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March 4

Frances Perkins FDC
Frances Perkins FDC

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.

Frances Perkins, First Woman Presidential Cabinet Officer

Feminists on Alimony

Sculptor Who Broke All the Rules

Low Ranked Bulgarian Shocks Olympic Foes

Dr. Jaleh Daie


QUOTES by Marlo Thomas, Ursula K. Le Guin, Leslie M. McIntyre and Dinae Crenshaw.

We Waited Almost 140 Years - Francis Perkins Becomes the First Woman in the Cabinet of a U.S. President

      Event 03-04-1933: Frances Perkins is sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Labor in the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to becomethe first woman to serve in the cabinet of a U.S. President.
      Perkins (B. 04-10-1880) had served in state government as head of the industrial commision while FDR was governor of New York.
      Perkins came to national attention with an influential survey of New York's notorious Hell's Kitchen district while completing work on her master's degree from Columbia.
      In 1918 she received an appointment to New York State's Industrial Commission and named to head the board in 1926. She remained head of the board when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became governor and was the highest paid state employee.
      During Perkins' entire tenure as Secretary of Labor, she was violently opposed by republican conservatives both because she was a woman and was pro-labor. They were outspoke in their criticism that the job should have gone to a man. They also attempted to impeach her.
      FP was instrumental in writing many acts of reform including the Social Security Act (1935) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), as well as early legislation actions which were aimed at halting the Great Depression. She reorganized the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Women's Bureau.
      Oddly - or maybe not so oddly - many historians claim that FP did nothing during 13 years in office and that everything accomplished was done by others. It was not true.
      Historians also claim that FP was not a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt but Blanche Weisen Cook's marvelous biography of ER documents a different story including how ER helped campaign for FP's appointment.
      FP did opposed several actions including the Equal Rights Amendment because she felt they would threaten much of women's protective legislation that so many of her generation fought for, such as breaks, weight restrictions, even hours worked per day. FP felt women were more vulnerable to work place abuse because most women who worked had to work and did not have the luxury of quitting when they were abused.
      In later years her son confirmed for biographers that she was a lesbian - lifetime partner with a prominent politician - although in name she remained married to his father who spent most of his life confined to a mental institution.
      She had been influenced early in life by Florence Kelley and worked at Jane Addams' Hull House making her part of the Addams network that changed so much of the social structure of the U.S.
      She had been an eye-witness to and was profoundly affected by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 that killed 146 workers, mostly young girls who jumped out of third and fourth story windows rather than be burned alive. The management had locked exit doors that the women could have used to escape, allegedly to prevent stealing.
      FP was also a member of the noted Heterodoxy Club (headquartered in New York City) to which many of the prominent women of the day were either members or friends of members.
      She resigned her cabinet post in 1945 after the death of Franklin Roosevelt and served in the Civil Service Commission under President Harry Truman.

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Alimony - Some Thoughts by Eminent Feminists

      "Many feminists are too generous. We rush to give up the meager protections we have before we've gained anything approaching equality that might make such protections unnecessary. A woman who has taken herself off the job market, put her husband through college or graduate school, serviced and served him, raised his children, and failed to develop her own marketable skills, is most certainly entitled to alimony, lots of it - every penny she can get.
      "I am deeply puzzled and alarmed to hear some young feminists denounce alimony. It seems they have no knowledge or understanding of the plight of many older women, nor do they seem to recognize that even the woman who has good job skills earns less than a man with the same training, seniority, and competence. A feminist wouldn't think of giving up alimony until women have truly achieved equal pay for equal work, as well as a genuine co-division of child care and household responsibility in the family."
            -- Barbara Seaman

      "A myth within a myth is that the disintegration, if not the disappearance, of alimony is due to the feminist movement. Or that feminists oppose alimony...
      "Alimony is back pay, reparations, payment for pasts ervices, and should not terminate on the wife's remarriage any more than a retired employee who receives a private pension for past consideration and for time and work and money already invested should lose the pension if the worker obtains a new job..."

            -- Emily Jane Goodman

      "People think that alimony is one of the great advantages that women have. Well, if it's so great, then why don't we have it? ...I don't think ...women should give it up until they have equal wages and equal work."
            -- Claudia Dreifus

      "In the earliest stages of this feminist wave (the antithetical or 'So there!' phase), various feminists publicly deplored alimony 'as prostitution wages.' This is, of course, ridiculous - as well as being a self-destructive attitude born of false pride (and false consciousness.) At this time in patriarchal history, alimony is, rather retroactive pay for years of free labor."
            -- Robin Morgan

      "In addition to the gender bias task force reports, many studies of the economic consequences of divorce document courts' gender bias as a factor in the postdivorce economic disparity between men and women due to inequitable awards of marital property and alimony."
            -- Lynn Hecht Schafran

      "It is with spousal support (alimony) and child support that women and children have been most damaged by the deadly combination of no-fault divorce and egalitarian attitudes. Although the divorce laws in individual states do not insist upon it, judges have taken the position that women with children can support themselves as well as men can support themselves. It is as if every time the media announces that a woman has been appointed to a judgeship or a high corporate position, thousands of women lose spousal support...
      "The severe cutback in alimony has not been offset by an increase in child support. In fact, child-support awards have dropped drastically... In l978 and l981, child support awards nationally dropped 16 percent, with inflation taken into account. They took another 12.4 percent dive between l983 and l985, for a total decrease of 28.4 percent. When child support is collected (less than 50 percent of the time), it pays for far less than half of the cost of raising the child."
            -- Mary Ann Mason

      "Many women have begun to feel guilty about asking for alimony and traditionally, contrary to popular perception, very few women have received alimony. According to a Census Bureau survey, fewer than 15% of all women who had ever been divorced or were currently separated had obtained an agreement or court order to receive alimony... marriage still places women at a tremendous financial disadvantage... alimony is often necessary to compensate women for those financial disabilities caused or aggravated by marriage."
            -- ACLU, through Susan Deller Ross, Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Deborah A. Ellis, and Kary L. Moss

      "Women will make financial sacrifices when faced with what they perceive to be a husband's serious custody or joint custody claim. They will buckle under from the spectre of interference from mediators or arbitrators on how to raise children... Let her settle for less money... some courts don't recognize that the mother is the primary caretaker when she has a career outside the home; a nanny notwithstanding, Mother does a second shift at home."
            -- Harriet Newman Cohen

      "You cannot do it all."
            -- Gloria Steinem

"The bottom line is this: women still bear and care for the children of this world. Motherhood is far more than a mere familial status - it is an additional job. And no one can be in two places at once - simultaneously both caring for children, and also being occupied elsewhere earning concurrently needed income. Unless a mother is fortunate enough to have an accumulated pile of wealth prior to having children that is sufficient to support her family, a contribution has to come from somewhere, whether that be on the child care end or the earning end. This part sounds simple, but there is a kicker: on one hand, pregnancy is not a shiftable cost, and even post-pregnancy, the mother's parenting and caretaking relationship with the child isn't completely fungible - while on the other hand, the full measure and effect over a lifetime of her economic investments and lost opportunity costs because of these factors seldom correlates solely with the value of her and her family's concurrent income and support needs while she is wholly or partly out of or less than optimally engaged in the paid work force while actively child bearing and rearing.

"Reproduction is not equal. It is not gender-neutral and it never will be. In a marital partnership that entails the creation of a family, the partner who is the mother irrevocably commits a greater portion of current -- and future -- personal resources and opportunity costs up-front with the promise that over time, all will even out. Her investment is in substantial part irreversible, usually with repercussions that reverberate for the remainder of her life. Alimony is appropriate to insure that this 'front-loading' of mothers' investments in connection with bearing children does not work an injustice of inequality upon divorce. Receiving alimony under such circumstances is no more indicative of 'dependency' or unequal status than would be a business partner's getting properly reimbursed for a higher capital contribution made to a liquidating business partnership. In fact, to profess otherwise is in actuality to denigrate the value of women's efforts, choices, experience and contributions.

" 'Equality' under the law means that WHEN men and women are the same in all ways, the law will treat them that way, and that when they are not, the law will not default to what is characteristic of 'man' as the standard. Thus, 'equality under the law' means more than merely consideration of each person as an individual. It also means that that 'consideration' will not be cast in terms of standards and rights that can attain only to non-gestating human beings. The law will not determine what is 'reasonable' with reference solely to what would be 'reasonable for a man;' the law will not determine what is 'just' by reference solely to what could be 'achievable by someone who cannot gestate;' and the law will not ignore reproductive differences between mothers and fathers where they do indeed exist and have effect.
            -- liz@gate.net

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Sculptor Who Broke All the Rules

      Anne Seymour Damer, Lady Dorchester, who lived 1749-1828 was a self-willed artist in a time when women did little more than their described jobs as drudges (lower classes), bearing children, and running the housebold.
      Her choice was otherwise. She would be a sculptor.
      Not only did she eschew her gender position, but she also ignored the lifestyle that her birth had entitled her to. She was the granddaughter of the fourth Duke of Argyll and the wife of the eldest son of Lord Milton, later Lord Dorchester. Her husband committed suicide which may or may not have been tied to her strong willed ways that included being an overt lesbian who preferred men's clothing.
      Recently her small bust of her longtime lover Mary Berry surfaced at Christie's auction house. An article described the event,

"Mary Berry was a writer and protegee of Horace Walpole. Christie's bronze bust remains a unique model. Signed in Latin on the marble pedestal, it also carries the artist's name in Greek lettering engraved on the upper hair band preceded by Mary Berry's own name.
      "This is a fascinating work. Influenced by neoclassicism in the handling of the hairdo, the bust already betrays the advent of Romanticism.
      "Contained emotion exudes from the face bent forward, lost in unsmiling reverie. Technically, the bronze is an accomplished piece.
      "Not bad, Lady Dorchester. At 19,955 (approx $100,000) the bronze portrait was hardly overpaid."

      She studied under Giuseppe Ceracci and John Bacon the Elder.

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Low Ranked Bulgarian Shocks Olympic Foes

      Yekaterina Dafovska - Bulgarian athlete. Although ranked a lowly 51st in the world, the 22 year-old YD shocked everyone when she won the women's 15-kilometer individual biathlon at the 1998 Nagano, Japan, Olympics.
      It was the first gold medal victory by any Bulgarian in a winter Olympics. Biathion contestants ski over difficult courses and shoot at targets from standing and prone positions. YD began biathion competition in 1992 and made the national team the next year.

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Daie is Senior Science Advisor to Wisconsion University System

      Dr. Jaleh Daie - Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and senior science advisor for the26-campus/150,000 student UW System is founder and president of the Women in Science &Technology Alliance, WiSTA (a division of the FiT Institute of Science &Technology of which she is chairman).
      In 1996-7 she served as science liaison to the President's National Science & Technology Council advising President Clinton on science matters.
      She has held a number of national leadership positions as well as chairing the science department and holding honors positions.

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Rebecca GratzRebecca Gratz
painting by Thomas Sully

B. 03-04-1781, Rebecca Gratz - U.S. philanthropist and educator. RG devoted most of her life to improving the conditions of abused and poor women and children by organizing assistance programs that became models for reform throughout the new country.
      Born into a socially prominent Colonial/American Jewish family in Philadelphia, she organized the Female Association of the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances (1801), an orphan asylum (1815), and a female Hebrew benevolent society and a Hebrew Sunday school society. She served as the model for Rebecca in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe who was, like the real life Rebecca, brave, intelligent and devoted to helping those not as fortunate as her.

B. 03-04-1815, Myrtilla Miner - U.S. educator. Against considerable opposition, MM bravely founded and operated the Colored Girls School in Washington, D.C., in the face of a hostile society. It was supported by the Quakers and donations from abolitionists. Although it changed locations and names - the latest being the District of Columbia Teachers College - it maintained Miner's original intent: to teach teachers who would teach others. Harriet Beecher Stowe gave $1000 of her Uncle Tom's Cabin royalties to the school.

Died 03-04-1815, Fanny Abington - English actor. FA starred on London and Irish stages for 40 years. Her early training with a French dressmaker made her a fashion leader. She had been a flower girl and a street singer before getting a chance to perform "inside" at the Hymarket Theatre. She starred on the Drury Lane theater stage for more than 20 years.

B. 03-04-1847, Anna Elizabeth Broomall - U.S. obstetrician and medical educator. Her entrance to the Pennsylvania Hospital as a student caused the male students to riot. She gained her M.D. in 1871. After advanced training in Europe, in 1875 she became chief resident at Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia with full administrative authority. She took the position upon learning of the illness of the legendary Dr. Emeline Horton Cleveland, professor of obstetrics at the hospital. Dr. Cleveland wanted Dr. Broomall to succeed her.
      Like Dr. Cleveland, AEB was an amazing teacher and practicing obstetrician. They both turned out hundreds of physicians who were meticulous in their care and treatment of women by bringing the standards of the great teaching hospitals of Europe to the U.S.
      The mortality of women in childbirth was astoundingly tragic under the care of men doctors until women doctors like Broomall and Cleveland changed attitudes through example and made it financially necessary for men doctors to upgrade their care (and cleanliness). The low mortality rate under Dr. Broomall was, less than one-tenth of a per cent among more than 2,000 mothers,
      A Quaker, Broomall wore black gowns and had a brisk, quiet nature that was formidable when angry. She was not admitted to the all-male Philadelphia Obstetrical Society until 1892 although her writings were presented to members.

B. 03-04-1867, Ida Gray - U.S. dentist. IG was the first black woman in the U.S. to hold a D.D.S. degree.

Died 03-04-1874, Ada Clare - U.S. author and actor.

B. 03-04-1875, Ellen Gertrude Emmett Rand -U.S. portrait painter.

B. 03-04-1889, Pearl White - U.S. film actor. PW was one of the most successful of the early American filmstars, who gained international fame for her work in"chapter stories" - long-running melodramatic serials, such as The Perils of Pauline.
      Over a six year period she made nine more serials - usually 15 or 20 minute episodes of derring-do by PW and her friends that always ended with PW in mortal danger.
      She began by performing most of the stunts herself but as she became such a valuable commodity, stuntmen were employed. PW also made a number of dramatic films that were forgettable. Her last serial was in 1923 when she retired to Paris with an estimated fortune nearing $2 million. She invested well and lived in luxury. Unfortunately she died at 49, probably as a result of a spinal injury she suffered during the filming of her first serial.

B. 03-04-1896, Rachel Louise McManus - U.S. nursing educator. RLM was an early leader in extending professional nurse training in the United States and internationally.

B. 03-04-1913, Marie-Louise (Marguerite) Taos Amrouche - Algerian writer and singer. MA was a Kabyle singer and writer who translated and recorded Berber songs and tales. Her novel Jacineth Noire (1947) (Black Hyacinth) was the first novel written by an Algerian woman ever published (under her own name). Her original name was Marie-Louise Amrouche, She was also called Marguerite Taos Kabyle.
      A Kabyle is a Berber of the mountainous coastal area east of Algiers; the Berber language of the Kabyles. She lived in France most of her adult life.

Event: 03-04-1917, Jeannette Rankin of Montana took her seat as the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Montana women had the vote several years before the 1920 Federal amendment.
      She would serve only one term because as a pacifist she voted against the U.S. entry into World War I. Ironically she was sent back to Congress just in time to cast the dissenting vote for the U.S. entry into World War II after the Japanese attack on U.S. installations at Pearl Harbor.

B. 03-04-1921, Joan Greenwood - U.S. actor. JG's career was primarily on the stage.

Event 03-04-1930: Emma Fahning bowls a perfect 300 games, the first woman bowler to accomplish the feat. She was unexcited about the feat because she was so new to the game that she didn't know what she had accomplished. She was never a top flight bowler. For the newer readers, a 300 game was a huge accomplishment until the new bowling ball materials and alley finishes in the 1990s have made it an almost everyday occurrence. The new equipment changed bowling much as fiberglass pole vaults and the "clicking" speed ice skates made old records made with sweat and not technology look like amateur night.

B. 03-04-1931, Alice Mitchell Rivlin - U.S. economist. AMR was a member of the Federal Reserve Board and director of the Congressional Budget Office which she created to put an end to the piecemeal budgetary enactment by Congress. She also set up long term fiscal planning for Congress.
      She was the first woman appointed vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board (1996) and was staff member of the influential Brookings Institute. Her other positions includedd eputy director, U.S. Office Management and Budge 1993-94. She is a self-describe liberal Democrat.

B. 03-04-1932, Miriam Makeba - South African vocalist of internation fame. MM was one of the world's most prominent black African performers of the 20th century. Her best known number in the U.S. was "The Click Song."

B. 03-04-1939, JoAnne Gunderson (Carner) - U.S athlete. JG was an outstanding American golfer who won more than 40 tournaments. She won the U.S. women's Amateur championship five times before turning pro. She won the U.S Open in 1971 and 1976. She was named LPGA Player of the Year in 1974, 1981, and 1982.

B. 03-04-1939, Paula Prentiss - U.S. actor.

B. 03-04-1953, Kay Lenz - U.S. actor.

B. 03-04-1954, Irina Georgiyevna Ratushinskaya - Russian lyric poet, essayist, and political dissident.

B. 03-04-1954, Jhane Elizabeth Barnes - U.S. fashion designer.

B. 03-04-1966, Emese Nemeth - Hunyadi - Austro-Hungarian athlete. She won a gold, a silver and a bronze in speed skating participating in five consecutive Olympics 1984 through 1998. She participated in the 1984 Olympics as Emese Nemeth for Hungary and then as Emese Nemeth - Hunyadi for Austria from 1988 through 1998.

Event 03-04-1969: In a U.S. Supreme Court face-off, a woman attorney lifts a typewriter weighing more than 30 pounds that phone company secretaries were required to move by themselves.
      That one single dramatic moment torpedoed the long held, inviolate strength prejudices against women who were thus barred from higher paying men-only jobs. Women were considered "too delicate and weak" to handle heavy weight or equipment.
      The attorney then pointed out the phone company weight restriction for men before they were entitled to get help was only 25 pounds - five pounds less than a secretary who was paid considerably less was required to handle ALONE! The landmark case was Weeks v Southern Bell.

Event 03-04-1977: Janna Lambine, received her wings from the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School and started flying helicopters for the Coast Guard - the first woman to qualify as a coast guard helicopter pilot.

Event 03-04-1982: Berthe Wilson is the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Event 03-04-1983: Montana became the first state to ban sex discriminatory rates in all insurance. Under the prevailing discriminatory rate structure women were paying up to 30% more for the *same* insurance coverage as men whether it was auto, health, disability, or old age income insurance even though actuary tables indicated women were less accident prone and lived longer.

Event 03-04-1986: Christine Craft, lost a U.S. Supreme Court decision to reinstate a $325,000 judgment in her lengthy suit against a TV company that had fired her because she was "too unattractive, too old and not deferential enough to men."
      She had won the trial court decision but an appeals courts threw out the money award. Only Justice Sandra Day O'Connor voted to reinstate the judgment when the matter went before the U.S. Supreme Court. The finding of prejudice was never questioned.

DIED 03-04-1986, Sing Ling - Chinese writer and champion of women's rights.

DIED 03-04-1987, Maria McDonald Jolas - U.S. editor and writer. MMJ along wiht her husband Eugene were the American founders, with Elliot Paul, of the revolutionary Parisian literary quarterly transition.

Event 03-04-1991: Latina attorney Helen Alvarez who becomes an instant media star appears for the first time in the five million dollar anti-abortion campaign financed by the National Conference of (U.S.) Catholic Bishop

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      "One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated qually to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way that you treat a man."
            -- Marlo Thomas, American actor.

      "Part of my satisfaction and exultation at each eruption was unmistakably feminist solidarity. You men think you're the only ones that can make a really nasty mess? You think you got all the firepower and God's on you side? You think you run things? Watch this, gents. Watch the Lady act like a woman."
            -- Ursula K. Le Guin on the eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

      "Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-groomed and unaggressive."
            -- Leslie M. McIntyre

      "In the upper echelons of the corporate world, it helps to be good-looking ... but only if you're a man. If you're a woman, attractiveness can be a handicap."
            -- Diane Crenshaw

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