Category Archives: Women’s history

Books History Women's history

An Australian Girl in London (1902)

p. 277 “Australia is still Australia. I am faithful to her in every bone and fibre. When I think of her an impression of dazzling wealth flashes across my brain, and an intoxicating odour of gumtrees steals powerfully over my senses, and I grow dizzy with happiness at the sight and scent of my country. But London is stronger. London drives out the gums. London hangs pictures , and plays, and cathedrals, and operas, and intellects all over the Bush and the dazzling gold. And I say to myself, in unmistakeable language, ‘I don’t want to go back It’s so far, far away. It’s the other end of the world. I don’t want to go back yet.’

It is not only the Londoness of London that has me prisoner. It is its nearness to other places. Can you understand that it is a few hours to Paris, to Holland, to Ireland and to Scotland. I could not believe it at first. Think of this. I can get to Greece – yes, there really is a place called Greece – more quickly than you can get to Perth….

P. 279 “go back to Australia, and the whole world vanishes, like a dream, and becomes, after a time, only a dream again.”

Books Feminism Women's history

Notes from Rebel Girls: How Votes for Women Changed Edwardian Lives

p. 102

“On Monday 4 February (1907) two of the striking weavers appeared in the magistrates’ court, accused of unlawful violence. The weighty Lancashire textiles trade unionist, David Shackleton MP, alarmed at suffragette incitement of his members, arrived in Hebden Bridge and condemned the violence. Letters critical of the suffragettes began to appear in the local press. Nonetheless, even on the eve of their trial, Adela Pankhurst and Jennie Baines continued to address open air meetings.

On Thursday 7 February, Jennie Baines and Laura Wilson appeared before Todmorden magistrates. Both denied the charges” and refused to pay fines or sureties. Laura retaliated: ‘I shall not find sureties to keep the peace… I shall not pay any fines or costs imposed on me by men who do not allow me to have a woman in Court to plead with me. I refuse to be bound over. That afternoon, both women were taken by trains to Leeds’ forbidding Armley gaol, the first suffragettes to be incarcerated in a |Yorkshire prison. They were seen off at the station by a handful of sympathisers. That night in Hebden Bridge, Adela plus Laura’s husband George Wilson justified what had occurred: the only way to settle strikes was by labour representation in parliament. (However, while still defiant, there was no longer the fill-the-gaols incitement: two imprisonments were sobering enough.) Even though their son was only five years old, George’s loyalty to Laura during her imprisonment contrasts with Hannah Mitchell’s experience: ‘Most of us who were married found that ‘Votes for Women’ were of less interest to our husbands than their own dinners. George Wilson’s commitment vividly illustrates how suffragette militancy within local West Riding communities sprang from labour movement solidarities which the WSPU could conveniently tap into.”

p. 103 “Nationally, early 1907 was a time of tremendous WSPU optimism and growth. The leadership exhorted supporters that ‘The help of every woman in the country is needed now if the fetters are to be struck off that keep women a subject race.’ It was indeed about this time that a Hebden Bridge WSPU branch was formed. On the night of Saturday 9 February, just two days after Jennie Baines and Laura Wilson were carted off to Armley, a local mass indignation meeting was held. The joint Hebden Bridge branch secretaries were Edith Berkley, another experienced fustian clothing machinist, and Louie Cobbe, Lilian’s younger sister. Within a few weeks, WSPU branches sprang up like mushrooms along the Calder Valley: not only in Hebden Bridge and Halifax, but in smaller communities like Elland too.”

p. 103 Lavena (Saltonstall) even found herself at the sharp end of the local anti-suffragette backlash. She was certainly keenly aware of how a single woman, out earning her living independently of her family and speaking her own mind, was viewed by the local community. Later she recalled with vehement passion: ‘Should any girls show a tendency to politics, or to ideas of her own, she is looked upon by the vast majority of women as a person who neglects doorsteps and home matters, and is therefore not fit to associate with their respectable daughters and sisters. If girls develop any craving for a different life or wider ideas, their mothers fear that they are going to become Socialists or Suffragettes – a Socialist being a person with lax views about other people’s watches and purses, and other people’s husbands or wives, and a Suffragette a person whose house is always untidy… Who is going to tell these mothers that daughters were not given to them merely to dress and domesticate. Who is going to tell them that they have a higher duty to perform to them than merely teaching them housework? Who is going to tell them that it is as cruel to discourage a child from making use of its own talent or individuality as it would be to discourage a child from using its limbs?”

p. 107 Over 500 ILP women signed the Manifesto to the Women’s Social and Political Union published at New Year 1907. Of these, 136 came from the West Riding of Yorkshire and a further 146 from Lancashire: together they added up to well over half of all signatories. And of the 58 WSPU branches now sprung up across the country, almost a quarter lay in Yorkshire, most in the West Riding textile towns. For such Pennine textile communities in northern England were the heartland of early WSPU support. Their very names – Halifax and Hebden Bridge, Bradford and Keighley, Leeds and Dewsbury – conjured up countless bales of wool, the racket of looms, the whirr of sewing machines.”

p.302 The Third rebel girl who left Britain, Dora Thewlis, also emigrated to Australia … like so many other Edwardians, was primarily an economic migrant. Some time before 1914, along with her elder sister and about 20 other Huddersfield girls, she left in search of a better life than that offered by the long hours in the Yorkshire textile mills. Dora went to Warnambool in the Melbourne region, where she worked in blanket-weaving. .. in 1918, she married Jack Dow, a second-generation Australian, and they had two children.”

p. 303 “Lavena Saltonstall – last hear of springing to defend the broad WEA curriculum against attacks about ‘cloroforming the workers’ – remained active in the Halifax WEA until 1916. Then, in June 1917, in Halifax Unitarian Chapel, 34-year-old Lavena, now working as an electrical engineer’s clerk, married George Naket of Bradford, a 40-year-old private in the Duke of Wellington’s regiment. But after the War, this talented self-taught feminist journalist, happy to take on anti-suffragists, sadly disappears from view.”

Books Feminism History Politics Women's history

Notes from Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny by Kate Manne

p. 33 For misogyny, though often personal in tone, is most productively understood as a politically phenomenon. Specifically, I argue that misogyny ought to be understood as the system that operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women’s subordination and to uphold male dominance.

p. 68 According to my account, misogynist hostility can be anything that is suitable to serve a punitive, deterrent, or warning function, which (according to your theory of punishment) my be anything aversive to human beings in general, or the woman being targeted in particular. Misogynist hostility encompasses myriad “down girl” moves – so many as to make the list seem likely to be indefinitely extensible. But, to generalize: adults are insultingly likened to children, people to animals or even to objects. As well as infantilizing and belittling, there’s ridiculing, humiliating, mocking, slurring, vilifying, demonizing, as well as sexualising, or alternatively, desexualising, silencing, shunning, shaming, blaming, patronizing, condescending, and other forms of treatment that are dismissive and disparaging in specific social contexts. Then there is violence and threatening behaviours, including “punching down” – that is deferred or displaced aggression. And since, on my account, one woman can often serve as a stand-in or representative for a whole host of others in the misogynist imagination, almost any woman will be vulnerable to some form of misogynist hostility from some source or other.

p. 69 Misogyny need not and usually will not arise from specialised attitudes, like the idea that women are seen as sexual objects, viewed as sub-human, or having a hateful, detestable “essence”. Rather, it’s generally about the enforcement and re-establishment of patriarchal order and the protests when it gets challenged. Disgust flows from, and augments, these social processes.”

p. 74 misogynists may simply be people who are consistent overachievers in contr4ibuting to misogynist social environments (whether or not the system counts as misogynistic, all things considered. The point is that their efforts are pushing strongly in this direction.) Alternatively, misogynist may be people who have been heavily influenced in their beliefs, desires, actions, values, allegiances, expectations, rhetoric and so on, by a misogynist social atmosphere.”

p. 77 Many if not most of us at the current historical juncture are likely to be capable of channelling misogynistic social forces on occasion, regardless of sincere egalitarian beliefs and feminist commitments. I am sure I am no exception to this. Such channeling may take the form not only of unwitting policing and enforcing distinctively gendered norms and expectations, but also, on my analysis, over-policing and over0enforcing gender-neutral and potentially valid norms, e.g. genuine moral obligations. If the result is that we evince excessively or distinctively hostile reactions to the women implicitly deemed to be wayward in some way (again, rightly or wrongly) as compared with her male counterparts, then it will still count as misogyny that she faces in my book.”

p. 196 In June 2016, Standford Universiry student Brock Turner, age 20, was tried for treating a young woman, age 22, like a proverbial piece of meat – sexually assaulting her behind a dumpster, after a party on campus… This case vividly illustrates the often overlooked mirror image of misogyny – himpathy, as I’ll call it … it’s so common that we regard it as business as usual… The specific form of himpathy on display here is the excessive sympathy sometimes shown towards male perpetrators of sexual violence. It is frequently extended in contemporary America to men who are white, nondisabled and otherwise privileged “golden boys” such as Turner, the recipient of a Stanford swimming scholarship. There is a subsequent reluctance to believe the women who testify against these men, or even to punish the golden boys whose guilt has been firmly established – as, again, Turner’s was.”

p. 263 Misogyny often involves distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women, by lights of their conformity to patriarchal norms and values. So, at the highest level of generality, it’s not surprising that women who aspire to be ‘good’ have social incentives to distance themselves from a woman deemed ‘bad’ as Clinton often was, and to publicly participate when she was ostracized and punished for supposed moral crimes and misdemeanours.”

p. 264 “penalizing successful women serves an ego-protective function (only) for other women. It defuses the threatening sense that a similar – and similarly good, decent and/or ‘real’ woman – is more competent or accomplished than they are. And tellingly, it appears that this is linked to a lack of self-belief that can be assuaged by positive feedback.”

p. 264 “In the days following the election, it was common for those of us grieving the result to judge the white women who voted for Donald Trump even more harshly than their white male counterparts. I was guilty of this myself. But … I subsequently came to redirect a good portion of my anger towards the patriarchal system that makes even young women believe … that they are unlikely to succeed in high-powered, male-dominated roles….It is wrong but natural to protect oneself from the prospect of threatening others who challenge one’s extant sense that one couldn’t have been the president (say), notwithstanding one’s best efforts. A way to do this is to hold that these women are different and in some way inferior or objectionable or otherwise suspect. They are, say, ruthless, callous, or uncaring. Or their success makes them witches: their power is black magic.

p. 276 Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard. “The two were consistently described in a strikingly similar way, especially given the difference between them in appearance, age and history (though not their center-left politics, notably.) The belief in female leaders in politics seems to founder even at the level of visual perception. They look hollow, stuff, wooden robotic, as well as fake and inauthentic. Their energy doesn’t appear to come from inside them: nor, it appears, do their values – which are subsequently held to be merely a product of mercurial, outward social forces.”

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from Women and Liberty 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays

p. 50 Gabrielle Suchon was born in Semur (in Burgundy, not far from Dijon), her parents were of minor gentry and there were numerous jurists in the family. Her father died when she was 13. At a certain point, she entered a convent, and at some other point she left it. Upon leaving the convent, she supported herself as a teacher while living with her mother, and led what has been described as a studious life. She died in 703 at 72…. In each of her major works, she inveighs against the institution of marriage and the harm marriage brings to women, so it might well be that she refused to marry. But she also attacks the oppressive conditions of convents, especially for those without vocation.

p. 51 Such authored two major works: 1 Treatise on Ethics and Politics Divided into Three Parts: Freedom, Knowledge and Authority, where it is shown that person of the [female] sex have a natural capacity that enables them to exercise these three prerogatives now denied them. It was originally published in 1693 under the pseudonym ‘GS Aristophile’ then reprinted in 1694, with a slightly modified title. And 2. On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen, or Life without Commitments was published in 1700 under her own name. The latter work was reviewed in print, and so, we can assume, read by others, if not widely read. Both works are striking in demonstrating a pointed concern with the situation and status of women, even while they aim to develop an ethical and political theory. That is, Suchon’s theoretical aspirations are intimately tied to her concern for liberating – this is, ensuring genuine freedom for – women.”

“… there are unanswered questions about Suchon’s influence on those who followed her. In her The Sex of Knowing, Michele Le Doueff suggested that perhaps Rousseau plagiarized Suchon. There are passages that support this suggestion. In the Treatise on Ethics and Politics, Suchon talks of women as essentially free, but constrained by chains which they have helped to forge by unthinkingly accepting the institutions and conventions which prescribe their conduct. Rousseau’s oft-quoted opening to The Social Contract that ‘man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains’ echoes Suchon’s language. However, Rebecca Wilkin and Sonja Ruud have found no evidence that either Roussea or Madame Duplin, a woman for whom Rousseau served as secretary while she was writing her Ouvrage sur les femmes, concerning the equality of the sexes, reach Suchon… it might be possible for a thinker to have import without there being a well-established direct causal impact.”

p. 86 “In Hamburg, as the impact of the revolution in France led to civil unrest, Elise Reimarus published a pamphlet, Freihart, which was intended to demonstrate that genuine liberty is only available to those subject to civil law. … A little later, in Naples, the journal of the short-lived republican government of 1799, Il Monitore napoletano, edited by Eleanor Fonseca Pimental, declared: “Freedom consist in this, that every citizen can do whatever is not prohibited by law, and which does not harm others.”

p. 109 “Sophie de Grouchy’s 1798 distinction between negative and positive right, which, upon examination, prefigures the famous distinction between positive and negative liberty.”

p.122 “Because Berlin only had an eye for the ‘fathers’ of the tradition, he failed to live up to the inclusive spirit that is characteristic of liberalism at its best. By ignoring De Grouchy, he failed to give the mothers of this tradition – De Grouchy and her friends Olympe de Gouges, Harriet Taylor, and so on – their due. This is not just a matter of accurate record keeping and historical justice. When the sons and daughters of a tradition are told only about the fathers, their (moral) education gives them not only a skewed narrative of reality, it also limits the possibilities available to the play of their imaginations.”

p. 141 Margaret Cavendish “Her natural philosophy shows the same creativity and willingness to go against the grain of her contemporaries’ views. For example, Hobbes, Descartes, Robert Boyle and other natural philosophers of the 17th century conceived of matter as naturally inert, capable of moving only when moved by some external force. In their view, the motions of this matter are governed by various deterministic laws of nature .. the corporeal world is fundamentally law-governed and predictable… For Cavendish, Nature is one fully continuous, infinite entity, composed of three intermixed types, or ‘degrees’ of matter. Two of these – the ‘rational’ matter and the ‘sensitive’ matter – are intrinsically self-moving, which Cavendish claims entails that they are also perceptive and knowing. The third type, ‘dull’ matter, lacks self-motion; it moves only because it is blended with self-moving matter. The three degrees of matter are completely intermixed, so that every part of Nature, no matter how small, will contain all three types of matter.”

Books Feminism Women's history

Notes from The Word for Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

p. 19

“The famous saga of Eric the Red may be called so but it is really about a skorungur, which is what we call a strong woman hero. Her name was Gudrid the Far-Traveller, his wife, and she lived in the 10th century.” ….Like Thilda says, the Icelandic women are strong because they are descended from Vikings and conquerors and raised by the icy sea wings which sting their cheeks and the hot geyser steams which scald them. And in a land where fire and ice are in battle and care little for anything around them, all people must be strong … Thilda’s story gives me a feeling like recognition, a sense of inevitability and completion, a slotting into place… I recognise it by knowing its antithesis; my home and environment. See, where I am from there is not this boundlessness. The outside that I know is broken to pieces and scattered. Our cul-de-sac is on a suburban estate built on the site of an old power station that had been running up until the eighties. All the houses look the same with neatly trimmed rectangular lawns and faux-Tudor beams, no weeds (there are sprays for those), and the streets are named after famous ships. Our town was typical of Midlands industry because it is well connected to the canal and river systems. There was a power station, a vinegar factor, a sugar beet factor and several carpet factories, one of which my mum worked in as a secretary while I was in her belly. The power station was coal-fired and archaic and the factories moved to China so they knocked it all down and built the suburbs and a giant Tesco. My mum and dad got jobs a 30-minute drive away, closer to the city, and no one could grow anything to eat in their gardens because the power station left radon in the topsoil.”

p. 268 Edmund Hillary the mountaineer climbed Everest because it was there. Astronaut Gene Cernan of Apollos 10 and 17, when asked why he thought we went to the moon, said because it’s there. When Tenzing Norgay the Sterpa got to the top of Everest he got on his knees, buried some biscuits in offering and prated to the goddess of the mountain for disturbing her. We should have gone to the moon like Tenzing Norgay. Maybe this really is the point in the age where everything changes, a rewriting of myths, a sort of coming-of-age of the human narrative. Remember that everyone mocked Copernicus at first when he said that maybe Earth did not sit at the centre of the universe, hey guys, maybe it does not all revolve around us. Which is what Lovelock and Margulis were saying too. These ideas do not instantaneously propagate. They resonate only once a situation occurs that prompts their germination.”

Books Feminism History Women's history

Notes from Hypatia by Edward J Watts

p. 1 “In the spring of 45, however, the Roman imperial machine in the great city of Alexandria seized up. The trouble began with the election of Cyril as Bishop of Alexandria in 412. After the death of Cyril’s predecessor, the Christian community in the city split in two camps with one side supporting Cyril and the other supporting a rival named Timothy. It took three days of street fighting and of the intervention of Egypt’s top military official to prevail… By 415 the confrontations … brought the Bishop into conflict with the Roman governor Orestes…. Cyril summoned a mob of monks to Alexandria. He hoped they would intimidate the governor into an agreement. But violent protests have unpredictable consequences. Instead of persuading Orestes to talk, one of the monks hit him in the head with a stone. Orestes had the monk arrested, tortured and killed…. Cyril and his associates began to blame their problems on the regular audiences that Orestes had with the female philosopher named Hypatia. The daughter of a prominent Alexandrian mathematician Hypatia had been Alexandria’s leading thinker for nearly 35 years. Philosophers had no formal authority in the later Roman world, but some of them enjoyed immense influence. They had traditionally advised cities and officials about policy while standing apart from the transactions that bound the Roman elite to one another. Concerned only with truth and uninterested in reputation or personal gain, these public intellectuals involved themselves political life only to the degree that their actions made cities more justly governed. If deployed at the right time and in the right way, their counsel could diffuse tension by adding a calm and rational voice to heated confrontations. Her status is a philosopher gave her tremendous symbolic power in a city that was struggling to hold itself together. Her presence at his side made the governor appear to be the reasonable party in the dispute…. Christians loyal to Cyril… began to murmur that Hypatia had bewitched the governor and used her magic to keep him alienated from Cyril. ..In March 415 this frustration led a member of the Alexandrian church named Peter to gather a crowd of Cyrillian supporters that could confront Hypatia. We do not know what Peter and his associates initially planned to do when they found her. Mobs gathered all the time in the Roman world. They usually screamed and yelled. Sometimes they vandalised property. In rare cases they even killed. It was however exceptional for a member of the Roman elite to be physically assaulted by a mob. This mob was different in it either went out with an uncommonly violent sense of purpose or had uncommon luck in finding Hypatia teaching in a public classroom travelling in one of Alexandria’s streets…. Peter and his partisans grabbed her. they shredded her clothes and her body with pottery fragments, tore out her eyes, drag her corpse through the streets of Alexandria, and then burnt her remains.”

P 51 As the 380 s gave way to the 390s, Hypatia faced many of the same professional and personal challenges encountered by mid-career professionals in the modern world. By her 35th birthday, Hypatia had created a distinctive brand of philosophical teaching that combined the rigor of the leading Alexandrian mathematicians with the sophistication of Plotinian and Porphyrian Platonism. … [but] steady expansion of Iamlichian teaching into leading centres of scholarship like Alexandria and Athens mean Hypatia’s teaching began to look increasingly dated. .. The emergence of a militant anti pagan tendency among some Alexandrian Christians early years of the decade presented a different challenge. The non-confessional intellectual middle ground that Hypatia cultivated continued to draw elite Christian students like Synesius who valued traditional education. The wider world, however, was increasingly polarized in the 390s by a toxic combination of anti-pagan imperial legislation and aggressive actions against pagans by Alexandria’s Christian leadership destablised the city.”

p. 92 Female philosophers were not particularly rare in antiquity. as early as 1690, Gilles Menage collected the names and identifying details for over 65 female philosophers. it’s now includes figures ranging across time from Aspasia and Theano in the fifth century BCE through 6th century CE figures like Theodora, the woman to whom Demascius dedicated his Life of Isiodore. .. Hypatia had four significant female contemporaries who were trained as philosophers, philosophy or mathematics, played a public role like the one she assumed. three of these, Panrosian of Alexandria, Sosipatra of Pergamun, and the wife of Maximus of Ephesus, are older than Hypatia. The fourth woman, Aschlepignia of Athens, was the daughter of Hypatia’s younger rival, the Athenian philosopher Plutarch.