Suffrage Songs and Verses

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

The Malingerer

Exempt! She “does not have to work!”
So might one talk
Defending long, bedridden ease,
Weak yielding ankles, flaccid knees,
With, “I don’t have to walk!”
Not have to work. Why not? Who gave
Free pass to you?
You’re housed and fed and taught and dressed
By age-long labor of the rest—
Work other people do!
What do you give in honest pay
For clothes and food?—
Then as a shield, defence, excuse,
She offers her exclusive use—
Her function—Motherhood!
Is motherhood a trade you make
A living by?
And does the wealth you so may use,
Squander, accumulate, abuse,
Show motherhood as high?
Or does the motherhood of those
Whose toil endures,
The farmers’ and mechanics’ wives,
Hard working servants all their lives—
Deserve less price than yours?
We’re not exempt! Man’s world runs on,
Motherless, wild;
Our servitude and long duress,
Our shameless, harem idleness,
Both fail to serve the child.
Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson