March 31, 2010

Suffragists spread the word utilizing postcards

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 11:07 am

Check out David M. Dismore’s post at Ms.blog to view the collection of vintage postcards that women fighting for suffrage used to get the word out and help cinch voting rights. They’re amazing. Also, check out Dismore’s website: Feminism 101.

April 28, 2009

Truth honored

Sojourner Truth, the tireless abolitionist and suffragette, will be honored in the U.S. Capitol. Truth’s famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman,” examined the dynamics of race, class and gender as intersecting axes of analysis and questioned the dominant image of femininity which was limited to the most elite, white women in society at that time. She was tall, recognizable figured and a gifted orater that shook the order of the day and inspired thousands.

In the words of Truth, 1851:

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

As Michelle Obama said:

“One could only imagine what Sojourner Truth, an outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman — what she would have to say about this incredible gathering,” first lady Michelle Obama said at the Celebration of Truth ceremony. “We are all here because, as my husband says time and time again, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Sojourner Truth.”

What an incredible legacy!

September 11, 2008

"A new creation…of the feminist ideal"?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 6:24 pm

Rebecca Traister’s article, “Zombie Feminists of the RNC,” is a required reading just as much as Steinem’s piece in the Los Angeles Times.  Anti-feminist feminists or faux feminists receiving more of the media spotlight is nothing new.  But, never has the spotlight shined so brightly and never have I been this frightened.  Traister echoes my despair, rage and fear when she states:

“For while it may chafe to hear Rudy Giuliani and John McCain hold forth on the injustice of gender bias, what really burns is that we never heard a peep or squawk or gurgle of this nature from anyone in the Democratic Party during the entire 100 years Hillary Clinton was running for president, while she was being talked about as a pantsuited, wrinkly old crone and a harpy ex-wife and a sexless fat-thighed monster and an emasculating nag out for Tucker Carlson’s balls. Only after she was good and gone did Howard Dean come out of his cave to squeak about the amount of sexist media bias Clinton faced. That may not be pretty to recall, especially in light of the Grand Old Party’s Grand Old Celebration of Estrogen. But it’s true. And it’s also true that if there hadn’t been so much stone-cold silence, so much shoulder-shrugging “What, me sexist?” inertia from the left, if there had been a little more respect (there was plenty of attention, of the derisive and annoyed sort) paid to the unsubtle clues being transmitted by 18 million voters that maybe they were interested in this whole woman-in-the-White-House thing, then the right would not have had the fuel to power this particular weapon.

Which leads us to my greatest nightmare: that because my own party has not cared enough, or was too scared, to lay its rightful claim to the language of women’s rights, that Sarah Palin will reach historic heights of power, under the most egregious of auspices, by plying feminine wiles, and conforming to every outdated notion of what it means to be a woman. That she will hit her marks by clambering over the backs, the bodies, the rights of the women on whose behalf she claims to be working, and that she will do it all under the banner of feminism. How can anybody sleep?”

There has never been a time like right now to wake up and reclaim ourselves for ourselves. Because if this war-mongering, gun-touting, anti-choice candidate officially marches into the office, we will have a long way to go.  It will make the fight that suffragettes began to wage during the repressive Victorian era seem mild in comparison.

What will YOU do?

Don't Know Much about (Womyn's)History

The Los Angeles Times and numerous other outlets featured photographs of supporters carrying signs with Sarah Palin’s head superimposed over that of the iconic feminist symbol of Rosie the Riveter. I received countless emails and comments from outraged women in the last 24 hours.  The Feministing community posted a comment that expressed the reaction that so many of these woman, including myself, felt upon seeing this bizarre merging of images that are so diametrically opposed.

Any person that knows anything about womyn’s history knows full well that Sarah Palin does not embody the core beliefs and values that guided the fearless suffragettes during the first wave of feminism, the line workers during WWII or their feminist sisters of the second wave or any of the women that recognize their struggle within the larger stream of women’s issues that has persisted for centuries.

I find it outright insulting and appalling to see the face of a woman that is blatantly anti-women’s issues photo shopped on an icon that represents female solidarity and strength. Rosie the Riveter and the women that worked in the factories experienced new levels of freedom and independence.  Sarah Palin does not support the freedom of choice for women of any social supports that would bolster their success in the workplace.  The woman that Rosie the Riveter represents defied conventional gender norms while Palin benefits from feminism but seeks to reproduce and support all of the traditional gender constraints that have impinged on women’s ability to benefit in the ways Palin has.

The foundation of this country and the heart of feminism is freedom.  Plain and simple.  Palin represents the  repression of freedom.  The fear tactics the Republicans spew sends the mainstream public running for order.  As the woman were sent back into the home after the men returned from WWII, the gendered constraints tightened and provided order in an unstable war filled with foes, enemies, McCarythism and the Red Scare.

Sound familiar?

Most people don’t know the names of our fore-mothers in the endless struggle for women’s rights.  The icons and symbols are vapid and empty.  The Riot Grrls were co-opted by The Spice Girls and the collective movement was transformed into a meaningless slogan without solidarity or group force.

Girl Power.  Sarah Palin.

Vapid. Empty. An image/slogan that is sold to a public that has lost it’s sense of collective history.  A rich history that is mired in collective amnesia.

The only connection I can make between Sarah Palin and Rosie the Riveter is the fact that both images are propaganda.  Yes, Rosie the Riveter is a true icon but, at her inception, she was used as a tool to recruit women to work knowing full well these women would get the boot once they had served their purpose in the war cause.

Sarah Palin is a similar tool used to lure in votes and then kick those individuals to the curb once the right-wing agenda has been served.