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Women, this blog is a celebration of our collective history through the ages and throughout the world. Amazing stories that have been buried in dusty corners away from the light. Help us to shed light on all these amazing stories. Read our blog and then visit us at the Women's Mercury to learn about our ongoing projects.

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To challenge women in the local, national and international communities to find their voices, share their stories, and pass them to the next generation of women through participation in the arts.





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Sappho

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

"Women Who Wear Pants and Where They Wore Them."



"Women Who Wear Pants"

In today's society  there is no taboo if a girl or woman wears a pair of pants. Pants is the American word for this garment and trousers is the British word for pants.
 Other words used to describe the clothing on her legs: pantaloons, slacks, jeans, pantsuit, Turkish trousers, knickerbockers,leggings, bloomers or my favorite "reform dress"!
The word "breeches" or "britches" are short pants whose  origins go back to English Restoration Theatre as part of a costume worn by a woman who played a "male  character".  Women would dress in these tight breeches exposing her legs and these very tight breeches would show the form of her bottom! Very daring!  And there was always reveal at the end of the play in in which this lovely "boy" wearing these breeches removes his wig so her hair tumbles out and then the actress exposes one of her breasts! The paying public of mostly men this was the only reason or an excellent reason to attend the theater.

The oldest pair of pants on record were found in western China and dated back somewhere between the 10th and 13th century BC. They are made of wool panels. Archaeologists believe both male and female worn pants much earlier in history .   No one can pinpoint when humans began wearing any type of clothing. Was it really a fig leaf?
Why all the names? And why was it taboo for females to wear ,using the general term, pants?

If we skip to the mid nineteenth century American suffragist Elizabeth Smith Miller adopted the style of "Turkish trousers" under "knee length skirts" Miller worn her new garbs to visit Amelia Bloomer in Seneca Falls, New York in February 1851. The following month Amelia Bloomer wrote to her readers of her women's magazine "The Lily", she was adopting her clothing to match this modern suffragist and  decided these "Turkish trousers" would be her style! And this fashion took off!  Per her readers request Bloomer wrote instructions on how to make these trousers. And by June 1851, Turkish trousers were called bloomers in honor of Amelia Bloomer. There were bloomer picnics and grand bloomer dances. Bloomers were the height of fashion.
Amelia Bloomer, in May of 1851, introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton! And of course these suffragists were wearing bloomers when they met. And this meeting changed the world for women. Anthony and Stanton lead the way of the Suffrage Movement in the United States.
Also, bloomers were healthier for women to wear! Women's traditional clothing was killing her. Corsets crushing her ribs and constricting her internal organs.
Dr. Lydia Sayer Hasbrough who wore the radical "bloomers" or as Hasbrough liked to refer to these bloomers as "reform dress".
Dr. Hasbrough founded the women's magazine, "The Sibyl", subtitled:"A review of the Tastes, Errors, Fashions of Society." The word "Sibyl" is Greek for prophetess. The Sibyl stood for women's rights, universal suffrage and abolition of slavery.  Published from 1856-1864.  The Civil War pretty much stopped the presses.

Women through the ages would wear men's clothing for many reasons, to fight in wars, for comfort and better health and the ability to move easier. And for work! Dress like a man and make more money! Or an education in medicine! From the mid 19th century to early 20th century, bloomers were associated with the Suffrage Movement.

When I was a little girl I remember my legs freezing because all I had on my legs were kneesocks and a dress for school. Girls and women were not allowed to wear any type of clothing like pants on their legs! And this was the 1960's! When it snowed in winter.
But that was the dress code! All females were required to wear dresses to the office, school and fine dining! No exceptions. And it was not like women did not know the comfort of pants or trousers. But suffer they did.
Now who broke with tradition? Wearing the pants in house and in public!
In the early part of the 20th century, women and girls worn knickerbockers whilst playing at sports. Like cycling! And horseback riding.
In 1932, Marlene Dietrich dressed in a man's tuxedo and Katherine Hepburn worn trousers to the movie peremiere of "The Sign of the Cross" to the Bilmore Theater in Hollywood.
In 1939, Vogue published their first fashion spread of women wearing trousers.
During World War ll women went to work and worn their husband's pants for work!
In 1959 Government Code Section 1294.7 Protect the right to wear pants California Fair Employment and Housing Act:  FEHA discrimination complaint form now includes an option for "denied the right to wear pants."
In 1960 Andre Courreges designed long trousers for women which lead to the era of designer pantsuits and designer jeans.
In 1960, First Lady Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing pants and a sweater on Cape Cod, Massachusetts  and then Jackie wore palazzo pants in Italy, 1962.
 In 1969 Representative Charlotte Reid was the first Congresswoman to wear trousers in the US Congress.
1969 Barbra Streinsand wore the designer Arnold Scaasi pants to the Oscar's and Barbra won for "Funny Girl".
1972 First Lady Patricia Nixon was the 1st Lady to  model pants in a national magazine.
In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed "Title IX" into law. "Dresses could no longer be required of girls to wear to public schools!
Women were not allowed to wear pants on the US Senate Floor until 1993! Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley in defiance of the rule! wore trousers.  The female staff followed suit and that year Senate Sergeant of Arms, Martha Pope allowed it as long as "you wear a jacket. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or First Lady Clinton was the 1st First Lady to have her portrait painted wearing pants.

We skip to 1992, Rome , Italy. An 18 year old girl had her first driving lesson and she was raped for an hour by her driving instructor. He threatened her that if she told anyone he would kill her!  She told her parents who helped their daughter to report the rape to the police that night. The rapist was convicted and sentenced by Italian Supreme Court.
THEN, in 1998 the Courts overturned the conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans and she would have to help to remove the tight jeans to be raped so she was consenting!! Women in the Parliament protested! Wearing a sign "JEANS AN ALIBI FOR RAPE". And in 1999 the Italian Courts overturned this absurd denim defense to the charge of rape.
So every April Denim Day raises awareness of sexual assault.
April 29th, 2020 is the next Denim Day!
Pants have allowed women and girls physical freedom through the ages.  So never forget who wears the pants in your house or place of work or to any event- it is our right.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Equal Rights Amendment 1/22/2020

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
ERA is Ratified! Yes, Virginia there is an Equal Rights Amendment.
This vote in the Virginia Legislation last week January 16th, 2020 was the 38th state to ratify this Amendment.
Many say this vote comes too late. But there are Amendments that have taken over 200 years to be ratified. Applying a deadline to the Equal Rights Amendment is not  a good reason.  Why place a deadline on a human rights issue?
This argument set aside, this is powerful news to the history of American women.
1923 was the 75th anniversary of the convention of Seneca Falls of 1848. At this celebration Alice Paul introduced the ERA. That was 97 years ago. It has taken 97 years to have this Amendment ratified by 38 states!

In 2003 Richmond,Virginia was the location of the filming of the HBO's feature film "Iron Jawed Angels". The first feature about the Women's Suffrage Movement. Which featured the story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burn. Are you wondering why not Susan B. Anthony?
Well, sadly Anthony had been dead for 13 years before the 19th Amendment was ratitifed!  Alice Paul took the Suffrage Movement into a more aggressive approach to winning the Right to Vote! Parades, knocking on the doors of the Congress and then protesting in front of the Whitehouse. What was the reaction of these actions? Well it varied from violence to support.
After months of protesting President Wilson grew very tired of these protests and ordered for the women to be arrested. But for what? "Obstructing traffic!"  Mothers, Daughters, Teachers, Wives, were arrested and fined for obstructing traffic . The Suffragists refused to pay the fine.
 Women were jailed in Virginia's Occoquan Women's Prison.  Many women were sentenced for three to six months. All for expressing their voice! Women were raped, suffered  physical violence, served rotten food, and during Alice Paul's hunger strike she was force fed!
President Wilson required Alice Paul to be examined by a psychiatrist who deemed Alice Paul mentally healthy.
Word was getting out about the horrors of what was happening to the suffragists in prison.  This lead to the general public's understanding of the plight of women. And the release of all the protesting suffragists.
August 18th, 1920 the 19th Amendment was ratified!
Back to the film "Iron Jawed Angels", so the scene in the film that depicts the passage of the 19th Amendment was filmed in the location the ERA was ratified in real life.
Who would have thought that the Virginia legislation Assembly Hall would be the actual location of the 38th state needed to ratify the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.
Call your congressmen to support the Equal Rights Amendment.
And if you have not seen "Iron Jawed Angels", watch! It is the first film to tell the history of the United States Suffrage Movement. Well there was one scene in a very popular feature film. "Mary Poppins " Mrs. Banks did a musical number about the "cause" . But that's it.
I had the honor of working on "Iron Jawed Angels". Working on this set changed my life.  Because until I read this script, I had no idea of history of suffrage. It was one of the reasons I began writing this blog in 2006.
 I thought Susan B. Anthony wrote letters and made speeches and bam! We could vote. And I was not alone! Our cast of women spoke about the lack of education there is in school for girls and women! about our her-story!
Hopefully, these exciting new changes will help us all learn the truth of our history of suffrage!


Sunday, February 24, 2019

OSCAR!

Tonight I am watching the Oscar's!! Something different is going on! The documentary, "PERIOD. End of sentence, not a woman's education" won! This film is about menstruation. It is hard to believe that today there are girls who cannot attend school because they cannot afford or have access to feminine hygiene products.

Tragic. But raising awareness and helping by first watching this 25 minute documentary.on Netflix and visiting this website www.thepadproject.org

There are villages all over the world whose women need access to pads for their periods.  If a high school in Los Angeles raised funds for a machine to be installed so the women are trained to make pads and sell them... So can others.

Watch this doc and empower girls and women PEROID.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

2019 The Second Year of Women!


I started writing this blog in 2006.  There were 85 women serving in Congress. Today January 3, 2019 the number has risen to 127! Women are breathing fresh air into our Government. The ideals we the People need like Truth, Justice and Liberty for all. It seems those old white men are retiring with empty promises and total commitment to  greed for the very rich.
Nancy Pelosi makes history today too!  It is Pelosi's second term as Speaker of The House!  Pelosi took the gavel, she invited the children to join her. She accepted the Speakership for the future,the children.
The words Truth, Justice and Liberty for all!! These words are powerful. And vital to our future . Go women and thank you for serving this Nation.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

ME TOO! AND SUPREME COURT

"Me too!" Women and girls who are sexually assaulted find courage to tell this private act that haunts her life forever. Shame.
"Me too!" She has suffered silently.  Fear of not being believed.
"Me too!" She worries she deserved this treatment. "Men will be men. Boys will be boys."
"Me too!" She is afraid it can happen again. This strange violation that pleasures her attacker. Why does she struggle.
"Me too!" Why is my body betraying me?
"Me too!" I am a child hiding from this cruel reality again.. 
"Me too!" My family needs me to work. I cannot loose my job. I am silent.
"Me too!" I set aside my feelings and walk numbly.  I am strong.
"Me too!" I am lost. I am careful not to be noticed. 
"Me too!"  Time is timeless. The event blurs into memory. But the hurt fear is ALIVE. 

As Dr. Christine Blasey Ford  knows Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she fifteen years old.  Bravely she came forward to do her civic duty. And now must live with the vile betrayal of our GOP senators, mostly old white men who were raised by mothers who growing up did not have the right to vote.
These old white men hid behind a woman they hired to attack Ford during her testimony, it backfired.
Ford's truth was bright and real and honest.
So these old white men regrouped and did what predators do. They yelled. They attacked with righteous anger. No surprise. That is exactly what guilty men do when facing assaults charges  from women and girls.
But what is truly awful. Senator Susan Collins betrayal of millions of girls and women. She believed the drunk young men who do not recall this night so long ago to  the victim. The sexual assault is still harming Dr. Ford even today.
Senators Joni Ernest, Debt Fischer, and Cindy Hyde-Smith three women GOP senators who were never going to vote against partlines . Their lack of concern for women's rights  is stunning.
I ask myself daily why? We watch Dr. Ford's testimony,  so powerful and real.
And then Kavanaugh reading his response in the  manner of a child throwing a temper tantrum. Not becoming of a Supreme Court Judge. Kavanaugh behaved entitled to this honored seat only nine men and women serve and hold for a lifetime.
He screamed his life was ruined and he would never remove his name. Why ? Kavanaugh is not a judge but a bully.
He bullied the woman senators asking questions he did not like. He refused to answer questions and instead created another question or statement that was not appropriate or unrelated. Or twisting the question to make himself the victim.  
Kavanaugh's yearbook was filled with sexualized comments "Renate Alumnus Club" Clearly a boast in the style of  "for a good time call.."  Renate Dolphin had no idea she was the butt of this inside joke until the senate hearing.
Ms. Dolphin was hurt and upset. Kavanaugh claims it was a compliment. Innocent fun. At the expense of Renate. 
This is a problem for a Supreme Court judge. Kavanaugh is biased against women ,girls and either he is completely unaware, or willing to lie about his behavior.
The GOP hid Kavanaugh's papers from the Bush administration era. There is evidence Kavanaugh lied under oath during his first confirmation in 2004 about his involvement in the illegal torture program. Torture.
During Kavanaugh's first 2018 hearing he paraded in his all girls basketball team he coaches.  On the surface it seems wholesome. But really it was icky. Like a smoke screen, covering up his true nature toward females. 
It was a sideshow. This is a gut feeling. And then Dr. Ford came forward with her story. And three other women have come forward with sexual assault stories of Kavanaugh exposing himself to women,this is disturbing and perverse.
As the FBI reopened Kavanaugh's background check, dozens of his friends, college roommates came forward with stories about Kavanaugh drunken  behavior.  He was a belligerent and aggressive stumbling drunk. He was in police report for fighting under the influence. This is not Supreme Court Justice material. Only nine seats in all the land. It is a high standard.  The life of a Supreme Court judge must be untarnished. Yes, it is vital. 
The majority of Americans do not trust Kavanaugh.  This alone is enough to disqualify Kavanaugh. 
The women and girls of the United States are under attack by the GOP senate both men and women. They are willing to place a man in power who can remove their rights. 
Trump,and Kavanaugh have been accused of sexually assaulting women. The GOP does not care, their craving for power and greed is clear.
The images of these angry old white men gnashing teeth, shaking their fists, pounding their fists. 
How dare these women demand human rights! 
Senator Grassley called the women protesting a mob sscene as they demanded their rights. The mob scene was the GOP protesting way too much! 
Senator Susan Collins betrayed the women of America. She claimed she would always protect our rights. Collins lied. 
She spent forty minutes explaining how she did not believe Dr. Ford.  She pretended this job interview was a trial. Your shadow of doubt, is not reason enough to place millions of American women  at risk. 
Senator Collins shame on you. You are a liar too.
"Me too!" Stand strong! We will overcome this setback. It is too important. 
Sadly, Dr. Ford has done what most sexual assault victims do when publicly attacked for coming forward. She tries to protect her attacker "It's okay. Please don't impeach Kavanaugh. I regret nothing. Please let me hide again. "   
Dr. Ford, coming forward you helped millions of victims of sexual assault . This is the most important outcome of this story. You are a hero. Bravery is scary, stay strong Dr. Ford.