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Excerpts from Elizabeth Stanton’s address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
“Some men tell us we must be patient and persuasive; that we must be womanly. My friends, what is man’s idea of womanliness? Is it to have a manner which pleases him- quiet, deferential, submissive, approaching him as a subject does a master. He wants no self-assertion on our part, no defiance, no vehement arraignment of him as a robber and a criminal …. while every right achieved by the oppressed has been wrung from tyrants by force; while the darkest page on human history is the outrages on women – shall men still tell us to be patient, persuasive and womanly?
What do we know as yet of the womanly? The women we have seen thus far have been, with rare exception, the mere echoes of men. Men has spoken in the State, the Church and the Home, and made the codes, creeds and customs which govern every relation in life, and women have simply echoed all his thoughts and walked in the paths he prescribed. And they call this womanly! When Joan of Arch led the French army to victory I dare say the carpet knights of England thought her unwomanly. When Florence Nightingale, in search of blankets for the soldiers in the Crimean War, cut her way through all the orders and red tape, commanded with vehemence and determination those who guarded the supplies to “unlock the doors and not talk to her of proper authorities when brave men were shivering in their beds,” no doubt she was called unwomanly. To me, “unlock the doors” sounds better than any words of circumlocution, however sweet and persuasive, and I consider that she took the most womanly way of accomplishing her object.
Patience and persuasiveness are beautiful virtues in dealing with children and feeble-minded adults, but those who have the gift of reason and understand the principles of justice, it is our duty to compel to act up to the highest light that is in them, and as promptly as possible…”
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Ms. Stanton had the revolutionary fire that, as of late has been sputtering and spitting; hopefully new female leaders can step forth and reanimate the movement and bring back the revolutionary zeal that in 1890’s (and henceforth) got things done.
“Adolescence, for a woman, is the slow realization that you are not considered as fully human as you hoped. You are a body first, and your body is not yours alone: whether or not you are attracted to men, men and boys will believe they have a claim on your body, and the state gets to decide what you’re allowed to do with it afterwards.”
-Laurie Penny, Unspeakable Things
Big fan of Ms.Fine. :)
“My risk of an unwanted pregnancy and being denied an abortion is not a random fact about me. It’s a fundamental part of what it means to be born female, shoved into the class “woman” and hence devalued as an autonomous human being. It will remain so even when I can no longer conceive. I won’t shed my perceived lack of bodily autonomy; it will have different manifestations but it will persist because I was born into this body. To claim “not everyone who is born female can bear children therefore bearing children has nothing to do with being female” is rather like me arguing that because I was born with three nipples, any biology textbook which claims having two nipples is a feature of being human is making a random assertion rather than an obvious generalisation. And generalisations matter. To argue otherwise is not only to dismiss the history of discrimination but to perpetuate it.”
-Cordelia Fine, Manbrains and ladybrains: Squaring the circle
Often when arguing about feminism on the internet, I hear from my opponents – well there are just sooo many types of feminism – how can my brain handle all this variation. Let’s just simplify the notion a touch. There is the feminism that pleases men and there is the feminism that doesn’t. The feminism that does not please men has held on to its political character and theoretical basis.
bell hooks describes these two flavours of feminism:
“Lifestyle feminism ushered in the notion that there could be as many versions of feminism as there were women. Suddenly the politics was being slowly removed from feminism. And the assumption prevailed that no matter what a woman’s politics, be she conservative or liberal, she too could fit feminism into her existing lifestyle. Obviously this way of thinking has made feminism more acceptable because its underlying assumption is that women can be feminists without fundamentally challenging and changing themselves or the culture.”
-bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody.
“By some mysterious process all that pertains to sex in this society has been separated off from politics, even by those who would consider themselves socialist and radicals. In order to make sexual practice a private enclave of individual delight, sexuality has been seen as somehow removed from the effects of sexism, racism, any oppression in the world outside the bedroom, and considered to have no effect upon or relevance to that world. In fact sex plays a crucial part in fuelling and regulating the oppression of women and racist oppression. There is nothing pure about sex nor anything which might claim for it a special exemption from political criticism.”
— Sheila Jeffreys, “Sadomasochism: The Erotic Cult of Fascism”