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May 7

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Eva Perón: Evita


QUOTE by Eva Perón.

Eva Perón: Evita

      Was Evita, born May 7, 1919 a saint or sinner? Was she a liberal or an abusive?       Eva Duarte De Perón; Eva Duarte, by name Evita, was born illegitimate in a nation that on the surface paid homage to propriety, she was seduced and raped as she tried to earn a living. But she committed an unpardonable sin. Instead of being victimized by the system, she learned to use sex to get ahead.
      She used sex (and a her brilliant mind) to team up with an Argentinian military man, Juan Perón, and parlayed their relationship into marriage. With her brilliant help, the duo became the dictators of Argentina. (Democracy was unheard of in that nation.)
      Popular fiction and movies have pointed out her faults. Let's explore some of her virtues.
      She initiated and carried out unbelievably generous welfare reforms, giving millions of dollars of goods to the poor and yet probably embezzling millions for herself and her husband.
      She became beloved of the unwashed, their Evita.
      Alicia Dujovne Orvitz, one of her better biographers, said that Evita was not content with giving things to the poor.
      She committed the unpardonable sin of trying to change the attitude of the poor.
      "You must want!" she would say. "You have the right to ask! You must desire."
      Alicia Ortiz in her biography Eva Perón describes a horrible scene when Eva was visiting her beloved poor. She saw a sick child whose face was obliterated by flies.
      Three days later she returned to that infamous shanty town of Buernos Aires and ordered all the residents out. They were to take nothing. Nothing - as if they had anything. Their furniture and their dwelling were cast off boxes and trash.
      They were moved to luxury apartments.
    She stayed at the scene until late in the night to make sure everything was burned because, as she said, the poor would return to their homes if anything was left.
      When the poor were accused of ripping out the wooden flooring of a brand-new apartment building to use for cooking, she ordered the authorities to lay down another floor.
      And then a third, she said. "To convince oneself that one has the right to live decently takes time."
      In 1946 when the Catholic Church's Cardinal Caggiano objected to Evita's orders to abolish the term illegitimate on birth certificates, Evita stated simply,
      "One of two choices: do as I say, or we write on the father's documents: `Illegitimate father.' "
      When Evita Perón began working her will, all of Argentina, was owned by only 1,804 landowners (oligarchy). The others, almost 3 million, were the landless poor with few if any rights. The poverty was unbelievable.
      Eva said, "When the rich think of the impoverished, they think of impoverished desires."
      Evita wanted to instill in the poor their right to own part of the dream. And that was her main crime, her most the unforgivable sin.
      She died at 34 of ovarian cancer - and her body was embalmed, exhibited, stolen, moved to Europe, and back again, etc., etc., for almost 20 years by her enemies and lovers of all sorts. Finally it was buried in a Argentinian grave 27 feet deep under steel plates and concrete where no one can again steal it. It is a place where old ladies in black (who were young when she gave them hope) still leave flowers and pray to their Santos Evita.
      As a young actress, escaping from the crushing poverty of her childhood and her illegitimacy that branded her for her entire life, the young woman Eva Duarta was given an ultimatum by the company's leading man: "Sleep with me or you're fired!"
      The company's promoter recommended she give it to the sexual advances. In her marvelous biography Eva Perón, Alicia Dujovne Ortiz wrote:
      "When the actor's wife appeared, she threw a fit.
      "She threatened her husband, but she terrorized Eva.
      "Just as the (song) says, the guilty are always women."
      Eva had to leave the company.
      Mary Main who grew up in privileged Anglo-Argentine society, attending finishing school in England before returning to her Argentina life of privilege wrote a well received biography of Evita - and one that reflects her background as part of the upper class.
      "I felt compassion, not sympathy [for Eva]," Ms. Main said in a 1980 interview in The New York Times. "Eva did evil things, but she wasn't really evil. She lived a life of fantasy. She was her own creation."
      What is fact about this complex woman Eva Duarte Perón? She was a poorly educated, socially inferior, woman of her time and place.
      She was also a brilliant woman who overcame almost insurmountable obstacles and tried desperately to help others accomplish what she did.
      Had she lived longer, perhaps the mystery of who exactly Evita was would have been answered.
      As it is, we have a lot of bad and a lot of good memories.
      Perhaps like Caesar, we should inter the bad with her bones. So much good should not be ignored.

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B. 05-07-1818, Juliet Ann Opie Hopkins - Although she actually did the job of supervising the Chimborazo Hospital during the Civil War, her husband got the title of hospital supervisor (and the money) because the Alabama legislature refused to recognize a women in any professional capacity.
      She actually went onto the battlefields to minister to the Confederate wounded and was wounded herself.
      JOH was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

B. 05-07-1896, Kitty Godfree brilliant British tennis player who won two singles titles at Wimbledon and five Olympic medals. She was the only woman to beat the great Helen Wills at Wimbledon. In her career she won 46 singles and 107 doubles titles.

B. 05-07-1923, Anne Baxter won Academy Award for best supporting actress as Sophie in Razor's Edge, and was nominated for best actress in About Eve as was co-star Bette Davis that some saw as a desire to split the vote (since most saw Baxter's role as supporting) and prevent Davis from winning yet another AA.

B. 05-07-1927, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, German-born American author whose Heat and Dust (1975) won the Brooker award for fiction. She won academy awards for best adapted screenplay for her script of Room with a View and for Howard's End.

B. 05-07-1938, M. Faith Angell, federal administrative judge Social Security Administration 1989-90 and U.S. magistrate judge Eastern District Pa 1990-.

B. 05-07-1951, Janis Ian, U.S. singer and songwriter won the 1975 Grammy when she sang so poignantly of her alienation "At Seventeen." Later she came out of the closet as a lesbian and the lyrics of the song were poignantly illuminated. She became a columnist for The Advocate magazine.

B. 05-07-1959, Tamara E. Jernigan, U.S. astronaut with a Ph.D. in space physics and astronomy and 455 hours in space.

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In a speech September 23, 1947, Eva Perón announced:
      "The nation's government has just handed me the bill that grants us (women) our civil rights. I am receiving it before you, certain that I am accepting this on behalf of all Argentinean women, and I can feel my hands tremble with joy as they grasp the laurel proclaiming victory."
      Many of the landed gentry and the women activists resented "Eva's claim of acting for women and ignored the history of women's battle for suffrage." Ortiz in her book (see above) says "the history dates back to September 1900, when Cecilia Grierson, the first female doctor in Argentina founded the Women's Council after discovering that the law prevented her from practicing her profession."
      But then, Argentinian women's suffrage was passed under Evita's reign - and it is possible that she did not know the history behind the movement. She was not well educated and the prior efforts of women to gain suffrage were not common knowledge.

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