Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Women as Columnists
May 6, 2005
Several weeks ago Maureen Dowd wrote a column about women columnists.
Her concern was that they are far outnumbered by males. But there are lots of good ones, includng my favorites, Molly Ivins and Ellen Goodman and, yes, Maureen.
I got to wondering what women of the past who have written or spoken publicly would think of women's position in the 21st century.
Abigail Adams, an early vocal feminist, presidential wife and mother, had a great deal to write to her husband while he was in Philadelphia helping to write the Declaration of Independence.
"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
Well, I guess she told him. If she had been here in the early part of the 19th century, I am sure she would have been a suffragette and wondering why it took 144 years for women finally to get the vote.
Today she might be a Senator, or writing a feminist column for the New York Times. In any case, she would be happy at the progress e have made.
Mother Jones was, to put t bluntly, one tough old broad. In 1887 she led her first labor strike. She worked in the copper mines and the cotton mils urging workers to rise up against the capitalist masters.
"This is the fighting age," she thundered to a crowd of women in New York City, the sisters and wives of striking streetcar men. Suiting the action to the word, she led a group of women to demolish a car of the New York Railways Co. She would not have had time to write a column, but her motto was, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
Today she would probably be President of the AFL/CIO and still dissatisfied with the way American labor is treated. She would rise up in wrath at outsourcing.
In great contrast to Mother Jones was Amelia Bloomer. She was a major feminist revolutionary, but of an entirely different stripe. She was editor of "Lily" a women's magazine. One day Elizabeth Miller showed up in Turkish trousers and Amelia was off and running. I suspect that today's
generation x doesn't even know what bloomers are, but Amelia Bloomer discarded her many petticoats and emerged in -- bloomers.
She wrote, "Fit yourselves for a higher sphere and cease groveling in the dirt. Let there be no stain upon your soul or apparel. In the minds of some people the short dress and women's rights re inseparably connected."
Oh my -- what if she were alive today and sauntered down 5th Avenue?
I suspect he would have been elated that women can wear pants, long and short, and short dresses. Perhaps she would become editor of Vogue and write a column on clothes.
Ok, so I was daydreaming. But we have come a long, long way. Happy Mother's Day to all you 21st Century women still trying to make the world a better place.