AGA Roll Call: March for Women's History

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Women's History: Kate Sheppard

New Zealand is a rather odd place for women, and it really always has been. Socially we still have a lot of work to do, many would argue that New Zealand is a very socially advanced country for women, but having lived the other side of that my eyes have been opened to a lot of suffering that women in my country still go through daily with little continued support. However politically New Zealand women have worked hard to keep women in parliament from the very start and as of right now we have a wonderful feminist prime-minister Helen Clark.

The political advancement of women in New Zealand was bought about by a handful of courageous women, particularly Kate Sheppard. Kate was born in Liverpool, England in 1847. After her fathers death the family moved to New Zealand in 1868 settling in Christchurch (my home town) a few years later, where Kate married and had one son.

March for Women's History

A woman is running for president. She advocates for fair labor practices, social welfare programs and women's rights. She also appears a bundle of contradictions -- she is anti-abortion (as are most at the time), but pro-free love; a eugenicist, but also a civil rights supporter and socialist; a suffragist and a spiritualist. She has worked as a stockbroker, a lobbyist, a businesswoman and a newspaper publisher. She is both admired and despised by many. Nominated as her running mate is an African-American man.

No one really thinks she will win. However, everyone who nominates and supports her, including she herself, feels that it is important a message be sent to the U.S. government that it is time for a woman in government and in the White House.

During her run, personal -- rather than political -- attacks are made on her from all sides, in all the ways women who threaten the status quo, women who dare, are typically attacked: she is painted as a witch, a bitch, a prostitute, a woman of "loose morals." Her politics and platform are not critiqued: she is a woman, and so it is her person which is maligned and demonized. She is purposefully scandalized by people -- primarily men, or women acting as protectors of men -- with power to prevent her and any other woman from having any chance at all.

Sound kind of familiar? But it isn't 2007. It's 1872.

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