Here’s why the new Brie Larson movie about Victoria Woodhull is not awesome

Last week, news spread that Amazon Studios is set to produce a biopic starring Brie Larson as Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to officially run for U.S. president.

But before the marketing push goes into full swing on this one, it’s worth hitting the pause button: Woodhull’s legacy is many things, but a hero for contemporary feminists should not be one of them. We cannot overlook her harmful work as an eugenics advocate just because we’re desperate for vintage female mascots.

final woodhall flyer

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The Legacy of the White Pantsuit

Today, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s words ring as true now as they did a hundred years ago: “The history of the past is but one long struggle upward to equality.”

If nothing else, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy has sparked a renewed enthusiasm for talking about America’s suffragettes. Much of that interest is tied to Hillary Clinton’s “white pantsuit,” a conscious nod to the color that was most associated with the Votes for Women movement, along with the mass uptick in Election-Day pilgrimages to Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite in Rochester, New York.

The suffragettes learned a lot of lessons the hard way, but perhaps chief among those lessons is that change is a journey — a journey that includes crossing lots and lots of borders in pursuit of a more equal world.

To be literal about it, Clinton traveled to 112 countries during her time as secretary of state, a number that makes her the most widely traveled U.S. state secretary ever. But long before Clinton’s miles of experience landed her the Democratic nomination for president, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton went to London in 1840.Read More »

Election Day 1916: Jeannette Rankin, First Woman Elected to Congress

For the first time ever, a woman is on the ballot as the presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party. Whatever your political affiliation may be, this is a big deal in the history of American politics.

So on the eve of this historic election, let’s look back and remember the women who helped us get here. On Election Tuesday, 1916 edition, Jeannette Rankin won a surprise victory to become the first woman ever elected to federal office, when she secured a Montana seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Yes, you read that right: a solid four years before women could vote, Rankin was elected. She once said, “If I am remembered for no other act, I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”Read More »

“The Silencing of Dorothy Thompson”

Kicking off the blog with a shout-out to a relevant Kickstarter campaign. Here’s the gist: Some folks are trying to raise cash to make a documentary about Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist who was one of the leading media voices against the rise of the Nazis. She was the first Western journalist to interview Adolf Hitler — and the first reporter expelled from Germany by his personal order.

After the war, Thompson faced enormous criticism for speaking out against the formation of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people. Whatever your opinion about Israel, Thompson offered an early warning about the the instability of the region based on her extensive knowledge of European politics. And compared to today’s inflammatory media discourse, Thompson’s comments were pretty tame.

Thompson’s career encompassed much than a single political statement. She published eighteen books and article collections, many of which were rooted deeply in her American patriotism and in her Christian faith.

Anyway. Watch the video. And in the name of freedom, support the Kickstarter. Because as Dorothy once said: “It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.”

Dorothy Thompson
Dorothy Thompson