Category Archives: Women's Rights

Elizabeth Blackwell: Herstory 2

Originally Posted on March 2, 2012 by freemenow

Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was the first female doctor in the United States.

She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in educating women in medicine in the United States, and was prominent in the emerging women’s rights movement.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England and spent her early years living in a house on Wilson Street, off Portland Square, St Pauls, Bristol.

She was the third of nine children born to sugar refiner Samuel Blackwell and his wife, Hannah (née Lane).  Blackwell could afford to give his numerous sons an education and also believed that his daughters should get the same education as boys, so he had them tutored by the house servants.

While growing up, Blackwell lost six of her sisters and two of her brothers. One night when Blackwell was 11, a fire destroyed her father’s business. In 1832, the family emigrated to the United States and set up a refinery in New York City. The Blackwells were very religious Quakers. They believed that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God.

Due to their Quaker beliefs, the Blackwell family was anti-slavery. An opportunity was presented to Samuel Blackwell that allowed him to open a refinery in Ohio, where slaves would not be needed to harvest the sugar, so the Blackwells moved to Cincinnati. Three months after they moved, Elizabeth’s father got very sick with biliary fever and died.

After the death of her father, Blackwell took up a career in teaching in Kentucky to make money to pay for medical school. Blackwell found this work unpleasant. Desiring to apply herself to the practice of medicine, she took up residence in a physician’s household, using her time there to study from the family’s medical library. She became active in the anti-slavery movement (as did her brother Henry Brown Blackwell who married Lucy Stone, a suffragist). Another brother, Samuel Charles Blackwell, married another important figure in women’s rights, Antoinette Brown.

In 1845, she went to Asheville, North Carolina, where she read medicine in the home of Dr. John Dickson. Afterwards, she read with his brother Dr. Samuel Henry Dickson in Charleston, South Carolina.

She attended Geneva College in New York. She was accepted there — anecdotally, because the faculty put it to a student vote, and the students thought her application was a hoax — and braved the prejudice of some of the professors and students to complete her training. Blackwell is said to have replied that if the instructor was upset by the fact that Student No. 156 wore a bonnet, she would be pleased to remove her conspicuous headgear and take a seat at the rear of the classroom, but that she would not voluntarily absent herself from a lecture.

However, most of the faculty and students were not very polite to her. Blackwell’s male peers treated her very rudely. On 11 January 1849, she became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, and graduated, on 23 January 1849, first in her class.

Banned from practice in most hospitals, she was advised to go to Paris, France and train at La Maternité, but had to continue her training as a student midwife, not a physician. While she was there, her training was cut short when in November, 1849 she caught a serious eye infection, purulent ophthalmia, from a baby she was treating. She had her eye removed and replaced with a glass eye.

In New York City, Elizabeth opened up her own practice. She was faced with adversity, but did manage to get some media support from entities such as the New York Tribune. She had very few patients, a fact Elizabeth attributed to the stigma of woman doctors as abortionists. In 1852, she began delivering lectures and published The Laws of Life with Special Reference to the Physical Education of Girls, her first work, a volume about the physical and mental development of girls. Although Elizabeth herself pursued a career and never married or carried a child, this treatise ironically concerned itself with the preparation of young women for motherhood.

In 1857, Blackwell along with her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, founded their own infirmary, named the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. During the American Civil War, Blackwell trained many women to be nurses and sent them to the Union Army. Many women were interested and received training at this time. After the war, Blackwell had time, in 1868, to establish a Women’s Medical College at the Infirmary to train women, physicians, and doctors.

In 1857, Blackwell returned to England where she attended Bedford College for Women  for one year. In 1858, under a clause in the 1858 Medical Act that recognized doctors with foreign degrees practising in Britain before 1858, she was able to become the first woman to have her name entered on the General Medical Council’s medical register (1 January 1859).

In 1869, she left her sister Emily in charge of the college and returned to England. There, with Florence Nightingale, she opened the Women’s Medical College. Blackwell taught at London School of Medicine for Women, which she had co-founded, and accepted a chair in gynecology. She retired a year later.

During her retirement, Blackwell still maintained her interest in the women’s rights movement by writing lectures on the importance of education. Blackwell is credited with opening the first training school for nurses in the United States in 1873. She also published books about diseases and proper hygiene.

She was an early outspoken opponent of circumcision and in 1894 said that “Parents, should be warned that this ugly mutilation of their children involves serious danger, both to their physical and moral health.” She was a proponent of women’s rights and pro-life.

Her female education guide was published in Spain, as was her autobiography.

In 1856, she adopted Katherine “Kitty” Barry, an orphan of Irish origin, who was her companion for the rest of her life.

In 1907 Blackwell was injured in a fall from which she never fully recovered. She died on 31 May 1910 at her home in Hastings in Sussex after a stroke. She was buried in June 1910 in Saint Mun’s churchyard at Kilmun on Holy Loch in the west of Scotland


Sexism and Misogyny Begins and Ends with Women

BettyJean Downing

The key to ending sexism/misogyny is stopping women from being sexists and misogynists and ends when women stop tolerating it at all levels.

When women unite, this world will be a better place but again that key is women! As long as the authorities can, keep women and children in a position of powerlessness, fear, and servitude by keeping them fighting each other – they win.

We are still the majority! Rise MAJORITY rise!

“So my real Labor Day wish is that we women stop finding things to divide us, stop letting others divide us using artificial devices to pit us against each other, and use our strength in numbers to come together and find solutions. Once we have found some answers, we need to act TOGETHER to get things done and not count on other people to do it for us. We have all of the brainpower, creativity, and common goals we need. We are lucky enough to live in a country that affords us the freedom to act. We just need to find the will to break away from old ways of thinking and make our world what we want it to be. ” Cynthia Ruccia  9/5/11

There is an insidious liberal movement to turn women into the minority right here in the USA as it is in the rest of the world. Our courts are male dominated and favored toward the males, DV is up, and women are murdered nearly five a day. Children are taken from their mothers and given to their abusive and sexually abusive fathers. Mothers are tossed into the streets and forced to pay alimony and child support without means to do so – thrown in jail then sexually abused by officers. Children are trafficked by their own fathers or photographed and pics sold as Kidde porn. Male dominated countries are buying trafficked female teen salves for sex:

The world is becoming unbalanced. In pockets across the globe, women are giving birth to too many boys. In China, the sex ratio is 121 boys to 100 girls. In India, it’s 112-to-100. Sex selection also is a force in the Balkans, Armenia and Georgia. In her eye-opening book, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” journalist Mara Hvistendahl estimates that ultrasound and abortion have “claimed over 160 million potential women and girls — in Asia alone.” That is more than the entire female population of the United States.

Just look at the 2011 demographics and you can see the shift in the numbers in the younger generation as a result of killing the female unborn in countries where women are devalued. American women have targeted for years, women are liberated free to abort their children,  (52% female) free to be sexualized and objectified, but clearly not elevated to serve in the highest levels of office.

According to Cynthia Ruccia at WW2 We have never had a female president. Her readers and ours are predominately Independents, some who fled the emocratic party after Hillary Clinton, America’s best hope for a female president, was deprived by the Democrat Party in favor of MAKING HISTORY BY INSTALLING a BLACK MAN INSTEAD. A women with her competence would have been even more historic it turns out!

  1. The United States ranks #70 in the world in female representation in government
  2. Women make 75 cents on the man’s dollar
  3. Only 2.7% of CEO’s of Fortune 1000 companies are women
  4. Only 20% of Board positions are held by women, a number that has declined from a high of 24%
  5. 38% of companies in the U.S. have NO women in senior management
  6. Only 6 state governors are women
  7. Women hold approximately 24% of state legislative positions

Meanwhile Conservative women have proven American women can both reproduce, thus maintaining the majority in the US and be professional
women outside the home. Clearly, it is the Conservative women now running for
the highest offices. Female Republican candidates’ biggest problem is liberal
women who cannot cope with women who CAN do it all and are not whining about it!

Good old boys club and media continues to violate women because they can–  and it affects all women. It affected Gerry and Hillary before it affected Sarah and Michelle. Wake up ladies. The key to ending sexism/misogyny is to stop tolerating it from each other as well as from media and the government.

If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth today, that village would consist of only one clear majority and that would be of women. That majority is beginning to disapear. No matter what color, race, national origin, religion or corner of the villiage we inhabbit the one thing that is absolutely true is that as women we are still a majority voice and in the US we still have the right to speak up and fight for equal rights and demand representation.  Let’s do this before we no longer have that option.

2011 Demographics

  • 57 Asians
  • 21 Europeans
  • 14 Americans (North, Central and South)
  • 8 Africans
  • 52 Women
  • 48 Men
  • 30 Caucasian 70 Non Caucasian
  • 30 Christian 70 Non-Christian
  • 89 Heterosexuals 11 Non heterosexuals 

Age structure

  • 0-14 years: 26.3% (male  944,987,919/female 884,268,378)
  • 15-64 years: 65.9% (male   2,234,860,865/female 2,187,838,153)
  • 65 years and over: 7.9% (male  227,164,176/female 289,048,221) (2011 est.)

Median age

  • total: 28.4 years
  • male: 27.7 years
  • female: 29 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate

  • 1.092% (2011 est.)

Birth rate

  • 19.15 births/1,000 population      (2011 est.)

Death rate
                8.12 deaths/1,000 population      (July 2011 est.)


  • urban population: 50.5% of total population (2010)
  • rate of urbanization: 1.85% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
  • ten largest urban agglomerations: Tokyo (Japan) – 36,669,000; Delhi (India) – 22,157,000;  Sao
  • Paulo (Brazil) – 20,262,000; Mumbai (India) – 20,041,000; Mexico City (Mexico) – 19,460,000;
  • New York-Newark (US) – 19,425,000; Shanghai (China) – 6,575,000; Kolkata (India) – 15,552,000;
  • Dhaka (Bangladesh) – 14,648,000; Karachi (Pakistan) – 13,125,000 (2009)

Sex ratio

  • at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.07  male(s)/female
  • 15-64 years: 1.02   male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.79   male(s)/female
  • total population: 1.01  male(s)/female (2011 est.)


By Barack Obama

Presidential Proclamation

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 2, 2010
– – – – – – –

Countless women have steered the course of our history, and their stories are ones of steadfast determination. From reaching for the ballot box to breaking barriers on athletic fields and battlefields, American women have stood resolute in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles to realize their full measure of success. Women’s History Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions women have made to our Nation, and to honor those who blazed trails for women’s empowerment and equality.

Women from all walks of life have improved their communities and our Nation. Sylvia Mendez and her family stood up for her right to an education and catalyzed the desegregation of our schools. Starting as a caseworker in city government, Dr. Dorothy Height has dedicated her life to building a more just society. One of our young heroes, Caroline Moore, contributed to advances in astronomy by discovering a supernova at age 14.

When women like these reach their potential, our country as a whole prospers. That is the duty of our Government — not to guarantee success, but to ensure all Americans can achieve it. My Administration is working to fulfill this promise with initiatives like the White House Council on Women and Girls, which promotes the importance of taking women and girls into account in Federal policies and programs. This council is committed to ensuring our Government does all it can to give our daughters the chance to achieve their dreams.

As we move forward, we must correct persisting inequalities. Women comprise over 50 percent of our population but hold fewer than 17 percent of our congressional seats. More than half our college students are female, yet when they graduate, their male classmates still receive higher pay on average for the same work. Women also hold disproportionately fewer science and engineering jobs. That is why my Administration launched our Educate to Innovate campaign, which will inspire young people from all backgrounds to drive America to the forefront of science, technology, engineering, and math. By increasing women’s participation in these fields, we will foster a new generation of innovators to follow in the footsteps of the three American women selected as 2009 Nobel Laureates.

Our Nation’s commitment to women’s rights must not end at our own borders, and my Administration is making global women’s empowerment a core pillar of our foreign policy. My Administration created the first Office for Global Women’s Issues and appointed an Ambassador at Large to head it. We are working with the United Nations and other international institutions to support women’s equality and to curtail violence against women and girls, especially in situations of war and conflict. We are partnering internationally to improve women’s welfare through targeted investments in agriculture, nutrition, and health, as well as programs that empower women to contribute to economic and social progress in their communities. And we are following through on the commitments I made in Cairo to promote access to education, improve literacy, and expand employment opportunities for women and girls.

This month, let us carry forth the legacy of our mothers and grandmothers. As we honor the women who have shaped our Nation, we must remember that we are tasked with writing the next chapter of women’s history. Only if we teach our daughters that no obstacle is too great for them, that no ceiling can block their ascent, will we inspire them to reach for their highest aspirations and achieve true equality.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2010 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all our citizens to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

Veiled Saudi Women Launch A Freedom Campaign

by Phyllis Chesler

Brave Saudi women drove their cars in public in Riyadh, the capital city, to demand their right to drive. They were quickly detained, their passports were confiscated, and they were fired from their jobs. On the 19th anniversary of this event, Saudi women activists, led by prominent Saudi activist and journalist Wajeha al Huwaider, are launching the Black Ribbons Campaign. They want to move about in the world freely, without a male minder. Al Huwaider has called for the abolition of the mahram (“guardian”) law which requires women to obtain the approval of a male relative for nearly any move they make in their lives. She is also demanding that Saudi women be treated as a citizens, just like their male counterparts, and that they be allowed to travel, drive, gain custody of their children, work, study, etc., just like their male counterparts. The Saudi women will not “untie their ribbons until Saudi women enjoy their rights as adult citizens.”

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Experiences in brothels and strip clubs

Contributed by: Lisa Thompson

Recent experiences in brothels and strip clubs: the connection between human trafficking and sexual ethics

My apologies for the somewhat raw, visceral and melodramatic nature of this reflection on my experience in week two of The ABOLITION PROJECT:

Last Tuesday workers from S.A.G.E. (Standing Against Global Exploitation) spoke at our ABOLITION Project meeting about their work supporting victims of human trafficking in San Francisco. I learned that 43% of trafficking victims in California are transported through the Bay Area. Cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas function as regional trade hubs for women seduced or coerced into prostitution. Mollie, trafficking project manager for S.A.G.E, explained that there are myths surrounding sex and prostitution that perpetuate the exploitation of women. One myth is that women voluntarily choose to go into prostitution because they enjoy having anonymous sexual encounters or because the work is financially lucrative. She said that most, if not all of the women who enter their program became involved in prostitution through force, manipulation, financial desperation or addiction. S.A.G.E. recognizes these women as human trafficking victims, whether they have been transported across international borders or were domestically coerced into prostitution by a family member or a boyfriend.

A second myth relates to men who feed the demand for sexual services. S.A.G.E. operates a recovery program for men incarcerated for soliciting sexual services. These men come from the entire spectrum of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. A male representative from S.A.G.E. suggested that many of the men have a mistaken notion of masculinity, believing that having sex with multiple partners makes them more virile or manly.  I was so stirred by what I heard that I quickly scrawled a facebook update:

“An important aspect to addressing sex trafficking is confronting our cultural myths about manhood and sexuality– woman want to be loved and cherished– not objectified. Real manhood is not about multiple sexual conquests– but honor and fidelity. This means, for instance, that pornography is not only an issue of personal morality but also of justice and human rights.”

After the talk Sarah Montoya retold the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. This Samaritan woman had been the victim of a male oriented society where women were easily divorced and made vulnerable. Left with no other options for protection and survival, she was living intimately with a man she wasn’t married to.  In her society she would have been scorned as unclean and was, most likely, at the well in the heat of the day because of her outcast status. Jesus did something radically counter-cultural by talking with her as an equal and affirming her dignity and worth.  Following this reflection we were invited to go out into the streets in search of the woman from the story (someone on the margins involved in the sex industry).
*      *      *
Adam and I leave the building and quickly walk toward the intersection of China Town and North Beach. In a few minutes we find ourselves standing in front of a Thai Massage parlor. I hesitantly push the doorbell on a locked metal gate.  Shortly the latch  “buzzes” and we make our descent down a set of stairs, around a blind corner and into a makeshift waiting room hidden from street view. We wait awkwardly for several minutes in the pink neon glow of a space containing chairs and a magazine table facing a small curtained window and heavily bolted door. We hear music and faint chattering. Eventually a Thai woman, about my mother’s age, opens the door and greets us in broken English, wearing a lingerie top, high heals and heavy make-up:

“You want massage? Fifty dollars for half an hour. Come on in. We take you both right now.”

I stammer for a moment, not knowing what to say, and surprised that we are so quickly invited into a transaction for sexual services. Another woman appears, of equal age and attire, and says, “You come for massage? We have many pretty girls for you.”

To deflect their solicitations, I ask, “How late are you open?,”

“Anytime. You come back anytime. We have many, many pretty girls for you.”

“O.K. Thank you.” Adam says, as we quickly ascend the staircase and rush out through the gate. After the gate clicks behind us and we reach the sidewalk, we breathe a collective sigh of relief. My heart is beating fast. Who would have known that it would be so easy to enter the domain of sexual slavery– to stand feet away from girls, likely trafficked, and kept hidden behind locked doors– a door that had been opened to us?

A few minutes later, two women from our project ring the door bell of the same massage parlor; except they are told, “We are busy and can’t help you” and are abruptly sent on their way (suggesting that the true nature of this massage business was sexual rather than therapeutic).

“My heart is breaking” I tell Adam as we make our way toward the strip of sex clubs at the intersection of Columbus and Broadway. When I’m in this part of town at night I usually walk briskly past the burley doormen aggressively inviting male passersby into the clubs. But tonight we are in search of the Samaritan woman, and believe she is behind one of these velvet curtained doorways. Adam and I approach when one of the doorman is giving a pitch to two other men. I notice a sign on the sidewalk that says, “LAP DANCES ONLY $10 EVERY NIGHT.”

“Good evening gentleman,” the other door man says, “would you like to come inside?”

“What’s the deal?” Adam asks.

He replies, “This is a fully nude, topless and bottomless club. Now it’s normally a ten dollar cover, but I can let you two gentlemen in for five dollars a piece tonight. And, you will receive a hand stamp for free entrance to a topless club that serves alcohol around the corner.”

“Is there a city regulation about nude clubs and alcohol?” I ask.

“Yes,” he replies, “For the whole state of California, bottomless clubs are not allowed to serve alcohol. If they were, all the topless clubs would go out of business! I suppose the state feels like it’s not a good idea to have men drinking around under aged naked women. You see many of our girls are only eighteen. So what guys do is pay the cover, get a drink at the club around the corner and go back and forth between the two all night. What do you say?”

“Um Thanks….but right now we’re just checking out the scene.” As I say this, two gangly Latin girls, who barely look eighteen, appear from behind the velvet curtain and stand by the doorman. I look into their eyes. Despite the high heels and mini dresses, they carry themselves like self-conscious high schoolers from Modesto, wearing heavy make-up to cover lingering teenage acne.

Along the sidewalk we watch other girls going back and forth between the strip clubs and the motor inn across the street. Two girls on break walk past carrying costume bags and duck into the Taqueria next door. Around the corner the doorman at the Condor calls out to us. This is a world famous strip club where Carol Doda first danced topless in 1964.  We hear the pitch and the doorman abruptly says, “Tell you what gentlemen, just come inside to see what you think.” He parts the velvet curtain and we follow him into a space where men and couples sit at tables nursing cocktails. And there we find the Samaritan woman, a girl scarcely older than my daughter, with ample thighs and a sad face, crawling seductively across the stage in a black t-shirt and g-string panties.

My heart is breaking. My heart is breaking because I live in a city where fifty dollars can fetch you thirty minutes of pleasure by the hands of a scared undocumented woman.  My heart is breaking because I live in a town where, for less than the price of a movie rental, you can watch a live eighteen year old girl strip away her dignity. My heart is breaking because I live in an age when you can vicariously participate in any of these activities for free, in the privacy of your own home, from any computer or phone with internet capability. My heart is breaking because I know that I am pulled between honoring, objectifying and despising the Samaritan woman. My heart is breaking because I realize that the root of human slavery is the human heart, wanting to possess what it has not earned by love, trust and fidelity.

We gather back as a group at Cameron house, where we began the evening. As we recount the tales of our encounters with the woman at the well the emotional pitch in the room becomes palpable. A few of us begin to cry and together we pray: safety, freedom, restored image of the beloved.  We weep for the Samaritan woman beyond the velvet curtain and behind the locked gate. Some of us weep because we are facing our own impulses to regard people as objects. Some of weep because we know what it is like to be that vulnerable boy or girl whose dignity was stolen by an act of greed.

The house where we meet in China town is named for Donaldina Cameron, a courageous young woman who began rescuing girls trafficked to San Francisco for prostitution in the 1870’s. At the close of our meeting we descend down three flights of steps toward an underground tunnel where the girls were kept hidden when their “owners” or pimps came looking for them. We take turns crawling up into the narrow passage way to see where liberators who came before us welcomed, protected and cared for the Samaritan woman.

This message is forwarded to you by: IAST
Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking

Round Four in the Chesler-Wolf-Glazov-Salon Debate About the Islamic Veil

Salon Revises Feminist History

by Phyllis Chesler  — Pajamas Media —September 5, 2009


Round Four in the Chesler-Wolf-Glazov-Salon Debate About the Islamic Veil


Dear Sarah:

Hello. I am out of the country right now, have limited email access and can only be brief. In the interests of fairness, I hope you will publish this note.

I am not surprised that Salon’s Broadsheet (which you edit) has chosen to publish a biased piece on the issue of the Islamic veil–and one which does not identify me as the cofounder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969), cofounder of The National Women’s Health Network (1975), and the author of thirteen books, including WOMEN AND MADNESS (1972) and WOMAN’S INHUMANITY TO WOMAN (2002/2005), but only as the author of THE DEATH OF FEMINISM–without even its subtitle: WHAT’S NEXT IN THE STRUGGLE FOR WOMEN’S FREEDOM?

Newcomers might think I am a Jane-Come-Lately to feminism.

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Chesler-Wolf-Glazov: Round Three

by Phyllis CheslerPajamas Media –September 3, 2009

The outpouring of support for my position in favor of universal women’s rights both humbles and strengthens me. This struggle is not about me nor is it about Naomi Wolf who so unwisely went to war over one blog of mine which critiqued her written views about the Islamic veil and the oppression/repression of Muslim women.

But now, the issue is also about liberal-left double standards vis-a-vis Free Speech, their incredibly thin skins when they are challenged, not personally, but politically. A different opinion calls for “apologies” and “corrections,” perhaps even for a dressing down and a public recantation. I also think that some people have a very hard time when they are exposed as less than perfect.

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