For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Women and Economics

by Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (1900)

Key Passage

Maternal energy is the force through which have come into the world both love and industry. It is through the tireless activity of this desire, the mother’s wish to serve the young, that she began the first of the arts and crafts whereby we live. While the male savage was still a mere hunter and fighter, expressing masculine energy, the katabolic force, along its essential line, expanding, scattering, the female savage worked out in equally natural ways the conserving force of female energy. She gathered together and saved nutrition for the child, as the germ-cell gathers and saves nutrition in the unconscious silences of nature. She wrapped it in garments and built a shelter for its head as naturally as the same maternal function had loved, clothed, and sheltered the unborn. Maternal energy, working externally through our elaborate organism, is the source of productive industry, the main current of social life. (p.129)


No Keywords


Women and Work, Concepts of Work, Mothering, Care Work



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