Friday, March 4, 2016

A Head of Her Time

Thought for the day:  Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels. [Bob Thames]

[morguefile]

No, this isn't gonna be a post about dancing... or shoes. Coming up right around the bend, on March 8, is International Women's Day, so what better way to mark it than by writing about some remarkable women? I was going to do a post about some female inventors, but then I remembered the following post, A Woman's Place, which I published on March 8, three years ago. I decided it's well worth a second look, and the lady inventors can just jog in place until later this month. Before we go to ye oldie but goodie re-run, let's kick things off on the right toe-tapping foot, with a little Ginger and Fred, shall we?



Okay, now back to that re-run... about a lady who was both ahead... and a head... of her time.

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Thought for the day:  For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.  [Virginia Woolf]



Know what today is...? Give up?

It's International Women's Day. (Yeah... really!) [NOTE: Well, it was when this post first ran... now, it's four days away...]

The tradition started in 1910, but its roots were based in socialism, so for many years, only places like Russia and Eastern Europe paid any attention to it. That is, until 1977, when the U.N. finally climbed aboard, and officially proclaimed March 8 to thereafter be known as
International Women's Day.


So where's my damned cake?




A woman is like a teabag: you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.  [Eleanor Roosevelt]

Okay, no cake to go with my tea. (For now.) Nonetheless, I'll honor the day by telling you a little something about a little-known kick-ass American woman who deserves a spot in our history books.

Okay, quick: Who was the first woman in American history to run for national office?


If you said 1984 V.P. candidate Geraldine Ferraro...

you would be...

 ( Ding-Ding-Ding!) wrong.

She was the first to be nominated by a major party, but would you believe the first woman, who actually ran for President, did so fifty years before women were even granted the right to vote?

I kid you not. That lady had some serious kinda chutzpah.

Yep, her name was Victoria Woodhull, and in 1872, the Equal Rights Party nominated her as its presidential candidate. Equal rights is exactly what she believed in, too... for women, for blacks, and for the working class.A year earlier, she became the first woman in history to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, where she delivered an impassioned and articulate argument for women's suffrage. And she had other radical outside-the-box ideas, too, such as an eight-hour workday, graduated income tax, social welfare programs, and profit-sharing. Not exactly mainstream thinking for her day.

In 1870, before she ran for office, she was the first woman to open a Wall Street brokerage firm. Made a boatload of money, too, some of which she used to become the first woman to found a weekly newspaper. The purpose of the paper was to support her run for office, and its primary interest was feminism. During its six years of publication, the paper covered such taboo topics as sex education, free love, women's suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution.

I used to be Snow White, and then I drifted. [Mae West]

Uh, yeah, I did say free love. Not an orgy-filled, spouse-swapping kind of free love, mind you, although by the way she was treated by many people of her time, you would have thought that's exactly what she was espousing. What she believed in was a woman's right to marry, divorce and bear children as she saw fit... without governmental interference.

At right is a Thomas Nast caricature of Woodhull, depicting her as Mrs. Satan. She's holding a sign that says, Be saved by FREE LOVE, and behind her is a woman, laden with children and a drunken husband. In the caption, the woman tells Mrs. Satan, I'd rather travel the hardest path of matrimony than follow your footsteps. 

See? Not even the women of Woodhull's day supported her ideas. Not that it mattered... they couldn't vote.

Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid. Actually, it's quite the opposite: a woman having large breasts makes men stupid.  [Rita Ruder]

Oh, there's a lot more to the story of Victoria Woodhull... like her dabbling in magnetic healing and spiritualism; her friendship with Cornelius Vanderbilt; and why she was thrown into jail two days before the 1872 election... on obscenity charges.

But I said I was only gonna tell you little something about Ms. Woodhull, so suffice it to say, she didn't receive a single electoral vote. Following the election, she said, The truth is that I am too many years ahead of this age and the exalted views and objects of humanitarianism can scarcely be grasped as yet by the unenlightened mind of the average man. 

Okay, so I never said she was humble. But she was right. Many of the reforms she campaigned for, considered extreme and controversial in her time, later came to pass. By the way, know who her running mate was? Frederick Douglass... the first black man nominated for national office.

How do you know if it's time to wash the dishes and clean your house? Look inside your pants. If you see a penis in there, it's not time.  [Jo Brand]

Well, it's not time for me to wash the dishes and clean house, either. Not yet. It's time to bake myself a damned cake. I am woman; hear me roar!

A woman should always know her place. Yep, by golly, a woman's place is in the House... and the Senate... and maybe someday...  the White House.

So on this day, International Women's Day, let us raise a glass to all those wonderful women worldwide, both known and unknown, who spent (and continue to spend) their lives striving to make this world a better place, and who exemplify these words by Maya Angelou: ... you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.


I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.  [Lily Tomlin]

 Before we go, how about another short video? Again, it features Ginger Rogers, but this time... with Lucille Ball. It's bound to put a smile on your face and start the weekend off with a... real big kick.

       
                                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                                            (Hey, ladies... why not treat yourselves to a cake?)
                             

75 comments:

  1. I had never heard of Victoria Woodhull before--WHAT A WOMAN!!

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    1. For sure! Too bad she isn't around to run for office NOW!

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  2. I love seeing Ginger Rogers dance. I wonder how old she was when she was on Lucille Ball's show. She was great! I knew about Victoria Woodhull, but didn't know all the details. Thanks for an excellent post. We should also remember Shirley Chisholm.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. This particular Lucy Show episode was made in 1971. Ginger Rogers was born in 1911 - so she would have been 60.

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    2. Thanks, Jon. (Saved me from having to look it up!)

      You're right, Janie. Shirley Chisholm was another brilliant and articulate woman.

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  3. Thanks for another wonderfully entertaining and informative post. Victoria Woodhull was WAY ahead of her time. Perhaps she should be running for president now - - instead of the Bozos we are stuck with.

    Ha! I remember the Thomas Nast illustrations of Santa Claus, but I never knew he drew Mrs. Satan.

    I love the Lucy and Ginger video - I've never seen it before.

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    1. I agree. She sounds far superior to the current crop of would-be nominees.

      Thomas Nast was a fairly prolific cartoonist. Hmmm, might be fun to do a post about him sometime. (I'll bet YOU could find a ton of his cartoon, if you don't already have a mess of them on your computer.)

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  4. Yes, yes, yes - and I don't mean that in the Meg Ryan sense. Rather a cheer from across the pond, celebrating some wonderful women.

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  5. This is an awesome post! I never heard of Victoria Woodhull. Now I'm going to do some research.

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    1. Thanks, Liza. (I LOVE to inspire other people to jump into an information rabbit hole.)

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  6. There were and are so many amazing women. Inspirational women. And yes, they are often overlooked. And too often pushed into the cupboard.
    Let us all roar in unison. And eat cake. And raise our glasses too.

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    1. Well, they do call it HIStory... but you're right. Lots of amazing women get overlooked in the stampede to tell about what men have done.

      YES! Cake and a raised glass... sounds like a meal of champions!

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  7. What a wonderful post! Thank you! No I was not aware of this beautiful woman, but I'm not surprised either. So much interesting history - but sadly such inspiring folks have been replaced by people who star in a forgettable television shows, go to prison because they're a criminal, and yet somehow make the headlines on a daily basis? I think I've slipped into another dimension, please, someone, point the way home! I've clicked my heels a dozen time and it isn't working.
    Now I fear, I'm actually in hell!
    It's the flu, right? All because of the flu!
    Tomorrow will be better - tomorrow is always better!
    Commenter is slinking off to bed in hopes of a better tomorrow where women like Victoria run the world!

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    1. Thanks. It's a shame we're never taught about people like Woodhull in our history classes, isn't it? So many untapped stories...

      I hate to tell ya, but I DON'T have the flu, and clicking my heels (slippers) together hasn't changed the landscape of today's world a danged bit, either.

      Get well soon!

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  8. Damn, she let nothing slow her down. An amazing woman indeed.

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  9. definitely ahead of her time. I wonder what she'd think about today - she'd be stirring the pot (not in the kitchen). All great quotes in this post. Let's eat cake and not clean this weekend - enjoy

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    1. Good wonder. I think she'd feel vindicated about some things that have come to pass, but would be appalled that we still haven't elected a woman president.

      Eat cake and not clean? It's a deal! Sounds like ALL of my weekends. :) You have a super one, too.

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  10. Very informative post, thank you!
    I just saw the movie "Suffragette"and think that - for a movie - it did it's job well and showed how courageous women had to be - and how late we were allowed to vote (Suisse in 1971 - if I remember right)

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    1. Thank YOU. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      I haven't seen that movie yet, but I'd like to. And I'd like to take my daughter with me.

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  11. I want to see a woman in the White House! I think I remember this post but it was fun to read again. I'm so amazed at the courage of women like Victoria Woodhull.

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    1. Women have successfully led other countries, so why not here? It could happen!

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  12. The name Victoria Woodhull was vaguely familiar to me -- probably from my research into spiritualism for We Hear the Dead. But I didn't know she ran for president! What a woman!

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    1. Yeah, she had a lot of chutzpah. It's impressive how much she managed to accomplish in her day; no telling what a woman like that could accomplish today.

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  13. Let there be cake !
    I remembering reading a story about Ginger Rogers where she said that many times the shoes were still wet from being dyed and often too small.
    Why ?
    I just never understood that. For some reason I always remember that fact.

    Have a wonderful cake infused weekend.
    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Too SMALL?! Talk about torture. I guess the powers to be didn't want her to outshine Fred, huh? I can't imagine doing all those dances with aching feet.

      Same back at ya. You have a wonderful weekend, too, with lots of cake. Must have cake...

      Cheers!

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    2. No cake but I do have some Irish Soda Bread and toasted with butter it is so good.

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    3. That sounds reeeeeeally good, too! With peanut butter on it, and a cold glass of milk on the side.

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  14. Very informative post, Susan! When, in 1872, Susan B. Anthony also got arrested (for voting), cage crinoline became an especially effective metaphor. It rapidly went out of style --because it really was a cage.

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    1. Susan B. Anthony's crinoline was a cage, but the later crinolines were pretty cool. Waaaay fun for doing the jitterbug. A little more problematic when the dance was over, though. Kinda hard to sit down like a lady in those things. They also made it impossible to slow dance too closely together. :)

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  15. What a fun post, and very educational, too. I did not know March 8 was International Woman’s Day. The name Victoria Woodhull meant something to me though, I thought I had a book on her. Sure enough, I just found it - years ago I bought a book in France called “Victoria la Scandaleuse” by French author Nicole Blondeau, and it is about her. But when I came back home I put it on a shelf and never read it – I’m going to find it and read it now – she sounds like quite a lady. Thanks for this great post.

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    1. How very cool that you have a book about Woodhull, and even cooler that this post has inspired you to dust it off and read it! Then you can write a much better post about her. :)

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  16. What an amazing, educational post. :) Yay for women and our accomplishments.

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  17. I have never read a post from you that wasn't either fascinating, informative or humourous. In fact, your posts are the highlight of my Friday and this one was no exception. Thanks to you, I just read up on Victoria Woodhull and boy, what a life. She was indeed progressive and forward thinking and I can't help thinking how she would fare today. Amazing woman.

    Loved the Ginger and Fred dance routine.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Aw, shucks. How sweet of you to say.

      Somehow, I think Ms. Woodhull would have fared better in today's world. Society is more "ready" for her now than they were back then.

      You have a fantabulous weekend, too. :)

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  18. What an interesting post! This is the first time I've heard of Victoria Woodhull. She was definitely ahead of her time. Pass the cake! :) Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

      I should probably pass ON the cake, but pbbbt! If I throw in a bunch of fresh fruit with it, that'll offset all of the bad calories, right? Right! Here ya go... here's the whipped cream...

      You have a terrific weekend, too.

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  19. The world is a funny little place, Susan. My husband and I were out driving to dinner this evening and listened to a radio show while in the car. They had quizzes for phone-in callers, and one of the questions was: "Who said it, Yogi Berra, someone, someone else, or Lily Tomlin? I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." I shouted out the answer before the contestant could, surprising my husband that I knew this.

    Well, after dinner we stopped to get some birthday cake and I got myself a nice big piece and opened up to your blog post...encouraging everybody to eat cake. I must have been channeling you today!

    And what a woman, that Victoria Woodhull. Had never heard of her, but I'm looking for more info now.

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    1. HA! Yeah, the world is a funny place. Very cool that you already knew that Tomlin quote. I am duly impressed. (Evidently, so was Dave!)

      Hey... EVERY day is a good day to eat cake. :)

      Have a super weekend.

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  20. One of your best posts ever! I really enjoyed it. Why is Victoria Woodhull not included in American History education within our school systems? I will be sure to enjoy cake on Tuesday!

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    1. Wow, thanks, kiddo!

      Well, silly, why do you think it's called HIStory...?

      You do that. Since I'm not there, have a piece for me, too.

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  21. The Dalai Lama - “The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman”

    I very much believe that.

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  22. I didn't know about her either. Thanks for educating me :)

    And isn't the Dalai Lama a wise man?

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  23. I always loved the quote "Well behaved women never make history." I also loved the marvelous Ann Richards' popularizing the quote, "After all, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astair did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.

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    1. Oh, well, THAT explains why I'll never go down in history. WHAT??? I AM well-behaved, dammit. You been talking to Smarricus...?

      I LOVED Ann Richards. Her assertiveness and ability to articulate blew me away. Super smart, too.

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  24. I have a vague memory of learning about Victoria Woodhull, but if you’d asked me who she was—wait, you kind of did, didn’t you?—I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. Thanks for reminding me. I won’t forget again. Here's to Victoria!

    VR Barkowski


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  25. I had never heard of her. She really was ahead of her time! But I suppose we needed her as an impetus to the movement.

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    1. Most people have never heard of her. Makes me wonder how many other amazing people have gone unnoticed.

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  26. Thanks for the introduction. Never heard of her. It's funny how International Women's Day is such a low-key affair over here in the UK. It has been mentioned but I bet you anything that it will not be front page on Monday morning! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. It isn't just low-key over THERE... it's way low-key here, too. Most people have never heard of it. :)

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  27. So glad you decided to re-share this post. I never would've become aware of Victoria Woodhull if you hadn't. Wow. Definitely way ahead of her time, for sure!

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    1. She was definitely ahead of her time. I wonder if there's anyone today that people of the future will say the same about.

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  28. You have to admire strong women!

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  29. You had me at "cake".

    Victoria Woodhull does sound way ahead of her time.

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    1. You're much too easy. :)

      Yep, she sure was.

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  30. All such awesome women. Ideal for strong heroines.

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    1. She may not have been a heroine in her time, but looking back on the things she accomplished, she sure qualifies by today's standards.

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  31. Wow, I am in awe of Victoria Woodhull, she was definitely a woman before her time. I had never heard of her and it's kind of shocking that I haven't. I have such respect for the women before me that put their hearts and hard work out there to give me and other women the freedom to live our lives the way we decide.

    By the way, I loved seeing the videos... the dancing was incredible. .. Happy Woman's day Susan ♡

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    1. I'm rather in awe of her, too. She was definitely waaaaaay ahead of her time.

      Cool! I'm glad you liked the videos. (Me, too!)

      Happy Women's Day to you, too!

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  32. Wow, I had no idea. What a great story and an amazing woman. She was onto something, wasn't she? Like the whole 'free love' thing. I'm all for the government not being in ANYONE'S personal business.

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    1. Yeah, she was onto a LOT of things. You're right. Government should be a lot of things, but being our Big Brother ain't one of them.

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  33. Hi Susan - I certainly hadn't heard of her .. what a fascinating woman and thanks so much for highlighting her .. she'd make such an interesting talk subject. Incredible what she achieved ... and how far advanced she was ... we still definitely don't need Government interference in our personal lives ...

    Yay - I hit the right day ... I should have done something for the blog - on the other hand Emily has had her time at my blog recently ...

    What a great post - thanks so much ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary.

      Most people haven't heard of her, and there's probably a lot more women like her whose achievements have gone largely unnoticed. Like your Emily. :)

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  34. Hokey smokes, she did have some chutzpah! and the videos are awesome. :)

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    1. She sure did! I'm glad you enjoyed the videos. :)

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  35. She sounds an awesome lady! And in that time too.

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    1. She sure does! We could use some more gutsy ladies like that right NOW.

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  36. Wow, she really did accomplish a lot in heels, didn't she? I can barely walk from one end of the parking lot to the other in my heels. :)

    Thanks for all this info on these great women. Thanks also for stopping by my blog for Hilary's interview!

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    1. HA! I hardly ever even WEAR heels anymore.

      It was my pleasure to stop by your blog. Thanks so much for returning the favor. :)

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