by Jean Bush
Feminism, as we currently know it, actually began circa 1895 with three women, Lillian Gilbreth,
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Christine Frederick.
Gilbreth, at the age of 6, saw her father abandon his family, forcing her mother to move them 18 times in only 14 years, as they struggled to stay one step ahead of the poverty that dogged Gilbreth through all of her formative years. She apparently never got over her hatred and anger at her lack of domestic security. It drove her to force a wedge between women and their natural desire for home and family, where they instilled therein the moral and social values which not only stabilize a nation, home by home, but that have also withstood the test of time.
Lillian Gilbreth's hatred of domestic bliss was precisely captured by historian Glenna Mathews, who wrote: her "loathing for the home limited her ability to envision how domesticity and justice for women could be compatible."
Gilbreth often said that if we could be flies on the walls of Victorian homes, "we would see how miserable everyone is." The feminists of modern times would repeat this sick fantasy endlessly, by declaring that the neatly manicured lawns and white picket fences, hid an epic horror of domestic abuse and chemical addictions. Gilbreth eventually married an attentive and loving man but shortly after, had a nervous breakdown, during which, as she recovered in a sanitarium, she wrote her well known work of fiction, "The Yellow Wallpaper," in which the insane heroine blames men in general, and her husband in particular, for her condition.
Lillian Gilbreth considered Victorian women's duties to home and hearth "primitive" and wives and mothers "domestic vampires" who lived in "prisons" that "impeded social progress." She also feverishly promoted Socialism, in which the State would eventually take over all domestic functions of the family, thus allowing, in her view, women the freedom to work outside the home. We will examine later in this series how the true freedom to be loved, cherished and secure by men, was traded for the corporate time clock drudgery of the marketplace, and the chaining of women to their purses by voracious consumerism.
(All quotes & general references taken from "Simple Social Graces," by Linda S. Lichter.)