Today's Quotes

"Champions have the courage to keep turning the pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead."

~Paula White

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt

It is hard to sum up Eleanor Roosevelt's life and contributions to society and especially women.  From a woman who once said, "It was a wife's duty to be interested in whatever interested her husband..." to the independent, politically active woman she became in her later years. In contrast she wrote in her final years, "I could not, at any age, really be contented to take my place in a warm corner by the fireside and simply look on".

Her quotes always caught my attention because they are very strong, however when I began researching her biography I began to understand where her quotes came from.  Her mother a society belle was disappointed at Eleanor's "plain looks and lack of manners," which left Eleanor feeling "an inordinate desire for affection and praise."  Later in her youth she was severely ashamed at her lack of suitors.  She married her fifth cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Once she was married her overly controlling mother-in-law controlled her family.

Although she became more politically involved in the postwar era, it was in 1921 when Franklin was paralyzed by polio that he greatly relied on her mobility.  Their political relationship became stronger, but their personal relationship had been damaged by his betrayal with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. After this she increased her political involvement and got closer to a group of independent, assertive women friends who were involved in various political and reform groups.

Eleanor care about the immigrants, women and the marginal groups. She actively supported anti-lynching campaigns and fought for fair housing for minorities. She wrote daily from 1936 to 1962 in her "My Day"columns about all the issues she was interested in.  The columns were published nationally reaching millions of Americans.

After her husband's death her most recognized legacy was her work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when she was chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Seeing her history it is easy to understand her quotes and the conviction with which she said them.  She is an example to follow because she did not let obstacles stop her instead  she faced them.  Not only that but she looked beyond her own life to fight to make life better for others.  I want to the same in my life, to have the strength to "look fear in the face" and do the things that I am afraid of doing.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 

"You gain strength, experience and confidence by every experience where you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you cannot do."


"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Olympe de Gouges

"Why this unswerving prejudice against my sex? Any why is it said, as I have quite clearly heard, that the Comédie Francaise should not put on any plays by women. I am a woman, but not rich ... Will it ever be allowed for women to escape from the terror of poverty other than by base means.

The more I read about this woman, the more I wish to honor her courage for she suffered death at the hands of those very men she supported during the French Revolution.  She was made an example to warn other women not to forget their proper place.  In her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791) she challenged the practice of male authority and the notion of male-female inequality.

Although women were active in the French Revolution, and many assumed that they deserved it by right of their active participation in the Revolution, those rights were limited to males.  Olympe de Gouges spoke out for herself and many of the women in France when she wrote her Declaration to mirror the "Declaration of the Rights of man and of the Citizen" in it she echoed the same language, but extended it to women also.  In this Declaration she asserted woman's ability to reason and make moral decisions.  She said that women were not simply the same as man, but they were his equal partner.

Unfortunately, she assumed too much when she thought she had the right to even act as a member of the public.  She violated boundaries that most of the revolutionary leaders wanted to preserve.  Among her challenges was that women, as citizens had the right to free speech, and therefore had the right to the identity of the fathers of their children which at the time women did not have.  She asserted that children born out of wedlock had the same rights as legitimate children.  This brought into question the assumption that only men could satisfy their sesual desire outside of marriage, and that they could do so without fearing any responsability for reproduction.  If they were not only political, rational citizens, but were part of the reproduction,then perhaps, women should be members of the political and public side of society.

For making this assertions public and refusing to remain quiet about the Rights of Woman and associating with the wrong side, the Girondist, she was arrested in 1893 and was sent to the guillotine.

Born Marie Gouze, she was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionistwritings reached a large audience.She began her career as a playwright in the early 1780s. As political tension rose in France, de Gouges became increasingly politically involved. She became an outspoken advocate for improving the condition of slaves in the colonies as of 1788. At the same time, she began writing political pamphlets. Today she is perhaps best known as an early feminist who demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. In her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791), she challenged the practice of male authority and the notion of male-female inequality. She was executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror for attacking the regime of Maximilien Robespierre and for her close relation with the Girondists.