You Wish I Was Your Mom

Anna Belle & Lily’s Excellent Women’s History Adventure 2010

Lily Peacock is 16 this summer. She is lovely; a smart, warm, funny idealist who has managed to so far surpass all the lofty goals I held for her upon her birth. Since she was an infant it has been my plan during her sixteenth summer to take her on a whirlwind tour of the East Coast and New England in search of women’s history. There is so much to share. She is sixteen. The time is now.

We are leaving June 25th and will be gone 11 days. I am planning for her a trip beyond her wildest imagination. Names like Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul, among others, have populated her childhood. Unlike me, she will not have to go to college to learn of the legacy left by the amazing women from our history.  But there is something to be said for being there and seeing the hallowed ground upon which their accomplishments were built. I know; I took my niece on a miniature version of this tour 12 years ago.

Lucy Stone, life-sized statue at The Boston Women's Memorial

My niece and I made a pilgrimage to Seneca Falls, NY to see the birthplace of the women’s rights movement in America. We stopped by the Susan. B. Anthony house in Rochester as well, but on a day it was closed. For Lily I will go so much bigger. We will start our journey in Cheltenham, PA, the home of Lucretia Mott. From there we will drive to near Boston, where we will camp for three nights while we explore what Boston and the surrounding area has to offer us. I know I want to see the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Avenue, and check out the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. I also want to explore Mercy Otis Warren’s monument in Barnstable, as well drive out to Lucy Stone’s homestead in West Brookfield. There is so much in Boston proper, or within an hour drive. I hope we can fit it all in!

From there we will head to Rochester, where I will at long last get to see Susan B. Anthony’s home. I can’t wait to fill my daughters ears with stories of her hiking from that home, often through the snow, walking hundreds of miles to maintain connections and spread the word about women’s rights. After that we will head to nearby Seneca Falls, a mere two hours away. We will camp there like we will in Boston, because this part of New York is rich with women’s history. In addition to the National Women’s Rights Historic State Park, there is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s small house, where she miraculously raised her seven children, and Jane Hunt’s house in nearby Waterloo.

From there we will stop in New York City on our way to the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. New York City has so much women’s history I don’t even know where to start. I’m still working on this portion of the tour, so if you know of sites in NYC, please drop me a line in e-mail, or post it in comments. We’ll be in NYC July 2 & 3rd, visiting Mount Laurel, NJ on the 3rd, as it’s just an hour and a half drive. On July 4th we will drive to Philadelphia, were we will explore the rich American history in that city on the day of our nation’s birth. The next day we will drive home, exhausted, educated, and hopefully happy.

I’ll of course be blogging the entire thing, complete with pictures, from the road, so be sure to check back frequently between June 25th and July 5th to see where we are and what we’re doing. I haven’t worked out the entire itenerary yet, and will post more details as I know them. If you’ve got sites you want to promote, share them in comments or e-mail.

Finally, I haven’t pushed the PayPal button (top-right) for a long time, but if you’ve got a little to spare, give a thought to helping us fund this trip. If you can’t spare it, please don’t dare it!

Palin, Anthony, and the Problem with Partisan Feminism

Ann Gordon, editor of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and Lynn Sherr, the noted biographer of Susan B. Anthony, have co-penned an article lambasting Sarah Palin for her speech before the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent pro-life group. The gist of their article is hard to discern, as it really does come across as a disorganized diatribe against Palin for no other reason than Palin’s name appeared in print next to Anthony’s.

Gordon and Sherr do attempt to make a cogent argument about the accuracy of historical scholarship, but they are unable to hold themselves to that same standard. They claim in the article that no one knows if Susan B. Anthony was pro-life and that, at any rate, she didn’t think the subject belonged in politics. They also claim there is no evidence from Anthony herself that she was pro-life, and provide contradictory evidence to that claim by citing a letter which clearly suggests Anthony had moral qualms about a terminated pregnancy she knew about. Gordon and Sherr make no mention of the fact that Anthony’s newspaper, The Revolution, clearly articulated anti-abortion or pro-life views on a regular basis.

But Gordon and Sherr should know that Anthony and Stanton both made the political argument that the existence of abortion was the natural result of what they called “degradation of women.” They believed that sexual victimization of women led to the degradation, and that education was the answer. Educate women, give them opportunity, and abortions and out-of-wedlock births would fall. This was one of many rhetorical arguments used by the early women’s rights movement, many of which would not fit our worldview of what it means to fight for justice for women today.

Most early feminists were indeed pro-life, though not in the way that we understand the term today. Abortion at the time, often referred to as “infanticide” or “child murder,” was not what we think of today either, nor was human sexuality. Above all, religion held a different influence on people. Most of the participants in the early women’s rights movement had a tortured relationship with religion, on the one hand attributing much of women’s subjectivity to religious activity, but also being avowed believers (Stanton was so unwilling to give up on God that she created a Woman’s Bible). Continue reading

These Queens are Tiresome

There’s a certain kind of gay guy who hates women. You probably know a few of these types, and if you don’t you’re no doubt familiar with a few of small-scale celebrities who’ve made a name for themselves throwing queer tizzies in the media or on TV. John Aravosis of Americablog comes to mind, as does Jeff Lewis of Bravo’s Flipping Out.

These guys are generally pretty jocular. They bitch, A LOT, about other people because they think that funneling their intuitive feelings of ickiness toward another person into weak intellectual arguments repeated or repeatedly shouted makes them critical thinkers. It does not. It makes them bigots and mean people. Of course, being leftist and gay they are afforded a level of protection from push back, for according to Left America, there are no gay bigots.

In online journalism, the two big, gay, woman-hating pundits are Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald and they are both on a woman-hating binge of late. Sullivan went off last year over Sarah Palin and never did make it back to the reservation. Greenwald has the occasional apoplectic fit, as he has most recently with Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan. It is the force and frequency of their arguments as much as the contents of them that is so revealing about the latent agenda of these two Tizzy Queens.

Let’s start with Andrew Sullivan. I’ll be brief because he has already done a spectacular job of discrediting himself, but that’s partially the result of his British-born misunderstanding of the American political psyche. No one really trusts him; they just exploit him when he says something they agree with. The fact that he’s a raging pothead doesn’t help his case. At any rate, Sullivan came late to this party (and woman-bashing is always a party), I suspect aroused from his slumber by the noise generated by Greenwald. After warming up with a couple of blog roundups covering what everyone else was saying, Sullivan dug in on the day of Kagan’s nomination with a post boldly and bitchily titled So Is She Gay? In typical Sullivan style, his rhetoric is uninformed and hyperbolic: Continue reading

Elena Kagan & the Obama Effect

I haven’t been able to get too worked up about much politically these days. It’s all going so fast, tumbling end over end over end, and half of it is just a bunch of noise. I’m tired of not knowing who to trust, and of entertaining that sneaking suspicion that no one who will do anything helpful is in a position to do so. I am struggling against the great apathy that the noise machine is designed in part to instill. Nevertheless I am keeping up and occasionally I’ll follow a story in the media until I finally have something worked up to say, or find a cause worthy of commentary.

Kagan, 1993

Such is the case with Elena Kagan, whose media trajectory I’ve been following for some time now. Put down the coffee for a sec, because what I’m about to say may surprise you. In the continually twirling roller coaster ride that is politics in the modern age, I find myself siding with Obama on his selection of Elena Kagan. And her story has been causing me to think again about the complexity of my opinions on Obama. Looked at from a distance, away from the magnifying influence of political sharks and news peddlers, Obama’s presidency will in some ways be a net gain for America. Continue reading

Twitteresque

I know you already know this, but David Brooks is an elitist buffoon. From his overly-trimmed-and-waxed eyebrows, which leave him looking more like Gloria Swanson that Katty Kay, to his penneyed loafers, the man is just aghast at this notion of democracy. He called Bennett’s ouster in yesterday’s Utah Republican convention an “outrage.” It is outrageous when voters use their rights and vote, according to the high and mightly David Brooks.