3rd March 2012
Photo reblogged from Mind of an Open Book with 19 notes
“Unbought and Unbossed”
Shirley Chisholm (November 30, 1924 — January 1, 2005)
- First African American woman elected to Congress (1968)
- First African American woman to seek a major party nomination for President of the United States (1972)
- First woman to have her name placed in nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention
- First African American to be on the ballot as a candidate for President
“A Catalyst for Change”
3rd March 2012
Photo with 6 notes
Mary Wollstonecraft (April 27, 1759-September 10, 1797), a revolutionary advocate of equal rights for women, was an inspiration for both the nineteenth-century and twentieth-century women’s movements. Wollstonecraft was not merely a woman’s rights advocate. She asserted the innate rights of all people, whom she thought victims of a society that assigned people their roles, comforts, and satisfactions according to the false distinctions of class, age, and gender.
Mary endured a difficult childhood, denied the advantages and affection lavished on her older brother. She often had to protect her mother from the drunken rage of her father, the son of a master weaver from London who tried unsuccessfully to set himself up as a gentleman farmer. Many other eighteenth-century girls had to endure similar injustices and hardships. It was Mary’s genius that allowed her to rise above these severe handicaps and transform her experience into a dream of a reordered society. As a young woman Wollstonecraft supported herself as a lady’s companion, seamstress, governess, and schoolteacher. She was largely self-educated.
From 1782 until 1785 Wollstonecraft was a congregant at the Unitarian chapel at Newington Green, during which time she was influenced by its minister, Richard Price. Through her friendship with Dr. Price she entered a circle of intellectuals and radicals, including Joseph Priestley, Thomas Paine, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, and William Godwin.Between 1788 and 1792 she was a translator and reviewer for publisher Joseph Johnson. Her work frequently appeared in his periodical, Analytical Review. Johnson, a distributor of Unitarian literature, often hosted meetings and dinners that included Paine, Priestley, and Price.
In response to criticism of Price in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Wollstonecraft immediately wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men. This work was overshadowed by another response to Burke, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, which followed several months later. In Rights of Men Wollstonecraft presented her vision of a society, based upon equality of opportunity, in which talent—not the wrongful privileges of gentility—would be the requisite for success. Paine and Wollstonecraft were accused in the press of seeking to “poison and inflame the minds of the lower class of his Majesty’s subjects to violate their subordination.” When Paine was later burnt in effigy for his support of Revolutionary France, there was public talk of subjecting Wollstonecraft to the same treatment.
Wollstonecraft decided to devote her next treatise to women’s rights, a topic that had never before been dealt with at any length. The resulting A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) was, in part, her response to Jean-Jacques Rousseau who, in Emile (1762), had recommended that girls be given a different education from boys, one that would train them to be submissive and manipulative. In Rights of Woman Wollstonecraft argued that the rights of man which she had previously espoused applied equally and unconditionally to women as a just God could not have created one human being superior to another. She sought to overturn centuries of Judeo-Christian teaching that women, having no separate moral identity, depended upon their husbands for a spiritual relationship with God. Wollstonecraft boldly declared that all people-men, women, and children-have a right to an independent mind. She envisioned a society in which women could be educated and work alongside men as co-equals in every pursuit. She advocated equal citizenship for both sexes, giving everyone “a direct share in deliberations of government.” Wollstonecraft opposed war and all forms of oppression. “Let there be no coercion established in society,” she said, “and, the common law of gravity prevailing, the sexes will fall into their proper places.” An advocate of universal self-reliance and responsibility, she did not wish that women should exercise “power over men,” only “over themselves.”
The historian Henry Noel Brailsford, in Shelley, Godwin, and Their Circle (1913), considered the Rights of Woman “perhaps the most original book of its century.” “What was absolutely new in the world’s history,” he thought, “was that for the first time a woman dared to sit down to write a book which was not an echo of men’s thinking, nor an attempt to do rather well what some man had done a little better, but a first exploration of the problems of society and morals from a standpoint which recognised humanity without ignoring sex.”
Rights of Woman reached a wide audience in its day. It went into two editions in Britain, and was shortly available in America, where it was read by Judith Sargent Murray as well as John and Abigail Adams. It was often reviewed. Some reviewers thought the book “unfeminine,” judgment with which Wollstonecraft did not, perhaps, disagree. Others thought that her views on education were sensible. One reader declared that the book “first induced me to think.”
Wollstonecraft embraced a religion that combined faith with reason, morality with knowledge, and which placed no limits on human inquiry. “I submit to the moral laws which my reason deduces,” she said. “It is not to an arbitrary will, but to unerring reason.” She rejected the notion that the faculty of reason is exclusively a male attribute. “Who made man the exclusive judge?” she asked. In particular, she challenged the dogma and authoritarianism of the Church of England, decrying “slavery to forms which make religion worse than a farce.” Like many religious liberals she took issue with the doctrine of original sin “on which priests have erected their tremendous structures of imposition, that we are all naturally inclined to evil.” Rather she wished to “leave room for the expansion of the human heart.” Her fundamental religious beliefs were not borrowed from her Deist friends or anyone else. She sensed the presence of the God in nature and recorded a mystical experience in which her “soul rested on itself, and seemed to fill the universe.” Like religious liberals in all ages, Wollstonecraft believed that “True grace arises from some kind of independence of mind.”
To alleviate the ills of an unjust society, Wollstonecraft called for educational reform, including co-education, that would benefit men and women alike. “Day schools, for particular ages, should be established by government, in which boys and girls might be educated together.” She thought that children and youth were subject to “a slavish bondage to parents” which “cramps every faculty of the mind.” Likening excessive respect for property to “a poisoned fountain,” Wollstonecraft recommended that large estates be divided into small farms. She decried slavery to “monarchs and ministers” and “the preposterous distinctions of rank which render civilization a curse.”
At the end of 1792 Wollstonecraft moved to France to observe and write a book about the French Revolution. During part of her residence in France she became the common-law wife of the American writer and adventurer Gilbert Imlay, who some years later abandoned her, causing her to go through a period of despair. Afterward Wollstonecraft resumed her work on the Analytical Review. During the next two years Mary was courted by, and finally married, her friend William Godwin. She died giving birth to their daughter, Mary (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley).
Wollstonecraft endured calumny for what she wrote and, for daring to write at all, but was never vengeful or abusive. In the closing weeks of her short life, she said, “Those who know me know I acted from principle.” Nearly a century later Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton dedicated their History of Women’s Suffrage (1881) to her.
3rd March 2012
Photo reblogged from Your Hue with 13 notes
Although Anna Julia Cooper was recently commemorated with a U.S. postage stamp, and her words appear on U.S. passports, too few know about her.
Born into slavery in 1858 to Hannah Stanley Haywood, Cooper entered the first class at St. Augustine’s in Raleigh post-emancipation. She later graduated from Oberlin in 1884 with Mary Church Terrell and Ida Gibbs Hunt and became a renowned teacher and controversial principal at the M Street high school in Washington, D.C., the nation’s largest African American high school. Cooper refused racist textbooks and successfully fought to keep a comprehensive curriculum: she rejected a system in which an entire race of people would be schooled for second-class citizenship. She developed culturally relevant curricula, opposed standardized tests, and believed that education should make the disenfranchised “ready to serve the body politic” by fostering intellectual curiosity, political consciousness and resilience: A “neglected people … must be fitted to make headway in the face of prejudice …”
3rd March 2012
Photo reblogged from WORDS THAT FIT with 16 notes
Black Superhero History Month, Day 29 /
Women’s Superhero History Month, Day 1:
Nichelle Nichols & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
First off, a few things here. One: I thought it fitting to end my Black Superhero History Month project with a team-up. Two: This episode was just as important for history as it was for geekdom. And three: I’m looking at doing a similar project for March—Women’s History Month—and Nichelle Nichols seemed like a great way to bridge the two worlds.
So what’s this team-up I speak of?
Well, as the story goes, after the first season of Star Trek aired, Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, was going to quit the show in order to return to theater. While at a fundraiser event during this period, the organizer came up to her and told her that someone claiming to be her biggest fan wanted to meet her. That fan? None other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When he heard she intended to quit the show, he told her she had to stay on the show. Here was one of the first major black females in popular television who was not in a stereotypically subservient role, and she was presented as smart and capable and equal to the other members of the U.S.S. Enterprise. He told her that the images and representations we see of ourselves in mass media deeply affect how we inevitably view ourselves, and seeing a character like Lieutenant Uhura on TV had a major positive effect in the black community. She went back and told series creator Gene Roddenberry that she was staying on the show, and the rest is history.
3rd March 2012
Post reblogged from HISTORICITY (was already taken) with 98 notes
In the Ancient Near East, religious appointments were political appointments. Thus, as the High Priestess of the Moon God Nanna, Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE) was a very powerful political player in the cities of Ur and Uruk. She was appointed to the post by her father, King Sargon of Akkad, in order for him to consolidate his power in the above two cities.
And indeed, Enheduanna was a political, cultural, and literary force to be reckoned with. She was the writer of protest literature, and is recognized by Assyriologists as the creator of the theology associated with Innana; in fact, her authorship of these compositions make her the first identifiable author in world literature. Her writings were so well loved that copies of her work have been found throughout the Near East, many of them dating to hundreds of years after her death.
Me who once sat triumphant, he has driven out of the sanctuary.
Like a swallow he made me fly from the window,
My life is consumed.
He stripped me of the crown appropriate for the high priesthood.
He gave me dagger and sword—‘it becomes you,’ he said to me.
It was in your service that I first entered the holy temple,
I, Enheduanna, the highest priestess. I carried the ritual basket,
I chanted your praise.
Now I have been cast out to the place of lepers.
Day comes and the brightness is hidden around me.
Shadows cover the light, drape it in sandstorms.
My beautiful mouth knows only confusion.
Even my sex is dust.
-Enheduanna, after her first removal from her post
After her father’s death, the throne of Akkad was taken by her brother Rimush. He was not a strong ruler, and she was expelled from her position in the turmoil surrounding his rule. Though she was eventually reinstated as High Priestess, the experience affected her enough to compose the narrative The Exaltation of Inanna.
After Rimush came the rule of her nephew, Naram-Sin. Naram-Sin, understanding the political advantages of having a daughter installed as High Priestess of Nanna, expelled Enheduanna from her post, and installed his own daughter instead. In her anger and fury over her expulsion, Enheduanna composed the Curse of Akkad, in which Naram-Sin is cursed and cast out of Akkad by Enlil.
Though we can only hear her voice through her writings, those writings give us a clear idea of the woman she was: a woman who, after losing her place in life, refused to fall quietly into obscurity, and instead struck back with a damning literary response.
She refused to allow herself to be forgotten during her life, and that refusal carried on long after her death. And today, thousands of years after her death, she is one of the earliest women in history whose name is known to us.
Through her work, Enheduanna created her own reality and her own legacy.
ask historicity-was-already-taken a question
3rd March 2012
Photo reblogged from magpie's nest with 209 notes
An extraordinary thought became planted in my mind which made me wonder why on earth it was that so many men… have said and continue to say and write such awful, damning things about women and their ways. I was at a loss as to how to explain it. It is not just a handful of writers who do this, nor only Matheolus whose book is neither regarded as authoritative nor intended to be taken seriously. It is all manner of philosophers, poets and orators too numerous to mention, who all seem to speak with one voice and are unanimous in their view that female nature is wholly given up to vice.
As I mulled these ideas over in my mind again and again, I began to examine myself and my own behavior as an example of womankind. In order to judge in all fairness and without prejudice whether what so many famous men have said about us is true, I also thought about other women I know, the many princesses and countless ladies of all different social ranks who have shared their private and personal thoughts with me. No matter which way I looked at it and no matter how much I turned the question over in my mind, I could find no evidence from my own experience to bear out such a negative view of female nature and habits.
—Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies (1405) [Le Livre de la Cité des Dames]
Christine de Pizan was the first professional woman writer in Europe. She was also one of the earliest voices raised in support of the full humanity and dignity of women. I’m reading her works in honor of Women’s History Month. :)
It’s been 607 years since she wrote that, but I found myself feeling a oneness with her as I read it. Things are enormously better in so many ways for me than they were for her, but we all know what it’s like to look around and see little but cruel lies about people like you. To love other people like you and know them to be some of the most brilliant, beautiful people and still see the slander everywhere. There’s a simple part of one’s heart that just cries out why? Why are you doing this to us? What possible reason could you have to be so hateful?
There’s something cheering to be able to reach back 600 years and find a woman who, specifics of time and place not withstanding, is not the kind of historical women you see in media. She’s not a princess or a helpless drudge. She’s a reader, a writer — someone who looks at the world and picks up a pen to refute the lies.
[edit: reposted to add a picture of Christine!]
2nd March 2012
Photo with 56 notes
One of the most famous (or infamous) Renaissance women, Caterina Sforza came to this world in 1462 as the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the Duke of Milan, and Lucrezia Landriano, the wife of his courtier.
She grew up to be a legendary beauty and was celebrated for her courage. Together with her first husband, Girolamo Riario, she led the troops in storming one of Rome’s greatest citadels, the Castel Sant’Angelo, in a bid to install their candidate as the Pope when Sixtus IV died in 1484.
In all, she married three times, had 11 children and carried affairs with a number of lovers. In 1499, she was brought down to Rome as prisoner of war when her city, Forli, was seized by Cesare Borgia. She retired to Florence, where she died in 1509, at the age of 46.
INTERESTING STORY: When her children were captured during an enemy raid, after she reneged on a deal with hostages, “threatening her by saying they would execute the children one by one if she didn’t come back down… she flipped them the bird, hiked up her skirt, grabbed her crotch threateningly, and told them that she didn’t care what they did to her kids because she “bears the instrument to make more”.”
2nd March 2012
Photo with 162 notes
During the Genpei War of 1180-1185, there was an exceptional onna bugeisha (literally, warrior-arts female)- a rare female practitioner of bushido, the way of the warrior. A concubine of Yoshinaka, Tomoe Gozen was said to be exceptionally beautiful, with porcelain skin and long black hair, and was exceptionally skilled in combat. A better archer than most men, her bravery and ability made her terrifying. Supposedly, she could ride unbroken horses without issue, handle sword or longbow with equal skill, and could stare down gods and demons alike.
When Yoshinaka was at war, Tomoe was his first captain. On the front lines, she performed more acts of valor than any other. After his battle with the Heiki clan Yoshinaka set out to become the head of the Minamoto clan. His cousin, Yoritomo, had other ideas; he sent his two brothers to kill Yoshinaka. This brought on the Battle of Awazu in February of 1184, where Yoritomos’ and Yoshinakas’ soldiers fought for hours. Tomoe Gozen is said to have taken the heads of Uchida Ieyoshi and Honda no Moroshige before Yoshinaka was defeated.
After this, no one really knows what happened to Tomoe.
Some people say that she was defeated by Wada Yoshimori and instead of being killed, she was taken for a wife. Some say she escaped battle and became a nun. Some say she never even existed- outside of “The Tale of the Heiki”, there is little evidence of her existence. Although, the grave of another of Yoshinaka’s concubines, Yamabuki Gozen, has been found. “The Tale of the Heiki” is said to be mostly true.
Today you may see Tomoe Gozen being portrayed by geiko (geisha) during Jidai Matsuri, the Festival of Ages, where famous characters from across history are portrayed during the parade. She is often seen wearing armor and a crown, carrying a naginata (a pole weapon) and riding a horse. She is always played by a beautiful woman.
2nd March 2012
Photo with 20 notes
Triệu Thị Trinh ((Lady Trieu)) (225–248) was a Vietnamese female warrior in 3rd century AD Vietnam who managed, for a time, to successfully resist the Kingdom of Wu during their occupation of Vietnam. She is quoted as saying, “I’d like to ride storms, kill sharks in the open sea, drive out the aggressors, reconquer the country, undo the ties of serfdom, and never bend my back to be the concubine of whatever man.”
Viet Nam sử lược (A Brief history of Vietnam), a history book that written in early 20th century by Vietnamese historian Tran Trong Kim, said the following about Triệu Thị Trinh:
In this year on Cửu Chân prefecture, there was a woman named Triệu Thị Chinhwho organized a revolt against the Ngô [Wu].
Our [Vietnamese] history recorded that lady Trieu was a people of Nông Cống district. Her parents were dead all when she was a child, she lived with her older brother Trieu Quoc Dat. At the age of 20, while she was living with her sister-in-law who was a cruel woman, she [Trieu Thi Trinh] killed her [sister-in-law] and went to the mountain. She was a strong, brave and smart person. On the mountain, she gathered a band of 1.000 followers. His brother tried to persuade her from rebelling, she told him: “I only want to ride the wind and walk the waves, slay the big whales of the Eastern sea, clean up frontiers, and save the people from drowning. Why should I imitate others, bow my head, stoop over and be a slave? Why resign myself to menial housework?”
The Mậu Thìn year, , because of the cruelty of Ngô [Wu] mandarins and misery of people, Trieu Quoc Dang revolted in Cửu Chân prefecture. Lady Trieu led her troops joined her brother’s rebellion, soldiers of Trieu Quoc Dat made her leader because of her braveness. When she went to battles, she usually wore yellow tunics and rode a war-elephant. She proclaimed herself Nhụy Kiều Tướng quân (The Lady General clad in Golden Robe).
Giao Châu Inspector Lục Dận sent troops to fight [her], she [Trieu Thi Trinh] had managed to fight back the Ngô [Wu] forces for 5 or 6 months. Because of the lack of troops and fighting alone, she [Trieu Thi Trinh] could not manage to fight a long war and was defeated. She fled to Bồ Điền commune (present-day Phú Điền commune, Mỹ Hóa district) and then committed suicide.
Later, the Nam Đế (Southern Emperor) of Early Lý Dynasty praised her as a brave and loyal person and ordered [his followers] build her a temple, and gave her the title of “Bật chính anh hùng tài trinh nhất phu nhân” (Most Noble, Heroic and Virgin Lady). Present day in Phú Điền commune, in the Thanh Hóa province there is a temple [for her].
Lady Trieu’s rebellion was not only the last Vietnamese rebellion to be led by a woman but also the end of a late political ideals inherited from Lac lord.
Triệu Thị Trinh is a greatly celebrated Vietnamese heroine and many streets are named after her in Vietnamese cities.