In honor of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards and Kathryn "I don't want to talk about gender" Bigelow's historic Oscar win AND the 99th Anniversary of the first International Women's Day Conference, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some Hollywood feminism that seems to always be in quirky style – the marvelous Diane Keaton, actor, director, photographer and singer.
Yes, Liz Lemon's evoking of the name Anna Howard Shaw made for some big laughs on the most recent episode of 30 Rock. But did you know that in addition to being funny (at least by association, and probably in real life as well), Shaw was also the first woman ordained by the Methodist church, a medical doctor, a published author, a decorated member of the National Council of Defense, a social justice activist, and a pioneer for women's suffrage? It's true!
Writing history is a radical act. I'm going to say it again. Writing history is a radical act. The process by which historians choose to deify, demonize, or emulate individuals and events is a malleable and contentious undertaking. As I'm sure you savvy readers out there know—with this retelling comes power. Sure, narratives can be retold, historical 'facts' reformulated, and legacies reclaimed. But whose voices get heard? Which versions get told? Who gets remembered and why? (For far too long 'our' Nation's history consisted overwhelmingly of the male, pale, and stale variety.)
Today's Martin Luther King Jr. Adventures in Feministory focuses on Bayard Rustin, one of the most important individuals in the Civil Rights Movement, and a life-long activist for human dignity, but whose contributions are are overlooked (then and now) because he was gay.
Born in France in the year 1748, Marie Gouze (later to be known as Olympe de Gouges) was no ordinary petite fille. From a very early age she championed the rights of illegitimate children (of which she believed she was one) and their mothers, as well as writing abolitionist plays and speaking out for women's rights in France.
If you're thinking that de Gouges' speaking of truth to power didn't go over so well with those in power, you're right.
"I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic-but patriotism was the true secret of my success."
Sarah Emma Edmonds, one of only about 400 women known to have served in the military during the U.S. Civil War, was not even an American—though she risked life and limb in the name of "patriotism" to serve the Union cause for nearly two years as a soldier, nurse and spy.
As the year winds down the media stream is inundated with lists of political accomplishments, policy and presidential reviews and all of our hopes for 2010. Amid this maelstrom, I continue to remember that it was still in the last century that women were given the right to participate in the political process by voting and that the coming year's contests of candidates and legislation can, and should, be part of a modern feminist dialogue. In that light, today's Feministory focuses on a woman who worked tirelessly and radically through much of the twentieth century to secure equal rights for women: Alice Paul.