Liberal Feminist Key Thinkers - Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Coggle Diagram
Liberal Feminist Key Thinkers - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Perkins Gilman can be viewed as a trailblazer within the women's movement as she was a prominent figure within the
The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) described a woman who suffers from mental illness after being closeted in a room by her husband. The trapped woman becomes obsessed with the colour of the wallpaper
This work serves to highlight the lack of autonomy within women's lives and how it undermines their mental and emotional well-being
Herland (1915) is a story that focuses upon 3 men who discover an island that is solely governed by women. In the book, Gilman exploits this situation to contrast a woman centred society with the harsh realities of the patriarchy.
The story is told by one man (Van) as he details his easy capture, humane imprisonment and gentle indoctrination into an all-female society
Women and Economics (1898) saw Gilman argue for an evolution in marriage, family and home life. She focuses on the economic independence and the specialisation of women which she believed was essential.
Perkins Gilman focused on the fact that men were at the forefront of an economy which was detrimental to women and she held the idea that a woman's position as a 'housewife' held economic value.
Moreover, Gilman believed that within her society, the patriarchal idea of motherhood prevents women from achieving their potential and such traditional ideas of women limits them in every facet of their life
During CPG's time, Darwinism was highly popular and was being adapted to defend many of society's structure such as capitalism as well as the justification of male domination within society
Darwinist theory argued that men were the dominant sex as they were more suited to compete in nature, stronger and not tied down by the need to rear children.
Perkins Gilman argued that this idea was not the case and due to the change in economic activity, there was no reason as to why women could not play an equal part in modern economics
She asserted that women had equal brain power to men and this justified their equality in modern society
Family and the role of women
Gilman believed that childrearing and housework was a form of slavery and she campaigned for the destruction of the nuclear family.
Gilman argued that there was a need for an equal contribution to domestic division of labour because it had been used as an instrument of the patriarchy and this led to women becoming financially reliant on their husbands.
Therefore, sharing such roles will mean that women have more freedom and a wider role in society.
Gilman pushed the point of sharing domestic duties as she believed that because a domestic environment had become an instrument of the patriarchy, it had contributed to an uneven power structure in which wives had to trade sexual favours for the protection offered by men
Gilman argued that female contributions towards civilisation had been halted due to an androcentric culture.
Women were the underdeveloped half of humanity and a shift in economic dynamics was needed for female liberation.
This shift would enable a release from women's domestic duties towards a more economically rewarding life outside of the home.
The key towards female emancipation was economic independence
Gilman argued that girls from a young age are conditioned to take on the role of motherhood and homemaking, rather than thinking of a wider role in society and the economy
THEIR ROLE IS CULTURALLY NOT BIOLOGICALLY DETERMINED
Gilman believed that in order to prevent such harmful social conditioning is that clothing of children should have no difference as well as with the toys they play with.
This highlights Gilman's advancements in the feminist ideology, her idea of children growing up with similar things is reflective of the politics of sameness, which is a key theme within feminism
Ahead of her time, as the idea of socialisation was not mainstream until the 1960s
Gilman's views on the key themes
Human Nature: The biological differences between men and women are irrelevant and women can compete equally with men
Society: Society has always assigned inferior roles upon women and in a modern society, this is not justified
Economy: The domestic servitude of women allowed men to dominate the outside economic world
State: Gilman had no especially distinctive views on the state
Charlotte Perkins Gilman sent her daughter away to live with her former husband and his second wide as she believed it would be better for her daughter - showing progressive notions of motherhood
Moreover, Gilman had progressive views about paternal rights and acknowledged that her ex-husband has a right be part of her daughter's life and that her daughter (Katharine) had a right to 'know and love her father'
The fact that Gilman separated and divorced her husband shows how she challenged notions of the patriarchy as this was not expected or accepted by women of that time