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April 16

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

The splendor that was Greece - for men

Kabuki theater was originated by women

Book review: a woman journalist's double life

Various women whose birthdates are not known

Constance Wilde, Oscar's wife


QUOTES by Supreme Court Justice J. Blackmun, Kate Mulgrew, Anne Bradstreet, Elizabeth Fox- Genovese, Hildegard von Bingen, Grace King, Deborah Crombie, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Splendor That Was Greece - for men

      380 B. C. "The Splendor That Was Greece" was for men.
      Greek women are permitted no independent status in what is essentially a masculine society and may not enter into any transaction worth more than one medimnos of barley; they are not allowed to own property other than their own clothing and jewelry and their slaves (slaves make up fully one-third the Athenian population of 300,000 and are vital to the economy of the city-state). Fathers select husbands for their daughters without consulting them.
      Peasant women of Attica help their husbands in the houschold, and seeing to the education of her children.
      337 B. C. - Greek girls of noble birth learn in gynacaea (where no men are permitted) how to spin, weave, cook and manage their families' workshops and slaves. A few are taught to read and write. The most intellectually developed and artistically cultivated Athenian women are prostitutes (hetairai).

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Kabuki theater was originated by women

Event 04-1617: The famed Kahuki theater of Japan began at at Kyoto. Women led by Okuni Izumo danced at the Kitani shrine and played the men's roles as well as women's.
      However, in 1629 by order of the Tokugaw shogun Iemitsu, the Kabuki theater is changed to an all-male show. He decided, under west influences, that it is immoral for women to dance in public. Unlike the obviously males who play women's roles in Britain, the the Japanese will take extraordinary measures to make the men playing female roles appear as women even to other Kabuki players. This, of course, leads to male prostitution as the young, feminine men sell "their favors" to playgoers as the women were alleged to have done.

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Book Review: A woman journalist's double life

      "By day, she was Alice Freeman, a nondescript, underpaid and unmarried Toronto schoolteacher held in disdain by the 19th-century Victorian standards that constrained her. But by night, the uncomely Alice secretly stepped through the looking glass to transform herself into Faith Fenton, the fearless and celebrated newspaper columnist who commanded the women's page of The Empire from 1888 to 1895."
      So E. Kaye Fulton begins her review of the fascinating A Passionate Pen: The Life and Times of Faith Fenton, by Jill Downie (HarperCollins, 337 pages, $27)
      "In search of a story, she trudged the gritty backstreets of the city's slums, mingled with the leaders of Canada's genteel society and summered with the political elite. In both her public and private lives, Fenton deliberately kept Alice and Faith apart -- an extraordinary but necessary charade."
      A full century later, Fenton's secret has been exposed by Jill who makes an impressive debut as a biographer in A Passionate Pen.
      Fulton comments that "with a stylistic repertoire that veered wildly between crisp insight and bathos, Fenton achieved neither the consistency nor the lasting recognition of other leading Canadian women journalists at the turn of the century. The dashing Kit Coleman of The Mail and Empire, who covered the Spanish-American war, was more colorful."
      Downie, a Burlington, Ontario-based historical novelist points out that novelist Sara Jeannette Duncan, writing under the name Garth Grafton for The Globe, was more gifted. The mysterious Amaryllis, the Saturday Night society columnist eloquently captured in 1984 by Sandra Gwyn in her nonfiction work The Private Capital, had better Ottawa connections.
      Downie argues that Fenton's humble background lent a distinct quality to her talent: an instinctive ability to relate to the everyday life of thousands of middle-class women who lacked the power and wealth to speak for themselves. Downie writes, "Her inability for so many years to remove herself from the daily grind to full-time journalism had one great advantage, it kept her in touch with her public and that public responded well to blatant sentimentality."
      Vigorously pursuing freelance writing jobs in Boston and New York City to supplement her $11.29-a-week teaching salary and the pittance ($2 per piece from The Empire) she received for her Canadian journalism, she paid slavish attention in her columns to marriage, "the noblest career for women." Fulton writes, "Fenton produced a stirring series of articles for the Globe - among her best and last - described her perilous trek to cover the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, but neglected to mention the physical hardships that the slight, determined woman endured.
      "Unlike her female peers with established families and full-time newspaper jobs, Fenton's subterfuge was a necessity rather than an affectation."
            [This article is based on a review by E. Kaye Fulton in MacCleans magazine.]

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Women from the files without known birthdate

Maria Nikolaijevna Yermolova (1853- 928) - Russian actor. She changed Russian theater by interpreting tragic heroines as active and independent women instead of passive victims.
      Stanislavsky called her the greatest actress he had ever known.
      An active liberal, she mounted several plays that favored the oppressed including one about the Spanish peasantry. The play was banned by the Czarist government.
      She supported the revolution of 1917 and in 1920 she was awarded the title of People's Artist of the Republic on her 50th anniversary as an actor. The Yemolova Theatre was named for her.

Yoko, Madam, Queen of Seneghun (c1849-1906) became chief and a Sierra Leone leader at the death of her husband in 1878. She extended her terribtorial influence with the help of the British but she had a dislike for Christianity and refused to convert. She had been active in politics all during her marriage and was recognized as a skilled diplomate.

Donna Weinbrecht of the United States won the 1992 gold medal in women's freestyle skiing moguls at the Olympic games in Albertville, France.

Walladah bint al-Mustakfi (ft 11th century). Hispano- Arabic poet who after poverty following her father's death inherited money at age 30. She cast off the veil and began operating a salon for writers and artists. She was considered a poet of great ability but most of what has survived are love poems to her lover.

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American women honored on Turkish stamps.

Constance Lloyd Wilde

"For each mankills the thing he loves"... was this aimed at his wife?
      Constance Lloyd, the daughter of a wealthy Cork barrister, married the already lionised writer Oscar Wilde when she was 26 and bore two children, Cyril (who was killed in the First World War) and Vyvyan, Mr. Holland's father.
      According to an article in The Times of London in 1998, they were at first happy, and Constance refused to believe rumours of her husband's homosexuality.
      She left London when Wilde was arrested and tried as a sodomite following his ill-fated libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry and the subsequent scandal over his relationship with Queensberry's son, Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie").
      Her grandson Merlin Holland said, "My grandmother was an innocent abroad, sucked into the maelstrom."
      She fled to the Italian Riviera with the two boys, hoping Wilde would join her after his release from jail. But he went to Naples instead and took up with Bosie again, not arriving in Genoa until a year after his wife's death, when he wept "bitter tears of remorse" at her grave and covered it in red roses.
      Mr. Holland said the view that Constance maliciously kept Wilde from joining her was wrong.
      Anne Clark Amor, author of Mrs. Oscar Wilde: A Woman of Some Importance, said that although as a bachelor Wilde was drawn to famous beauties of the day such as Lily Langtry, he was besotted by Constance. Some Wilde scholars believe the phrase, "For each man kills the thing he loves," in the poem the Ballad of Reading Gaol refers to Constance.
      The Times article goes on, "After fleeing to Italy, Constance changed her name to Holland and lived in a villa at Bogliasco, along the coast from Genoa. She died on April 7, 1898 at the age of 40 after surgery on her spine. The grave at Genoa originally simply bore the inscription 'Constance Mary Lloyd', but the words 'Wife of Oscar Wilde' have been added."
      The Oscar Wilde society is restoring the gravesite.

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Died 04-16-1689, Aphra Behn - English playwright, novelist and poet. AB is believed to be the first British woman who earned her living by writing.
      And write she did. Her plays often criticized the male prerogatives and was spared from discipline because of her immense popularity both professionally and personally. She lived a free lifestyle that surrounded her with scandal.
      Her novel Oroonoko (1688; reprinted 1933) is considered the forerunner of the modern novel.
      Her poetry is outstanding but has been relegated to the obscure by modern critics who often judge such things by sex rather than ability.

B. 04-16-1693, Mary Provost Alexander - New York merchant and importer of the American colonial period.

B. 04-16-1755, Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun - French portrait artist of international reputation. LEVL served as court painter to Marie Antoinette. Following the French revolution, LEVL and her daughter went into exile to Italy. There LEVL continued to be a much sought after artist.
      She continued to roam Europe, even returning to Paris but she did not like the Napoleon influences and went to London where she painted many members of the court. She also lived in Switzerland.
      At 15 she was already supporting her widowed mother and brother through her art. She was admitted to the Academie Royale in 1783. In her memoirs, LEVL estimated she painted more than 700 portraits and 200 landscapes. Her subjects appear to be in motion, or doing things rather than being passive statues.
      Her memoirs, Souvenirs de ma vie (1835-37; "Reminiscences of My Life") provide and insight into the turbulent times she lived through as well as details of her life and art. mary louise vigee

B. 04-16-1773, Maria Stella - Italian adventuress who contested the parentage of Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans, upon his accession to the French throne in 1830.

Died 04-16-1796, Molly Brant - Mohawk consort of the Britsh superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern American colonies.
      She bore nine children beginning the year of Sir William Johnson's wife's death and he recognized them as his natural children by his "housekeeper." However, it is widely believed that Brant insisted on an Indian marriage.
      Such claims are further enhanced by the fact that she openly presided at Johnson's baronical home and her children were sent ot the best schools.
      At the death of Johnson, his son took over the property and MB and her eight remaining children moved to a farm in New York. They had all received bequests but MB "engaged in trade."
      A visitor described her in 1775 as having "an air of ease and politeness," and as "dressed after the Indian Manner, but her linen and other clothes, the finest of their kind."
      She aided the British during the revolutionary war and when displaced by American forces, she moved west and influenced the Cayugas and Senecas to support the British. It was said she had more influence over the Indian tribes "far superior to that of all the Chiefs put together."
      Following the end of the revolution in 1783, she moved to Canada where she lived in comfort as a respected member of the community. She received a British pension.

B. 04-16-1838, Martha McClellan Brown - U.S. temperance leader. MMB not only helped form the national prohibition party but also organized the first women's state temperance group. She was probably the first one to bring together the group that would become the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
      MMB was a noted temperance speaker At various times in her life she helped edit her husband's newspaper and taught at his school.

B. 04-16-1865, Grace Livingston Hill - U.S. author. GLH published more than 78 novels from 1887 to 1947 that sold more than four million copies. Almost all of the books use a girl protagonist, usually in a rural enviornment, who faces a series of moral and physical challenges and solves them with great moral fortitude and certainty. They are being reprinted today.

B. 04-16-1885, Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen) - Danish writer best known for her short stories and tales of Africa.

B. 04-16-1888, Eloise Lownsbery - British author of children's books.

B. 04-16-1889, Frieda Segelke Miller - U.S. state and federal official, and labor reformer. FSM succeeded Mary Anderson as director of the Woman's Bureau of the Labor Department from 1944-52.
      She was the first woman elected to the ILO executive board, New York State industrial commissioner. She emphasized equal pay and equal opportunities for women but originally opposed the Equal Rights (for Women) Amendment (ERA) because it would endanger the protective legislation for women. She gradually moved away from protectionism to the equality philosophy.
      She adopted a daughter Elisabeth (b. 1923) in Germany and returned to the U.S. to share a home and child care with lifelong companion Pauline Newman who was an organizer for the Women's Trade Union League and representative of the ILGWU. They were friends with Labor Secretary Frances Perkins.

B. 04-16-1890, K(Kate). Frances Scott - U.S. activist. KFS waspresident of National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, physician, and a professor at Smith College.

B. 04-16-1890, Gertrude Chandler Warner - U.S. Children's author.

B. 04-16-1892, Florence Mary Austral - Australian soprano and voice teacher.

B. 04-16-1893 GuŠvremont, Germaine -French-Canadian novelist. She recreated the enclosed world of the Quebec peasant family

B. 04-16-1900(?), Polly Adler - Russian-born American operator of the most famous New York house of prostitution.
      After having been raped while working as mill girl in a Brooklyn factory, she had an illegal abortion from the resultance pregnancy.
      She then abandoned her orthodox Jewish life and sought the bright lights of show business. Almost accidentally she began procuring women for gangster friends to avoid poverty. She vowed "to be the best goddamn madam in America." With a combination of panache, publicity, and bribery she did so, hosting the sensual pleasures of government officials, actors, business tycoons, and gangsters for several decades.
      Arrested a number of times, she served only 24 days in jail (her male clients none) from 1924 to 1943 when she retired and moved to Los Angeles. Even "reformer" Thomas Dewey, the New York city district attorney who parlayed crime into a bid for the presidency was unable to close her down. Her autobiography A House is Not a Home (1952) was an international best seller translated into most languages and it was made into a movie.

B. 04-16-1912, Joy Batchelor who with husband John Halas form the husband-and-wife motion-picture director-producer team that greatly influenced the development of film animation

B. 04-16-1913, Constance Shacklock - British opera singer. CS was considered one of the finest Wagnerian singers of Britain where she starred at the Royal Opera house 1946-56. She was a mezzo-soprano.
      She was often "an eloquent and passionate Brangaene singing opposite Kirsten Flagstad's imperious Isolde in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde" many times until Flagstand retired in 1951.
      CS was also known for her Strauss opera interpretattions.

B. 04-16-1921, Marie Maynard Daly - Afro-American biochemist, the first AA to earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. Dr. Daly's area of research focuses on nucleic acids.

Event 04-16-1926: Sylvia Townsend Warner's - U.S. author. STW's Lolly Willowes, or the Loving Huntsman became the first selection of the renowned, still continuing Book-of-the-Month Club.

B. 04-16-1929, Edie Adams - U.S. pop singer and TV entertainer. Following the death of her husband, noted comedian Ernie Kovacs who had put them in terrible debt, singer-comedian EA maintained a murderous work schedule that included advertising endorsements and was able to off all the bills without going bankrupt.

B. 04-16-1939, Dusy Springfield - British vocalist who made her mark as a female hitmaker and icon during the 1960s beat boom that resulted in the British Invasion of U.S. popular music.

B. 04-16-1940, Margrethe II - Queen of Denmark. She suceeded her father, King Frederick IX, on Jan. 14, 1972 . She was the first woman to occupy the throne of Denmark in her own name after the constitution was changed to allow female ascendancy because her father had no boys.

B. 04-16-1944, Sam McMillan who took the time to post the first episodes of Women of Achievement and Herstory on the fledgling web in the mid 1990s. We thank him. The site is long gone, but the encouragement was wonderful.

B. 04-16-1946, Margot Susanna Adler - U.S. author. MA, producer of All Things Considered, morning edition for National Public Radio penned Drawing Down the Moon. MSA was chief of the Washington bureau, Pacifica News Service network, 1971-72.

B. 04-16-1953, All B. Grinfeld - Russian International Chess grandmaster. It is not well known but there are a number of women chess grandmasters.

B. 04-16-1954, Ellen Barkin - U.S. actor. EB is recognized as one of Hollywood's premier actors and has been nominated for Golden Glove awards several times. Recently she has carved a niche on TV as playing wise judges. Her credits include Diner (1982), The Big Easy (1987), and Sea of Love (1989).

Event 04-16-1975: Lila Cockrell , became the first woman mayor of San Antonio, and the first woman mayor of a top ten city.

Event 04-16-1979: Beverly Kelley is appointed the first woman commander of a Coast Guard ship.

Event 04-16-1992: the first ever Japanese sexual harassment suit settled in favor of a woman occurred in Fukuoka. The court held the woman's rights had been violated by vile remarks which forced her to quit her job. The company for which she worked spread rumors she was promiscuous.

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An excerpt from Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court as written by Justice J. Blackmun:
"The Aristotelian theory of 'mediate animation,' that held sway throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, continued to be official Roman Catholic dogma until the 19th century, despite opposition to this 'ensoulment' theory from those in the Church who would recognize the existence of life from the moment of conception.
      "The latter is now, of course, the official belief of the Catholic Church. As one brief amicus discloses, this is a view strongly held by many non-Catholics as well, and by many physicians. Substantial problems for precise definition of this view are posed, however, by new embryological data that purport to indicate that conception is a 'process' over time, rather than an event, and by new medical techniques such as menstrual extraction, the 'morning-after' pill, implantation of embryos, artificial insemination, and even artificial wombs.
      "In areas other than criminal abortion, the law has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life, as we recognize it, begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth. For example, the traditional rule of tort law denied recovery for prenatal injuries even though the child was born alive."
            -- Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Blackmun, J. -- Opinion of the Court.

      Edwin den Braber Nijmegan, interviewer from the Netherlands:
"Captain Janeway, do you think it will take until the 25th Century before women are trusted with jobs as important as captain of a starship?"
      Kate Mulgrew who portrayed Captain Janeway on the TV series "Voyager," (and who her publicists claim is not a feminist, said):
"Thank you for that question, Edwin. The fact is that women have been in power throughout the history of the world.
      "If you cast your mind back to the 10th, 11th, 12th centuries, great queens, great diplomats, in fact, were women.
      "Janeway has been one of millions who have done this throughout the history of mankind."

"Nay, Masculines, you have thus tax'd us long,
      "Let such, as say our sex is void of reason,
      "Know 'tis a slander now, but once was treason.. .
      "She [Elizabeth I] has wip'd off th' aspersions of her Sex
      "That woman wisdom lack to play the Rex."

Anne Bradstreet wrote in her defense during the terrible days when women weren't allowed any literary freedom (or much others in Colonial America.)
"These poems are the fruit but of some few hours curtailed from sleep and other refreshments."
      Anne Bradstreet, recognized as America's first woman poet was born in approximately 1612 and with her husband was with the first group of English settlers in Massachusetts with John Winthrop. Even enduring the unbelievably the rough life of a woman in the early colonies and eight children, somehow she managed to write.       Her first poems were published in England without her knowledge by a brother-in-law. She kept developing and her later works showed greater maturity and warmth. One wonder how good she could have been without the burden of motherhood, wifehood, and back breaking work of a colonial homemaker - and the disaproval of the patriarchy which kept all the "creations" for themselves - even the belief that any child was ALL that of the husband and the wife was merely the field into which his seed was planted.

"Despite differences, most feminists seek equal eonomic rights; support reproductive rights, including right to abortion; criticize traditional definitions of gender roles; and favor raising children of both genders for similar public achievements and domestic responsibilities. Many wish to reform language so that it does not equal man with humanity. Many also campaign vigorously against violence aginst women (wife battering, rape) and against the denigration of women in the media."
            -- Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

"We cannot live in a world that is not our own. In a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a HOME. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To be our own light."
            -- Hildegard von Bingen, 12th century mystic, writer, and abbess

"Patience! Patience! Patience is the invention of dullards and sluggards. In a well-regulated world there should be no need of such a thing as patience."
            -- Grace King, U.S. author (1852-1932).

      In her book Leave the Grave Green, Deborah Crombie writes a divorced woman's reflection of her ex- husband:
"Gemma thought of Rob's automatic assumption that she would provide for his every need, both physical and emotional. It had never occurred to him that she might have a few of her own."

"People who are well-represented at trial do not get the death penalty.''
            -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, April 2001.

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