Document 14: "Woman's Day In Philadelphia," Progressive Woman, April 1911, p. 16.
This report on the first Woman's Day held in Philadelphia in 1911 featured the main speaker, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Author of the influential feminist treatise Women and Economics (1898), Gilman was a leading middle-class intellectual who made her living as a writer and lecturer.
WOMAN'S DAY IN PHILADELPHIA ________________
Although this was but the first celebration of Woman's Day by Philadelphia Socialists, it is our intention to make each succeeding one broader and finer until Woman's Day will be known to everyone in our city.
Until women have won the franchise, and are placed on a more level plane with men, there will be at least one day each year that will be devoted to lecturing and interesting non-Socialist women, anti-suffragists and those not yet strong enough to carry the courage of their convictions.
For our Woman's Day celebration Charlotte Perkins Gilman, of New York, was the main speaker and through her entire talk her words and theories carried so much reasoning and real understanding of the woman question, that surely her hearers will never forget them. Herself an independent and remarkably capable and clever woman, we could hardly have been more fortunate than to have her.
She made it clear that the lower position that woman holds today in society is part of her sacrifice to civilization, the outcome of old customs and theories. The industries, including, all the home industries have now become so highly specialized that it is no longer necessary to have a woman drudge in each home to assure the other members of the family comfort, and proper food. A real companionship and feeling of equality can never exist between the sexes - so long as woman is dependent and must learn to sacrifice herself to the wishes of her husband and family. Her question, "What do you think of a woman who marries her butler and retains him in this capacity after they are married," brought instant response from the audience, each one realizing that this is surely as absurd as the marriage relationship of today with the woman as the butler.
Further, she pictured the newer and better civilization: men and women working together everywhere, understanding and helping each other, the effeminate and masculine instincts giving way to the human ones. I would that I could quote more from her speech, her ideas are all so wonderfully impressive and so clear.
Paul Girard Hunt of Chicago, who was in Philadelphia, for a short stay talked for some time, and helped to round out the meeting; giving an understanding of woman from the man's standpoint and helping to arouse enthusiasm in the coming era, where all will give of the best they have freely and unselfishly, and consequently give rise to a much higher system of society.