37 pages 1 hour read

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

An Obstacle

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1884

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Related Poems

"To the Young Wife" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1893)

This poem was originally published in Perkins Gilman’s first poetry collection, In This Our World, along with “An Obstacle.” “To the Young Wife” challenges gender norms with a series of questions comparing the life of a housewife—cleaning and raising children—with dreams of creating positive change through intelligence and civic duty. Perkins Gilman argues that personal and political growth outside the home makes women better at domestic duties. In other words, engagement in the public sphere will improve the private sphere; the problem is confining women to one (domestic, private) sphere.

"The Anti-Suffragists" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1893)

This is one example of Perkins Gilman’s poems about the women’s suffrage, or voting rights, movement. Like “An Obstacle,” “The Anti-Suffragists” appeared in Gilman’s first poetry collection, In This Our World, but was also included in her second book, Suffrage Songs and Verses. “The Anti-Suffragists” focuses on women who oppose women getting the right to vote. These 19th century “[w]omen uniting against womanhood” include rich women and religious women, as well as women who are ignorant, selfish, and even sometimes good people. The conflict between different communities of women described in this poem can be seen even in 21st century feminist politics surrounding issues such as reproductive rights.