Ink marks on empty dreams

I am a footstep on the sands of time, I am an ink mark on an empty paper, without stanzas, without rhymes

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson4“When did you last see your mother? Someone asked me. Someone who was walking with me in the city. I didn’t want to tell her; I thought in this city, a past was precisely that. Past. Why do I have to remember? In the old world, anyone could be a new creation, the past was washed away. Why should the new world be so inquisitive?

Don’t you ever think of going back?

Silly question. There are threads that help you find your way back, and there are threads that intend to bring you back. Mind turns to the pull, it’s hard to pull away. I’m always thinking of going back. When Lot’s wife looked over her shoulder, she turned into a pillar of salt. Pillars hold things up, and salt keeps things clean, but it’s a poor exchange for losing yourself. People do go back, but they don’t survive, because two realities are claiming them in the same time. Such things are too much. You can salt your heart, or kill your heart, or you can choose between the two realities. There is much pain here. Some people think you can have the cake and eat it. The cake goes mouldy and they choke on what’s left. Going back after a long time will make you mad, because the people you left behind do not like to think of you changed, will treat you as they always did, accuse you of being indifferent, when you are only different.”

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“Oranges are not the only fruit” by Jeanette Winterson is a lesbian classic book. After it was released it was set next to cooking books in the libraries’ bookshelves. It would be funny if it wouldn’t be tragic.

Jeanette Winterson tells her own life story and the book is a memoir, rather close to a confession. There are many themes and motifs enveloped in her confession especially from her childhood : Jeanette has spent a lot of time in an industrial town in England in her adoptive parents’ house. Her mother is the main character in little Jeanette’s life and instead of a playful childhood, Jeanette is dragged in an over-religious world her mother created : her mother brought her up as one of God’s elects and raised Jeanette as being destined to be God’s missionary. In her zealously, Jeanette’s mother offers her only oranges as the only fruit, a symbol of that Jeanette should always do as she is told, by herself in a religious excess and human obsession – the oranges represent heterosexuality.

Jeanette doesn’t even go to school until the authorities oblige her adoptive mother to and school is also a bad experience for a religiously inoculated Jeanette, who ends being marginalized and laughed at by her colleagues. Her mother is not interested in anything but religion, religious societies and missionary priests. To please her mother, Jeanette takes her role seriously and helps in converting other people to, but the turning point is when she falls in love with one of the converts, Melanie and although she can’t tell what it means, she understands her mother will hate her for it, but her secret is discovered by her mother and starting now, Jeanette’s image is changed in her mother’s eyes and starts becoming an outcast at home.


There are many characters in the book that sustain the two main characters : overzealous women from the church, the two ladies from the newspaper shop that love unholy, Elsie, Janette’s old friend, Melanie and the pastors. The book has chapters as the Bible has in the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, obviously the Bible holds a great deal in Jeanette’s life, especially in her childhood, but she doesn’t only obey it, but also she questions it, disagrees with her mother and the pastors, starting with the moment when she is accused as being unholy when she falls for a woman and her mother realizes she cannot be the missionary she was raised for to be.

Her mother wants Jeanette to go away from home, she doesn’t want her here to ruin the plans she has left for the church or the missionary societies she fights for. She doesn’t care about Jeanette’s feelings, Jeanette’s dreams or desires as a young woman to evolve and do something with her life searching her talents. Because she ruined her mother’s dream who raised her to become a missionary, her mother’s unfulfilled dream herself, she threw Jeanette away. That proves she only used Jeanette for her selfish misfortune.

Jeanette leaves home at 16 years old and works hard to sustain herself. It doesn’t matter, because she was out of a toxic environment that treated her as an outcast anyway. She works hard because she knows this is the only way she can follow her heart, her dreams and to end up in the big city. She won’t end up with Melanie nor other converts, but she will find love in the big city.

I loved how the author sees her story within a fantastic story of Winnet, a sorcerer’s apprentice, who will have to choose between the castle and the village, who will choose the village instead of her heart to become of stone. Living in the village, working hard she hears of the big city and all the possibilities it holds for her dream and will face many obstacles to end up there and become free and live the way she wants. The story is a metaphor for Jeanette’s real life story.

I loved the way the story was told, I enjoyed the characters and the main theme: to sacrifice her comfort, her past, her childhood home and her mother’s love to pursue her heart and her dreams.


“I want someone who is fierce and will love me until death, and be on my side for ever and ever. I want someone who will destroy and be destroyed by me. There are many forms of love and affection, some people can spend their whole lives together without knowing each other’s names. Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home? Only the one who knows your name.”



A far better description of the book you can find here :


Disobedience -2018- the new les movie – where Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams impress in a beautiful & dramatic love story


The subject of the movie it’s not one that I expected : a mixed feelings and thoughtful characters drama about a woman returning home to the Orthodox Jewish community of north London – I love the mystery around Ronit leaving London for New York, the strengths and weaknesses of Ronit and Estie’s friendship and Dovid and Ronit’s evolving characters, as now, Estie is Dovid’s wife.

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I can’t wait to watch this beautiful movie!!!

The title suggests rebellion, fear, love lost and growing as an adult :

“the question of whose disobedience, and what kind of disobedience it is, are at the heart of this absorbing and moving love story from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, his English language debut, following very quickly on the heels of his film A Fantastic Woman which has been a festival-circuit hit this year.


Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams  and Alessandro Nivola are at the top of their game, perhaps especially Nivola in a supporting role; he achieves a sympathy and maturity that I have never seen from him before.

The drama takes place in the Orthodox Jewish community of north London. Weisz is Ronit, a young woman we see initially in New York: a photographer evidently living a fashionable and bohemian lifestyle. Out of the blue, she receives some bad news from back home, and  her first impulse is to try to anesthetize the pain with drink and casual sex. But the truth must be faced up to, and a much-feared homecoming is necessary. Because she has learned of the death of her father, a much-respected rabbi: a fierce, potent cameo for Anton Lesser.

disobedience ronit and dovid

It was partly to escape the stifling rigidity of her father’s values that Ronit fled London for a secular life in New York in the first place: defiant, relishing freedom, but nursing a wound of guilt for breaking her father’s heart; she was an only child and he a widower. Ronit was all he had left.

Back in London for the various ceremonies – the very epitome of the religious observance and obedience that she had wanted to get away from – Ronit feels all eyes on her: curious, and disapproving, but in a way cowed by her authentic connection with this revered religious leader. People have a habit of remarking, in tones of awe, how much she resembles her late mother. Weisz conveys her grief, her disorientation, her borderline-hysterical need to mock the pities.

Ronit is disturbed most by two friends from the old days, from whom she senses a nervous disapproval. One his Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), her father’s favourite pupil, a virtual adopted son who is now a much admired young rabbi himself. The other is Esti, beautifully played by Rachel McAdams, who was Ronit’s only ally in youthful rebelliousness back in the day. But now, Esti is married to Dovid and Ronit is clearly shocked by how much older they seem, how much more conservative, how greater the gulf is between them, and by that token how much more intense her loneliness and grief then feels.


But Lelio’s drama is not simply about this, because it is clear that Esti is not in fact so estranged from Ronit as first appeared, and this homecoming triggers a new independence of mind in her that makes everyone very uneasy. The truth is that Ronit and Esti were more than friends – and it wasn’t just religion she was fleeing but forbidden love. They could easily be more than friends again and the movie adroitly lets us decide just how open a secret their relationship always was.

Disobedience 2018 rachel weisz and rachel mcadams

There an overwhelming passion and eroticism to this reunion, especially in contrast to the dutiful marital lovemaking between Dovid and Esti which Lelio had already shown us: trying of course for a baby. In the bedroom, before sex, Esti had listlessly removed not just her clothes but her wig: the badge of female piety. One of Ronit’s most misjudged attempts at diplomacy is to try wearing a wig herself, a temporary gesture which succeeds only in irritating everyone and reminding her late father’s friends how much they still resent her desertion.

Rachel Weisz shares kiss with her lover Rachel McAdams (9)

The poignancy of her dad’s modest family home and his death bed, moved downstairs to the front room in his final days, reinforces the severity and austerity of Ronit’s family background – and also how sensationally transgressive her renewed affair with Esti is. McAdams herself is excellent at suggesting how with sheer force of will and learned piety she had got her life together while Ronit was away and is now a schoolteacher. We see her leading a class in discussing Shakespeare’s Othello. The choice of play interestingly leads the audience to wonder how Dovid is going to take the news of his wife’s adventure.


Dovid himself is a wiry, muscular warrior of the faith. But he is not a tyrant or a bully and he is himself conflicted in various ways about Ronit’s reappearance. Rather daringly, he is teaching the Song Of Songs in his own scriptural class and permitting candid discussion of its erotic qualities.

The drama is expertly controlled by Lelio, lit and shot in muted and subdued colour tones by cinematographer Danny Cohen and it has a very interesting musical score by Matthew Herbert; its musing and almost playful woodwind figures cut against the expected sombreness and obvious melancholy to contribute to this sense of disorientation and subversion. This is richly satisfying and powerfully acted work.


  • Disobedience is screening at the Toronto film festival and will be released in the UK on 4 May with a US date yet to be announced. “

Source :


Watch trailer :

Where love is illegal – Jenny’s story – United Kingdom

Jenny’s Story

Jenny Where love is illegal


“In the early 1980’s a beautiful charismatic Somali girl met a hard working British/South African man traveling and working around East and Southern Africa.
By 1994 I had arrived into the world.
Due to my father’s work commitments, they had chosen to raise myself and my sibling in Malawi. The city of Lilongwe is filled with vibrant people and culture, my childhood was filled with nothing but wonderful adventures because of this.
I pretty much knew from the get go that I was somewhat different. The word ‘gay’ to me was completely unknown, totally alien. My first experience of this word came from hearing various stories about how disgusting and criminal gays were to society. At the time, homosexual acts were illegal.
Witnessing a man taunted and beaten in the street validated the fact that in no way would I ever express my sexuality in this country, the thought was completely terrifying.
-When my parents decided that that we would be making the permanent move to England, my life completely changed.
As beautiful as Malawi is, I knew how toxic it was to those in the lgbtqi+ community, and how much slower progression would be there.
Eventually (after years of staying closeted at school) I came out at the age of 19. Although met with a lot of questioning from my father and disownment from extended family, I was completely and utterly happy.
I spent a lot of that year dealing with depression and the the anxiety that consumed my mind. I eventually went travelling,  and for the first time, I was proud to be a gay woman of color.
As cheesy and cliché as what I’m about to say is- I think it’s important for anyone and everyone in the lgbtqi+ community to just keep going. Please don’t give up. Be absolutely proud of the human you are and learn to love every sense of your being.
Realizing who I am and accepting this was the biggest achievement in my life so far. Being able to fall in complete and utter mutual compatible weirdness with a woman and walk through the streets of Brighton holding her hand is simply beautiful. I often think about those that do not have this privilege.”

Source :

The interwar lovestory of Celia and Aurora (#Aurelia) from the Spanish series Six Sisters (Seis Hermanas)

The interwar lovestory between Celia and Aurora (#Aurelia) from the Spanish series Six Sisters (Seis Hermanas) is a painting within a painting.

This is the love story between two women from different social classes during the 1913-1916 Spain, when the women had no right to vote, they just have to marry and bear children and take care of their husbands. Celia (played by Candela Serrat) is one of the six daughters of the Silva family, a very respected family in Madrid during those times, who happens to love women and she falls in love with her best friend Petra, but Petra is straight and instead of helping Celia she tells everybody, including Celia’s sisters, that Celia is sick and needs psychiatric treatment.

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Celia has to go through a terrible treatment to be “healed” of unproper feelings towards women. At the psychiatrist’s she meets a very friendly nurse, Aurora Alarcon, who helps her through the treatment and even gives her the solution to get out of it: a presumed boyfriend who can tell the doctor that Celia is cured and their relationship is real.

aurora y celia casi un beso hermoso

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With Aurora’s help, Celia escapes the horrid mistreatment of electric shocks and gets real close to Aurora (played by Luz Valdenebro) who will show her what love can really be and how wonderful it is to be in love and be loved. Aurora confesses she has been through the same treatment because she also loves women and she chose her career of being a nurse to help all the women like her.

aurora y celia priemra-vez 2

She will also introduce Celia in the suffragist movement that fought for women’s rights to vote and to have the right to inheritance of their own, because for now they will have the right for their father’s inheritance only after they marry and the fortune will go to their husband.

aurora y celia beso antes amor

The main painting represents the story of the Silva sisters set in the interwar period in Madrid 1913-1916 :


Adela (Celia Freijeiro), the older sister, the fundamental pillar of the Silva sisters, is one of the most elegant and admired women of the high society of the moment; takes most decisions, is correct, generous, loving and kind; Very young widow, believes that love will never touch her door again; Blanca (Mariona Tena), is beautiful, classy, kind, elegant and educated, engaged to the rich banker Rodolfo Loygorri (Fernando Andina), minister of foreign affairs, but in love with her brother-in-law, doctor Cristóbal Loygorri; Diana (Marta Larralde), of strong character, replaces her father at the head of the factory of the Silva family, is the entrepreneurial sister, believes that she underestimates the woman and, although she does not count on finding the love of her life, her Destiny has different plans for her; Francisca (María Castro), sings in secret in the Ambigú but her dream is to sing for a more select audience; Celia (Candela Serrat), loves letters, studied teaching and her dream is to continue studying, writing and knowing the world. Later she discovers that she feels a feeling of love towards her worker friend Petra; and Elisa (Carla Díaz), is the small sister, spoiled, irascible and immature, dreams of finding a man of good position with whom he can start a family.

aurora s aura

The six sisters go from being high class women without any concern to direct the textile factory and business of his father, Mr. Fernando Silva, after the sudden death of this, in a society in which women have neither right to vote, dependent on their uncle, because they were denied the right of inheritance or holding the right on any property.

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Celia Silva is a school teacher with the dream that one day she will be a writer with the same right as men to vote and to be free, and to love Aurora freely. Their love is real, passionate, based on two intelligent and highly educated women of those times. Aurora works at private practices or at hospitals and earns her own wage, yet far smaller than a man would do.

aurora y celia la mirada del amor

For now, Celia is a school teacher and Aurora is a nurse, their love is hidden, but real, yet Aurora has much more experience and realizes that Celia can still have certain feelings for her first love, Petra and somehow their hidden love, fulfilled by desire, has an abrupt stop now, when Aurora needs to go back home at a small town near Madrid called Caceres and marry a man to help her family. Celia is devastated yet she continues to fight for women’s rights and poor children’s rights to learn the same things as the rich ones. Somehow she backsides Aurora and now she finds herself abandoned by her one and truly love.

aurora mirada enamorada

After hard times she had to live back home at Caceres to live with a husband she doesn’t love, her mind being set back to Celia, Aurora leaves her husband and returns to Madrid into Celia’s arms, her one and truly love. Yet, Aurora bears her husband’s child and her escape won’t go unnoticed, and her husband persuades her wherever she will go.

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Aurora and Celia leave Madrid for a small town near Madrid (Araganzuela) where Celia teaches at school and Aurora keeps searching for work at local private practices. This is the best period for the two women, although they have a hard life and hard times, living in a small one bedroom home and being persuaded by many bad intended people : Celia’s brother in law, Celia’s Marina…. And Aurora’s husband. Aurora is being accused by a patient’s husband that she deliberately killed her, while the patient died of an undiagnosed diabethes. Aurora gets hit in the head by someone unknown and after some time her bay will be stillborn. There are many tragedies, so many that it is hard to even imagine to have lived like that and get through so many tragedies. I remember the moment, when Aurora’s husband Clemente finds out about Celia and Aurora’s lesbian relationship and when he threatens them with a gun and takes Aurora away.

clemete finds out about celia and aurora seis hermanas


Celia writes articles in the local newspaper, but then someone else seems to write them for her and trashes her name Silva into mud for disgracing men or the story of their neighbors, which end to be read by Aurora’s brother and husband, and they end up finding them and they need to fled again.

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I loved the moment when Aurora proposes Celia to be her wife and they end up going to war.

Unfortunately, the love story between Celia and Aurora has a bad ending, because Aurora will die of cholera and leaves an disconsolate Celia alone and unloved with a huge hole in her heart.

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During the next episodes Celia will find another woman to love, Cata, but it will never compare to Aurora’s love, everything else pales in comparison. Why was their story cut this way???

The abrupt end of Celia and Aurora’s love story have brought many questions in the fans community : why their love was such a tragedy all over ? why did Aurora had to die that way? Why couldn’t it there be a happy end of a lesbian love in Spanish TV?

The tragic end of Celia and Aurora’s love story : Aurora dies of cholera during the war looks so much like the death of Cristina from the love story between Cristina and Isabel from Tierra de lobos.

Why can’t we see in Spanish TV an not alone Spanish Tv, but TV in general, lesbian stories with happy endings!!!!!???

The interwar lesbian lovestory of Aurora and Celia has substance and essence. but it lacks continuity and realism. Tragedy and concessions from their parts can be understood, they have to give up so much and so many in the name of their love and suffer so much more for their love and in the end …there is only death and remembrance. It’s unfair.

Sources :

Body of deceit les movie 2017


Alice (Kristianna Loken) is a ghostwriter for a famous author and she faces the writer’s block after a terrible accident she has suffered and became amnesiac (On waking up she had lost part of her memory and has no recollection of the accident and her stay in Malta). She is halfway through the work of his new book, but cannot write anymore.


A year has passed since she had a terrible accident in Malta where she was staying with her husband Max (Antonio Cupo) in his family villa and was in a coma for two weeks. Since then, she has been suffering from depression and has recurrent and cryptic nightmares. Max, who also is her agent,  persuades her to go back to Malta in the hopes that something will unblock her mind so she can start working again and meet her deadline.

body of deceit love lust murder

Here she meets the beautiful stranger Mediterranean girl, Sara (Sarai Givaty) Max has hired to help around the house, that will seduce her in every way that she can, but certainly holds a secret, we all have secrets. The amazing love affair seems to help Alice’s writer block and also make her fall in love with Sara.


There is going to be a murder. Who is murderer? Will Alice overcome the writer’s block? Will her love affair with Sara last or was it just a fling?



Trailer :




Suffragism, Sufragists and suffragettes – the movement which changed the world for both women and men

Suffragism was the beginning of the feminist movement and suffragettes were the first modern feminists.

Famous Suffragists and suffragettes:

Susan B. Anthony, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, began working to establish women’s right to vote in the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, Anthony never saw the impact of her efforts—the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was passed on August 26, 1920, more than a decade after Anthony’s death—but her activism remains one of the most important stories in women’s history. Explore this group to learn more about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and other leading suffragettes, including Sojourner Truth, Ida B. WellsAlice Paul, Dorothy Day, Amelia Bloomer and Jeannette Rankin.



United States


The most famous suffragist is Emmeline Pankhurst.

The nineteenth century was a time of social revolution. Social classes came into conflict across Europe as people realised that they were entitled to more than society was prepared to give them. The women’s movement was no different. In the late 1800’s women realized that they too deserved more; they wanted to be considered equals in society.

Middle and upper class women started making public speeches demanding Women’s Suffrage – the right to vote alongside men – but as the movement progressed some women decided to become more militant. This escalated tension, as well as demonstrating their devotion to the cause. Dubbed ‘Suffragettes’ their revolutionary ideas encouraged many women and some men to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the cause.

The success of the Suffragettes’ movement was one that can be attributed to its leaders. A number of strong individuals organised, drove change and eventually realised their hopes of equal rights. These great minds provided the impetus the revolution needed. Among these demonstrators were Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Constance Lytton, and Emily Davison. These women, along with many others across the United Kingdom, united to fight for women’s rights.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), of Manchester, was one of the leading women’s rights activists of her time.  She led the movement that eventually allowed women to gain the right to vote.  She was married to Richard Pankhurst, who was a lawyer and a supporter of the Suffragettes.  He supported Emmeline in her revolution and together they fought against the strictures of Victorian Society.  Richard’s death in 1898 took Emmeline by surprise, but she carried on towards accomplishing her goals of suffrage. Emmeline founded the women’s franchise league, which allowed married women to vote in local elections in 1889.


Emmeline helped found the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. This union proved to be almost too militant for its own good. Emmeline actively led this group – of newly named Suffragettes – on many protests. Many of these protests were followed by imprisonment and hunger strikes. Emmeline was arrested many times and herself participated in the strikes. Notoriously, the hunger strikes lead to force feeding of the women within the prisons.  These graphic police tactics shocked many members of the public, offended by their use in a civilised society. It was later outlawed under the Cat and Mouse Act of 1913.

Emmeline Pankhurst was a remarkable woman who put all of her efforts into her cause. Yet, when the Great War broke out in August 1914 she – like many Suffragettes – decided to turn her energies towards the war effort. A few years after the war women were granted the right to vote.  Emmeline had lived to see the day. She died ten years later in 1928, still fighting for women’s rights.

Christabel Pankhurst


Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958) was the daughter of Richard and Emmeline Pankhurst.  Christabel was one of the most vociferous members of the Suffragette movement.  She was born in Manchester, where her father’s radical social views influenced her greatly.  Her surroundings and upbringing played a large part in forming her early political and social views. In 1901 she was introduced to the views of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society. Christabel thought that their views were intriguing, but felt that they needed to be more aggressive in their cause. Verbal arguments were not enough to promote the kind of change that Christabel wanted to pursue.

With many influences around her, no one shaped her like her mother, Emmeline Pankhurst.  Together they were also founder members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903.  She was arrested, with Annie Kenney, for interrupting a meeting of the Liberal Party.  The Suffragettes were imprisoned.  Christabel was arrested many times and even left the country to escape further imprisonment in 1912.  In 1906 she was awarded a law degree from Manchester University.  She then moved to London, and was named the organizing secretary of the WSPU.

Christabel helped form the goals of the Union: it was necessary to become disruptive in order to achive lasting change. New tactics were agreed, including stone throwing, the breaking of shop windows using hammers secreted in handbags, arson and attacking politicians. Her efforts against the state were unceasing, although, like her mother, she supported the war in 1914.  After the war she continued her efforts. Today she is regarded as a model for suffrage movements all over the world.

Annie Kenney

Annie Kenney (1879-1953) was compared by WT Stead to Joan of Arc, and Josephine Butler described her as: “A woman of refinement and of delicacy of manner and of speech. Her physique is slender, and she is intensively nervous and high strung. She vibrates like a harp string to every story of oppression.”

Annie was born near Oldham and worked in a local cotton mill. In 1905 her sisters convinced her to go to a meeting where Christabel Pankhurst was speaking about women’s suffrage.  Annie promised Christabel that she would bring along women from the factory to have a meeting. The meeting turned out to be a great success.

Annie joined the WPSU in 1905 and her involvement only grew from then on. She attended a Liberal rally with Christabel Pankhurst at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, where the two ladies were going to ask Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey what they would do for women’s suffrage.  When there was no reply they released a banner that said “Votes for Women”. They were kicked out of the meeting and then arrested and charged with assault.

Throughout the movement she was charged with many offences and participated in the hunger strikes, which she never fully recovered from. When Christabel went to France to escape imprisonment in 1912, Annie was put in charge of the WSPU.  Annie saw Christabel as a great leader and heroine and imitated her activities for women’s suffrage until her death in 1953.

Lady Constance Lytton

Constance Lytton (1869-1923) was a Suffragette activist, writer, speaker and campaigner for prison reform, votes for women and birth control. The daughter of Lord Lytton, Constance came from the British aristocracy. In order not to receive special treatment she worked under an alias, Jane Warton. This allowed her avoid charges that she was part of the elite and gave her the opportunity to be an activist with no special privileges.

In 1909 she became a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). In 1911 she was imprisoned in Holloway Prison and went on hunger strike.  Her identity was discovered by the prison authorities and she was released. Enraged by this, she criticized the decision by writing to the Daily Liverpool Post. Like most Suffragettes, she was imprisoned many times and was involved in self mutilation and hunger strikes.

Constance wrote about all of her experiences and publicised them in several newspapers. This contributed to the growth of the suffrage campaign and allowed it to reach more potential activists. Lady Constance died at the early age of 54. Partly because of her involvement in the hunger strikes she never fully regained her health.

Emily Davison 

Emily Davison (1872-1913) was born in Blackheath, South London. She studied at Oxford University, although women were not allowed to receive degrees at that time. In 1906 she joined the WSPU and gave up her job to devote herself to the Suffragette movement.  She was arrested on many occasions and in 1909 was jailed in Strangeways Prison in Manchester, where she promptly went on hunger strike. She became a very militant Suffragette.

In 1913, Emily stepped into the path of the King’s Horse during the Epsom Derby and attempted to catch its reins as it passed.  She was badly injured from the collision and died from her injuries on 8 June. Her purpose was not clear, but she did cross boundaries in order to demonstrate her devotion to the cause and allowed others to see the seriousness of the Suffragettes.

Black Friday 1910

The Suffragettes carried out several demonstrations to support their cause during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The acts were designed to widen understanding of their cause and demonstrate their absolute devotion. The first Suffragette protest involving the Metropolitan Police, known as Black Friday, was held at Westminster in 1910. 300 Suffragettes and 6,000 policemen were present at the protest. Many women were arrested and assaulted during this day of action. They were protesting Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith’s decision to shelve the so-called Conciliation Bill. This bill aimed to extend the vote to over one million land owning women in Britain. Many women were outraged and the Women’s Social and Political Union took direct action.

The women of the WSPU chained themselves to railings, smashed windows and disrupted public meetings. The women’s Union was unpopular at the time and over 200 protesters were arrested. Others were assaulted and viciously manhandled by a large crowd of onlookers. As a result of Black Friday, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith was forced to promise a bill devoted to women’s suffrage. It would be David Lloyd George, Asquith’s successor as Prime Minister, who would eventually introduce women’s suffrage legislation.

The Cat and Mouse Act

The Prisoners Act of 1913, also known as the Cat and Mouse Act, was an Act of Parliament, passed by Herbert Asquiths’s Liberal government, that outlawed force feeding in prisons.  The Act allowed those on hunger strike to be temporarily discharged from prison for illness, and then re-imprisoned when they regained their health. The Liberal government’s aim with the Act was to suppress the Women’s Social and Political Union as a threat to society. Yet the Act was difficult to enforce: the police found it hard to re-arrest those who were pardoned from prison as suffragettes would either leave Britain or go into hiding.

The Act was referred to as the Cat and Mouse Act because it was thought that the police were playing with the Suffragettes much like a cat plays with a mouse. The Act caused profound WSPU resentment toward Prime Minister Asquith. The Prisoners Act did little to deter the Suffragettes from their activities. One year later, in 1914, the First World War broke out and most women devoted themselves to their country in its time of need. This put a temporary halt to the Suffragette movement, but they would prevail in their efforts years later.

The Representation of the People Act 1918

After the war ended in November 1918 the Representation of the People Act was overwhelmingly passed in the House of Commons.  This act gave women with property, over the age of thirty, the right to vote. This was a conservative start but it was a milestone in the campaign to gain suffrage for women. Its passing was enabled by public recognition of the great work women had carried out during the Great War. This epic win for the Suffragettes snowballed into further future women’s rights measures.

The legacy of the Suffragettes is still evident today through the struggle for equal rights.  Even though much has been overcome up to the present day, there is still room for improvement in equal rights.  In 2012 activist Helen Pankhurst is still campaigning for the platforms of her great grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst.

Women’s rights have come a long way over the last one hundred years and are still evolving. The Suffragettes of the early twentieth century shaped today’s society and their impact on equal rights legislation persists, now and for the future.

Women’s movement during the 19th century

In the nineteenth century women had no place in national politics. They could not stand as candidates for Parliament. They were not even allowed to vote. It was assumed that women did not need the vote because their husbands would take responsibility in political matters. A woman’s role was seen to be child-rearing and taking care of the home.

As a result of the industrial revolution many women were in full-time employment, which meant they had opportunities to meet in large organized groups to discuss political and social issues.

Organized campaigns for women’s suffrage began to appear in 1866 and from 1888 women could vote in many local council elections. When parliamentary reform has been debated in 1867, John Stuart Mill proposed an amendment that would have given the vote to women on the same terms as men but it was rejected by 194 votes to 73. The campaign gained momentum after this.

Nineteenth century feminists talked about “The Cause”. This described a movement for women’s rights generally. It had no particular political focus. But by the close of the century the issue of the vote became the focus of women’s struggle for equality.

The movement to gain votes for women had two wings, the suffragists and the suffragettes.

The suffragists had their origins in the mid nineteenth century, while the suffragettes came into being in 1903.

The Suffragists

In 1897, various local women’s suffrage societies formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett. The NUWSS wanted the vote for middle class property-owning women. They believed they would achieve their end using peaceful tactics – non-violent demonstrations, petitions and the lobbying of MPs. Fawcett believed that if the organisation was seen to be intelligent, polite and law-abiding then women would prove themselves responsible enough to participate fully in politics.

The leadership of the suffragists was exclusively middle class but some of the more radical members recognised early on that the movement needed the support of working class women. The issue of the franchise was drawing women of various sections of society together and giving them an identity which they had lacked until that time.

By 1900 there was already evidence that many Members of Parliament had been won over. Several Bills in favour of women’s suffrage gained considerable support in Parliament, though not enough to pass. Some believed it was only a matter of time until women would gain the vote.

At the end of 19 th century due to the inequality between women and men, men had the right to vote while women didn´t.
Only a few countries of the north of Europe and New Zeeland had accepted the women right to vote
“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.”

She was born in 1858, and she founded The Women’s Franchise League, promoted not only the breaking of the law but also hunger strikes in female prisons.

In 1881, the Isle of Man gave women who owned property the right to vote. In 1893, the British colony of New Zealand, granted women the right to vote. The colony of South Australia did the same in 1894 and women were able to vote in the next election, which was held in 1895. South Australia also permitted women to stand for election alongside men. In 1899 Western Australia enacted full women’s suffrage, enabling women to vote in the constitutional referendum of 31 July 1900 and the 1901 state and federal elections. In 1902 women in the remaining four colonies also acquired the right to vote and stand in federal elections after the six Australian colonies federated to become the Commonwealth of Australia. Discriminatory restrictions against Aboriginal people, including women, voting in national elections, were not completely removed until 1962.

The first European country to introduce women’s suffrage was the Grand Duchy of Finland, then part of the Russian Empire, which elected the world’s first women Members of Parliament in the 1907 parliamentary elections. Norway followed, granting full women’s suffrage in 1913.

In Romania, starting in 1929, women who met certain qualifications were allowed to vote in local elections. After the Constitution from 1938, the voting rights were extended to women for general elections by the Electoral Law 1939. Women could vote on equal terms with men, but both men and women had restrictions, and in practice the restrictions affected women more than men. In 1946, full equal voting rights were granted to men and women.
Feminism in the 19th-century
19th-century feminists reacted to cultural inequities including the pernicious, widespread acceptance of the Victorian image of women.
Was an statistician who founded modern nursing and tried to reform the society.
Florence Nightingale

The suffragettes

The suffragettes, a name given to them by the newspaper The Daily Mail, were born out of the suffragist movement. Emmeline Pankhurst, who had been a member of the Manchester suffragist group, had grown impatient with the middle class, respectable, gradualist tactics of the NUWSS. In 1903 she decided to break with the NUWSS and set up a separate society. This became known as the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

suffragettes christabel pankhurst

Mrs Pankhurst believed it would take an active organisation, with young working class women, to draw attention to the cause. The motto of the suffragettes was deeds not words and from 1912 onwards they became more militant and violent in their methods of campaign. Law-breaking, violence and hunger strikes all became part of this society’s campaign tactics.

In 1907 the Women’s Social and Political Union itself split into two groups after Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel came into conflict with other members of the WSPU’s executive body. Those who left formed the Women’s Freedom League, while the Pankhursts and their supporters established an even tighter grip on the workings of the WSPU.

The three groups disagreed over tactics but their message was consistent and they regularly worked together. Despite opposition, the argument for women’s suffrage seemed to be winning support. By 1909 the WSPU had branches all over the country and published a newspaper called Votes for Women which sold 20,000 copies each week. The NUWSS was also flourishing, with a rising membership and an efficient nation-wide organisation.

The rough treatment of many suffragettes arrested and jailed during the course of their protests also won the suffrage cause increasing sympathy and support from the public. The commendable behaviour of the suffrage movement during the war – suspending their protests for the sake of national unity – also proved that the women were far from unreasonable.

Summary of the suffrage movement

Historians debate the effectiveness of the different groups in the struggle for women’s suffrage. Some modern historians argue that the influence of NUWSS has not been given enough credit. Membership of this organisation remained high throughout the period. Many women who became alienated from the suffragettes because of their militancy switched allegiance to the suffragists.

Even more controversial is the role of the WSPU. At the time, and ever since, there have been divisions of opinion: some argue that its activities were critical in keeping The Cause high on the political agenda; others believe that its violent tactics actually delayed votes for women by its “irresponsibility” in attacking private property.

When World War I broke out in 1914 the whole suffrage movement immediately scaled down and even suspended some of their activities in the face of a greater threat to the nation.

On 4 June 1913, Emily Wilding Davison travelled to Epsom Downs to watch the Derby, carrying two suffrage flags – one rolled tight in her hand, the other wrapped around her body, hidden beneath her coat. She waited at Tattenham Corner as the horses streamed past, then squeezed through the railings and made an apparent grab for the reins of the king’s horse, Anmer. In the Manchester Guardian in the next day, an eyewitness reported: “The horse fell on the woman and kicked out furiously”. News footage shows racegoers surging on to the track to find out what had happened.

Davison suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding, and as hate mail against her poured in to the hospital, she remained unconscious. She died four days later. Thousands of suffragettes turned out on the London streets dressed in white, bearing laurel wreaths for her funeral. They marched four abreast behind purple banners, urging them all to fight on.

There has always been speculation about Davison’s intentions. The return train ticket she was carrying, for instance, offered as evidence that she didn’t mean to die. But there’s no doubt she was prepared to make dangerous sacrifices for women’s rights. As Fran Abrams writes in her book Freedom’s Cause, Davison had been imprisoned repeatedly for her suffrage work, had gone on hunger strike and been force fed numerous times.

In 1912, when she and a large number of other suffragettes were imprisoned in Holloway, there was what Davison referred to as a siege – the doors of women’s cells were broken down by guards – and she determined that one big tragedy might save her sisters. Davison threw herself over a balcony, was caught by some netting, then immediately tried again, launching herself down an iron staircase. This led to two cracked vertebrae, and a thwack to the head, but the authorities were unmoved. She and the other women continued to be force-fed, regularly and brutally.

In a movement defined by acts of daring, Davison’s bravery was extraordinary. A hundred years later, votes for women are long since won in most countries – though not all – and the feminist revolution continues. Campaigners worldwide fight for equal political representation, an end to women’s poverty, freedom from sexual violence, control over our own bodies, and – ultimately – for that most basic, yet radical, demand: for women to be treated as human beings. A century after Davison’s funeral programme declared “She died for women,” what can today’s feminists learn from the suffragettes?

Demands of the suffragettes


Find your voice, and use it

The dearth of women in public life today is often attributed to a lack of confidence, and the suffragettes sometimes struggled with this too. Margaret Wynne Nevinson, an avid campaigner, once wrote she felt a “dizzy sickness of terror” the first time she stood up to speak publicly, outside a gasworks in south London in 1906. There were shouts of derision as hundreds of men crowded around her, and she almost succumbed to stage fright before hearing a voice whisper: “Go it, old gal, you’re doing fine, give it ’em.”

This echoes the recollections of Kitty Marion, an actor as well as a suffragette. The first time she sold the Votes for Women newspaper in Piccadilly Circus, Marion wrote, “I felt as if every eye that looked at me was a dagger piercing me through and I wished the ground would open up and swallow me. However, that feeling wore off and I developed into quite a champion.”

Sweetness is overrated

Women were bound by feminine ideals at the start of the last century – expected to be submissive, nurturing, self-effacing – and we still are today. The suffragettes weren’t having it. As Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the militant suffragettes, once said, “We threw away all our conventional notions of what was ‘ladylike’ and ‘good form’, and we applied to our methods the one test question: will it help?”

This was echoed by Fred Pethick-Lawrence, who fought strongly for women’s votes alongside his wife – who was also called Emmeline. In his 1911 book, Women’s Fight for the Vote, he offered a rallying cry. “Nothing has done more to retard the progress of the human race than the exaltation of submission into a high and noble virtue,” he wrote. “It may often be expedient to submit; it may even sometimes be morally right to do so in order to avoid a greater evil; but submission is not inherently beautiful – it is generally cowardly and frequently morally wrong.”

Take strength from the haters

Anyone who writes about feminism online knows there can be a nasty response, and the suffragettes received hate mail too. In Joyce Marlow’s essential anthology, Votes for Women, from which many of these recollections are taken, she includes a letter sent to Hugh Franklin, a male suffrage activist, which has a strikingly familiar tone. “We would give you and old Mother Pankhurst (the fossil-worm) Five Years Penal Servitude and then burn you both together. YOU ARE A DIRTY TYKE AND DANGEROUS MADMAN.” (All emphases the writer’s own.)

But it wasn’t just hate mail they had to contend with. Rats would be let loose into suffrage meetings, while rotten eggs and fish were pelted at the women. Nevinson once wrote that they kept their eyesight largely as a result of the huge hats that were then fashionable, the wide brims saving them “from hard missiles and the cayenne pepper blown at us from bellows”.

Their detractors were often very powerful. Winston Churchill described the militant movement as a “copious fountain of mendacity”, while Arthur Conan Doyle opted for “female hooligans”. The only useful response was to take strength from the insults. The current deputy editor of the New Statesman, Helen Lewis, has written that today “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism”, which mirrors Rebecca West’s reflections on events of a century ago. “The real force that made the suffrage movement was the quality of the opposition,” wrote West. “Women, listening to anti-suffrage speeches, for the first time knew what many men really thought of them.”

Accept that those haters will include other women

In a male-dominated society, women are often brought up to identify with men, to see men’s views and rights as paramount, and so it’s not surprising that many women oppose their own liberation. In the suffrage era the most prominent was Queen Victoria, who once wrote a letter stating she was “anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad wicked folly of ‘Woman’s Rights’, with all its attendant horrors, on which [my] poor sex is bent”.

There were a number of thriving anti-suffrage groups, including the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage, run by one Mrs Frederic Harrison, who stated: “Women have to destroy a women’s movement.” It rarely feels right to celebrate female failure, but in Harrison’s case let’s make an exception.

Fortune favours the brave

After a meeting of 30,000 suffragettes in 1906, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence said she had “never met anyone so fearless as were these young girls. I never saw a suffragette, under menace of violence, otherwise than cool and collected.”

Such bravery was necessary, as the women often faced serious violence. On 18 November 1910, for instance, a date which became known as Black Friday, Emmeline Pankhurst led 300 women to the House of Commons in a peaceful protest. There, they were met by police, and reported being beaten and sexually assaulted. One woman, quoted in Marlow’s anthology, said: “Constables and plain-clothes men who were in the crowd passed their arms round me from the back and clutched hold of my breasts in as public a manner as possible, and men in the crowd followed their example … My skirt was lifted up as high as possible, and the constable attempted to lift me off the ground by raising his knee. This he could not do, so he threw me into the crowd and incited the men to treat me as he wished.” She later had to seek medical attention for the bruising on her chest.

Over the course of the militant campaign, around 1,000 suffragettes were imprisoned in the UK, and many went on hunger strike and had to contend with the torturous process of force feeding. In 1913, the Cat and Mouse Act was brought in, a cruel law which meant suffragettes could hunger strike to the point of emaciation, be let out of prison to recover, recalled to serve a little more of their sentence, on and on, until the term was served.
The suffragettes kept going, despite the opposition and immediate consequences. Abrams describes a London action in the early 1910s when, “on two separate days, at a preordained time and with no warning, hundreds of smartly dressed women from Oxford Street to Whitehall, all along Piccadilly and Bond Street, produced hammers … and laid waste to hundreds of square feet of shop frontage.” Emmeline Pankhurst was one of 220 protesters arrested. Modern feminists might balk at some of the suffragettes’ more destructive actions, but their audacity is inspiring.

Christabel Pankhurst at Trafalgar Square, 1908. Photograph: Mary Evans Picture Library

Publicity is power

The suffragettes were a creative whirlwind, constantly devising new ways to catch the attention of politicians and the public. On one occasion, two women posted themselves as human letters to Downing Street; on another, suffragettes boarded a boat, and sailed towards the terrace of parliament, where 800 people had gathered for tea. Once in clear view, they unveiled two banners, the first with details of their upcoming demonstration, the second stating: “Cabinet ministers especially invited.”

A report in the Daily Express, in 1909, told of the young suffragette Miss Muriel Matters, who “sailed aloft from Hendon in the diminutive basket of a cigar-shaped dirigible balloon, for the very latest thing in suffragist dashes to Westminster”. Matters dropped leaflets as she flew, finally returning to earth near Croydon, helped “by a friendly though rather startled farmer”.

The suffragettes staged a census boycott in 1911, during which women stayed out all night, on the basis: “If women don’t count, neither shall they be counted.” Some took to Wimbledon Common in horse-drawn caravans, others spent the night rollerskating around the Aldwych Rinkeries – the venue was kept open especially – and Davison hid herself in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons, with a small picnic of lime juice and meat lozenges. (Many years later, Tony Benn secretly put up a plaque in this cupboard, in tribute to Davison’s extraordinary contribution to democracy.)

If you’re trying to create a popular movement, you obviously need to be popular, and the suffragettes were: an estimated half a million people attended their Hyde Park demonstration in 1908. It was the publicity campaigns and the strength of the central message that brought them there, as well as the fact that being a suffragette must have looked exciting, a revolutionary approach to female life. There’s often tension today between those who deliver feminism with humour and those who prefer unfiltered anger – the suffragettes showed that both are necessary.

Strength through solidarity

There were often major splits in the suffrage movement but there was also enough solidarity to keep the mission afloat. One strong example arose in 1906, when Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the leader of the non-militant side of the movement, wrote to the Times in support of the militants. “I take this opportunity of saying that in my opinion,” she wrote, “far from having injured the movement, they have done more during the last 12 months to bring it within the realms of practical politics than we have been able to accomplish in the same number of years.” It was a generous statement from the woman whose conscientious campaigning, over the course of many years, is often credited with being the essential force in the fight for the vote.

Many of the suffragettes also recognised that women could be oppressed by factors beyond their sex, and went to great lengths to support their sisters. For instance, when Lady Constance Lytton was imprisoned in 1909, and quickly released, she was determined to expose the fact that working class suffragettes had faced much more brutal treatment than her. She therefore disguised herself as Jane Warton, a seamstress, travelled to Liverpool and staged a protest; she was imprisoned and force fed eight times, proving her point. This experience did her health no favours, and she went on to suffer a heart attack in 1910 and a series of strokes, but wasn’t deterred. Lytton’s dedication was such that she once carved a large “V” for “votes” into her own breast, and she continued to campaign for the suffrage cause until her death in 1923.

Never give up

Many feminsts today complain of burnout and fatigue over problems that seem to stretch ahead intractably. The suffragettes must have felt the same at times. Histories often focus on the last 20 years or so of the struggle, but women fought for the vote for more than a century, with Mary Wollstonecraft helping to kick off the campaign in 1792, in Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with a reference to the need for women’s political representation. Forty years later, in 1832, the first petition for the women’s vote was presented to the Commons, and over the course of the next century campaigners kept up the pressure – reinventing and re-energising their fight, and passing the baton from woman to woman. They were finally granted the vote on the same terms as men in 1928.

Accept victory – nothing else

There are often arguments today about who should represent feminism, but the suffrage fight suggests we need the whole spectrum: the rabble-rousers, theorists, dogged campaigners, sympathetic politicians, those whose wit draws women to the cause, those whose anger keeps them motivated, and those who quietly, conscientiously chip away at issues that make others give up in despair. We need those who refuse to see any conceivable option but victory. Women like the one who wrote to the Daily Telegraph in 1913. “Sir, Everyone seems to agree upon the necessity of putting a stop to Suffragist outrages; but no one seems certain how to do so. There are two, and only two, ways in which this can be done. Both will be effectual. 1. Kill every woman in the United Kingdom. 2. Give women the vote. Yours truly, Bertha Brewster.”

Fashion, feminism and politics has always been heated territory, and the suffragettes knew this and they used it for their cause. Instead of deploying a strategy of resistance by refusal, they chose resistance through reversal. They sought to effect change not by challenging contemporary fashion and ideals of femininity, but by conforming to them. Haunted by the stereotypical image of the “strong-minded woman” in masculine clothes, pebble-thick glasses and galoshes created by cartoonists, they chose instead to present a fashionable, feminine image.

The suffragettes took care to “appeal to the eye” – particularly when in full glare of media attention on parade or demonstrating. In 1908, one of their newspapers, Votes for Women, declared: “The suffragette of today is dainty and precise in her dress.” Five years later, sellers of the Suffragette were requested to “dress themselves in their smartest clothes”.

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Sources :




The floating poem

by Adrienne Rich


Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine—tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun.

carol-pelicula look of love

Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come—
the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there—
the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth—

your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I had been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave—whatever happens, this is.

clexa the look of love

Why women love Hillary Rodham Clinton? – “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”!

I am not an American, for I am an European. I don’t have to choose sides, because I don’t have sides, for I have rights and brains. This isn’t an article to praise someone or to victimize women, this is an article for freedom, for equal rights for women worldwide. It is a tribute to all the intelligent, successful, free and beautiful women, but also an alarm sign for mistreatment and abuse of women and children.


If Hillary Rodham Clinton chose as one of her policies the fight for human rights and especially women’s and children’s rights to be the front “of a smooth-talking neoliberal with the worst tendencies of a warrior-neoconservative” – it doesn’t really makes a difference, because mixing her political ways with her own beliefs has only created a new road for the feminist supporters, and if sometimes she couldn’t say her own opinions for example, she could agree with the civil partnership for same sex, but she couldn’t agree with same sex marriage yet, as a Secretary of State, but she agreed with it and sustained it later as a 2016 presidency candidate, this doesn’t blunt or cry down her merits in her battles for women’s rights, therefore Americans should be proud they have someone like Hillary recognized worldwide for her long-term fights for women’s and children’s rights and for LGBT rights, too.

hillary clinton

Having a champion of women is a great step for America and if you look into the past, Americans always had champions for freedom, like Martin Luther King or Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s why women love Hillary Rodhan Clinton.

Hillary Clinton Campigns In Iowa, Meeting With Small Business Owners

Here in Europe we have watched from a distance the political battles in the United States and also their fights on all battlegrounds around the world that have become international, in the search of the world’s domination and somewhere in the background, their struggle to maintain the world almost peace. When will Europe have such a fighter for women’s rights? Lady Diana, Princess of Wales is the best post modern example. Yulia Timoshenko, Ukraine’s former Prime Minister was a weak start, but Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithunian President is a very promising ongoing.


The “Hillary Doctrine” is a term used to describe the agenda of former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In particular, the Hillary Doctrine refers to talks given by Clinton arguing that women’s rights and violence against women should be considered issues of national security. The doctrine encompasses stances she has held before, during, and after her tenure as secretary.

In the 1990’s during the times when Hillary was the first lady, she was an inspiring feminist role model and she represented the change. Hillary was the First Lady, not a candidate herself yet, so she had no reason to sustain any political view or to build a road to a campaign, she spoke her own mind. And, it is her great achievement that became a great achievement to all women to speak their own minds and take their own decisions, also with the great support of men.

hillary humans rights are womens rights

“Perhaps, the Clintons have somehow managed to convince half the sane world that they should be the natural recipients of African-American votes, despite everything they have done, when in power, to erode the economic security of African Americans and other minorities; the false hope raised during the 1990s was that the economic boom, itself a mirage as it turned out, would eventually lead to significant wage gains, but that never happened.

Poor and minority women and children were drastically hurt by the welfare bill the Clintons so enthusiastically pushed through congress, and likewise all the policies, from trade to student aid, they pursued in the name of fiscal responsibility, cutting the deficit and the debt, and playing by Wall Street’s tune.”

What we didn’t know that much was the struggle of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fights for women’s and children’s rights as a woman, a mother, a lawyer, a senator, a Secretary of State until , at least, I read “Hard Choices”.

In “Hard Choices” she spoke about the foreign policy issues she had to face during her being a Secretary of State, but also she stuck to the path to defend and make progress for women and children to have human rights all over the world.

obama and hillary clinton secretary of state

She spoke of the nuclear danger coming from Iran and South Korea, she spoke of Libya and America’s role there, she spoke of the Arab Spring, she spoke of Egypt, Pakistan and Afganistan stringent issues and she spoke of China and the disident who wanted to go to America with his family, she spoke of Latin America and it’s issues and also on Africa, especially of the lack of women’s and children’s rights there and the need of world aid.

hillary clinton doctrine

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L

The newly elected chairperson of the Afr


The most amazing story in “Hard Choices” was :”Burma -The lady and the generals” , the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned and later convicted for home arrest for her political views for Burma to become a democracy. She tried to follow her father’s path, Aung San, was a former general who led Burma’s fight to independence from the British and Japanese only to be assassinated in 1947 by political rivals. Suun Kyi was first imprisoned in 1989 and she remained in house arrest ever since. Her husband was an Oxford professor and lived with their children there, for Suun Kyi refused to leave Burma, even to be with her family and later on her husband died without seeing her, for he was denied a visa to Burma by the government and Suu Kyi has never left her country. Now even try to imagine that kind of self-sacrifice for the love of your country.

aung suu kyi and hillary clinton.jpg

Aun Suu Kyi Hard Choices Hillary Rodham Clinton

As Secretary of State, Clinton was not at liberty to address domestic political issues (such as same-sex marriage). On the international stage, however, and in keeping with the title of her memoir, Hard Choices, Clinton boldly asserted in Geneva in 2011: “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” It was a groundbreaking moment. She also told the international community “being LGBT does not make you less human.”

I also took a step back in Hillary’s past:

“As a young woman, Hillary was active in young Republican groups and campaigned for Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964. She was inspired to work in public service after hearing a speech in Chicago by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and became a Democrat in 1968.

Rodham attended Wellesley College, where she was active in student politics and elected senior class president before graduating in 1969. She then attended Yale Law School, where she met Bill Clinton. Graduating with honors in 1973, she went on to enroll at Yale Child Study Center, where she took courses on children and medicine and completed one post-graduate year of study.

Clinton worked at various jobs during her summers as a college student. In 1971, she first came to Washington, D.C. to work on U.S. Senator Walter Mondale‘s sub-committee on migrant workers. In the summer of 1972, she worked in the western states for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern.

In the spring of 1974, Rodham became a member of the presidential impeachment inquiry staff, advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives during the Watergate Scandal. (Chief Counsel Jerry Zeifman would later contend that he fired Clinton from the committee for what he deemed as unethical professional behavior connected to Nixon’s due process. These allegations have been contradicted by other media sources that deny Zeifman’s authority over the young attorney at this time, with no comment from Clinton herself.)

After President Richard M. Nixon resigned in August, she became a faculty member of the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville, where her Yale Law School classmate and boyfriend Bill Clinton was teaching as well.

Hillary Rodham married Bill Clinton on October 11, 1975, at their home in Fayetteville. Before he proposed marriage, Clinton had secretly purchased a small house that she had remarked that she liked. When he proposed marriage to her and she accepted, he revealed that they owned the house. Their daughter, Chelsea Victoria, was born on February 27, 1980.

In 1976, Hillary worked on Jimmy Carter‘s successful campaign for president while husband Bill was elected attorney general. Bill Clinton was elected governor in 1978 at age 32, lost reelection in 1980, but came back to win in 1982, 1984, 1986 (when the term of office was expanded from two to four years) and 1990.

Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock and, in 1977, was appointed to part-time chairman of the Legal Services Corporation by President Carter. As first lady of the state for a dozen years (1979-1981, 1983-1992), she chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Legal Services and the Children’s Defense Fund. She also served on the boards of TCBY and Wal-Mart.

In 1988 and 1991, The National Law Journal named her one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in America.”

hillary clinton younger

Then, of course the times when Hillary was the US first lady during Bill Clinton’s presidency, the times when she was the first female New York senator and , when she was running against Barack Obama for the democratic representative for presidency in 2010, also the boldest period when Hillary was secretary of state during the Obama presidency.

“During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary emerged as a dynamic and valued partner of her husband, and as president he named her to head the Task Force on National Health Reform (1993). The controversial commission produced a complicated plan which never came to the floor of either house. It was abandoned in September 1994.

In 1999, Clinton decided she would seek the U.S. Senate seat from New York held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was retiring after four terms. Despite early problems and charges of carpetbagging, Clinton beat popular Republican Rick Lazio by a surprisingly wide margin: 55 percent to 43 percent. Clinton became the first wife of a president to seek and win public office and the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. She easily won reelection in November 2006.

In early 2007, Clinton announced her plans to strive for another first—to be the first female president. During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Senator Clinton conceded the nomination when it became apparent that nominee Barack Obama held a majority of the delegate vote. When Clinton suspended her campaign, she made a speech to her supporters. “Although we were not able to shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it has 18 million cracks in it,” she said, “and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time, and we are going to keep working to make it so, today keep with me and stand for me, we still have so much to do together, we made history, and lets make some more.”

Shortly after winning the U.S. presidential election, Obama nominated Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. She accepted the nomination and was officially approved as the 67th U.S. secretary of state by the Senate on January 21, 2009.

During her term, Clinton used her position to make women’s rights and human rights a central talking point of U.S. initiatives. She became one of the most traveled secretaries of state in American history, and promoted the use of social media to convey the country’s positions. She also led U.S. diplomatic efforts in connection to the Arab Spring and military intervention in Libya.

The State Department, under Clinton’s leadership, came under investigation after a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others on September 11, 2012. An independent panel issued a report about the Benghazi attack, which found “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” at the State Department.”

So, Hillary Rodham Clinton had a fulminatory political career long before she became a First Lady and she was a women’s and children’s rights supporter long before that and she was just getting started and she started to become an icon for so many women, so it is normal that she had so many critics, but so many supporters also, meaning that she has been heard and she has been listen to.

I wanted to write this article from the moment I have heard Hillary’s Speech in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Secretariat where she spoke up for women rights: “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”.

I said to myself, this woman has guts to speak up the fundamental discrepancy between women’s rights in a men’s world, in so many different ways and at so many different levels : the gender differences from birth in so many countries until the wage differences paid for women less than for men that are doing the same job with the same responsabilities and risks. And this was in 1995 when in Eastern European countries politicians and country leaders were occupied with economic, monetary and industrial transition issues, in order to have a glimpse on the European Union, women’s rights where something so far away , in a country which was trying to be reborn from the ashes of communism.

Hillary Clinton’s speech for 1995’s Beijing Conference written by Gertrude Mongella has broken so many barriers at the time, and Hillary was the First Lady, not a candidate herself yet, so she had no reason to sustain any political view or to build a road to a campaign, she spoke her own mind. And it is her great achievement that became a great achievement to all women to speak their own minds and take their own decisions, also with the great support of men.

She spoke of women’s basic rights : “focusing world attention on issues that

matter most in the lives of women and their families: access to

education, health care, jobs, and credit, the chance to enjoy basic

legal and human rights and participate fully in the political life of

their countries”

“It is conferences like this that compel governments and peoples

everywhere to listen, look and face the world’s most pressing problems.”

“What we are learning around the world is that, if women are healthy and

educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence,

their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as

full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish.

And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.

That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every

nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place


Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to

women, children and families. Over the past two-and-a-half years, I have

had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in

my own country and around the world.

The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women

everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard.

Women comprise more than half the world’s population. Women are 70t

percent of the world’s poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught

to read and write.

Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and

elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued -not by economists,

not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders.

Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for

women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see

a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their

lives, simply because they are women.

The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and

outside the home, usually by necessity.

We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until

their human rights are respected and protected.

Since Beijing, while the UN itself has devoted more attention to the status and conditions of women and some progress has been made, there have also been alarming developments. Violence against women has become an undeniable and widespread universal reality, and speaking out against it no longer a taboo, as it once was. Everything from rape as a weapon of war to sex trafficking to female genital mutilation (FGM) are far better understood, acknowledged and addressed in public discourse and policy.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address on

With Hillary Clinton declaring her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on a gender-inflected program, the distance traveled from Beijing is considerable. The possibility of having a woman with power in the White House who at least has a track record in women’s rights, and who could yet have the political commitment, is a historic opportunity.

Regarding the psychological empowerment effects Clinton’s presidential victory would have on women’s mindsets, one relevant study assessing Hillary Clinton’s effects on improving performance under the threat of being stereotyped provided empirical evidence that “what an individual believes about a successful role model might moderate the effectiveness of that role model in overcoming stereotype threat” (Taylor et. al., 2011). One goal of the experiment was to identify women whom the participants deemed as successful or unsuccessful and the perceived causes; study participants who accounted Clinton as successful declared that “they would want her on their team, and thought their worry would be reduced by knowing she was” (Taylor et. al., 2011). Moreover, those who considered her having deserved her success invoked internal aspects, such as her ability, performance and sustained efforts, while the others cited external factors, associating her with Bill Clinton. The experiment assessed the participants’ performance on a mathematics test after reading the biography of Hillary Clinton, a non-domain role model, the positive results being consistent with “a mechanism in which effective role models undo stereotype threat effects merely by showing that the group can «take care of itself»” (Taylor et. al., 2011). Thus, beyond the policies, bills and laws a female political representative might promote in order to effectively represent gender interests in elected office, effects can be seen on a psychological level as well, as political women serve as role models; also, the debate created around a new woman’s election or appointment equally contributes to the cause.

So, Hillary took the “road not taken” :


  • Robert Frost

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.

Let — Let this conference be our — and the world’s — call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see — for our children and our grandchildren.”


Sources :



The Feminist theory is support of equality for women and men. Although all feminists strive for gender equality, there are various ways to approach this theory, including liberal feminism, socialist feminism, and finally radical feminism. Let’s take a look at the basic feminist ideas and various approaches to achieving gender equality.

Basic Feminist Ideas:

People who consider themselves feminist (both male and female) disagree on many things. That being said, most feminist agree on five basic principles:

  • Feminists believe in working to increase equality. Feminist thought links ideas to action, insisting we should push for change toward gender equality (and not just talk about it).
  • Feminists also believe in expanding human choice, the idea that both men and women should be able to develop their human traits, even if those go against the status quo. If a woman wants to be a mechanic, she should have every right and opportunity to do so.
  • Another feminist principle, eliminating gender stratification, proposes that laws and cultural norms that limit the income, educational, and job opportunities for women should be opposed.
  • The final two principles are fairly straightforward: ending sexual violence and promoting sexual freedom – that women should have control over their sexuality and reproduction.

Liberal Feminism

Liberal feminism is rooted in classic liberal thinking that individuals should be free to develop their own talents and pursue their own interests. This approach sees gender inequalities as rooted in the attitudes of our social and cultural institutions. Liberal feminists do not see women’s equality as requiring a reorganization of society, but they do seek to expand the rights and opportunities of women.

A main focus is protecting equal opportunities for women through legislation. A big step forward for the agenda of liberal feminists was the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which in part states that Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Socialist Feminism

Socialist feminism evolved from the ideas of Karl Marx, who blamed capitalism for increasing patriarchy by concentrating power in the hands of a small number of men. One main tenet is that the family form created by capitalism (women staying home, while men work) is the main source of women’s inequality, and that replacing the traditional family can only come about through a socialist revolution that creates a government to meet the needs of the family.

Feminists in history

The Suffragettes and Emmeline Pankhurst

Suffragettes were members of women’s organisations in the late-19th and early-20th centuries which advocated the extension of the “franchise”, or the right to vote in public elections, to women. It particularly refers to militants in the United Kingdom such as members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Suffragist is a more general term for members of the suffrage movement.


The term suffragette is particularly associated with activists in the British WSPU, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, who were influenced by Russian methods of protest such as hunger strikes. Although the Isle of Man had enfranchised women who owned property to vote in parliamentary (Tynwald) elections in 1881, New Zealand was the first self-governing country to grant all women the right to vote in 1893 when women over the age of 21 were permitted to vote in parliamentary elections. Women in South Australia achieved the same right and became the first to obtain the right to stand for parliament in 1895.


Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was probably best known as a novelist, and a feminist thinker and writer, but she was also an existentialist philosopher in her own right and, like her lover Sartre, thought a lot about the human struggle to be free. As a philosopher trained in the analytic tradition, I have to admit, I don’t know a whole lot about existentialism, so I’m curious to discover on this week’s show with guest Shannon Mussett how Beauvoir’s feminist thought relates to her existentialist philosophy.


Beauvoir’s most famous work was The Second Sex from 1949, a hugely influential book which laid the groundwork for second-wave feminism. Where first-wave feminism was concerned with women’s suffrage and property rights, the second wave broadened these concerns to include sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, and so on. All that started with Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, where Beauvoir outlines the ways in which woman is perceived as “other” in a patriarchal society, second to man, which is considered—and treated as—the “first” or default sex.

One of the most famous lines from that work is: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” What I think Beauvoir means by this is that the roles we associate with women are not given to them in birth, by virtue of their biology, but rather are socially constructed. Women are taught what they’re supposed to be in life, what kind of roles they can or can’t perform in virtue of being of “the second sex.” Today we might express this idea using the distinction between sex and gender, where one’s sex is just a biological fact, but one’s gender identity is socially constructed. In 1949, this was a truly radical idea.

Drawing on ancient creation myths and the Bible, Simone de Beauvoir shows how women are labeled as the Other by being viewed as secondary, less perfect beings in relation to men. In creation myths, like the ancient Greek story of Helios and Semele, the sun and the moon were usually personified as a male god and a female goddess, respectively, with the female figure representing darkness. In Genesis, Adam and Eve reside in the Garden of Eden until Eve eats the forbidden fruit, implying an association between women and evil. Women in these stories embody a dark, sinful side of being. Another example presenting the Other as the half of being that transgresses or goes astray is the Ancient Greek myth of Pandora. According to the story, Pandora is the first woman on earth. Zeus, the ruling god, gives her a sealed jar containing all the evils of the world for safekeeping. Yet, Pandora opens the jar when she gives in to her own unrelenting curiosity. As a result, evil spills out into the world and Zeus blames Pandora for it. In this myth, the woman is portrayed as she who gives in to weakness and is responsible for bringing evil into the world. By using literary evidence, Simone de Beauvoir establishes the perceived role of inferiority into which men have cast women throughout history by defining that Other as the darker, inferior side of humanity.

Her work then focuses on the struggle women face in liberating themselves economically, politically, and sexually from the status of Other. Given the mistrust of women in the cultural imagination, the liberation of women is a difficult undertaking. Simone de Beauvoir believes a woman should embrace her identity as both a woman and as a human being. The concept of women and men being equal, while still different, was revolutionary in terms of the history of feminist theory. In spite of this, many women still believe they must act like men in order to gain a position of influence in the public sphere. For example, women in politics tend to wear pantsuits and act tough so that men will take them seriously. Simone de Beauvoir firmly rejects the notion that women must emulate men in order to be treated as equals or to be in a position of power because she believes that the biological difference between men and women must be acknowledged: “Women simply are not men” (The Second Sex, xiv). She discourages women, especially feminists, from getting caught up in this abstract notion that women are human beings and therefore are not women.

However, she also discourages women from embracing their status as the Other in society and remaining complacent towards men. Continuing the example of women in politics, some female interns use their status as the sex or the Other to have men assist them in reaching their goals by sleeping with powerful politicians. There are countless stories wherein a woman aspires to a smaller goal than a man normally would and then uses her stereotypical role as a sexual object to have a man in power make her goal become a reality for her. In a less extreme way, a woman, by acting infantile, has a man take pity on her and ease her path towards relative success because it makes him feel like an essential or a positive being, since he is making a difference in her life. Simone de Beauvoir condemns women who remain attached to the benefits of being inferior to men because they do not have responsibility for their own lives and futures: “It is an easy road; on it one avoids the strain involved in undertaking an authentic existence… Woman may fail to lay claim to the status of subject because… she is often very well pleased with her role as the Other” (The Second Sex, xxi). Women must resist the temptation to remain inferior by acting docile, complacent, or infantile.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, having held the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s four terms in office, and served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.


Roosevelt was a member of the prominent American Roosevelt and Livingston families and a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. She had an unhappy childhood, having suffered the deaths of both parents and one of her brothers at a young age. At 15, she attended Allenwood Academy in London and was deeply influenced by its feminist headmistress Marie Souvestre. Returning to the U.S., she married her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1905. The Roosevelts’ marriage was complicated from the beginning by Franklin’s controlling mother, Sara, and after Eleanor discovered her husband’s affair with Lucy Mercer in 1918, she resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own. She persuaded Franklin to stay in politics after he was stricken with debilitating polio in 1921, which cost him the normal use of his legs, and Roosevelt began giving speeches and appearing at campaign events in his place. Following Franklin’s election as Governor of New York in 1928, and throughout the remainder of Franklin’s public career in government, Roosevelt regularly made public appearances on his behalf, and as First Lady while her husband served as President, she significantly reshaped and redefined the role of that office during her own tenure and beyond, for future First Ladies.

Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady at the time for her outspokenness, particularly her stance on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, write a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s evolution as a feminist forms an interesting parallel to the development of the woman’s movement in the twentieth century. Eleanor died the year before Betty Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique discussed “the problem that has no name.” By reviewing how both Eleanor and other leaders supported women’s inclusion in American society as full political and economic partners in the years before 1963, teachers and students can appreciate the various forms and strategies supporters of women’s rights used before the modern feminist movement captured America’s attention.

Coco Chanel

Chanel changed the face of fashion by challenging gender restrictions in women’s clothing.

Famous for rebelling through fashion, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel broke down barriers in the fashion industry for women. She used masculine wardrobe to express herself. Taking the comfort of men’s clothing, she produced styles for women. Not all of her best inventions were instant classics. There were times when society didn’t understand or appreciate them until much later; however, Chanel is a recognized name, today.


Where Comfort meets Beauty

When Chanel was only Gabrielle or her nick-name “Coco,” men dominated the fashion business. Who knew that the key to her success was as simple as giving women the unusual ability to function in their own apparel? By altering the construction of women’s clothing to fit their bodies and not merely to attract the gaze of men, she achieved instant clientele from women.

Coco took men’s clothing and transformed it for women. Likewise, she took women’s clothing and made it flexible like men’s. Before Chanel, pants were not acceptable for women, but one cannot move well in a dress. The corset was another common item in a woman’s closet, but Coco challenged it by designing relaxing yet elegant dresses. Women wore large hats, causing an array of issues; therefore, she made them in smaller sizes like those for men. By taking men’s designs and revamping them for women, she prospered from social rebellion. She created both for corporate and social situations.

Fabric, Fabric, Fabric!

Jersey fabric was Coco’s first significant choice. This wasn’t embraced, immediately. At the time, it was used for items such as hosiery. As an ordinary fabric, it wasn’t attractive for runway models. Nonetheless, due to a variety of reasons, it became a success. There were limited options during the war and women were in the workforce; therefore, Jersey turned out to be perfect, both in alleviation for women’s bodies and for Chanel’s style. Jersey made the working women capable of doing the physical labor. Meanwhile, Chanel was able to make it enticing. Jersey was not only approved, but adored.

The Chanel Suit

Coco altered women’s suits for flexibility, as well. In typical Chanel fashion, the tight-fit design was out the window: No shoulder-pads, no emphasis for the bust, and the neckline allows the woman to breathe. Unlike most suits, the pockets were not only to look pretty, but to be used. She went the extra mile to ensure that her customers would be at ease in daily use; therefore, suits were to be altered as much as it took for each individual to be able to move freely.

“The Little Black Dress”

In 1919, Coco’s longtime believed soul-mate “Boy” Capel died in a car accident. After slipping into a deep grief, she had her housekeepers turn her room black. Coco dressed in black, as well. It only lasted about a minute, however. As soon as she saw the finished room, she had her bed moved to another location to get away from it until it was changed back:

“..She spent only a few minutes, however, in this mausoleum. ‘Quick, Joseph, get me out of this tomb and tell Marie to make me up a bed somewhere else,’ she told the butler,”(Madsen, p.105, para.4).

Chanel’s depression ultimately inspired one of her best-known creations, The Little Black Dress. It was designed to be appropriate for any occasion or class. Coming from an orphanage, she wanted to make something for the lower-class to wear that would blend in with the wealthy. Since the dress could be worn to weddings or funerals, its versatility made it popular, much later on. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released in 1961 in which the star Audrey Hepburn wears a Little Black Dress. It was because of Hepburn that it became a classic, but Chanel invented it.

“Fashion changes, but style endures.”

“Great loves too must be endured.”

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan was a writer, feminist and women’s rights activist Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique (1963) and co-founded the National Organization for Women.

Betty Friedan

With her book The Feminine Mystique (1963), Friedan broke new ground by exploring the idea of women finding personal fulfillment outside of their traditional roles. She also helped advance the women’s rights movement as one of the founders of the National Organization for Women.

A bright student, Friedan excelled at Smith College, graduating in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Although she received a fellowship to study at the University of California, Berkeley, she only spent a brief time there before relocating in the mid-1940s to New York City. In New York, Friedan worked for a short time as a reporter. In 1947, she married Carl Friedan. The couple went on to have three children: Daniel, who was born in 1948; Jonathan, born in 1952; and Emily, born in 1956.

The “Feminine Mystique”

After the Friedans’ first child, Daniel, was born in 1948, Betty Friedan returned to work. She lost her job, however, after she became pregnant with her second child, Jonathan. Friedan then stayed home to care for her family, but she was restless as a homemaker and began to wonder if other women felt the same way she did—that she was both willing and able to be more than a stay-at-home mom. To answer this question, Friedan surveyed other graduates of Smith College. The results of her research formed the basis of her book The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, throughout which Friedan encourages women to seek new opportunities for themselves.

The book quickly became a sensation, creating a social revolution by dispelling the myth that all women wanted to be happy homemakers, and marking the start of what would become Friedan’s incredibly significant role in the women’s rights movement. The work is also credited with spurring second-wave feminism in the United States.

Co-Founding NOW, NARAL and the National Women’s Political Caucus

Friedan did more than write about confining gender stereotypes—she became a force for change. Pushing for women to have a greater role in the political process, she co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966, subsequently serving as its first president. She also fought for abortion rights by establishing the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) in 1969. Additionally, with other leading feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, Friedan helped create the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.


Gloria Steinem

Born in Ohio, Gloria Steinem, 82, graduated in 1956 and became a writer. By 1972, when she founded Ms magazine, she was known as a political activist and feminist organiser. She is the author of many books and essays, including the bestselling My Life On The Road. Woman, her documentary series about violence against women, will air on Viceland UK on 8 March. She lives in New York.

Gloria Steinem

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.”

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Since hostile people still call me a former Playboy Bunny, even at 82, I probably shouldn’t have done that in my youth, even to write an exposé. And since a couple of times they’ve also referred to me as a former CIA agent, because I went to two Soviet-era communist youth festivals, I probably shouldn’t have done that, either. Yet if I hadn’t done both, I might have judged other people by such empty symbols, too.”

gloria steinem (1)

Bell Hooks

Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist. The name “bell hooks” is derived from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.


The focus of hooks’ writing has been the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. She has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.

Hooks’ teaching career began in 1976 as an English professor and senior lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California. During her three years there, Golemics, a Los Angeles publisher, released her first published work, a chapbook of poems titled “And There We Wept” (1978), written under her pen name, “bell hooks”. She adopted her maternal great-grandmother’s name as a pen name because her great-grandmother “was known for her snappy and bold tongue, which [she] greatly admired”. She put the name in lowercase letters “to distinguish [herself from] her great-grandmother.” She said that her unconventional lowercasing of her name signifies what is most important is her works: the “substance of books, not who I am.”

She taught at several post secondary institutions in the early 1980s, including the University of California, Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University. South End Press published her first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism in 1981, though it was written years earlier, while she was an undergraduate student. In the decades since its publication, Ain’t I a Woman? has gained widespread recognition as an influential contribution to feminist thought.

Ain’t I a Woman? examines several recurring themes in her later work: the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women, devaluation of black womanhood, media roles and portrayal, the education system, the idea of a white-supremacistcapitalistpatriarchy, the marginalization of black women, and the disregard for issues of race and class within feminism. Since the publication of Ain’t I a Woman?, she has become eminent as a leftist and postmodern political thinker and cultural critic. She targets and appeals to a broad audience by presenting her work in a variety of media using various writing and speaking styles. As well as having written books, she has published in numerous scholarly and mainstream magazines, lectures at widely accessible venues, and appears in various documentaries.

Barbara Walters

From 1976 forward, Walters became a pioneer for women in journalism. She faced much criticism from many of her male counterparts, but she persevered and scored some of the most exclusive interviews of all time. Not only was she a professional, but she was a dedicated mother. Besides being the first female news anchor of an evening broadcast, she earned a salary that was renowned for a women in broadcast news. She produced and co-hosted the show, 20-20. Her interviews of politicians and entertainers became legendary on the Barbara Walters Specials. Many of those icons would not be questioned by anyone else but Walters herself.


In Walters’s more recent years, she developed and co-hosted The View, which includes an all-women cast who discuss the most important issues of the day. It is dubbed the “Place to be Heard.” On this show, the cast’s varied opinions are noticed and reported daily, sometimes with backlash but most often, all sides of the story are presented, as the view of each cast member is quite diverse.

In 2013, Walters retired, but not without paving the way for many other women journalists, or women in related fields. As she aged with the industry, she continued to open doors for women conquering on-air ageism as well. Other journalists follow in her footsteps like Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Lesley Stahl. It is about being smart, educated, and exceptional at the job, and not about the age or gender you are when you are doing it. At 60, I appreciate that advancement in the communications field. I enjoy watching and hearing the views of women near my age in deserved, successful positions!

As in many fields, there are still gender imbalances in the communications-related jobs. However, because of icons like Walters, many popular shows today are practically run by women. The Dr. Phil Show is staffed almost entirely by females. More women are creating shows, like Orange is the New Black, by Jenji Cohan. Women broadcasters are now seen regularly on all stations, where they report the news and/or offer their educated opinions.

There is still room for growth, but it is comforting to see women offering their insight in sports media. During the last Olympics, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Meredith Vieira host the televised show – the first woman to do so. Not too many years ago, women were not allowed in the locker rooms or on the sports fields. Progress is slow, but it is being made.

For me personally, while Walters’s career blossomed, I entered college and majored in English and Communications. It turned out my high school hours at the printer paid off, and my talents and interests were best suited to theproduction side of print journalism. Before becoming an English teacher, I had a 23-year lucrative career in the publishing and advertising industries.

Barbara Walters gave this ‘70s teenager a mentor to admire at a time when women were not highly-regarded in the communications field. I miss hearing her ideas, but as a woman approaching retirement age myself, one of her later quotes, after more than 50-years in the industry, makes me smile.

“I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain. I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women—and OK, some men too—who will be taking my place.”

You, Barbara Walters, in my eyes, are irreplaceable.

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1953 until his death in 1968. Coretta Scott King helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King was an active advocate for African-American equality. King met her husband while in college, and their participation escalated until they became central to the movement. In her early life, Coretta was an accomplished singer, and she often incorporated music into her civil rights work.

correta scott king

King played a prominent role in the years after her husband’s 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women’s Movement. King founded the King Center and sought to make his birthday a national holiday. King finally succeeded when Ronald Reagan signed legislation which established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. She later broadened her scope to include both opposition to apartheid and advocacy for LGBT rights. King became friends with many politicians before and after Martin Luther King’s death, most notably John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Robert F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy’s phone call to her during the 1960 election was what she liked to believe was behind his victory.

In August 2005, King suffered a stroke which paralyzed her right side and left her unable to speak; five months later she died of respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. Her funeral was attended by some 10,000 people, including four of five living US presidents. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center until being interred next to her husband. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and was the first African-American to lie in State in the Georgia State Capitol.[1] King has been referred to as “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement”

During Kennedy’s presidency, she and her husband had come to respect him and understood his reluctance at times to get involved openly with civil rights. In April 1962, Coretta served as delegate for the Women’s Strike for Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Martin drove her to the hospital on March 28, 1963, where King gave birth to their fourth child Bernice. After King and her daughter were due to come home, Martin rushed back to drive them himself. After her husband’s arrest on April 12, 1963, King tried to make direct contact with President Kennedy at the advisement of Wyatt Tee Walker, and succeeded in speaking with Robert F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was with his father Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, who was not feeling well.In what has been noted as making Kennedy seem less sympathetic towards the Kings, the president redirected Mrs. King’s call to the White House switchboard.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. She learned of the shooting after being called by Jesse Jackson when she returned from shopping with her eldest child Yolanda. King had difficulty settling her children with the news that their father was deceased. She received a large number of telegrams, including one from Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, which she regarded as the one that touched her the most.

In an effort to prepare her daughter Bernice, then only five years old, for the funeral, she tried to explain to her that the next time she saw her father he would be in a casket and would not be speaking.When asked by her son Dexter when his father would return, King lied and told him that his father had only been badly hurt. Senator Robert Kennedy ordered three more telephones to be installed in the King residence for King and her family to be able to answer the flood of calls they received and offered a plane to transport her to Memphis. Coretta spoke to Kennedy the day after the assassination and asked if he could persuade Jacqueline Kennedy to attend her husband’s funeral with him.

Robert Kennedy promised her that he would help “any way” he could. King was told to not go ahead and agree to Kennedy’s offer by Southern Christian Leadership Conference members, who told her about his presidential ambitions. She ignored the warnings and went along with his request. On April 5, 1968, King arrived in Memphis to retrieve her husband’s body and decided that the casket should be kept open during the funeral with the hope that her children would realize upon seeing his body that he would not be coming home. Mrs. King called photographer Bob Fitch and asked for documentation to be done, having known him for years. On April 7, 1968, former Vice President Richard Nixon visited Mrs. King and recalled his first meeting with her husband in 1955. Nixon also went to Mrs. King’s husband’s funeral on April 9, 1968, but did not walk in the procession. Nixon believed participating in the procession would be “grandstanding.”

On April 8, 1968, Mrs. King and her children headed a march with sanitation workers that her husband had planned to carry out before his death. After the marchers reached the staging area at the Civic Center Plaza in front of Memphis City Hall, onlookers proceeded to take pictures of King and her children but stopped when she addressed everyone at a microphone. She said that despite the Martin Luther King, Jr. being away from his children at times, “his children knew that Daddy loved them, and the time that he spent with them was well spent.”[ Prior to Martin’s funeral, Jacqueline Kennedy met with her. The two spent five minutes together and despite the short visit, Coretta called it comforting. King’s parents arrived from Alabama. Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel came, the latter being embraced by Mrs. King. Mrs. King and her sister-in-law Christine King Farris tried to prepare the children for seeing Martin’s body. With the end of the funeral service, Mrs. King led her children and mourners in a march from the church to Morehouse College, her late husband’s alma mater.

Maya Angelou

An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, “Angelou had become recognized not only as a spokesperson for blacks and women, but also for all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States.”

maya angelou

Her indomitable stance against racism, injustice and rape resonated with people from all walks of life.

Since the death of Maya Angelou last week, the scale of tributes pouring in shows just how much of a cultural idol she had become, but she did not stand for idolisation.

Her whole purpose was to express her own vulnerable humanity through a series of painfully honest autobiographies so that others would feel empowered to express their own.

Poet, activist and writer, Maya Angelou was probably best known for her first memoir, Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, for delivering the inaugural poem at Bill Clinton’s swearing-in ceremony in 1993 and for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama in 2011.

She did not shy away from politics throughout her life, seeking out friendships with prominent activists such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Indeed she did not shy away from anything.


by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing of my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me

Alice Walker

Alice Malsenior Walker is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also wrote the novels Meridian (1976) and The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), among other works.


“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” -Alice Walker

Womanism is a feminist term coined by Alice Walker. It is a reaction to the realization that “feminism” does not encompass the perspectives Black women. It is a feminism that is “stronger in color”, nearly identical to “Black Feminism”. However, Womanism does not need to be prefaced by the word “Black”, the word automatically concerns black women. A Womanist is a woman who loves women and appreciates women’s culture and power as something that is incorporated into the world as a whole. Womanism addresses the racist and classist aspects of white feminism and actively opposes separatist ideologies. It includes the word “man”, recognizing that Black men are an integral part of Black women’s lives as their children, lovers, and family members. Womanism accounts for the ways in which black women support and empower black men, and serves as a tool for understanding the Black woman’s relationship to men as different from the white woman’s. It seeks to acnowledge and praise the sexual power of Black women while recognizing a history of sexual violence. This perspective is often used as a means for analyzing Black Women’s literature, as it marks the place where race, class, gender, and sexuality intersect. Womanism is unique because it does not necessarily imply any political position or value system other than the honoring of Black women’s strength and experiences. Because it recognizes that women are survivors in a world that is oppressive on multiple platforms, it seeks to celebrate the ways in which women negotiate these oppressions in their individual lives.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician who was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009, 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and the Democratic Party‘s nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election.

Born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 and earned a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1973. After serving as a congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas and married Bill Clinton in 1975. In 1977, she co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978 and became the first female partner at Rose Law Firm the following year. As First Lady of Arkansas, she led a task force whose recommendations helped reform Arkansas’s public schools.

As First Lady of the United States, Clinton was an advocate for gender equality and healthcare reform. Her marital relationship came under public scrutiny during the Lewinsky scandal, which led to her issuing a statement reaffirming her commitment to the marriage. In 2000, Clinton was elected as the first female Senator from New York. She was re-elected to the Senate in 2006. Running for president in 2008, she won far more delegates than any previous female candidate, but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

As Secretary of State in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013, Clinton responded to the Arab Spring, during which she advocated the U.S. military intervention in Libya. She helped organize a diplomatic isolation and international sanctions regime against Iran, in an effort to force curtailment of that country’s nuclear program; this would eventually lead to the multinational Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement in 2015. Leaving office after Obama’s first term, she wrote her fifth book and undertook speaking engagements.

Clinton made a second presidential run in 2016. She received the most votes and primary delegates in the 2016 Democratic primaries and formally accepted her party’s nomination for President of the United States on July 28, 2016 with vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine. She became the first female candidate to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. Despite winning a plurality of the national popular vote, Clinton lost the electoral vote and the presidency to her Republican opponent Donald Trump. Following her loss, in 2017 she stated that she decided to focus on being a self-described “activist citizen”



Americans have been fighting about Hillary Clinton for more than 25 years. In her 2003 book Living History, she writes about realizing, during her husband’s first presidential campaign, that her life was being scrutinized in ways she couldn’t control.

“I was called a ‘Rorschach test’ for the American public,” she writes. “I was being labeled and categorized because of my positions and mistakes, and also because I had been turned into a symbol for women of my generation. That’s why everything I said or did — and even what I wore — became a hot button for debate.”

In fact, Hillary Clinton’s introduction to life as “a symbol for women of my generation” may have come through her name. After her husband lost reelection in 1980, she writes in Living History, “a few of our friends and supporters came to talk to me about using ‘Clinton’ as my last name.” She’d kept her maiden name after her 1975 marriage to Bill, “a small (I thought) gesture to acknowledge that while I was committed to our union, I was still me.”

“I was born right when everything was changing for women,” she writes. “Everything I am, everything I’ve done, so much of what I stand for flows from that happy accident of fate.”

But she was still born at a time when men dominated American politics, and over her long lifetime, that hasn’t changed very much. “Historically, women haven’t been the ones writing the laws or leading the armies and navies,” she writes. “We’re not the ones up there behind the podium, rallying crowds, uniting the country. It’s men who lead. It’s men who speak. It’s men who represent us to the world and even to ourselves.”

“That’s been the case for so long that it has infiltrated our deepest thoughts,” she explains. “It’s not customary to have women lead or even to engage in the rough-and-tumble of politics. It’s not normal — not yet. So when it happens, it often doesn’t feel quite right. That may sound vague, but it’s potent. People cast their votes based on feelings like that all the time.”

Pointing out the internalized sexism of the American electorate isn’t revolutionary, but Clinton’s diagnosis is as clear-eyed as any out there. Clinton is clearly a biased observer, of course, but she doesn’t shy away from pointing out the many reasons people have opposed her that have nothing to do with sexism. And there’s something powerful about witness testimony from someone who has been there and seen the knots into which a female politician must tie herself in order to seem likable.

Clinton vents her frustration with the question “Who are you really?” “I’m … Hillary,” she writes. “You’ve seen me in the papers and on your screens for more than twenty-five years. I’ll bet you know more about my private life than you do about some of your closest friends.” Looking back on the tearful moment on the 2008 campaign trail that supposedly “humanized” her, she writes, “I’m a little beleaguered at the reminder that, yet again, I — a human — required ‘humanizing’ at all.”

She describes consulting with a linguistic expert “after hearing repeatedly that some people didn’t like my voice.” He told her that she needed to keep her voice “soft and low” even when the crowd started shouting, because women couldn’t get away with yelling from the podium — but, pressed to offer an example of a female politician who had followed this advice, he came up empty.

“Other women will run for President,” Clinton writes, “and they will be women, and they will have women’s voices. Maybe that will be less unusual by then. Maybe my campaign will have helped make it that way, and other women will have an easier time. I hope so.”

“On Being a Woman in Politics” isn’t all about sexism — Clinton also writes about how her gender has informed her politics. “Life naturally pushed me” in the direction of issues that affect women and children, she writes. “A young mom interested in policy often ends up working on kids’ issues. A First Lady is often involved with women’s issues. That was okay with me.”

Being a woman has also meant that other women confide in her about their reproductive lives — about birth control, fertility struggles, pregnancy, and abortion. On the last, Clinton is as forceful as she’s been anywhere, and significantly more forceful than she was in 2005, when she called abortion “a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.”

“At the end of the day, who decides whether a woman gets or stays pregnant,” Clinton asks in What Happened. “A Congressman who has never met her? A judge who has spoken with her for maybe a few minutes?”

“Someone’s got to decide,” she writes. “I say let women decide.”

“In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights,” Clinton reminded audiences. Younger voters may not know how controversial that was at the time. But if that statement seems obvious now, it’s in no small part because Clinton had the ovaries to say it out loud then on a prominent international stage.

It took more than a year to get here, but finally Clinton got to be in a debate in which she was directly asked about abortion rights, and she offered a full-throated defense of reproductive rights.

She even reminded audiences that Trump doesn’t just oppose abortion rights but also access to reproductive health care generally: “Donald has said he’s in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood. I will defend Planned Parenthood.”

When moderator Chris Wallace tried to reframe the issue in terms of “late-term” abortion, a vaguely defined term, Clinton was quite clear exactly why women get these relatively rare abortions.

“I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy,” she said.

In response, Trump, who seems to take many of his talking points from the Breitbart comments section, demonized women who receive medically necessary abortions by saying, “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”

Clinton did not recoil, though, and defended the honor of women whose personal tragedies are being used for demagoguery against women’s rights.

“You should meet with some of the women that I have met with, women I have known over the course of my life. This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make,” Clinton said solemnly.

“I’ve been to countries where governments either forced women to have abortions, like they used to do in China, or forced women to bear children, like they used to do in Romania,” she added, tying the anti-choice politics of this country to the anti-choice policies of more oppressive governments.

Another feminist hot topic came up later, in connection with the release of a tape with Trump’s bragging about sexual assault — and all the women who have since stepped forward and claimed they have been on the receiving end of the very behavior he bragged about.

“At the last debate, we heard Donald talking about what he did to women,” Clinton said, in full lawyer mode. “And after that, a number of women have come forward saying that’s exactly what he did to them.”

She continued, “Now, what was his response? Well, he held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for them to be assaulted.”

Clinton went on to offer some quick feminist analysis, saying, “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.”

To be clear, any male politician who had an opponent such as Trump would likely make the same arguments. But as a woman and a feminist, Clinton was in a perfect position to really dig into this issue. When she said this really is something all women have experience with, it doesn’t feel abstract, as it would for a male politician. She has direct personal experience with this. She has the war stories to back this up.

Just last week it happened to her, when Trump made comments disparaging her looks. Hell, it happened in this debate, when Trump called her a “nasty woman” for daring to sound smarter than him on policy issues — not that it’s all that hard.

What can I say? As a fellow feminist, I’m proud of Hillary Clinton. She could have played it safe, offering minimal defenses of women’s rights but shying away from touchy subjects like abortion, sexual harassment and abuse. She’s ahead in the polls, so the temptation to play not to lose must have been sky-high.


Instead, Clinton sees the opportunity at this moment, when the country is mesmerized by this snarling and snorting misogynist, to not just win an election but push for feminist gains in the culture at large. She is not content to offer some pablum about how Trump’s words and deeds are inappropriate but has chosen to speak more broadly about how sexual harassment and sexist chatter about women’s bodies is used to put women in their place and reinforce male dominance. She may not use feminist buzzwords, preferring plain language that can reach all audiences, but her point is unmistakable.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice to be confirmed to the Court (after Sandra Day O’Connor), and one of four female justices to be confirmed (with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who are still serving). Following Justice O’Connor’s retirement, and prior to Justice Sotomayor joining the Court, Ginsburg was the only female justice on the Supreme Court. During that time, Ginsburg became more forceful with her dissents, noted by legal observers and in popular culture. She is generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the Court. Notable majority opinions Ginsburg has authored include United States v. Virginia, Olmstead v. L.C., and Friends of the Earth Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc.


Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian Jewish immigrants. When Ginsburg was a toddler, her older sister died, and shortly before she graduated high school, her mother died. Ginsburg was a wife and mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her law school class. Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School where she graduated tied for first in her class.

Following law school, Ginsburg turned to academia. She was a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure as one of the few women in her field. Ginsburg spent a considerable part of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsels in the 1970s. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where she served until her elevation to the Supreme Court.

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg2.jpg


Diane von Furstenberg has long been an outspoken feminist in the fashion world, whose easy-wearing, iconic designs—the wrap dress, of course, which she invented over 40 years ago—helped define an entire generation of liberated woman. On Colbert, she did her best to represent her ideologies, both philosophically and style-wise: “All I do,” she said, “Is give women a little trick that is going to make them look sexy and feel empowered.”

Diane von Furstenberg is a statement maker. On Nov. 20, the illustrious fashion industry leader did not need a statement necklace to hold the attention of a packed audience at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her confident disposition and witty charm kept the predominantly female audience at Cemex Auditorium both entertained and enthralled. Hosted by Stanford Women in Business (SWIB), a pre-professional group of undergraduates who aim to establish a community of aspiring businesswomen across campus, von Furstenberg’s visit marked the first event this year of SWIB’s Executive Leadership Series.

Von Furstenberg did not go to business school, but that did not stop her from creating the international empire that is now “DVF.” As she described in relatable terms to her Stanford audience on Thursday, “I had my own start-up.”

This start-up refers to the 1974 introduction of her “wrap dress,” a garment that has come to “symbolize power and independence for an entire generation of women,” as stated on her website. Since then, von Furstenberg has developed a luxury brand available in over 55 countries.

Also known for her mentorship and work on the board of Vital Voices, an NGO that supports emerging female leaders and entrepreneurs, von Furstenberg declares women’s empowerment as her current “mission.” She did not originally plan for this, as she mentioned when she spoke of her early years.

“If you study business, chances are you don’t know what you’re going to do. So it is important that you think about the woman that you want to be,” she said.

Von Furstenberg reflected on this notion herself in her new memoir, “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” which came out this fall. In the first chapter of her memoir, entitled “Roots,” von Furstenberg pays homage to her mother as the key figure who influenced the woman she wanted to be. Her mother, a concentration camp survivor, taught her that “fear was not an option; you must be independent.”

Von Furstenberg echoed her mother’s words when she said, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be independent.”


Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement.

Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region. Considering Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role models, she was particularly inspired by her father‘s thoughts and humanitarian work.[4] In early 2009, when she was 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentaryabout her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by activist Desmond Tutu.

Yousafzai was injured on 9 October 2012 by a Taliban gunman when he attempted to murder her. She remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The murder attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that she may have become “the most famous teenager in the world”.Weeks after her murder attempt, a group of fifty leading Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her.[7]

Since recovering, Yousafzai became a prominent education activist. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit, and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller. In 2015, Yousafzai was a subject of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the most influential people globally. In 2012, she was the recipient of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In 2014, she was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Aged 17 at the time, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. From 2013 to 2017, she was a pupil at the all-girls’ Edgbaston High School in Birmingham. In 2017, she was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada. In August 2017, she gained admission to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford to study for a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, she has been ranked the richest African-American, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is North America’s first multi-billionaire black person. Several assessments rank her as the most influential woman in the world. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard.


Although Oprah Winfrey is not a publicly identified feminist, her comprehensive societal influence can be extrapolated to the United States women’s movement. To borrow a term from Patricia Misciagno, she is the nation’s foremost de facto feminist (Misciagno 1997). In the alternative, discursive social and political space created for women by The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah promotes feminist ideology and practice without explicitly acknowledging the fact that she is endorsing either feminism or the United States women’s movement; in doing so, Oprah promotes de facto feminism on a regular basis in the homes of millions of “everywomen” in the United States, all the while without directly acknowledging her own feminist identity. Consequently, Oprah becomes a living embodiment of the contradictions of de facto feminism. An emerging body of scholarship exists that analyzes the relationship between Oprah, her television show, and feminism. A primary theme of this burgeoning literature is the notion that The Oprah Winfrey Show blurs the boundaries of public and private, personal and political. Sujata Moorti states that “Oprah blurs our understandings of public and private issues, public and private spaces, and the characteristics differentiating the guests from the host and the participants . . . On daytime talk shows the personal is, indeed, political” (Moorti 1998, 86-87, italics in the original). Gloria-Jean Masciarotte continues this thread with her assertion that “in a real sense, then, on The Oprah Winfrey Show, there is no area of politics that is not personal and no space where the personal is exempt from politics” (Masciarotte 1991, 96). In its convergence of the personal and the political, The Oprah Winfrey Show shares a major tenet with the contemporary United States women’s movement. Oprah succeeds in blurring these boundaries in large part because she makes women feel as though she is their friend. Deborah Tannen claims that women, in particular, listen to Oprah because, in opposition to the early style of the talk show founded by Phil Donahue, whom she says relied on “reporttalk,” or the basic exchange of information typified by men’s conversation, Oprah utilizes a method of “rapport-talk,” which, in its focus upon confessional, intimate, personal conversation, is unique to women’s relationships (Tannen 1998, 198). In her discussion of Oprah’s personal exchanges with her audience members, Corinne Squire concurs that these examples of expressiveness “signify an empathy that is traditionally feminine, but also feminist in its insistence on the ‘personal'” (Squire 1997, 101). A second dominant theme of the recent scholarly literature about Oprah is that her television show is rooted in the feminist tradition of consciousness raising. Masciarotte claims that Oprah gives a voice to the mass subject-those who have been Othered in society-including women, working- or lowerclass people, and people of color (Masciarotte 1991, 103). The Oprah Winfrey Show, like talk shows in general, enables women to overcome their alienation as a result of talking about their specific experiences as women in society; by privileging the voice of women’s experiences and struggles over the “learned” voice of the expert, the talk show continues the traditions of consciousness raising formulated within the liberal American women’s movement (89-90). Recent scholarly literature about Oprah has also focused upon the ways in which her show creates an alternative social and political space for women. Moorti suggests that The Oprah Winfrey Show creates both a “protofeminist discursive space” and a “feminist counter public sphere” (Moorti 1998, 83, 93, 97). Resultantly, The Oprah Winfrey Show functions as a discursive site for women publicly to share their stories, by and for women, forming bonds with others who have had similar life experiences. Another thread binding emerging feminist scholarship about Oprah is the thesis that her show promotes the empowerment of women. Debbie Epstein and Deborah Lynn Steinberg remark that “Oprah’s stated intention for her show is, at least in part, to challenge prejudice and foster empowerment, particularly, for women” (1998, 81). Squire observes that feminism is most explicit on The Oprah Winfrey Show in its “often-declared commitment to empowering women . . . the show’s aim is to empower this shared womanhood,” creating a “televisual feminism” in the process (1997, 102). Some scholarly assessments of the treatment of racial issues on The Oprah Winfrey Show suggest that Oprah has managed to transcend race, a principal reason for her show’s success. In transcending race, Oprah “has been described as a comforting, nonthreatening bridge between black and white cultures”; she is successful at presenting racially charged issues precisely because she vacillates between “sometimes embracing, sometimes minimizing her blackness,” thus managing to depoliticize her race (Peck 1994, 90-91). Other academics, however, including Squire, argue against the notion that Oprah transcends race, suggesting instead that The Oprah Winfrey Show is as “permeated with ‘race’ as much as it is with gender,” and that “black feminism seems, as much as woman-centered feminism, to define the show” (Squire 1997, 104-6). The relatively modest amount of recent scholarship about Oprah has begun to address the ways in which issues of race, class, gender, and feminist identification are treated within the Oprah Winfrey enterprise. In this chapter, it is my desire to build upon this extant literature by utilizing Patricia Misciagno’s theory of de facto feminism as a framework through which to view Oprah’s feminist identification

Madonna — a global icon who extended her record as the highest-grossing female touring artist of all time in 2016 — was honored as Woman of the Year at Billboard’s Women In Music 2016 event on Friday (Dec. 9). And during her acceptance speech, she was fully ferocious, funny and brutally honest — in other words, she was the Madonna we’ve known and adored since she debuted more than 30 years ago.

Madonna, unsurprisingly, stole the show the moment she took the stage. Her weapon? Something you can’t contain, fake, reproduce or put a price on: Blunt, personal truth.


After opening with a joke — “I always feel better with something hard between my legs” Madonna said, straddling the microphone stand — she got candid very quickly.

“I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” Madonna said. “Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.”

“People were dying of AIDS everywhere. It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community,” Madonna recalled. “It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place. In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat and I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I stopped locking the door. In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshots.”

From that, Madonna told the Women In Music crowd she learned a vital lesson: “In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.”

Madonna also talked about a lesson she thought she learned from David Bowie… only that lesson, it turned out, didn’t quite apply to her. “I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie. He embodied male and female spirit and that suited me just fine. He made me think there were no rules. But I was wrong. There are no rules — if you’re a boy. There are rules if you’re a girl,” Madonna said. 

Among those rules: “If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that’s out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified and definitely not played on the radio.”

Madonna also opened up about the time in her life when she felt “like the most hated person on the planet,” with her eyes tearing up and her nose running a bit. 

“Eventually I was left alone because I married Sean Penn, and not only would he would bust a cap in your ass, but I was off the market. For a while I was not considered a threat. Years later, divorced and single — sorry Sean — I made my Erotica album and my Sex book was released. I remember being the headline of every newspaper and magazine. Everything I read about myself was damning. I was called a whore and a witch. One headline compared me to Satan. I said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t Prince running around with fishnets and high heels and lipstick with his butt hanging out?’ Yes, he was. But he was a man.

“This was the first time I truly understood women do not have the same freedom as men,” she said.

Madonna also recalled that at one point in her life, during all the public vitriol, “I remember wishing I had a female peer I could look to for support. Camille Paglia, the famous feminist writer, said I set women back by objectifying myself sexually. So I thought, ‘oh, if you’re a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it.’ So I said ‘fuck it. I’m a different kind of feminist. I’m a bad feminist.'”

Madonna also looked back on the many pop icons lost during the last decade. “I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around. Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I’m still standing. I’m one of the lucky ones and every day I count my blessings.”

Closing out her speech, Madonna offered thanks to her haters and advice to other women in music.

“What I would like to say to all women here today is this: Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them. They believe they have to back a man to get the job done. And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they’re men — because they’re worthy. As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by,” she urged. 

“It’s not so much about receiving this award as it is having this opportunity to stand before you and say thank you,” Madonna said, closing out her speech. “Not only to the people who have loved and supported me along the way, you have no idea…you have no idea how much your support means,” she said, tearing up for the second time. “But to the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not — your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today. It made me the woman that I am today. So thank you.”

Before the speech, Anderson Cooper introduced Madonna with a heartfelt tribute to her ongoing influence. “Madonna is Billboard’s Woman of the Year, but as far as I’m concerned in terms of music and impact and culture, she’s been the Woman of the Year every year since she released her first single ‘Everybody’ in 1982.”

Hailing her as not only “relevant but revolutionary” up to present day, Cooper noted the importance of Madonna to him “as a gay teenager growing up… Her music and outspokenness showed me as a teenager a way forward. Through her music, she told me and millions of teenagers — gay and straight — that we are not alone. We are connected to each other.”

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of World War II, representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who joined the military. Rosie the Riveter is used as a symbol of feminism and women’s economic power. Similar images of women war workers appeared in other countries such as Britain and Australia. Images of women workers were widespread in the media as government posters, and commercial advertising was heavily used by the government to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories. Rosie the Riveter became the subject and title of a song and a Hollywood movie during WWII.

We_Can_Do_It! rosie the riveter


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