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December 28

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.

"Why didn't we know about these women?"


QUOTES by Betty Power, Naomi Thornton, Virginia Woolf, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Dale Spender on Women and History

      "For years I had not thought to challenge the received wisdom of my own history tutors who had - in the only fragment of knowledge about angry women I was ever endowed with - informed me that early in the twentieth century, a few unbalanced and foolish women had chained themselves to railings in the attempt to obtain the vote.
      "When I learnt, however, that in 1911 there had been twenty-one regular feminist periodicals in Britain (see Elizabeth Sarah, l982b), that there was a feminist book shop, a woman's press, and a women's bank run by and for women, I could no longer accept that the reason I knew almost nothing about women of the past was because there were so few of them, and they had done so little. I began to acknowledge not only that the women's movement of the early twentieth century was bigger, stronger and more influential than I had ever suspected, but that it might not have been the only such movement. It was in this context that I began to wonder whether the disappearance of the women of the past was an accident.
      "Why didn't we know about these women? Was it possible that we were not meant to? And if women who raise their voices against male power became but a transitory entry in the historical records, what was to be the fate of the present women's movement?
      "For me, the comfort of finding so many women of the past began to give way to the discomfort of wondering about the present. I began to ask quite seriously how are women made to disappear? If such a huge movement as that in 1911, with so many and various voices, could have so effectively disappeared within the space of fifty years, what were the implications for the apparently smaller movement of my own time? What was the process by which women were erased; and was it still in operation?
      "These questions are the substance of this book. I have come to accept that a patriarchal society depends in large measure on the experience and values of males being perceived as the only valid frame of reference for society, and that it is therefore in patriarchal interest to prevent women from sharing, establishing and asserting their equally real, valid and different frame of reference, which is the outcome of different experience."

The above is from Chapter 1 of Dale Spender's marvelous book Women of Ideas and what Men Have Done to Them, London, New York: Pandora Books, 1990.

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B. 12-28-1789, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, writer, early, influential stylist of the American novel.

B. 12-28-1932, Nichelle Nichols, actor, first black woman regularly featured on a weekly TV show, activist of great force in NASA's first recruitment drive of minorities and women, but better known to Trekkies as Uhura of the Star Trek series, Whoopi Goldberg in the eulogy of Star Trek originator Gene Roddenberry's funeral with whom Nichols had been lovers said that 25 years earlier she was a kid from the projects who saw Uhura as "The only vision of black people in the future," autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (1995).

B. 12-28-1934, Maggie Smith, British screen and stage actor won Academy Awards for her work in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and for California Suite (1978).

Event: 12-28-1944, Lietuenant Aleda E. Lutz of the Army Nurse Corps is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously.

Event 12-28-1967: Muriel Siebert pays $445,000 plus $7515 initiation fee as the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

B. 12-28-1981, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, first so-called test tube baby to be born in the U.S.

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      "When you know something about the reality of the world that those who stand in ignorance do not know, then you can't not educate."
            -- Betty Power, 1987.

      "The minute a woman's age is known she is not see for what she is -- or for what her fantasies are - but quickly tagged by others with a certain mental set. She is pinioned by her years, able to go neither backward or forward."
            -- Naomi Thornton

      "One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them."
            -- Virginia Woolf

      "Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else's life, not even your own child's. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself."
            -- Eleanor Roosevelt

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