“The Socialist and the Suffragist”

Sociologist and commentator Charlotte Perkins Gilman (7/03/1860-8/17/1935), better known today as the author of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper,  was an ardent suffragist.  Her highly influential 1898 book Women and Economics, examined domestic relationship and advocated women’s economic independence.  Her verse, “The Socialist and the Suffragist” first appeared in Gilman’s monthly periodical, The Forerunner.  She included it  in her 1911 book, Suffrage Songs and Verse, p. 16.  It was reprinted in the Sept. 28, 1912, edition of The Appeal to Reason, a widely read socialist publication.  Here is the link to Suffrage Songs and Verse: https://archive.org/details/GilmanSuffrageSongs


Said the Socialist to the Suffragist:
“My cause is greater than yours!
You only work for a Special Class,
We work for the gain of the General Mass,
Which every good ensures!”

Said the Suffragist to the Socialist:
“You underrate my Cause!
While women remain a Subject Class,
You never can move the General Mass,
With your Economic Laws!”

Said the Socialist to the Suffragist:
“You misinterpret facts!
There is no room for doubt or schism
In Economic Determinism–
It governs all our acts!”

Said the Suffragist to the Socialist:
“You men will always find
That this old world will never move
More swiftly in its ancient groove
While women stay behind! ”

“A lifted world lifts women up,”
The Socialist explained.
“You cannot lift the world at all
While half of it is kept so small,”
The Suffragist maintained.

The world awoke, and tartly spoke:
“Your work is all the same:
Work together or work apart,
Work, each of you, with all your heart–
Just get into the game!”

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