Monday, March 15, 2010

For Those of Us Who Were Born as Girls


So, by official decree, this being Women's History Month (also, I've read, Irish-American Heritage month and the time of year in which we are to be particularly aware of the American Red Cross and Colorectal Cancer), I most respectfully wish to call your attention to a few of the dames, written about by my fellow INKers. Many a young citizen has learned more about Pocahontas (Do you yearn, as I do, to know what she really looked like?), Hillary Clinton, and sister presidential candidate, Victoria Woodhull; thanks to Kathleen Krull. Determined dames, Annie Oakley, Nellie Bly, and many an athlete: We know them better thanks to the efforts of Sue Macy. Me, I contented myself with brief introductions (threaded into a social history) of 100 American women and girls in my Remember the Ladies. (Me favorite page? All 100 of them, all together, on a pair o' pages at the back o' the book. Did I tell you that me ancestor, Eliza Stewart came over from Ireland, County Tyrone, in 1825? Well, that she did.)
Helen's Eyes, Marfé Ferguson Delano helped us see into the lives of Annie Sullivan and her student, Helen Keller. Tanya Lee Stone shone her bright light on the life of Amelia Earhart (Where the heck is she anyway?), upon 13 Women who were Almost Astronauts, and upon the great Ella Fitzgerald. Thanks be to all that's holy that we live in an era in which Ella's music was clearly captured before she left the world's stage. None of us can hear how beautifully Clara Wieck Schumann played the piano. Look at those still, pale fingers in the picture here, belying the strength and wisdom they contained. Stuck here in the present, we can only imagine her and her music, but we're better able to do so, with the help of Susanna Reich's biography. And why should we bother? Why should we reflect upon the spirits and stories that lie behind the calm, pretty (more or less) faces in those antique photographs, tintypes, paintings, and engravings? Because they lived and their lives shine down the years, illuminating ours with their courage, their examples, if only we'll look and read, learn and reflect.

5 comments:

Susanne Drazic said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I'll be sure to check out more of your blog.

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

I wonder what Pocahontas really looked like too, especially since I drew her picture in one of my books, John Smith Escapes Again! But we certainly do know one thing; when John Smith met her, she was only 10-12 years old, so as a prepubescent Powhatan girl, she would have been bald....at least she was Bald down to her ears. Below that her hair would have been long in back and possibly braided. And by the way, she was never John Smith's girlfriend. That's a complete fabrication.

Gretchen Woelfle said...

Don't forget Jeannette Rankin, our first Congresswoman and lifelong peace activist... an all-around unstoppable woman! (See my biography JEANNETTE RANKIN: POLITICAL PIONEER.)

Vicki said...

Also, don't forget my biography of Marie Curie, one of my heroines.

Cheryl Harness said...

Yikes! 'twasn't on purpose, but II did leave out the indomitable Jeannette Rankin & courageous, determined Marie Curie. Sorry, sorry am I, ladies.