The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Girl for Sale Launches: March 31st 2011

Girl for Sale is a collaborative online exhibition about girl trafficking that interrogates and responds to the issue through poetry, art, and education. It is about outrage, survival, and prevention. This co-production of Girl Museum and the American Poetry Museum is being launched on 31 March 2011 and will continue to incorporate contributions from the public and new partnerships over the next 3 years.

Women's History Month "Z": Zenobia and Zoology


Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra, Herbert Schmalz.  Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

In the 3rd century AD, Zenobia led her people in revolt against the Roman Empire.  Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene Empire after the death of her husband King Septimius Odaenathus in 267.  Within two years, Zenobia had conquered Egypt and greatly expanded the Palmyrene Empire.

Zenobia was born in Palmyra, Syria, and appears to have been of Aramean ancestry.  Zenobia herself claimed to be descended from Queen Dido of Carthage and Cleopatra VII of Egypt.  Though there is no solid evidence of these claims, her claims of strong female lineage could well have been possible, and whether true or not, these claims were powerful propaganda that could only have served her well.  In addition, Zenobia was considered by all sources beautiful, chaste, and intelligent.  She was well educated, and spoke Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian, and Latin, and spent time with philosophers and poets.  

In 267, Zenobia's husband and stepson (she was Odaenathus' second wife) were assassinated.  As her son and heir was only one year old at the time, Zenobia assumed the throne. In 269, she invaded Egypt and beheaded the Roman prefect of Egypt (who unsuccessfully tried to expel her from Egypt), claiming the crown of Egypt for herself.  These events led to her being known as the “Warrior Queen,” an image that was probably not hurt by the fact that would go riding, hunting, and occasionally drinking with her officers.  Sadly however, her empire was short-lived, as in 272-273, the Palmyrene forces were defeated by the Romans near Antioch.  Although Zenobia and her son initially escaped, they were ultimately captured and taken to Rome.  At that point, there are several versions of her death: she may have been beheaded, died of illness, or gone on a hunger strike.  The most cheerful version, however, is that Emperor Aurelian was so impressed by Zenobia that he freed her and gave her a villa in Tibur, where she continued to study philosophy and became a socialite and wife of a Roman governor and senator.  As there is evidence of descendants of Zenobia (mentioned in inscriptions found in Rome), this is happier ending is possible.


All of my life I have always had the urge to do things better than anybody else.
~Babe Didrikson Zaharias, American Athlete in Golf, Basketball, and Track and Field

As long as I'm improving, I will go on, and besides, there's too much money in the business to quit.
~Babe Didrikson Zaharias, American Athlete in Golf, Basketball, and Track and Field

I'm a mother, I'm a journalist, I'm an American; I'm all of those things, and it really complicates your job when you have all these things come into play.
~Paula Zahn,  American Journalist

I spell woman Z-I-Z-E-S.
~Lauren Zizes, Glee (character played by Ashley Fink)


Although Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall are perhaps the two most famous female zoologists, many women have contributed greatly to zoology and our knowledge of the animal kingdom.  There are women mammologists—including Diane Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birutė Galdikas, all of whom focus on primatology—female ichthyologists, and women herpetologists.  Below are just a small sampling of women in zoology and their contributions.

Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who, over a period of 18 years, extensively studied gorilla groups in Rwanda, observing them every day.  She changed how people viewed gorillas, showing them to be gentle, and not the savage beasts they were often portrayed to be in movies.  Her book, Gorillas in the Mist, is the most popular book ever written on gorillas, and was made into a movie of the same name.  She was murdered in 1985, and the case remains open.

Jane Goodall is generally considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, having worked with and studied them over 45 years in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.  She primarily studies family and social life amongst chimps, and because she had limited formal training, it is thought that her observations may have included things that strict scientific teachings would have missed.  Some of her findings led to the discovery that chimpanzees are not vegetarians as was previously observed, and that chimps have rudimentary tool-making skills.  She was made a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2002 and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004.

Birutė Galdikas is the third member of Leakey's Angels.  Archaeologist Louis Leakey hand-picked three researchers (Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birutė Galdikas) to study primates in their natural environments.  Birutė Galdikas went to Borneo at the age of 25 to study orangutans, where for more than 30 years she not only contributed greatly to the world's understanding of orangutans, but also to our knowledge about Indonesia's biodiversity and rainforests in general.  She founded Orangutan Foundation International, in order to further her efforts in rehabilitating orangutans and protecting and conserving their natural territory.

Eugenie Clark is an American ichthyologist who has researched poisonous fish of the tropics and studied the behavior of sharks.  More popularly known as the Shark Lady, she has investigated shark bites, and been diving with sharks for more than 30 years.  She also discovered that the poison secreted by the Moses sole will repel sharks (it is also toxic to humans, unless the fish has been washed in red wine).  She has published two books: Lady with a Spear and The Lady and the Sharks.

Helen Beulah Thompson Gaige was an American herpetologist and specialist in neotropical frogs.  She was the curator of amphibians at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and later became curator of herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles).  She helped to create the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and she was later named honorary president.  She co-authored The Herpetology of Michigan with Alexander Grant Ruthven, and has two species of reptiles named for her, the Many-lined Skink (Eumeces multivirgatus gaigeae) and the Big Bend Slider (Trachemys gaigeae).  She passed away in 1976.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Women's History Month "Y": Kristi Yamaguchi and Yale University


Kristi Yamaguchi

Born in 1971, Kristi Yamaguchi is an American figure skater who has won two World Figure Skating Championships (1991 and 1992), a US Figure Skating Championship (1992), and a Gold Medal in Ladies' singles in the 1992 Olympics.  Born in Hayward, California, Kristi's paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents emigrated from Japan to the United States, and her grandparents were placed in an internment camp during WWII, where her mother was born.  Kristi initially took up ice skating as a form of physical therapy for her club feet.

In 1986, Kristi won the junior title at the US Championships, and in 1988 she won the World Junior Pair Championships with her skating partner Rudy Galindo.  In 1989 and 1990, Kristi and Rudy wont he senior US Championships pairs title.  Shortly thereafter, Kristi decided to focus on her singles skating, and in 1991 she moved to Edmonton, Alberta so she could train with Christy Ness.  While there, Kristi also took some psychology courses, though she did not graduate from university.  After winning back to back World Figure Skating Championships and the gold medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics, Kristi decided to turn pro at the end of the 1992 season.  

In 1996, Kristi founded the Always Dream Foundation.  Created for children, Kristi established the Always Dream Foundation to “inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children.”  One of the Foundation's projects is the Play Park in Fremont, California, where Kristi grew up.  The park is a space for both physical and mental development where children with or without disabilities can play together.  Kristi has also written two books, Always Dream, Pure Gold, and Figure Skating for Dummies, as well as a picture book for children, Dream Big, Little Pig! 

To learn more about Kristi Yamaguchi, visit her website.


Always dream.
~Kristi Yamaguchi, American Figure Skater

A trade unionist--of course I am. First, last, and all the time. How else to strike at the roots of the evils undermining the moral and physical health of women? How else grapple with the complex problems of employment, overemployment, and underemployment alike, resulting in discouraged, undernourished bodies, too tired to resist the onslaughts of disease and crime?
~Maud Younger, American Suffragist, Union Activist, and Writer

In America, money takes the place of God.
~Anzia Yezierska, Polish American Author

The most important thing is that you have really good friends and family, and when you go back to them, it's like 'what?'. You carry on as who you are.
~Michelle Yeoh, Actress


Although Yale was established in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut, women didn't begin to study at Yale until 1869, when the School of Art first allowed women in.  Eventually a few other programs at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences granted women entry, but it wasn't until 1969 that Yale introduced coeducation.  In 1966, Yale discussed merging with it's sister school, Vassar College (an all-women's college at the time), but Vassar declined, though it also chose to become coeducational in 1969.  Amy Solomon was the first woman to enroll in classes at Yale.

In 1980, 11 years after Yale began accepting women, five female Yale students brought suit against the university in Alexander v. Yale.  The women accused several staff member of the university (including a flute teacher and a hockey coach) of sexual harassment, including a professor who offered an “A” in a course in exchange for sexual favors.  They also complained that Yale had no grievance procedures in place to file complaints against harassers; additionally, one plaintiff had to spend her own time and money assisting others who had been sexually harassed, and that doing so caused her to be threatened.  Though the ultimate outcome of Alexander v. Yale was not in the plaintiffs' favors, they did achieve two goals: first, a Grievance Procedure was instituted at Yale, and secondly, the courts did rule that sexual harassment is sex discrimination.

As of Fall 2010 Enrollment, Yale boasts slightly more female students than male, with 5,866 women enrolled compared to 5,835 men.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Women's History Month "X": Xochiquetzal,Xi Wang-mu, and X-Ray Spex


Xochiquetzal, from the Codex Rios, 16th century

Xochiquetzal was an Aztec Goddess associated with fertility and female sexuality as well as vegetation and maize. She was also revered as a protector of young mothers, including pregnancy and childbirth. Xochiquetzal was, apparently, always depicted as an alluring and youthful woman and so, associations with prostitution, human desire and pleasure are also related to her.

Her story relates how she was kidnapped and forced to marry Tezcatlipoca--a central deity in the Aztec worship. There is also a reference to her being taken by Xolotl, the god of death and lightning.  She is surrounded by butterflies and flowers (hinting at her sexuality) and censored versions will have her as the Aztec Goddess of Love and Beauty.


Queen Mother of the West, earthenware, 2nd century, Han Dynasty

Xi Wang-Mu, or the Goddess of the West, is a Chinese Goddess and one of the oldest known deities in the Chinese pantheon. Also known as the Queen Mother, she holds an important position.  She is associated with immortality, and before being adapted by the Taoists, she was seen as a plague carrying tiger-woman.  She has a palace where she grows the peach of immortality.  This palace is seen to be beautiful and perfect.  Her role as mother and as a characteristically strong woman led to her particular association with women. 


I have many skills.
~Xena, Warrior Princess (character played by Lucy Lawless)

It was trying to break down the stereotypes and it was the kind of thing where, for the first time, women were on a par and not seen as just objects. Though girls were objectified still.
~Siouxsie Sioux, Punk Musician

Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard --well I think, oh bondage, up yours!
~X-Ray Spex, Punk Band


X-Ray Spex were founded in 1976 and possessed a female lead whose powerful voice ensured X-Ray Spex’s legacy,  despite only having a modest output of songs.  Poly Styrene, born Marion Joan Elliot-Reid to a British mother and Somali father, is sometimes referenced as a proto riot girrl 15 years too early.  Her habit of not conforming to the punk uniform (itself an anti-conformity) and wearing bright colours and braces ensured her place among those female icons.

One of the themes in the music of X-Ray Spex is anti-consumerism and the band is considered to be one of the most inventive and original punk bands.  Poly Styrene was not only a female leader but a mixed race punk singer at a time when there were increasing racial tensions, mainly due to the growing power of the BNP (British National Party). She was not the only female punk of course; part of the ethos was equality and other frontwomen included Siouxie Sioux and Ari Up, as well as those who played instruments in other bands or were involved in the art side of Punk, as Vivienne Westwood was.  Poly Styrene is important because she didn’t conform to the ideal of punk and despite increasing mental health issues continued to sing about what was important to her.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Women's History Month "W": Barbara Ward and Working Women


Barbara Ward in 1945.  Kurt Hutton / Picture Post / Getty Images

Barbara Ward was born in 1914 in Yorkshire England, her father a lawyer with Quaker leanings and her mother a devout Catholic.  Because of her father's Quaker beliefs, Barbara was well educated, and after attending a convent school, she went on to study at lycée in Paris, before continuing on to study at the Sorbonne, and then in Germany.  Though it was her intent to study modern languages, her interested changed, and she studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford, graduating in 1935.  Her postgraduate work studied Austrian economics, and after witnessing anti-semitism there, Barbara helped Jewish refugees, helping to form Sword of the Spirit, which brought together Anglicans and Catholics who were opposed to Nazism.  During the war, Barbara worked for the Ministry of Information, and traveled extensively to Europe and the US.  After the war, she was a proponent of the Marshall Plan, and she convinced foreign secretary Ernest Bevin to adopt the plan. 

In 1938, at the age of  24, Barbara published her first book, The International Share-out, at which point she was offered a job at the magazine The Economist.  She eventually became foreign editor of the magazine, and left in 1950, though she continued to contribute articles to The Economist.  She continued to publish throughout her life, including Defence of the West  in 1942, India and the West and The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations in 1961, Only One Earth with René Dubos in 1972, and Progress for a Small Planet in 1979.  Barbara  was one of the first advocates for environmental and resource conservation, as well as dealing with poverty around the world, both of which she believed would benefit world economies.  Her beliefs on the environment and developing nations, as well as her stance on building relationships with Asia were well ahead of her time.  As such, she founded the International Institute for Environment and Development to advance her beliefs.  Although she died in 1981, her work and theories are still relevant today.


Our visionary perspective is the true realism--and that is what we must pursue.
~Barbara Ward, British Economist and Writer

I think we have to own the fears that we have of each other, and then, in some practical way, some daily way, figure out how to see people differently than the way we were brought up to.
~Alice Walker, African-American Writer and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Show me someone who never gossips, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people.
~Barbara Walters, Journalist, Television Talk Show Host

Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives; — that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.
~Mary Wollstonecraft, British Writer, Philosopher, and Women's Rights Advocate

Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet.
~Mae West, American Actress, Playwright, Screenwriter, and Sex Symbol


You could ask 100 different people what they think about women and work, and you would most likely get 100 different answers.  There's the glass ceiling, and whether or not women have broken through it.  There's the gender pay gap, and the ensuing discussion about the cause—are women paid less than men because of lower wages, or less time working in a life time (usually attributed to maternity leave), both, or something else?  And then there's “women's work” and all the possible associated meanings: giving birth, raising children, housekeeping, cooking (except professionally), being a teacher or child care worker, and so on down the line of stereotypical gender roles. 

Women and the work they do is a complex subject, due largely to perceived gender roles.  Some jobs can only be done by women—childbirth and wet-nurse come to mind.  But the notion of specific gender roles is beginning to bend. In most of the world, women are expected to work for a wage, and need to do so, in order to support themselves and their families, or to at least provide a measure of independence for themselves.  And though the picture of Donna Reed as the perfect housewife is still an enduring image of the stay-at-home woman, women have actually been venturing out of the home and into the workplace since the beginnings of civilization.  In ancient Egypt, for example, women could own property, sign contracts, and work—though most of an ancient Egyptian woman's personal income came either through bartering or domestic work, though skilled women could weave, be musicians, or be professional mourners at funerals.  Educated women could possibly even have been administrators or other professionals.

In Victorian England, both women and children often worked, though for a lower wage and less regularly then men did.  With large households and a growing life expectancy, many households depended on the wages that women and children could bring in.  Victorian Women tended to go into domestic service (about 40%, or 50% in London, according to the 1851 census), though domestic service was closely followed by the textile industry.  In more heavily populated areas, women also worked in the baking, brewing, or retail professions, worked as inn-keepers, did laundry, or worked as seamstresses.  Because women had limited property rights, it made it difficult for them to own their own businesses, though Victorian women served did  take over their family businesses (in secret or not), and kept books, handled correspondence, and met with clients.

In modern times, women often do work alongside men, and though there are still the perceived gender roles, many women work in fields that have traditionally been considered masculine jobs.  Women and men alike are conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces, and both may serve in combat.  Danica Patrick has proven that women are fully capable and can be very successful racing drivers.  There are currently 11 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and while 11 out of 500 may not be very high, it wasn't until 1973 that a woman became CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Katherine Graham of the Washington Post Company).  So while women are definitely beginning to be noticed in the upper echelons of the workforce, we've still got a long way to go to break down those gender roles.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Women's History Month "V": Viola and Women and the Vote


Orsino and Viola by Frederick Richard Pickersgill

Young Viola, the protagonist in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, finds herself shipwrecked at Illyria, having apparently lost her identical twin brother Sebastian.  Even in her mourning, Viola knows that she must take her survival into her own hands.  Unable to join the service of the Countess Olivia (who is mourning herself), Viola decides to disguise herself as a man, adopting the persona of Cesario.  In this way, she feels she will be safer, as well as able to join the service of the unmarried Duke of Illyria, Orsino.

Orsino, believing himself to be in love with Olivia, uses his newfound confidant Cesario as a go-between to declare his love for Olivia.  His tactic backfires, however, as Viola is secretly falling in love with Orsino, while Olivia is falling in love with Cesario.  With all the mistaken and hidden identities, comedy and confusion ensue.  This is furthered by the abrupt arrival of Sebastian, who did survive the shipwreck.  As he and Cesario look identical, Olivia believes they are the same person, and secretly marries Sebastian (who is in awe that such a noble woman could love him).  When Olivia and Orsino see Sebastian and Cesario next to each other—and Orsino hears that Olivia is married to Sebastian—Viola is left free to reveal her true identity to Orsino, who proposes to Viola.

Viola is a very strong person, who, even in her presumed losses, picks up the pieces of her life and moves on.  Though she falls in love nearly instantly with Orsino, she knows that to best protect herself, she cannot declare her true identity or her feelings.  Despite her masquerade, Viola strives to remain as honest as possible, and remains loyal to Orsino despite her internal conflicts.  She wishes for the happiness of those around her, and exhibits a wisdom beyond her years.  Because she is the only one who knows about her hidden identity, she is able to objectively judge and understand the action around her, and ultimately, everything works out for the best.

To read Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, visit Project Gutenberg.


Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as happily shall become
The form of my intent.
~Viola, Protagonist, William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.
~Queen Victoria, British Monarch

It is possible that blondes also prefer gentlemen.
~Mamie Van Doren, American Actress


Suffrage, or the right to vote, is something that men and women the world over have struggled for.  Women, however, have usually struggled more than men for the right to vote.  From 1755 until the French invasion in 1769, the Corsican Republic granted the right to vote to all inhabitants over the age of 25 (women could previously vote in local elections, but were granted the right for national elections at this point).  Though there were a few “experiments” in universal suffrage after the Corsican Republic fell, it wasn't until 1893 in New Zealand that women were granted the right to vote, followed by Australia in 1902.  In Europe, Finland was the first nation to grant women the right to vote in 1906.  Additionally, Finland was also the first nation in the world to make all of its citizens eligible for to run for parliament.  In the United States, the 19th Amendment was originally drafted in 1978 by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but it wasn't until 1919 that the bill was sent by Congress to the states for ratification, with the amendment being ratified on August 18, 1920.  In the United Kingdom, women were first granted the right to vote in 1918, but only if they were over 30 years old and owned property (men were not subject to the same restrictions).  On July 2, 1928, The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed, given women the same voting rights as men.

Though women eventually gained the right to vote in many places around the world, there are still some places where the right is denied or limited.  In the Vatican City only the College of Cardinals can vote, and then only those cardinals who are under the age of 80, effectively denying suffrage to most of the population.  In Lebanon the right to vote is granted to women 21 or over, provided they've received an elementary school or better education.  In Saudi Arabia, women don't have the right to vote at all, and in the United Arab Emirates, there is no suffrage for anyone.  In Brunei, women do not have the right to vote, but neither men nor women vote in Brunei, as it is an absolute monarchy.  But in 2008, Bhutan, which was previously allocated one vote per house—granting men more voting rights than women—moved to a system of universal suffrage for everyone 18 or older.

For more information on women and the vote around the world visit the CIA World Factbook and look up any country that interests you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Women's History Month "U": Saint Ursula and Women and Universities


Main altar of Ascoli Cathedral, St. Ursula, by Carlo Crivelli

Saint Ursula is a Catholic saint whose life was probably legendary, rather than historical.  According to tradition, she was a 4th century British princess who, along with 11,000 maids, set sail across the English channel to join her fiancé, the governor of Brittany.  A divine storm brought the whole party across the Channel in just one day, and Ursula took this as a miraculous sign.  She then decided that, rather than get married, she would take her maids on a pilgrimage to visit the Pope.  However, when they reached the German town of Cologne, which was besieged by Huns, all the maids were beheaded and Ursula was shot by the Huns’ leader.

The Basilica of St. Ursula contains many bones from various body parts, which the church claims are the relics of the many women that were massacred.   The Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory that was discovered by Christopher Columbus, are named after Ursula and her companions.

Scholars believe that the name “Ursula” comes from the Latin word undicimilia, meaning eleven thousand.  Other think that the legend of Ursula comes from a Christianized version of the Germanic goddess Freya, who was the keeper of the souls of virgin women.

Visit Girl Museum's Girl Saints exhibition for more on Saint Ursula and other girl saints.


Throw caution to the wind and just do it.
~Carrie Underwood, American Country Singer and Songwriter 

As you get older, you realize it's work. It's that fine line between love and companionship. But passionate love? I'd love to know how to make that last.
~Tracey Ullman, Actress, Comedian, Screenwriter, and Author

Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.
~Evelyn Underhill, English Writer and Pacifist

If only we could accept that there is no difference between us where human values are concerned. Whatever sex.
~Liv Ullmann,  Norwegian Actress and Director

I went to work in an office and learned, among other lessons, to do things I did not care for, and to do them well. Before I left this office, two of my books had already been published.
~Sigrid Undset, Norwegian Author, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature


Two hundred years ago, women were not allowed into any university in the United States.  It wasn’t until Oberlin College was founded in 1833 that women had any opportunity to pursue higher education.  Oberlin was the first American university to accept women as students (it was also the first university to admit black students).  In 1877, Helen Magill became the first American woman to hold a Ph.D., which she earned at Boston University.  By 1910, women made up 39% of university students and 20% of university faculty; by 1980, women and men were equally represented on campuses.

Today, 46% of 21-year-old American women are enrolled in college, compared to 36% of 21-year-old men.  Women now earn approximately 60% of all bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees, and 50.4% of Ph.D.s.  In addition, there are 53 American colleges solely devoted to educating women.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women's History Month "T": Themis and The Wayside


Themis from the Temple of Nemesis, Rhamnous, Attica, signed by the sculptor Chairestratos, c. 300 BCE

The personification of divine or natural law, Themis was worshipped in ancient Athens as representing order and justice. The law that she symbolised and protected related to the natural law of family and communities, morality, piety, the rules of hospitality, and conduct of assembly.  Themis was seen to be wise and have foresight. She was the first deity of prophecy and in charge of the Delphic oracle until she handed it over to Apollo.

Her status was such that she sat beside Zeus to offer advice and was also a consort of his, producing a son. One of her roles was to judge whether the dead go to the Elysian Fields or to Tartarus (an abyss in the underworld).

She is sometimes depicted as blindfolded, though this is a modern attachment, likely to have arisen from confusion with the Roman Goddess of Justice.  Themis had a special shrine on Mount Parnassus, and was worshipped in many towns where there would have been shrines.


I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.
~Harriet Tubman, Activist and Former Slave

Don't be afraid of missing opportunities. Behind every failure is an opportunity somebody wishes they had missed.
~Lily Tomlin, Actress and Comedian

I make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes.
~Sara Teasdale, American Poet

If you can't change your fate, change your attitude.
~Amy Tan, Writer

Physical strength in a woman--that's what I am.
~Tina Turner, Singer


The Wayside is an historic house in Massachusetts which, like all houses, has seen many families pass through its doors. I doubt, however, that many houses could claim to have hosted three different authors and provided the inspiration for many locations, including the classic Little Women.

The Alcott family purchased The Wayside after the failure of Fruitlands (a commune based on transcendentalist principals).  They made some changes to the house, including adding a bedroom for the young Louisa May Alcott.  The house was then known as The Hillside, and the Alcotts stayed there for three years from 1845 to 1848.  During their time there, the Alcott children were putting on amateur plays (including Rodrigo) which would form part of the March family history in Little Women.  The house was also offered as a site for the Underground Railway, helping at least one fugitive escape.

Nathanial Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables) purchased the house from the Alcotts in 1852, and set about redesigning it, including changing the name from The Hillside to The Wayside.  The Hawthornes remained owners of the house despite moving to England for a period.  In 1870, the house was sold to Daniel and Harriet Loptrop.

Harriet Loptrop wrote under the pen name Margaret Sidney and published books, including Five Little Peppers.  Five Little Peppers is a series of books about five children born into poverty who have a benefactor in a wealthy gentleman.  Margaret Sidney also wrote other children’s books and on her death, the house passed into her daughter’s care. The Wayside is now part of the Minutemen National Historical Park and is open for tours.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women's History Month "S": Marge Simpson and Women in Space


Marge Simpson

Marjorie Simpson (née Bouvier) was born sometime in the sixties, or maybe the fifties, or even possibly the seventies.  She is married to Homer and has three children, none of whom ever seem to grow up.  But Marge Simpson is one of the greatest women around. Of course she has a flawed character; an addiction to gambling is notable as one flaw, but she lives her day-to-day life helping and loving her family, who most of the time don't notice her efforts.  She gets her children (and husband) up in the morning, feeds them, calms their fears, and makes sure they get off to school (or work).  She is house-proud and loves her children and husband. She is our mother, everyone's mother.  She represents the women who worried and fretted and soothed over their children but who also retained their own identity and who are not afraid to stand up for what is right or stand up for what is necessary.  Marge is unafraid to call the shots, and provides the moral centre for her family.  She is independent, but chooses to curb much of this in order to raise a family, who aren’t perfect and are in essence, all of us.

For more information on Marge Simpson and on The Simpsons, please visit the The Simpson's website.


I don't set out to offend or shock, but I also don't do anything to avoid it.
~Sarah Silverman, Actress and Comedian

As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag.
~Patti Smith, Musician and Artist

But the problem is that when I go around and speak on campuses, I still don't get young men standing up and saying, 'How can I combine career and family?'
~Gertrude Stein, Author

I believe in imagination. I did Kramer vs. Kramer before I had children. But the mother I would be was already inside me.
~Meryl Streep, Actress

When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.
~Lillian Smith, Writer and Social Critic


“All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary." 
~Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space

On the 12th of April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to travel into outer space. 

Two years later, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman into space and marked the start of a long line of female astronauts.  The first female American astronaut entered space in 1983 and ever since Sally Ride, there have been many benchmarks including Ellen Ochoa (first Hispanic woman), Mae Jemison (first African-American woman), and Chiaki Mukai (first Japanese woman in space).  The first Briton in space was Helen Sharman in 1991. 

Women have been involved in NASA long before there were women in space.  Female engineers and scientists have helped to get the space shuttles off the ground.  Space is an attraction that entices people year after year, regardless of gender or nationality.

Shannon Lucid was one of the first female recruits and remains with NASA.  Having overcome sexism in seeking a career in science (because she was a woman) she has become a well respected astronaut.  Katryn Dwyer was the first woman to walk in space. She has an extensive military and space career and recently was nominated by Barack Obama to be an assistant secretary of commerce.  Valentina Tereshkiva was the first woman in space, as well as the first civilian, as she wasn’t in the USSR Airforce. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Women's History Month "R": Mary Robinson and Rosie the Riveter


Mary Robinson in 2009

Mary Robinson was elected the first female President of Ireland in 1990. Coming from a law background, her political career has stood out as a career of liberal reform.  She campaigned on the right of women to sit in juries, the right of women to not have to resign from civil service when they got married, and the right of women to access contraception. She was also a campaigner for Homosexual Law Reform. Ireland, up to the 1970’s was woefully backwards and the government was heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. Sex outside marriage was not an option, being gay was not an option, the right to sit on a jury as a woman was not an option. Mary Robinson was instrumental in liberalising Ireland and ensuring women, as well as gays and lesbians, had the rights and access that they were entitled to.

Mary Robinson was elected President as an Independent, and in that role she continued to excel.  Ireland has a sad history of emigration which continues again today.  Mary Robinson acknowledged this history and the Irish people all over the world.  She was also the first Irish President to visit Queen Elizabeth II, and as president oversaw the complete legislation of contraception and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.  She resigned near the end of her second term of Presidency to become High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations, thus continuing her campaigning on a global scale.  She was succeeded by Mary McAleese.

I was five years old when Mary Robinson became President.  I have no recollection of Ireland being presided over by a man, which is interesting considering the world we live in, but a given to my generation of Irish people. We were lucky to be presided over by someone who was unafraid to speak up for those who had no voice.


I could not at any age be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on.
~Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. First Lady, Diplomat, and Reformer

A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp.
~Joan Rivers, Comedian

I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself.
~J. K. Rowling, Author

Don't fear tomorrow, till today's done with you.
~Celia Rees, Author

Many medal winners dream of competing in a sport other than the one they're famous for.
~Mary Lou Retton, U.S. Gymnast


Who is Rosie the Riveter?  Is she a World War II poster which has become an American cultural icon? A powerful feminist stance? Or an indication of the equality of the sexes? The image of the woman flexing her arm represents all the women who went into factory production as part of the war effort.

Of course, when the war was over, these women had to return to the more traditional roles in administration or as homemakers, but Rosie remains an image of the strength of female work ethic while having started out as propaganda to entice women to get involved in the war effort.  Rosie is seen to represent those who worked in factories, but of course there were women who worked in all aspects of the previously male dominated workforce. But what happened at the end of the war? All those Rosies needed to be encouraged to return to homemaking so there would be enough jobs for the men returning from war.

Women’s equality lasted only a short time and it wasn’t until the 1970s that there was again a large movement of women into the workplace. Is Rosie’s legacy as a feminist icon diminished because of her redundancy after the war? There is no denying her enduring legacy--pop stars like Pink and Christina Aguilera have recreated her flexing arm pose--and she remains part of the imagery of World War II.

The woman whose photograph inspired the poster died in December 2010.  Geraldine Doyle was 17 years old when her photo was taken but she didn’t realise until the 1980’s that her image was used for the poster.

However Rosie’s legacy is viewed, there is no denying the amount of women who entered into the workforce and into physical work and were equal to it.  To be again denied that right after  after the war was something many women had to come to terms with when relegated back to the kitchen.  Rosie the Riveter still remains a powerful image for women.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women's History Month "Q": Queen Rania of Jordan and Quidditch


Queen Rania at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, January 5, 2009

Married to King Abdullah II for nearly 18 years, Queen Rania of Jordan has used her privileged position to improve the lives of children and communities, not only in Jordan but worldwide.  The Jordan River Foundation was established in order to "promote...the development of a dynamic Jordanian society by initiating and supporting sustainable social, economic and cultural programs that empower communities and individuals based on their needs and priorities."  Projects such as weaving help give women social empowerment and financial independence. From this, the JRF Child Safety Program endeavours to highlight violence against children.

Education is also an interest that Queen Rania seeks to promote; Madrasati (My School) is an initiative that seeks to refurbish up to 500 schools. As Eminent Advocate for UNICEF, Queen Rania promotes and campaigns on behalf of children’s issues.  In short, Queen Rania is an excellent example of someone who has used her position and access to wealth in order to lessen the hardships on those less fortunate. Jordan, considering its geographical position, has a more liberal attitude towards education and religion than its neighbours, so Queen Rania does have advantages in being able to help Jordan’s people. Still, a person who needs help is always a person who needs help, no matter where they are, and Queen Rania is one who endeavours to help. 


Dr. Cassidy, if my name was Michael Quinn and not Michaela, you'd let me perform that procedure wouldn't you?
~Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman (Fictional Character played by Jane Seymour)

Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.
~Queen Victoria, British Monarch

The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don't wear her.
~Mary Quant, Fashion Designer

The men flyers have given out the impression that aeroplaning is very perilous work, something that an ordinary mortal should not dream of attempting. But when I saw how easily the man flyers manipulated their machines I said I could fly.
~ Harriet Quimby, First American woman to earn a pilot’s license

The truth about your own life is not always easy to accept, and sometimes hasn't even occurred to you.
~Anna Quindlen, Journalist


When Ireland won the Quidditch World Cup, I was extremely happy and proud, and celebrated with patriotic pride, quietly, with my friend, as Quidditch isn’t exactly a well known or widespread sport.  It wasn’t even on the news that we had won as Ireland never wins any major events as a nation.  Harry Potter has given us many things: paranoia when seeing snakes, jealousy towards those with interesting scars, and an overwhelming urge to wave sticks around, but one of the book’s greatest legacies is the sport of Quidditch.

Quidditch is a sport, for the uninitiated, that takes place on broomsticks with two opposing teams. There are four balls; the Quaffle is used to score with, the two Bludgers are used to deter opposing players and the Golden Snitch is small and quick and when caught, ends the game. The seven players each have defined roles; the Keeper watches the three goalposts, the three Chasers try to score, the two Beaters hit the Bludgers at the other team, and the Seeker tries to capture the Snitch.

Quidditch is a game that values a good player; a good athlete regardless of gender; a person who is willing to risk injury in order to win the game. Men and women play with each other; there are no women’s leagues, and this creates an environment where the very best people are playing in the top Quidditch teams. Female Quidditch players have always made their presence known. During Harry Potter’s years as Seeker with the Gryffindor Quidditch team, he played with Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinner, Katie Bell, Demelza Robins, and Ginny Weasley. 

Eunice Murray, seeker with the Montrose Magpies, once petitioned for a “faster snitch because this is just too easy.”  Catriona McCormack captained the Pride of Portree to two league wins in the 1960s and her daughter Meaghan carries on her mother’s tradition.  Ginny Weasley herself, author J. K. Rowling has stated, went on to play with the Holyhead Harpies and later retired to become senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet.

Quidditch is a sport that holds no prejudice, just good players. Women will always play Quidditch, not because they are women, but because they are the best players.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Women's History Month "P": Beatrix Potter and Pin-Up Girls


Beatrix Potter and her favourite dog Kep

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author born in 1866, in South Kensington, London.  Beatrix was best known for her children books, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. As a child, Beatrix was home-schooled, kept isolated from other children, and discouraged from higher education, though her brother Bertram (who was six years younger) was sent to school when he was old enough.  Despite this lack of education, Beatrix carefully observed and painted nature, especially when on holidays in Scotland and the Lake District in Northwest England.  Her detailed watercolors of fungi ultimately led to her being respected in mycology (the study of fungi).

Through diaries and letters, Beatrix created stories and illustrations of animals with human characteristics in the rural countryside of England. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902, when she was in her 30s, and was followed by 22 other tales over the next 28 years.  When she was 47, Beatrix married solicitor William Heelis, and began to breed sheep and farm, while continuing to write.  With her passion of farming and animals, in 1930 Beatrix became the first woman president of the Herdwick Sheepbreeder's Association.


Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.
~Beatrix Potter

Most people, after one success, are so cringingly afraid of doing less well that they rub all the edge off their subsequent work.
~Beatrix Potter

I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.
~Beatrix Potter

I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense...
~Beatrix Potter


Pin-up girls are idealized images or illustrations of women that are mass produced.  The term was coined in England in 1941, when someone could trace a page out of a magazine and pin it up on their wall, but pin-up girls can be traced to the early 19th century. With advances in mass-printing in the early 20th century, photography and models were in short supply due to the war efforts.  Artists and illustrators began to drawing idealized pin-up girls, which were particularly successful during WWII.

George Petty was a pin-up artist whose images could be found in a variety of publications. He created the "Petty Girl" for Esquire magazine. The girls were considerably unrealistic, drawn with slender body types, longer legs, and small heads. 

Though many of the women used as pin-up girls were images of notable celebrities as Betty Grable, many of the drawn pin-up girls were illustrated as the "perfect woman," an idealized version of what a women should look like.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Women's History Month "O": Georgia O'Keeffe and the Olympics


Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950 

Born in Wisconsin in 1887, Georgia O'Keeffe was the second of seven children born to Francis Calyxtus O'Keeffe and Ida Totto O'Keeffe, both dairy farmers.  Ida insisted all of the girls take art lessons, and because both her parents were impressed, they encouraged Georgia to attend art school.  After completing high school in 1905, she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1907 she attended the Art Students League in New York City.  In 1908, Georgia attended a show at 291, which was owned by photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who would become her husband.  However, she did not meet him, and in 1908, Georgia moved to Chicago to work as a commercial artist, and did not paint until 1912

In 1916, Alfred Stieglitz was shown some of Georgia's work, and expressed a strong desire to show them; her first solo show was in 1917.  While Georgia was in New York, she stayed in an apartment owned by Stieglitz's niece.  During this time, Stieglitz and Georgia fell in love, and Stieglitz left his wife  to live with her.  Stieglitz and his wife didn't divorce until 1924, and  Georgia and Stieglitz married shortly thereafter.

Although Georgia worked in watercolors in her early years, she began working in oils, and in the 1920s, Georgia was creating large-scale close-up paintings of nature.  In 1924 she completed her first large-scale flower.  Some of her works, including 1926's "Black Iris III" have been thought to represent female genitalia, although Georgia denied that she painted vaginal imagery.  Even so, many art historians link her to feminist artists.

Georgia O'Keeffe was a pioneer in American art, especially in the 1920s.  She was considered one of the most important artists in America, and her paintings garnered high prices, even during her lifetime.  Her paintings of abstract flowers and landscapes of the American Southwest made Georgia one of the most important American Modernists.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico recently opened in 2010 to showcase two of her homes and exhibitions of her paintings and images.


To create one's own world, in any of the arts, takes courage.
~Georgia O’Keeffe

Making your unknown known is the important thing.
~Georgia O’Keeffe

I know I cannot paint a flower. I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning, but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey to you my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time.
~Georgia O’Keeffe

I don't see why we ever think of what others think of what we do--no matter who they are. Isn't it enough just to express yourself?
~Georgia O’Keeffe


The Olympic Games were founded in 1894 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to spark friendly international competition in a variety of events. With the success of the games, the Olympics occur every two years, switching off between summer and winter events with thousands of participants in hundreds of events. In the first modern games, held in Greece in 1896, women were not allowed to compete; it wasn't until 1900 when women were allowed to compete in appropriate sports as golf and croquet.  In current games, women only compete against other women except in sailing and equestrian events. 

The youngest girl to win a gold medal is Nadia Comăneci of Romania, who at 14 years old took gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games in three events: all-around, balance beam, and uneven bars. With new regulations, the minimum age a competitor can be is 16 years of age, which means Nadia will forever hold her title.

With so many talented young athletes, in 2010 the IOC held its first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore to feature athletes from 14 to 18 years of age. The YOG will be formatted similar to the Olympics with switching winter and summer events.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Women's History Month "N": Nefertiti and Nursing


The bust of Nefertiti from the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin

Nefertiti (meaning “the beauty has come”) was an ancient Egyptian Queen known for her iconic beauty. Though there is not much information on the life of Nefertiti, she is thought to have lived from about 1370 BC to about 1330 BC, and it is possible that her father was Ay, a pharaoh himself, though scholars are not sure of her parentage.  She was the Great Royal Wife to Akhenaten (who changed his name from Amenhotep IV), who moved the capital of Egypt to Akhenaten (modern day Amarna) and changed Egyptian religious practice to monotheism during his reign, worshipping only the sun disc Aten, instead of the full pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses.

During Akhenaten's reign, Nefertiti portraits and statues were highly reproduced in the Amarna artistic style of the era.  Nefertiti was often shown of equal size (and therefore stature) in the art of the period, and the art was less formalized, showing affection between not only Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but also between Akhenaten and his daughters (it is known that they had at least six daughters).  Additionally, Nefertiti was shown performing roles that were the duty of the pharaoh, including the smiting of enemies.  It is clear that she enjoyed vast personal power during Akhenaten's reign, and may  have been co-regent with him, as implied on stela from the time period.  It is also possible that after Akhenaten died, Nefertiti ruled as the pharaoh Neferneferuaten or Smenkhkare, though scholars are unsure, and often debate this theory.  Around 1332 BC, Nefertiti disappeared from all historical records.


I came to live in a country I love; some people label me a defector. I have loved men and women in my life; I've been labeled "the bisexual defector" in print. Want to know another secret? I'm even ambidextrous. I don't like labels. Just call me Martina.
~Martina Navratilova, Former No. 1 Tennis Player

The true face of the unions is not now a man in a hard hat as much as it is a woman in a classroom or in cleaning smocks.
~Karen Nussbaum, Co-founder and Executive Director of Working America

I'm no lady; I'm a member of Congress, and I'll proceed on that basis.
~Mary Teresa Norton, American Politician

Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.
~Anaïs Nin, French-Cuban Author

No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this--'devoted and obedient.' This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.
~Florence Nightingale, English Nursing Pioneer and Statistician 


Nursing is profession based on caring for the health of individuals, families, and communities.  Though nursing has been a profession for many centuries, pioneers like Florence Nightingale, who wrote Notes on Nursing, helped to revolutionize nursing and improve the conditions of the patients that were being cared for. 

Even prior to Nightingale, women have always had a strong influence in nursing. Historically, nuns provided nursing-like services as they would attend to the sick and the the military had women attend to soldiers who were wounded in battle. In the U.K. top female nurses were known as sisters.  In the US, many women serves are nurses in the armed forces from the Civil War to give their time and humanitarian services to the war effort. During the Spanish-American War, the government began a "contract nurse" service, providing government contracts to nurses and sending more than 1,500 women to provide medical care to Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. 

Today, there are a variety of nursing degrees and educational paths. A Registered Nurse is a nurse with certified credentials and degrees to provide technical knowledge of patient care and health. In a recent report done in 2003, it it stated that 92% of all registered nurses are women.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Women's History Month "M": Maria Mitchell and Women in Medicine


Maria Mitchell, painted by H. Dassel in 1851

Maria Mitchell was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts on August 1, 1818 to a Quaker family, who believed that both girls and boys should be equally educated.  After attending the North Grammar School, where her father, William Mitchell was principal, Maria's father went on to found his own school when Maria was 11.  Maria attended her father's school as a student, but also served as a teaching assistant.  In the evenings, Maria and her father studied the skies with their personal telescope; when she was 12, they calculated the precise moment of annular eclipse.  After completing her schooling, Maria served as a teaching assistant, opened her own school in 1835, and a year later, served as the first librarian of the Nantucket Atheneum, a position she held for the next eighteen years.

Through her education, Maria became an astronomer, librarian, naturalist, and educator. She became America’s first professional female astronomer, and was best known for her discovery of a comet through a telescope in the fall of 1847, for which she was awarded a gold medal in 1848 by the King of Denmark.  Maria was the fist woman to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and later the first woman to join the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She worked at the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office.  In 1865, Maria was the first person appointed to the faculty of Vassar College as professor of astronomy, and named Director of the school's observatory.  When she learned that her salary was lower than that of most of the younger male professors, she fought and won a salary increase.  In 1889, Maria died at the age of 70.  Her birth-house is open for visitation on Nantucket, Massachusetts.


We especially need imagination in science.  It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.
~Maria Mitchell

I would as soon put a girl alone into a closet to meditate as give her only the society of her needle.
~Maria Mitchell

Question everything.
~Maria Mitchell 

There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.
~Maria Mitchell


Throughout history, women have often been the first contact for medical advice and treatment.  They've nursed children, parents, and neighbors, and provided treatment and remedies through their own experiences and knowledge passed down to them.  Until relatively recent times, though, women were not allowed to formally study the medical sciences, and throughout history, very few women have served as physicians.  Even so, women have provided many paid medical services throughout history, including midwifery, nursing, minor surgery and treatments, and herbal remedies.

The earliest woman mentioned in medical science was Merit Ptah, an Egyptian who lived around 2700 BC and was described as a chief physician.  Homer mentioned Agamede, a healer in Greece, and in Athens, Agnodike was a legally practicing physician in the 4th century BC.  In medieval times, women were generally barred from universities, though there were few exceptions.  In general, Italy was more willing to educate women in the medical professions.  Trotula di Ruggiero supposedly taught at the Medical School of Salerno, and many texts dealing with female medical issues are attributed to her.  And at the University of Bologna, Dorotea Bucca was a chair of philosophy and medicine for over forty years.  Additionally, Hildegard of Bingen is generally accepted as Germany's first female physician, as she wrote extensively on a variety of scientific topics, including medicine.

It wasn't truly until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that women really began to gain access to formal medical training at universities.  Being banned from universities meant that several schools of medicine for women were founded, including the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (1850), the London School of Medicine for Women (1874), and the Tokyo Women's Medical University (1900).  Women also pushed for—and slowly began to receive—entry to medical schools alongside their male counterparts.  But even today, there are more men than women in medicine, and individual fields tend to be dominated by one gender or the other.  Men, for example, dominate the field of surgery, and also dominate as medical faculty and researchers.  Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to practice in the fields of pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and psychiatry.  Additionally, women still dominate in the field of nursing.

For more information on women in medicine, please visit Science Museum's History of Women in Medicine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Exhibition: Girl for Sale

Girl Museum's latest exhibition, in partnership with American Poetry Museum, will launch on March 31, 2011, at   Girl for Sale examines the worldwide problem of human trafficking and the complexities and complicities of governments, histories and human nature in this free market post-morality world.

Girl for Sale is a collaborative exhibition about girl trafficking that interrogates and responds to the issues through poetry, art, video and education. It is about outrage, survival and prevention.  Every year, thousands of girls are tricked, intimidated or forced into the shadows of sweatshops and brothels for labor and sexual exploitation. Some are taken across oceans, others just across the street. This modern day slavery is the second most lucrative international illegal trade.

This co-production of Girl Museum and the American Poetry Museum launches on 31 March 2011.

Ask yourself hard questions, find the limits of your tolerance, and take action.

Women's History Month "L": Lucretia and Women Lawyers


Lucretia (1664) by Rembrandt van Rijn, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Lucretia was a legendary figure in the story of the founding of Rome. According to legend, Lucretia was the queen of a city near Rome. Sextus Tarquinus, the son of the king of Rome, entered her home on the hospitality of her husband, but later that night snuck into Lucretia’s room and raped her.  He threatened that if she called for help, he would murder her along with one of her male servants and then arrange their bodies to look as though they were having an affair.

The next day, Lucretia went to her father’s house and explained what had happened.  She made her father and her husband swear to avenge her, and then took a knife and stabbed herself to death.  Her husband and the rest of her family vowed to overthrow the Tarquinii family and get control of Rome for themselves.  They carried out protests and elections to make themselves rulers of Rome, and then drove out the Tarquinii family.  This story was passed along through generations of Romans to explain why Rome no longer operated as a monarchy.

In the centuries since, the story of Lucretia has been used by writers and artists to promote all kinds of ideas.  The early Christian writer St. Augustine used Lucretia’s tale as a way to illustrate how women were not at fault for rapes.  Dante placed her in his version of “limbo” to show that some pre-Christian pagans were noble enough to escape the flames of hell.  The Renaissance painter Botticelli wove elements of Lucretia’s life into a mural showing that the tyranny of ancient Rome was not unlike the oppression he experienced in the Italian city-states.


Until we are all free, we are none of us free. 
~Emma Lazarus, American Poet

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes;" they will say, "Women don't have what it takes." 
~Clare Booth Luce,  American Playwright, Journalist, Ambassador, and U.S. Congresswoman

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. 
~Rose Luxenberg, Marxist Activist

The power of the harasser, the abuser, the rapist depends above all on the silence of women.
~Ursula LeGuin, American Fantasy and Science Fiction Author


Although lawyers have been around since ancient Greece, it has only been relatively recently that women began practicing law.  The first woman lawyer in North America was Margaret Brent, a British woman who came to the colony of Maryland in 1638.  She was chosen by the state’s governor to be the executor of his will, but his successor denied Brent the opportunity to have a voice in the state assembly.

For more than two hundred years after Brent’s arrival, Americans did not see another woman lawyer.  Then, in 1868, Myra Bradwell began publishing Chicago Legal News, the leading legal newspaper in the western United States.  A year later, Mary E. Magoon started practicing law in Iowa, and Belle A. Mansfield (also from Iowa) became the first woman to pass a state bar examination.  In the same year, Lemma Barkaloo became the nation’s first law student by attending Washington University in St. Louis.

Today, according to the American Bar Association statistics, women make up 31% of America’s lawyers and just 19% of law firm partners, even though their law school enrollment is almost equal to that of men.  Women lawyers also tend to earn only 80% of what male lawyers make.  For more information on women in law, visit the American Bar Association's Women Lawyers page.