“If perticular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.”
– Abigail Adams, 1776
WOMEN’S HISTORY NEWS
March is Women’s History Month,
But Women (And Men) Made Some Amazing HERstory in January.
January 21st, 2017, a day that will live in hearts, minds, books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, airwaves, tweets, posts, pictures – HERstory – forever!
A grandmother in Hawaii – Theresa Shook – had an idea. “What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?” she posted on Facebook. And LAUNCHED a movement.
Theresa invited 40 of her friends to march on Washington for women’s rights. Then, she went to bed AND WOKE UP TO 10,000 RESPONSES!
So much has happened in our country and to our collective psyche since Saturday, January 21st, when I cuddled under the covers, home sick, drinking tea and inhaling eucalyptus infused steam. Unable to march, but able to watch – in absolute awe – and take in, be inspired by, blown away by – not just moved – but catapulted to DO…. to TAKE ACTION! What a day. Completely inspired by what I was witnessing and from all the calls, texts, emails and messages from all of YOU – my world of fabulous – males and females, I began writing this email, hoping to somehow capture the energy, community, heart, empowerment, and passion that POURED out of my television and straight into my heart.
My tears flowed ALL DAY. I watched the Washington March.
There was Gloria…
…and America Ferrara, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tammy Duckworth, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Celebrities, Activists, Artists; Janelle Monae, Michael Moore, Alicia Keyes, Scarlett Johansson, Angela Davis, Melissa Harris Perry, Van Jones. Amy Schumer introduced Madonna who spoke, sang danced and cursed. There were so many more – unknown peeps and peeps with “names” like Cher – who couldn’t make it to the stage because of crowd gridlock. I SOBBED watching Ashley Judd. She knocked it out of the park performing a poem and seared my soul with her passion and its beauty. Titled “I Am A Nasty Woman”, it was written by nineteen year old Nina Donovan.
There were record breaking totally peaceful protest marches everywhere!
In Los Angeles, where I live and planned to march, around 750,000 people showed up! SO many friends marched along with Jane Fonda, Barbara Streisand, Lily Tomlin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Natalie Portman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Laverne Cox, Kerry Washington, Juliette Lewis, Mandy Moore, Jessica Biel, Vanessa Hudgens, Marcia Gay Harden, Helen Hunt, just to name a few. Around the country speakers included Elizabeth Warren, Whoopi, Iconic Congressman John Lewis, Helen Mirren, Yoko!
Since 2007, I have been researching, reading, studying, producing and performing SHE’S HISTORY!, my play about women who make and made history. Overcome with emotion, I was struck by our herstory.
March 31st, 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband John asking him to “Remember the Ladies.”
“…and, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
Dear John does NOT pay attention to, or remember the Ladies.
In 1848, rich, privileged thirty-two year old Elizabeth Cady Stanton, mother of three “hellions”, is suffering from “mental hunger and domestic drudgery.” She inspires her mentor Lucretia Mott (the Gloria Steinem of her day) and others to organize “our very own” (and the VERY first) Women’s Convention. “A Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women.” It was held in a church in Seneca Falls, New York (where Elizabeth lived and demanded it be held so she did not have to shlep her three hellions).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton with two of her three “hellions.”
A Declaration of Sentiments was hammered out (modeled after the Declaration of Independence) including a resolution that “all men AND WOMEN” are created equal. A radical notion that caused quite the stir!
It wasn’t until 1920 that American women WON the right to vote.
But back in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton had the nerve – the audacity – to demand that a woman’s right to vote be included in the Declaration. She stood up, but was shot down, mocked, told her notion was “ridiculous”. Her response:
“…what is ridiculous, is to have drunkards, idiots, horse-racing rum-selling rowdies, ignorant foreigners and silly boys fully recognized with the right to vote, while we ourselves are thrust out from all the rights that belong to citizens, is too grossly insulting to be quietly submitted to. The right is ours. Have it we must. Use it we will.”
She was derided and booed and then… Frederick Douglass stood up for and with her! Together they got enough attendees to sign, and the Declaration of Sentiments was published.
And all hell broke loose.
The New York Herald called The Declaration of Sentiments “the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity.”
Speaking of “womanity”, whatever the heck that is…
1883, Emma Lazarus, of Jewish immigrant ancestry, raised privileged and educated is inspired by The Statue of Liberty, who Emma calls “Mother of Exiles.” She famously writes; “Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
March 3rd, 1913, Alice Paul, brilliant, ballsy, Ivy League educated, soft-spoken, militant, suffragist, pisses off President Wilson, when she steals his parade.
The day before his Inauguration, the President-Elect arrives in Washington D.C., at Union Station. The same Union Station that on January 21st, 2017, was OVERCOME with record breaking riders going to the Women’s March. The President-Elect was expecting a welcoming crowd, or two. “Where are the people?” he asks. Well, thanks to Alice Paul’s brilliant orchestration, the crowds were, he was told,
“On the Avenue watching Alice Paul’s suffragist parade.”
Alice Paul organized 8,000 women to march down Pennsylvania Avenue for the right to vote. She very smartly, very strategically, planned the parade, raised the money, got the word out, promoted it, publicized it, gave interviews about it…
“Mr. Wilson opposes suffrage and we oppose him. We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. This is the most conspicuous and important demonstration that has ever been attempted by suffragists in this country. Because this parade has been taken to indicate the importance of the suffrage movement by the press of the country and thousands of spectators from all over the United States gathered in Washington for the inauguration. Unless women are prepared to fight politically, they must be content to be ignored politically.”
Half a million people watched the parade! It was the largest parade ever in Washington. Imagine what she could do with Facebook!
But, unlike the January 21st, 2017 March, the 1913 women really suffered for the cause. They were mobbed, yelled at, spit on – had lit cigars thrown at them. They were totally harassed. Mostly by men who were in D.C. for President Wilson’s Inauguration. But the police – they just looked the other way.
Inez Milholland, Brooklyn born, privileged, ivy-league educated labor lawyer and trailblazer, was the utterly Fabulous Female who led the parade (and many others).
In 1916, she died of pernicious anemia, while giving a speech on women’s rights in Los Angeles.
January 10, 1917, Alice Paul and her pals peacefully picket in front of President Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.
For eighteen months, they stood, not saying a word. These beautiful, heroic “Silent Sentinels”, as they were called were ultimately arrested, charged with obstructing sidewalk traffic. They were manhandled, brutalized and literally, physically THROWN into jail. So Alice Paul goes on a hunger strike. They strap her down, tie her up, shove tubes up her nose and down her throat and force-feed her raw eggs every day twice a day for a month.
“This woman is not insane. Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
In 1977 – New York Courageous Congresswoman and general ball-buster Bella Abzug plans and organizes the first – and only – federally funded Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, “to promote equality between men and women.”
On September 29th, 1977, a torch was lighted in Seneca Falls and carried by a relay of runners to Houston – 2600 miles away.
Photo By Diana Mara Henry
Maya Angelou wrote a new Declaration Of Sentiments that was signed along the way.
One hundred and fifty thousand people participated in the planning of the conference with every state being represented. Twenty thousand people attended the November 1977 conference, including our glorious Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony Jr., (the grand niece of Susan B. Anthony), Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Betty Friedan, Barbara Jordan, Billie Jean King, and Elizabeth Holtzman, the youngest woman to have been elected to the House of Representatives. And three First Ladies; Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and Lady Bird Johnson.
Barbara Jordan, Bella Abzug, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford & Lady Bird Johnson
Photo by Diana Mara Henry
Meanwhile, across the street, right-wing anti-feminist Phyllis Shlafly led 15,000 protestors. Bella Abzug said: “We were not intimidated by the right wing opponents who held their own pro-God, pro-family protest across the street, who sent their men – and I quote ‘to protect our women from all the militant lesbians. It is not safe for a decent woman to be there’.”
After 1920 when women WON the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment (also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment), Alice Paul famously said; “It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has only just begun.”
Three years later, in 1923, Alice Paul, went to Seneca Falls to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. It was there that she introduced The Equal Rights Amendment (also known as The Lucretia Mott Amendment).
“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”
And here we…still are.
January 21st, 2017, all around the world, women and men united in solidarity.“We are with you Washington,” came the posts from solo marchers, to city marchers from what seems like every corner of the globe. Karen Ragan-George, one of my passionate activist friends and theatre sisters who traveled from Los Angeles to march in Washington, posted on Facebook; “I have never been more proud to be an American woman.”
So how do we harness it? What’s next?
And do this…
Call your Senator or Member of Congress by calling 202-225-3121. (If you are put on hold, hang in there. I was on hold for less than a minute!) For my Senator, I was asked which city I live in and then transferred to the office of my Senator, Kamala Harris. For my Member of Congress I was asked for my zip code and transferred to the office of my Congressman Adam Schiff. I could email him or her like this: Schiff.house.gov – and you can do the same for yours. IT’S REALLY EASY!
Saturday Matinee, March 18th, 2017 at
The Lounge Theatre, Hollywood
Info and tickets coming soon….
SHE’S HISTORY NEWS
Sunday, January 29th, I had the pleasure of celebrating Thomas Paine’s Birthday. Yes, THAT Thomas Paine…in a meeting of his “Headstrong Club…”
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
I played Abigail Adams to actress Ellen Snortland’s Mercy Otis Warren in a reading of a scene I wrote for SHE IS HISTORY! I then shared the stage as Bella Abzug with Ian Ruskin as Thomas Paine, Dale Reynolds as Thomas Jefferson, Ellen Snortland as Mary Wollstonecraft and Dianne Williams Phyllis Wheatley. We each made a short presentation about our characters and then, as is the tradition, we took questions from the very informed, engaged and passionate audience, in character. It was QUITE the evening!
Amy Simon, Ellen Snortland, Dianne Williams
Amy Simon, Dale Reynolds, Ian Ruskin
I am still working very hard on getting the full cast version of SHE IS HISTORY! produced and published. I will keep you posted….