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December 18

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.

What is "assertiveness"


QUOTES by Honorable Burnita Shelton Matthews and Althea Warren.


      Assertiveness is learning not to put yourself down, that you as a person, as an individual have the same rights and feelings as everyone else - and the same right to express them. Patricia Jakubowski-Spector, one of the first behavior therapists to apply assertiveness-training to the needs of women, has drawn up a list of basic human rights:

Everyone, man or woman has the

  • Right to refuse requests without having to feel guilty or selfish.
  • Right to feel and express anger.
  • Right to feel and express healthy competitiveness and achievement drive.
  • Right to strive for self-actualization through whatever ethical channels one's talents and interests find natural.
  • Right to use one's judgment in deciding which needs are the most important for one to meet.
  • Right to make mistakes.
  • Right to have one's opinions given the same respect and consideration that other people's opinions are given.
  • Right to be treated as a capable human adult and not patronized.
  • Right to have one's needs be as important as the needs of other people.
  • Right to be independent.

      You may choose not to exercise all or even one of these rights at any given time. You can exercise some of them some of the time or all of them all of the time. It is your decision, not one that can be forced on you by someone else. Some people who teach assertiveness-training suggest that you use the phrase "my perfect right" whenever you are confronted with an assertiveness problem. For instance, when someone pushes in front of you in line, you say to yourself: "I have a right to my place in line. He does not have the right to force himself ahead of me. He should go back to the end of the line." THEN REPEAT IT OUT LOUD.

            -- excerpted from Bryna Taubman's How to Become An Assertive Woman. New York: Pocket Book, 1976. pp. 96-7.

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B. 12-18-1709, Elizabeth, Empress of Russia provided the leadership that enabled later Empresses to move towards reform.

B. 12-18-1807, Phoebe Worrall Palmer, along with her husband Palmer advocated the perfection or holiness concept with the Methodist Church.

B. 12-18-1814, Josephine Sophia White Griffing, abolitionist, made her home in Ohio a station on the Underground Railway, became active in women's rights, highly active and effective in finding employment and homes for freed slaves. Became corresponding secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

B. 12-18-1878, Edna Fischel Gellhorn, community leader, suffragist, worked to improve the safety of the water supply in St. Louis. Was first vice-president of the League of Women Voters and taught voter education classes. Her mother was director of what became the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.

B. 12-18-1881, Gladys Rowena Henry Dick, microbiologist and physician, attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, organized the women students so they could buy their own house because the school did not have women's quarters. After several posts she joined her husband at Chicago's John R. McCormick Memorial Institute for Infectious Diseases and remained there from 1914 to her retirement in 1953. Made important contributions to the prevention of scarlet fever, including the Dick test which immediately spread throughout the world. The couple's patent of the process caused a furor and probably prevented them from being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1925 for which they had been nominated; none was awarded that year. She was the founder of the Cradle Society, probably the first professional organization devoted to the adoption of children.

B. 12-18-1886, Althea Warren, librarian in charge of getting the 10 million books used by the men and women of the armed forces in World War II.

B. 12-18-1888, Gladys Cooper, Anglo-American stage and screen actor. Preferring the stage, she didn't go Hollywood until she was in her 50's where she garnered three Academy Award nominations. American audiences who only knew her as an older woman would be surprised that she was a World War I pinup (clothed in those days).

B. 12-18-1894, Burnita Shelton Matthews, first woman to sit on the U.S. District Court (District of Columbia-1949), active campaigner for women's rights with the National Woman's Party, picketed the White House, studied music and taught, moved to Washington, D.C. Worked during the day at the Veteran's Administration and studied law at night, got her degree (1920), instrumental in changing D.C. law that barred women from juries, and eliminating the preferences under the law for the male line.

B. 12-18-1916, Betty Grable, singer-film actor best known as the most popular *pin-up* girl of World War II, especially the photograph of her in a one piece bathing suit and high heels looking back over her shoulder.

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      "An equal rights amendment to the Constitution would... secure equality of legal rights for women as far as they can be secured by law."
            -- Burnita Shelton Matthews, 1949.

      "It used to be a comforting belief that wars were apportioned one to a generation. It was supposed that men who fought a war would not knowingly engage in a second one."
            -- Althea Warren

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