A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Quote of the Day

"We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies." 

— Emily Dickinson, American poet-


First Female Vice Presidential Candidate Dies at Age 75

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." - Thomas Campbell

Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, died shortly before 10 am today, Saturday, March 26, 2011.  She was 75.  She was being treated for blood cancer. 

Her acceptance speech had launched eight minutes of cheers, foot-stamping and tears.

"My name is Geraldine Ferraro," she had declared. "I stand before you to proclaim tonight: America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us."

May she rest in peace.  Good bye, Geraldine.

On This Long Storm the Rainbow Rose

On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.

The birds rose smiling in their nests,

The gales indeed were done;
Alas! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone!

The quiet nonchalance of death

No daybreak can bestir;
The slow archangel's syllables
Must awaken her.
--Emily Dickenson-


Powerful Women, Powerful Qotes

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves. --
Mary Wollstonecraft

"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." -- Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)  

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it's all the same .... day.
-- Janis Joplin

 “I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”
-Joan of Arc


Ida B. Wells 1862-1931

Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense.
She was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi and reared and educated there. She was the oldest of eight children. When her parents died of yellow plague in 1880, she took it upon herself to leave school in order to become a teacher so she could support her five surviving brothers and sister. She taught her first school at the age of fourteen. At various times she was offered positions to teach elsewhere, but she always preferred to teach her people in the south. In 1888, she took a job teaching in Memphis. 

It was while working as a schoolteacher in Memphis that she began writing for the city’s black newspaper, The Free Speech and Headlight. Her writings exposed and condemned the inequalities and injustices that were so common in the Jim Crow South...segregation, lack of educational and economic opportunity for African-Americans, and especially the arbitrary violence that white racists used to intimidate and control their black neighbors. And then, when a friend and respected store owner of Ida was lynched in 1892, she used the paper to attack the evils of lynching and encouraged the black townsfolk to head west. 

 It was her insistence on publicizing the evils of lynching that  won her many enemies in the South, and in 1892 she left Memphis for good when an angry mob wrecked the offices of The Free Speech and warned that they would kill her if she ever tried to come back. Ida moved north to Chicago,  but continued to write about the racist violence in the former Confederacy, campaigning for federal anti-lynching laws (which were never passed) and organizing on behalf of many civil rights causes, including woman suffrage.

In March 1913, as she was preparing to join the suffrage parade through President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural celebration, she was asked by organizers to stay away from the procession.  It seems that some of the white suffragists refused to march alongside blacks. How hypocritical is that? Although the early suffrage activists had generally supported racial equality, by the beginning of the 20th century, that was rarely the case. In fact, many middle-class caucasians embraced the suffragists’ cause because they believed that the enfranchisement of their women would guarantee white supremacy by neutralizing the black vote. Ida, true to her cause,  created a stir and joined the march anyway, refusing to march in the back with the other black delegates. Her experience showed that to many white suffragists, equality did not apply to everyone.

After her retirement, she wrote her autobiography, Crusade for JusticeOne of her greatest accomplishments was to successfully block the establishment of segregated schools in Chicago, working with Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House.  By 1930 she became disillusioned with what she felt were the the weak candidates from the major parties to the Illinois state legislature and decided to run herself. Thus, she became one of the first black women ever to run for public office in the United States. Within a year she passed away after a lifetime crusading for justice. She died of uremia in Chicago on March 25, 1931, at the age of 68.  She had  continued to fight for civil rights for all until the day she died.


Elizabeth 1, the Virgin Queen

I do not want a husband who honours me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.

he was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn,  the  last of the Tudor Monarchs of England, one of the greatest rulers during the countries Golden Age.  Henry had always wanted a son and heir to succeed him, so her birth was probably the biggest disappointment in his life.  He already had a daughter, Mary, by his first wife.  Her childhood was one that we would today call dysfunctional.  Her mother, after failing to provide the King with an heir, was executed on false charges of incest and adultery in 1536.  Her mother's marriage to the King was then declared null and void leaving Elizabeth, just as her half- sister declared as illegitimate and deprived of her place in the line of succession.

During the following years, Elizabeth saw her father go through a succession of wives, and it was through his marriage to Jane Seymour, Henry finally got the son he longed for, Edward, but Jane died giving birth to him.  Then there was Anne of Cleves who the King soon divorced, Catherine Howard who was beheaded, and finally Catherine Parr.  Could this constant succession of bride changing be at the core of Elizabeth's refusal to marry?  Or was it a fear of childbirth which claimed the lives of many women during this period?

Henry did make sure that, as a child, Elizabeth received quite an  impressive education, although I think the reason for this had little to do with his desire to educate Elizabeth, but by this time period, it had become fashionable amongst the nobility to educate their daughters as well as sons.  Thus,  was taught by famous scholars , and from an early age, she excelled in her studies...especially languages, and by adulthood, she was able to speak five languages very fluently.

When Henry died in the January of 1547, her brother became King Edward VI, and Elizabeth now found herself vulnerable to those who saw her as a political pawn, for despite being declaring her illegitimate, Henry had reinstated his daughters in the line of succession. Mary was to follow Edward, and Elizabeth was to follow Mary. This meant that Elizabeth was now second in line to the throne. Edward, only 9 years old, was far too young to rule the country by himself so his uncle, Edward Seymour, became Protector of England.   King Edward died in the summer of 1553, and Mary took the throne.

Mary was not a particularly popular monarch, and when she died in November, 1558, Elizabeth was welcomed as Queen.  Mary's reign had been short, but it had been barbaric, earning Mary the title Bloody Mary.
As Queen, Mary, in trying to restore England to Catholicism, plunged England into a dark age and left England impoverished.  Elizabeth, on the other hand worked hard to maintain peace and stability and always tried to please her subjects. She was inspired to create a prospering country by both her need to please the common people and the need to prove to all that she was wise, strong and powerful, even though she was a woman. And what she lacked in feminine warmth, she more than made up for in the wisdom she had gained from a difficult and unhappy youth.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, what a feeling of supreme triumph it must have been for the unwanted daughter who had spent her life in the shadow of the court, cast aside and forgotten, and  now that she was Queen, Elizabeth was determined to enjoy her new-found freedom to the hilt. She loved all kinds of sports, especially horseback riding; she also loved hunting, music and dancing, pageantry, watching plays, and could even play the lute herself with a great deal of skill. Elizabeth had no time for those Puritan theologians who deemed such things impious...and it was her love of the arts that was responsible for the flourishing of the literary masterpieces of the period. 

Meanwhile, marriage proposals were pouring in, but Elizabeth became the only English monarch who chose not to marry, thus denying herself a chance to secure an heir.  And when King Phillip of Spain sent his mighty fleet against England,  She oversaw her fleets' victory against the Spanish Armada off the coast of England's Southern shores and her popularity rose in another personal triumph as she had proved that she, a woman, could lead in war as well as any man. 

Elizabeth was dedicated to her country in a way few monarchs had been or have been since. She was political genius who nurtured her country through careful leadership and by choosing capable men to assist her.  She was a determined woman, yes, but she was always willing to listen to the advice of those around her. In 1558, she had taken over the rule of an impoverished country which had been torn apart by religious squabbles, but, when she died at Richmond Palace on the March 24, 1603, after a great reign that lasted 45 years, England had become one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.  She had changed not only the way the world looked at Britain, but also how people looked at the world. 


Agnodice: How One Woman Can Make a Difference

 (She is credited with being the world's first female gynecologist.)

Agnodice (ca 400 BC) is the name of the earliest midwife mentioned among the Greeks.  She native of Athens where  it was forbidden by law for a woman or a slave to study or practice medicine.  So, she cut off her hair, donned men's clothing,  and managed to gain an education by disguising herself as a man. Agnodice, concerned over the numbers of women dying or undergoing extreme and unnecessary risk or protracted pain in childbirth because they dreaded calling for medical assistance,  devoted herself chiefly to the study of   midwifery and the diseases of women.  

When she completed her training and went into practice she retained male attire, but made known her sex to her patients, and as word of Agnodice spread among the women in the community, the male doctors found their services refused by the women.  In fact, her engagements became so numerous that the male practitioners became enraged, and, unaware if gender,  brought the young midwife before the council under a charge of seducing women.  Agnodice was forced to declare her sex by lifting her tunic in front of the judges in order to avoid the death penalty for corrupting women.  The male doctors now shifted their complaints to the fact that she had broken the law that forbade women to practice medicine...

...but the doctor's own wives appeared in court and testified in her defense. They boldly and loudly appealed to the judge's feelings and interests,  and even threatened to die with Agnodice if they tried to execute her.  Bowing to the women's pressure, the men not only released Agnodice, but changed the law as well.  After that, any freeborn Athenian woman could become a physician as long as she only treated women patients.