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The Banality of Evocation

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/24/banality-evocation


I so love feminist history. For one thing: Some of us find misogyny at the root of all human hierarchy, the very first offense against prehistoric anarchism and liberty. So it’s important enough that we see vast deficits yet to span. At the same time, some degree of progress, relative to the conditions confronted by Truth, Anthony, and Cady Stanton, is difficult to deny: There have been genuine advances in this category of human inequality, so maybe it’s also possible in other relations.

By the time I got to the end of this delightful piece, I was agreeing that “Bronze is long-lasting, but perhaps it’s no longer the best material for monuments.” The delicate history of the classic fight between Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton over the franchise, at the time of the 13th amendment – two of my champions getting very angry with each other and not afraid to show it. How do you commemorate something that tricky in bronze, for crying out loud?

This is feminist history year. In honor of the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in USA, I have a couple of really fun, monumental books to recommend:

The Suffragette, by Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (1911). Pankhurst herself was secretary of Britain’s Women’s Social and Political Union, the WSPU. She thought the term “suffragette” implied militancy, and conveys detailed instructions on the proper manner in which to break the windows of Cabinet ministers with stones. So. Much. Fun.

The Scarlet Sisters: sex, suffrage, and scandal in the Gilded Age, by Myra MacPherson (2014). OMG: Victoria Woodhull (the first woman candidate for US president) and Tennessee Claflin, Vicky & Tennie taking the world by storm. Again: more fun than you’re supposed to have with your clothes on.