[p. 55]

   Frau Stritt, who presided over the meeting, called upon Mrs. Perkins-Gilman to give an address on the Woman's Movement. Mrs. Gilman spoke of the significance of the Woman's Movement during the last century; how it had gradually made way and spread among all social circles. She referred to the latest publication of Professor Leicester Ward, entitled "For Pure Sociality," in which he had advanced the hypothesis that originally there was no differentiation of sex in the human race, but the primitive human being united both the masculine and the feminine types of humanity. With some humorous touches the speaker compared this new biological conception with the familiar Biblical teaching of the origin of the race. Mrs. Gilman then proceeded to argue that, whatever the origin of the sexes, woman equally with man was a human being, and apart altogether from the different natures and responsibilities of the two sexes, there was work to be done for the general good and progress of humanity, which could only be done in common by men and women. In the past, every possible variety of occupation had been engaged in by men, but women had been tacitly set aside for housewifery occupations alone. There was, however, a common or neutral field of activity for both sexes, beyond the essentially masculine and essentially feminine modes of existence. The speaker recognised a third mode, which might be termed the "human" mode, inasmuch as it ought to be shared alike by men and women. The general trend of the Woman's Movement was towards universal recognition of this neutral field of activity. Woman was to be regarded as the partner of man, not exclusively in the house, but also in the affairs of the community and the nation. The world's work demanded the best energies both of men and women. Girls ought to he trained, not only with a view to their possible futures as housekeepers and

[p. 56]

mothers, but likewise with due appreciation of their individual responsibilities as members of a state and a nation, and helpers in the still larger world of humanity. Mrs. Perkin-Gilman's address was received with prolonged applause, and Frau Stritt then called upon Fraulein Helene Lange to set forth her conception of the "Aim of the Woman's Movement."

back to top