The Stories of Women’s Lives


March is Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month

I am going to give you a number of women’s stories but first I want to tell you that the most amazing women’s stories are not on the best seller list. I probably won’t talk to you about Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison, May Sarton, Marge Piercy, Jill Ker Conway or other well known feminist authors. First, if you would spend a month or so reading these authors, non-fiction, fiction and poetry, your heart will open and you will see the world a little bit differently.You can order books from these authors from any library and Amazon does a good job stocking their works. You can also find their work digitally at Kindle and Nook.

Somewhere in the seventies, I read a book about women and the witch hunts in Europe. They coincided with the Inquisition.  Millions of women were tortured, raped, drown, hung, or burned at the stake for being witches. Yes, I said millions. That first book I got at the local library made me vomit. Men and children were also murdered for the same reasons. Repulsive? Oh, yes. My response, besides vomiting was to go to the library and order any book on the ” burning times” they could get for me. I read and I cried. I read some more. And somewhere along the way I read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.  I looked up and in the mirror I saw a different woman. I read about the Salam Witch Trials and when I looked into the mirror I was a feminist. I took Women’s Studies Classes and met two of my dearest friends. Charlotte, RIP, and I would go to all the art films at one of the local universities. We debated women’s issues and she was like a Mother figure to me. Suzanne and I continue to be friends. We have traveled together, done every artsy thing you can do. We would go to NYC every October to see Broadway and all of the museums and galleries. She is still one of my dearest friends. She is a University professor and we never run out of things to talk about. We have gone through the ups and downs together.

While in the Women’s Studies classes, I got a good feel for how women have been treated by governments, history, the arts, as well as husbands who wanted that perfect wife. Beautiful, quiet, calm, somewhat artsy and happy with her role in life.The most important attribute was subservience .Some women could do it.  Some did it for years and then lost it. Could not wear the mask or play her part in the comedy of life any longer. They often went slowly mad or became alcoholic. Because the aforementioned women’s books are readily available I want to share a secret of mine. What I found most revealing and illuminatory was women’s diaries and journals. There are thousands of them in print, or out of print but second hand book stores are a good resource. So I began to read about little known women and women who were only known to their friends and families. A few of them got published under a non de plume. A male non de plume.

This is the second time we have picketed many of our issues

This is the second time we have picketed many of our issues

The Civil War in America brought out a lot of unlikely people who helped the injured and crippled during they war. Walt Whitman is one of them and he has written many poems about his experiences. Many women, unknown to us today, wrote journals and diaries concerning their experiences with the other side’s army. There is a book out called Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles. It is a novel but many similar experiences happened to women in the mountains of the Carolinas. Her voice in the book is that of an old soul which is appropriate because many women aged greatly during the war. Even if they were not wives who followed along, or were nurses on the battlefields.

Walt Whitman worked as a nurse at the front and so did Clara Barton. She is another wonderful role model for women even today. Many women dressed and passed as men to help fight the war. They fought next to the men and some even died and were buried in mass graves with the other men. I believe today that would be called collateral damage. As the armies, advanced and retreated they often burned farms, barns as well as plantations. The women, elderly and children were then left homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs. In the mid-western states and the Western Carolinas, many lived out the war in caves, hunting and gathering to feed their families. I am sure many of you will find this familiar territory. Some women were considered spies and were imprisoned and suffered rape and terror at the hands of their captors.

It is important for women to have a voice in their herstory.

It is important for women to have a voice in their herstory.

War has always been considered the province of men. When cultures and religions collide, it is usually the men who have chronicled the experience. For American women, the Civil War was a watershed. It is, until recently, always the women who pack the knapsacks, they wave good bye as the troops march past full of energy, good cheer and confidence. The women ran the farms and businesses and raised the next generation of soldiers who will be sacrificed for God and country. So war, from the perspective of women’s eyes is very different that what the men’s eyes see. During the Civil War, 6188,000 American men died. Thousands more were amputees and at that time had really little they could do to support their families after the war was over. They were often filled with rage and bitterness. I would recommend the book, The Last Living Confederate Widow Tells All for a glimpse into the years after the Civil War is over, when the fabric of our country was cut to ribbons by this war. It was a war we had to fight but that is a story for another day.

For many centuries, if you were looking for information about a particular time in history, you would be able to find it. But if it was a piece of history that effected women you would be hard put to find it. Which is another reason it is important to read women’s diaries and journals. Women were there too. Women have always been there and they have suffered a great deal quietly without the world taking notice. So to completely understand human history, you need to also read Herstory.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Believe in your dreams

Believe in your dreams

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I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman


March is Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month

I Like To Think of Harriet Tubman
by Susan Griffin
(from Images of Women In Literature, fourth edition
Edited by Mary Anne Ferguson copyright 1986)

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock through
by a slave-master (because she
talked back), and who
had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law, I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially
when I think of the problem of
feeding children.

The legal answer
to the problem of feeding children
is ten free lunches every month,
being equal, in the child’s real life,
to eating lunch every other day.
Monday, but not Tuesday.
I like to think of the President
eating lunch Monday, but not
Tuesday.
And when I think of the President
and the law, and the problem of
feeding children, I like to
think of Harriet Tubman
and her revolver.

And then sometimes
I think of the President
and other men,
men who practice the law,
who revere the law,
who make the law,
who enforce the law
who live behind
and operate through
and feed themselves
at the expense of
starving children
because of the law,
men who sit in paneled offices
and think about vacations
and tell women
whose care it is
to feed children
not to be hysterical
not to be hysterical as in the word
hysterikos, the greek for
womb suffering,
not to suffer in their wombs,
not to care,
not to bother the men
because they want to think
of other things
and do not want
to take the women seriously.
I want them
to take women seriously
I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
and remember,
remember she was beat by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her greivances
and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from
slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied the laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously.
I am tired of wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now
as I have felt suffering in the womb, and
I want them
to know
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
for retribution
and that time
is beginning.

 

 

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The African American and their his/herstory with Missionaries.

The African American and their his/herstory with Missionaries.

 

 

It is Women’s History Month and I am going to be exploring women’s stories. I am also going to examine how women are stereotyped in literature as well as day to day life. Some of the stereotypes concerning women are The wife, The mother, The woman on a pedestal, The sex object and sexual politics,women without men, the young girl, the educated woman. and the lady. Women as feminists have been appearing since the nineteen seventies. Feminist literature shows fully human women as fully self-aware and autonomous as a man. This has been really a new way for society and all of its aspects to see feminist women. We will find women  of the past and present, rich and poor that can still find a way to link to your heart. Feminist writers are creating language to express their insights, and images. Women are becoming and it is a glorious adventure.

 

 

Fundamental human values.

Fundamental human values.

 

 

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