Women's History

What Not To Wear: Joan of Arc Edition

Joan on HorsebackJoan of Arc has meant a wide variety of things to many different people over the centuries, but it’s this detail that most resonates with me. Joan knew the mores, but she had a larger mission; the tender scruples of others simply weren’t a priority. Thus, in a century of warfare, political strife, economic claims, and divine rights of kings, fought with swords, rituals, and betrayals amidst questions of faith, education, social status, and gender roles, a young girl who heard voices from God and saved a nation with her stubborn faith was executed… for not taking off her pants.

Helen Churchill Candee on Women in Oklahoma Territory

HCC BWCandee’s contrast of O.T. home-seekers with “helpless, discouraged women, inefficient and parasitical” certainly cuts more sharply than her later works. At the risk of reading too much into one colorful phrase, perhaps this reflects a bit of her own “strength via defiance” – her own refusal to be a “helpless, discouraged woman”?

Candee was caring for two children in a frontier town. Divorce carried substantial social stigma, whatever her former society or current surroundings. It must have taken some grit and grind in practice, however much grace and style were manifested in the presentation. A little defensiveness or hostility is not inconceivable. It happens.

The Seneca Falls Convention (from "Have To" History)

Three Big Things:

Seneca Falls Speech1. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Denied the right to participate in the first “World’s Anti-Slavery Convention” in London in 1840, Mott and Stanton decided that if women were to be effective reformers, they’d need more rights themselves. They spearheaded the first “women’s rights convention” on record in Seneca Falls, NY, eight years later.

2. “The Declaration of Sentiments” – Modeled after the Declaration of Independence, this document (read at the convention) declared that “all men and women are created equal” and the “history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman.” It’s probably excerpted in the back of your textbook somewhere.

3. Controversy over Suffrage – Stanton was part of a contingent who wanted to push for women to be given the right to vote; Mott and other more cautious activists resisted, fearing it would be so unpopular as to harm their efforts overall. The resolution passed, however, despite having little impact on election laws at the time.

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