–Charlotte Perkins Gilman: American feminist, sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. From Women and Economics (1898)
The spirit of personal independence in the women of today is sure proof that a change has come. . . .
The radical change in the economic position of women is advancing upon us. . . . The growing individualization of democratic life brings inevitable change to our daughters as well as to our sons. . . .
One of its most noticeable features is the demand in women not only for their own money, but for their own work for the sake of personal expression. Few girls today fail to manifest some signs of this desire for individual expression….
Economic independence for women necessarily involves a change in the home and family relation. But, if that change is for the advantage of individual and race, we need not fear it. It does not involve a change in the marriage relation except in withdrawing the element of economic dependence, nor in the relation of mother to child save to improve it. But it does involve the exercise of human faculty in women, in social service and exchange rather than in domestic service solely. Today], when our still developing social needs for an ever-increasing . . . freedom, the woman marrying becomes the house-servant, or at least housekeeper, of the man. . . .
When women stand free as economic agents, they will [achieve a] much better fulfillment of their duties as wives and mothers and [contribute] to the vast improvement in health and happiness of the human race.