Man's Rights

An early feminist Utopian work. Last night I had a dream, which may have a mean


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Pages: 26
Language: English
Publication date: 30/11/-0001
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An early feminist Utopian work. Last night I had a dream, which may have a meaning.
Excerpt
Last night I had a dream, which may have a meaning.
I stood on a high hill that overlooked a large city. The proud spires of many churches rose high, here and there; and round about the city were beautiful, sloping hills, stretching away, away into the distance; while a broad river wound here and there, extending a kindly arm toward the city.
As I stood there, wondering what manner of city it was, its name, and the character of its inhabitants, all at once I found myself in its very midst. From house to house I flitted; from kitchen to kitchen; and lo! everywhere the respective duties of man and woman were reversed; for in every household I found the men in aprons, superintending the affairs of the kitchen. Everywhere men, and only men, were the Bridgets and housekeepers. I thought that those gentlemen-housekeepers looked very pale, and somewhat nervous; and, when I looked into their spirits (for it seemed in my dream that I had the power), I saw anxiety and unrest, a constant feeling of unpleasant expectancy, - the result of a long and weary battling with the cares of the household.
As I looked at those men-Bridgets and gentleman-housekeepers, I said to myself, 'This is very strange! Why, these men seem unsexed! How stoop-shouldered they are! how weak and complaining their voices.'
I found, too, that not only was the kitchen exclusively man's, but also the nursery: in fact, all the housework was directed and done by men. I felt a sad pity for these men, as I flitted from house to house, from kitchen to kitchen, from nursery to nursery.
I saw them in the houses of the poor, where the 'man did his own work.' I saw him in the morning arise early, light the fire, and begin to prepare the breakfast, his face pale and haggard. 'No wonder!' I thought, when I saw how he hurried, hurried, while in his spirit was a constant fear that the baby would awake. Very soon I heard the sharp cry of the baby; and away ran the poor father, soon returning with baby in his arms, carrying it around with him, while he raked the fire, fried the meat, and set the table for breakfast. When all was ready, down came two or three unwashed, unkempt children, who must be attended to: and, when all this was done, I observed that the poor gentleman's appetite was gone; and, pale and nervous, he sat down in the rocking-chair, with the baby in his arms. But what greatly astonished me was to see how quietly and composedly the lady of the house drank her coffee and read the morning paper; apparently oblivious of the trials of her poor husband, and of all he had to endure in connection with his household cares.
It was wash-day, and I watched him through that long and weary day. First at the wash-tub, while baby slept; then rocking the cradle and washing at the same time; then preparing dinner, running and hurrying here and there about the house: while in his poor, disturbed mind revolved the thought of the sewing that ought to be done, and only his own hands to do it.
Evening came, and the lady of the house returned to dinner. The children came to meet her; and as she lifted up one, and then another, and kissed them, I thought! 'Why, how beautiful is that woman!' Then in my dream I seemed to behold every woman of that strange city; and ah! the marvelous beauty of those women! Eye hath not seen, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; for a beauty almost angelic was so charmingly combined with intellect, and health brooded so divinely over all, that, at the tout ensemble, I was profoundly astonished and intensely delighted.
Then I turned myself about, and was again in the home I had left. It was evening: the lamp on the table was lighted, and there sat the poor husband I have described, in his rocking-chair, darning stockings and mending the children's clothes after the hard day's washing. I saw that it had rained; that the clothes-line had broken, and dropped the clothes in the dirty yard; and the poor man had had a terrible time rinsing some and washing others over again; and that he had finally put them down in wash-tubs, and covered them with water he had brought from a square distant. But the day's work was over; and there he moved to and fro, while his wife, in comfortable slippers, sat by the fire reading.
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