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Jone Johnson Lewis

Jone\'s Women's History Blog


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Maya Angelou - Dead at 86

Wednesday May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture"I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition -- about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive."

Maya Angelou was found dead this morning at her home in North Carolina. She'd been ill recently. A singer and poet who famously recited a poem at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, and whose fame was increased by multiple appearances with Oprah Winfrey, was also an activist.


Image: Getty Images / Neilson Barnard

Images from Brooklyn Museum Online

Monday May 12, 2014

The Brooklyn Museum has online a large collection of images which may be used for noncommercial purposes with attribution (see copyright statement for details). More than 60 images from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art are included, as well as more than 200 other images of works by women. Browse through the images here:

Holy Fasting - and Anorexia

Friday May 9, 2014

Hilary Mantel reviewed four books in the London Review of Books, tied together with a common theme: young women who fasted to the point of physical suffering, in the name of religion. The review is itself an excellent review of a thesis advanced by Rudolph Bell in his 1985 Holy Anorexia. Focuses on the less-known Gemma Galgani but includes mention of more famous figures like Thérèse of Lisieux.

US Women's History Museum Moves Ahead

Thursday May 8, 2014

On May 8, 2014, the US House of Representatives voted to move another step forward with the National Women's History Museum.  The particulars of this bill: to create a bipartisan commission to study the feasibility of the museum on or near the National Mall, and also to consider whether to make the museum part of the (government-connected) Smithsonian.

All but 33 Representatives voted for the bill.  Opposing it included Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who was featured at the website of the museum in an exhibit on motherhood, who expressed fears it would become a "shrine" to abortion.  The advisory board for the museum includes Jenna Bush as well as Gloria Steinem and 14 others.

The foundation that is raising money for the museum -- which will be funded privately, not by government funds -- has already raised $14 million.

The House bill had bipartisan sponsorship, as does the Senate bill.  Next step: passing the Senate.  Will it happen before this year's Mother's Day?

Dale Spender Conversation

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Dale Spender, whose books on the history of women include the classic Women of ideas and what men have done to them: From Aphra Behn to Adrienne Rich and Living by the Pen: Early British Women Writers, is featured on ABC radio Queensland in Australia in this audio presentation about her own background, her work on the talking styles of men and women, how the internet has changed research and publishing, and much more. It takes a while to get to the conversation, with introductory ads and music, but the interview is fairly long .... Feminist and author Dale Spender :: ABC Queensland

Rosa Parks Mythology

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Ellen Goodman has a great column related to women's history -- pointing out how so many portray Rosa Parks as less active, less thoughtful, less deliberate in her "simple act of defiance" than she really was. Do the history books diminish the decision-making capability of male civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, jr., or other male leaders, as if their acts were accidental and instinctive? Read more: The mythology of Rosa Parks - The Boston Globe

Goodman mentions that Rosa Parks said, "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." Parks also said, "I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move." (Rosa Parks Quotes)

Nearly Forgotten Female Writer

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Susan Glaspell, a feminist writer in the first half of the 20th century, was honored in 1918 by the New York Times: "Ms. Glaspell is generally regarded as one of the two or three foremost and most promising contemporaneous writers of the one-act play." Yet she's been nearly forgotten. Linda Ben-Zvi hopes to remedy that situation with her new biography of Susan Glaspell.

Title IX Protection Confirmed, Extended by Supreme Court

Tuesday May 6, 2014

In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court ruled on March 29, 2005, that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects those who claim sex discrimination in schools and colleges from retaliation for such claims.

Title IX, the basis for this decision, states simply: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Women-Only Language of China Revealed to Public

Monday May 5, 2014

An exhibition in China that opened in April, 2004, focused on Nushu, a language of, by, and for women only. The language is believed to have originated almost 1700 years ago and was often expressed in handicrafts like embroidery. The exhibition is part of an attempt by Asian scholars to keep the language from extinction.

• Women-Only Language of China Unveiled - Discovery Channel
• China to reveal female-specific language to public - People's Daily, English Edition
• Exhibition to feature a rare language - from Shanghai Daily, English version

Empress Dowager Cixi (or Tz'u-hsi or Hsiao-ch'in)


First California Same Sex Marriage: Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

Monday May 5, 2014
Del Martin / Phyllis Lyon / Getty Images






Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, June 16, 2008

Getty Images

When challenging California's marriage law in 2004, San Francisco officials issued wedding licenses and performed wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, long-time lesbian activists, were the first couple to be married then, but the ceremonies performed at that time were later declared invalid.

On June 16, 2008, when same sex marriage ceremonies were again legal after the California Supreme Court's ruling, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were again the first couple to be legally married, after 55 years together.

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