Wednesday, March 2, 2011


(A short history of one of my early feminist heroes)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
was born in November 12, 1815, one of 11 children. At the age of 11, Stanton's only male sibling passed away as she sat in her father's lap, watching helplessly. Her father, upon hearing that the son had taken his last breath, looked down upon Elizabeth & said “Oh how I wish you were a boy."

This insensitive comment served as a pivotal moment in young Stanton's life, as she then vowed to excel beyond that of which her young male counterparts did to gain the approval of her father.

As the only female student at Johnston Academy, Stanton won awards for her academic excellence, including that of the Greek Competition. Upon winning, she reportedly rushed home to tell her father of her success, which he rewarded by again telling her that she"'should have been a boy." Though dejected, this further propelled Stanton to develop her drive to prove that equality was truly attainable.

Stanton was a staunch abolitionist, refusing to use cotton cloth or any other products supported by slave labor and spoke out publicly against slavery. Together with Lucretia Mott, another abolitionist and reformer of the era, Stanton held the first ever Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention.

That convention, and the Declaration of Sentiments written by Stanton & Mott are said to be the beginnings of the Women's Suffrage Movement and it is for that reason that she is long been heralded as the first Gender Equality Activist. Not to mention that she too founded and served as president of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

That which was for me the most notable of all of her accomplishments was in the writing of The Women's Bible, the beginning of modern day Feminist Theology. Disturbed by the church's revision of the Bible to serve a chauvinistic agenda, Stanton argued that rather than much of the translated scriptures were far from being the word of God, rather they were "degrading ideas of woman emanated from the brain of man."

Stanton and a committee of prominent feminists scrutinized Biblical passages relating to women and asserted that much of the disparity between the rights of men and women in our society have been based solely upon scriptures which were edited to place men in a superior position in society.

The Woman's Bible distanced Stanton from conservative suffragists and those who she hoped most to work directly with in order to secure freedoms for women.

[Her views and others like hers helped me to rationalize why the Church has long been the biggest oppressor of women and helped me to solidify my faith, while distancing myself from that which I've long regarded as the most harmful of all institutions in America. Her work led me on the path of finding out self-educated centered Christianity and a lack of faith in a male-glorification religious model.]

Nonetheless, Stanton went on to work with Susan B. Anthony, another activist and became the first woman to speak before the New York Legislature. Hearing that his daughter had been offered such an esteemed opportunity during such turbulent times for women, Stanton's father asked to speak with her before her speech before the Legislature.

He asked why it was she was so driven & what influenced her to become the woman she had. Upon hearing this question, she truthfully told him that it was his disdain that she was a not a boy which had been that which drove her to accomplish "more than" her male counterparts. Stanton's father for the first time expressed his pride for her.

For these reasons, Elizabeth Cady Stanton has long been one of the greatest influences upon my feminist mindset and one of my personal heroines.

Some of my favorite Stanton quotes:

"Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility."

"The best protection any woman can have... is courage."

"Woman's discontent increases in exact proportion to her development."


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