, which they continually do. Men fight by nature because they are males. Why should they? It is merely the old brute instinct of sex-combat that makes men fight; it is not a human performance – merely a male one. Yet so convinced are they of the superior beauty and service of the art of fighting that they would deny us a share in the government because, forsooth, we cannot fight!
Will someone please show the social service of fighting? “It defends the country,” they cry. Defends against what? Against whom? “Against the enemy!” they answer. What and who is this enemy? “A foreign nation,” they tell us. Never in the world. Never in all history did one nation attack another. It was always and only the men. A nation is composed of men and women. A nation does not fight – men fight. They have retarded civilization from age to age by their man-slaughtering; strewing our green world with death and agony; wasting the wealth of generations in noise and destruction.
The duty of women, when they wake up, rub their eyes, see that this world belongs to them, too, and that it might be much better managed – the first duty of women will be to stop the fighting. We do not study social conditions, find out the causes for our general poverty, and unite to remove them. The trouble lies in this blind acceptance of the old talk about “woman’s world” being the home. The home is only part of woman’s world. The point to learn – to learn thoroughly, and live up to – is this newly perceived fact that the whole great world belongs to us as much as to anybody.
Then we begin to examine the affairs in this world of ours – and we do not approve of them. We do not like the way children are treated. We do not like the way women are treated. We do not even like the way men are treated. And we propose to take a hand and improve things.
They tell us all sorts of sweet and lovely things about our power in the home. “What is home without a mother?” they say. Well- what is the world without a mother? It is what men have made it. Black with smoke – which need not be made: red with blood – which need not be shed; full of noise and quarreling from top to bottom. Poor world