Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was a pioneering sociologist, feminist pragmatist, author, and lecturer. A skilled and perceptive writer, she explained sociological concepts and principles clearly and concisely to popular audiences. This volume presents a focused and provocative set of Gilman's penetrating analyses of marriage, motherhood, and family relationships. Generally unavailable, except in archives and special libraries, the lion's share of the analyses are drawn directly from Gilman's quintessentially unique self-published journal, The Forerunner.
Transcending her era, Gilman speaks with wit, insight, and candor to twenty-first century readers about many controversial aspects of family and family life. She believes deeply that women's values regeneration, cooperation, and compassion make for better societies. Men's values, she concludes, are destructive, competitive, and often violent. Families produce double standards and inequalities between husbands and wives, resulting in inferior mothers and, as a direct consequence, in substandard children. To improve society, Gilman argues, we need healthy, happy children. This requires well-trained, competent mothers, widespread social parenting, and enlightened, non-patriarchal marriages.
Largely self-taught, Gilman supported herself through writing and lecturing. She was at one time a settlement house leader and an active member of the American Sociological Society. Her wide sociological circle included lasting friendships with Jane Addams, Edward A. Ross, and Lester F. Ward.