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Saturday, March 08, 2008

International Women's Day

Today we celebrate International Women's Day and wish women everywhere success in all their endeavours. From its humble beginnings at the turn of the century, the commemoration of the struggle of women for basic human rights has grown into a truly international event.

Here, for your enjoyment and edification, we present snippets from famous speeches made on the status of women:
The laws given on Mount Sinai for the government of man and woman were equal, the precepts of Jesus make no distinction. Those who read the Scriptures, and judge for themselves, not resting satisfied with the perverted application of the text, do not find the distinction, that theology and ecclesiastical authorities have made, in the condition of the sexes. In the early ages, Miriam and Deborah, conjointly with Aaron and Barak, enlisted themselves on the side which they regarded the right, unitedly going up to their battles, and singing their songs of victory. We regard these with veneration. Deborah judged Israel many years—she went up with Barak against their enemies, with an army of 10,000, assuring him that the honor of the battle should not be to him, but to a woman.


When a boy arrives at the age of twelve or so, the parents consult as to the kind of education that shall best fit him for all the purposes of life, to enable him to become a useful, respectable, independent member of society; and in accordance with the knowledge and means of the parents, and the capacities of the boy, so do they direct his education to make him a farmer, mechanic, merchant, lawyer, doctor, or,if the boy is not bright enough for any of these callings or professions, then he is destined for the ministry. But for what purpose is the girl educated? Do parents ever direct the education of a daughter for any such purposes? Oh! no! The rich man's daughter is taught to dance, to play on the piano, to draw and paint, (which she sometimes practises on her own face,) to speak a little bad French, c., c., not for the intrinsic value and beauty of these accomplishments, but to attract, and ultimately catch a beau and get married; for no sooner is she married than these things are all laid aside as some idle things to be thought of no more.


The working classes educate their daughters in accordance with what would now be required of them-namely, to cook a dinner good enough for a poor man, darn his stockings, sew on buttons, c. Now these things are a very good in themselves; every girl ought to know them, and know them well, yet it is not enough for a healthy, happy, rational, intellectual life, but then it is all man now requires of woman. When he will look for higher and nobler mental accomplishments and powers, she will possess them.


It has been said, that "The voice of the People is the voice of God." If that voice is on the side of justice and humanity, then it is true, if the term God means the principle of Truth and of Right. But if the public voice is oppressive and unjust, then it ought to be spurned like the voice of falsehood and corruption; and woman, instead of implicitly and blindly following the dictates of public opinion, must investigate for herself what is right or wrong-act in accordance with her best convictions and let the rest take care of itself, for obedience to wrong is wrong itself, and opposition to it is virtue alike in woman as in man, even though she should incur the ill will of bigotry, superstition, and priestcraft, for the approval of our fellow-being is valuable only when it does not clash with our own sense of right, and no further.


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.


Men complain that woman does not love home now, that she is not satisfied with her mission. I answer that this discontent arises out of the one fact, that you have attempted to mold seventeen millions of human souls in one shape, and make them all do one thing. Take away your restrictions, open all doors, leave women at liberty to go where they will. As old Sojourner Truth said twenty years ago, at the first Women's Rights Convention in Ohio, "Leave them where God left them, with their inalienable rights," and they will adjust themselves to their convictions of their duties, their responsibilities, and their powers, and society will find harmony within itself. The caged bird forgets how to build its nest.


The opportunity now given us to make the experiment of self-government should be regarded by every American citizen as a solemn and a sacred trust. When we remember that a nation's life and growth and immortality depend on its legislation, can we exalt too highly the dignity and responsibility of the ballot, the science of political economy, the sphere of government?


When woman understands the momentous interests that depend on the ballot, she will make it her first duty to educate every American boy and girl into the idea that to vote is the most sacred act of citizenship—a religious duty not to be discharged thoughtlessly, selfishly or corruptly; but conscientiously, remembering that, in a republican government, to every citizen is entrusted the interests of the nation.

[...] nothing can check our future prosperity but a lack of virtue in the people. Let us not, like the foolish prodigal, waste our substance in riotous living, and, through ease, luxury and corruption, check the onward march of this western civilization. Our danger lies, not in the direction of despotism, in the one-man power, in centralization; but in the corruption of the people. Is it not enough to fill any true patriot with apprehension, to read the accounts in our daily journals of the wholesale bribery that unblushingly shows itself everywhere?

Women of America! Your foremothers were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed to earn you the right to vote. Now is your chance to show them, at the ballot box and beyond, that they did not suffer in vain.

Whoever you vote for, make sure you exercise that hard-fought right. Keep a sharp eye on politicians at every level, city, state, and federal, to make sure that they are working for YOU, not their paymasters the corporate lobbyists. It's time to take back the country. For yourselves, and your loved ones. Because the politicians have all shown that they are not to be trusted, that they will sell you and your children and your children's children unto the nth generation for whatever they can get.

Only you can make it happen. Yes, you can.

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At 1:23 AM, Blogger Chuck Butcher said...

Too bad the woman who could be President brings so little honor to that struggle. Really is a shame I find myself in such adament opposition due to her own deliberate behavior. By the time this is over she will have demonstrated that complaints about men's bad behavior are exaggerated.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Chuck, it's getting so I have to really struggle to remain neutral. When this election started, I was firmly committed to Kucinich, but Hillary was my fallback. Then Kucinich stepped out, and Edwards was my choice because Hillary was sounding too negative.

I regret to say that at this point, Vlad the Impaler (but not John McCain) might possibly be preferable to Hillary. I mean, if she IS the Democratic nominee, then I suppose we all have to hold our noses and do the right thing, which is to make sure that senile warmonger never gets near the WH. But by deity, she better NOT be the nominee.


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