Boys Will Be Boys

“Boys will be boys,” and boys have had their day;
Boy-mischief and boy-carelessness and noise
Extenuated all, allowed, excused and smoothed away,
Each duty missed, each damaging wild act,
By this meek statement of unquestioned fact–
Boys will be boys!

Now, “women will be women.” Mark the change;
Calm motherhood in place of boisterous youth;
No warfare now; to manage and arrange,
To nurture with wise care, is woman’s way,
In peace and fruitful industry her sway,
In love and truth.

More by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Anti-Suffragists

Fashionable women in luxurious homes,
With men to feed them, clothe them, pay their bills,
Bow, doff the hat, and fetch the handkerchief; 
Hostess or guest; and always so supplied
With graceful deference and courtesy; 
Surrounded by their horses, servants, dogs—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Successful women who have won their way
Alone, with strength of their unaided arm, 
Or helped by friends, or softly climbing up
By the sweet aid of "woman's influence"; 
Successful any way, and caring naught
For any other woman's unsuccess—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Religious women of the feebler sort—
Not the religion of a righteous world, 
A free, enlightened, upward-reaching world, 
But the religion that considers life
As something to back out of !— whose ideal
Is to renounce, submit, and sacrifice. 
Counting on being patted on the head
And given a high chair when they get to heaven—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Ignorant women—college bred sometimes, 
But ignorant of life's realities
And principles of righteous government, 
And how the privileges they enjoy
Were won with blood and tears by those before—
Those they condemn, whose ways they now oppose; 
Saying, "Why not let well enough alone?"
Our world is very pleasant as it is"—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And selfish women—pigs in petticoats—
Rich, poor, wise, unwise, top or bottom round, 
But all sublimely innocent of thought, 
And guiltless of ambition, save the one
Deep, voiceless aspiration—to be fed!
These have no use for rights or duties more. 
Duties today are more than they can meet, 
And law insures their right to clothes and food—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And, more's the pity, some good women too; 
Good, conscientious women with ideas; 
Who think—or think they think—that woman's cause
Is best advanced by letting it alone; 
That she somehow is not a human thing, 
And not to be helped on by human means, 
Just added to humanity—an "L"—
A wing, a branch, an extra, not mankind—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And out of these has come a monstrous thing, 
A strange, down-sucking whirlpool of disgrace, 
Women uniting against womanhood, 
And using that great name to hide their sin!
Vain are their words as that old king's command
Who set his will against the rising tide. 
But who shall measure the historic shame
Of these poor traitors—traitors are they all—
To great Democracy and Womanhood!

She Walketh Veiled and Sleeping

She walketh veiled and sleeping,
For she knoweth not her power;
She obeyeth but the pleading
Of her heart, and the high leading
Of her soul, unto this hour.
Slow advancing, halting, creeping,
Comes the Woman to the hour!—
She walketh veiled and sleeping,
For she knoweth not her power.

For Fear

For fear of prowling beasts at night
  They blocked the cave;
Women and children hid from sight,
   Men scarce more brave.

For fear of warrior's sword and spear
   They barred the gate;
Women and children lived in fear,
   Men lived in hate.

For fear of criminals today
   We lock the door;
Women and children still to stay
   Hid evermore.

Come out! Ye need no longer hide!
   What fear you now?
No wolf or lion waits outside–
   Only a cow.

Come out! The world approaches peace,
   War nears its end;
No warrior watches your release–
   Only a friend.

Come out! The night of crime has fled–
   Day is begun;
Here is no criminal to dread–
   Only your son.

The world, half yours, demands your care,
   Waken and come!
Make it a woman's world; safe, fair,
   Garden and home.

Related Poems

The Anti-Suffragists

Fashionable women in luxurious homes,
With men to feed them, clothe them, pay their bills,
Bow, doff the hat, and fetch the handkerchief; 
Hostess or guest; and always so supplied
With graceful deference and courtesy; 
Surrounded by their horses, servants, dogs—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Successful women who have won their way
Alone, with strength of their unaided arm, 
Or helped by friends, or softly climbing up
By the sweet aid of "woman's influence"; 
Successful any way, and caring naught
For any other woman's unsuccess—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Religious women of the feebler sort—
Not the religion of a righteous world, 
A free, enlightened, upward-reaching world, 
But the religion that considers life
As something to back out of !— whose ideal
Is to renounce, submit, and sacrifice. 
Counting on being patted on the head
And given a high chair when they get to heaven—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

Ignorant women—college bred sometimes, 
But ignorant of life's realities
And principles of righteous government, 
And how the privileges they enjoy
Were won with blood and tears by those before—
Those they condemn, whose ways they now oppose; 
Saying, "Why not let well enough alone?"
Our world is very pleasant as it is"—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And selfish women—pigs in petticoats—
Rich, poor, wise, unwise, top or bottom round, 
But all sublimely innocent of thought, 
And guiltless of ambition, save the one
Deep, voiceless aspiration—to be fed!
These have no use for rights or duties more. 
Duties today are more than they can meet, 
And law insures their right to clothes and food—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And, more's the pity, some good women too; 
Good, conscientious women with ideas; 
Who think—or think they think—that woman's cause
Is best advanced by letting it alone; 
That she somehow is not a human thing, 
And not to be helped on by human means, 
Just added to humanity—an "L"—
A wing, a branch, an extra, not mankind—
These tell us they have all the rights they want. 

And out of these has come a monstrous thing, 
A strange, down-sucking whirlpool of disgrace, 
Women uniting against womanhood, 
And using that great name to hide their sin!
Vain are their words as that old king's command
Who set his will against the rising tide. 
But who shall measure the historic shame
Of these poor traitors—traitors are they all—
To great Democracy and Womanhood!

In the Company of Women

Make me laugh over coffee,
make it a double, make it frothy
so it seethes in our delight.
Make my cup overflow
with your small happiness.
I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
Let me listen to your ringing and singing
as Billie Holiday croons above our heads.
Sorry, the blues are nowhere to be found.
Not tonight. Not here.
No makeup. No tears.
Only contours. Only curves.
Each sip takes back a pound,
each dry-roasted swirl takes our soul.
Can I have a refill, just one more?
Let the bitterness sink to the bottom of our lives.
Let us take this joy to go.

My Mother Would Be a Falconress

My mother would be a falconress,
And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,
would fly to bring back
from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize, 
where I dream in my little hood with many bells 
jangling when I'd turn my head.

My mother would be a falconress, 
and she sends me as far as her will goes. 
She lets me ride to the end of her curb 
where I fall back in anguish.
I dread that she will cast me away, 
for I fall, I mis-take, I fail in her mission.

She would bring down the little birds. 
And I would bring down the little birds. 
When will she let me bring down the little birds, 
pierced from their flight with their necks broken, 
their heads like flowers limp from the stem?

I tread my mother's wrist and would draw blood.
Behind the little hood my eyes are hooded.
I have gone back into my hooded silence,
talking to myself and dropping off to sleep.

For she has muffled my dreams in the hood she has made me, 
sewn round with bells, jangling when I move.
She rides with her little falcon upon her wrist. 
She uses a barb that brings me to cower. 
She sends me abroad to try my wings 
and I come back to her. I would bring down 
the little birds to her
I may not tear into, I must bring back perfectly.

I tear at her wrist with my beak to draw blood, 
and her eye holds me, anguisht, terrifying. 
She draws a limit to my flight.
Never beyond my sight, she says.
She trains me to fetch and to limit myself in fetching.
She rewards me with meat for my dinner.
But I must never eat what she sends me to bring her.

Yet it would have been beautiful, if she would have carried me, 
always, in a little hood with the bells ringing,
at her wrist, and her riding 
to the great falcon hunt, and me
flying up to the curb of my heart from her heart 
to bring down the skylark from the blue to her feet, 
straining, and then released for the flight.

My mother would be a falconress, 
and I her gerfalcon raised at her will, 
from her wrist sent flying, as if I were her own 
pride, as if her pride
knew no limits, as if her mind 
sought in me flight beyond the horizon.

Ah, but high, high in the air I flew. 
And far, far beyond the curb of her will, 
were the blue hills where the falcons nest. 
And then I saw west to the dying sun--
it seemd my human soul went down in flames.

I tore at her wrist, at the hold she had for me,
until the blood ran hot and I heard her cry out,
far, far beyond the curb of her will

to horizons of stars beyond the ringing hills of the world where
   the falcons nest
I saw, and I tore at her wrist with my savage beak.
I flew, as if sight flew from the anguish in her eye beyond her sight,
sent from my striking loose, from the cruel strike at her wrist,
striking out from the blood to be free of her.

My mother would be a falconress,
and even now, years after this,
when the wounds I left her had surely heald,
and the woman is dead,
her fierce eyes closed, and if her heart 
were broken, it is stilld

I would be a falcon and go free.
I tread her wrist and wear the hood,
talking to myself, and would draw blood.