Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bloomer, Schlafly in a Single Day

Here are a couple of photos I forgot about when I posted about my recent trip to the Northeast:

This plaque and house are in Homer, New York.

Amelia Bloomer ran the first woman-owned publication in the U.S., a temperance and suffrage journal called The Lily. Unlike many of her white suffragist sisters, Bloomer worked against racism within the movement. She also advocated for women's clothing that emphasizes function over appearance, which always endeared her to me:

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.
The word "bloomers" was coined in tribute to her by Libby Miller, who designed the long, loose trousers that were popular with suffragists for a few years in the mid-19th century. (Of course, they were ridiculed and harassed for wearing them, and the trend faded.)

It's odd that I am thinking about Bloomer just as Phyllis Schlafly has died. I wish I could remember more clearly what I thought of Schlafly in the 1980s (it wasn't positive, I can be sure of that), but these quotes from a list of 15 of her bon mots give you an idea:
“Non-criminal sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for the virtuous woman except in the rarest of cases.” (speaking before the United States Senate, 1981)

“ERA means abortion funding, means homosexual privileges, means whatever else.” (from “A new version of the ERA” on CNN, 1999)

“Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.” (February 1997)

“Minors are an intended audience for the highly profitable sex industry. Impressionable teenagers are easily persuaded to have abortions, and homosexual clubs in high school are designed for the young.” (in “Activist Judges Rule for Special Interests,” September 2004)

“The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” (in “Women are the Best Warmakers,” The Day, 1982)
“When marriages are broken by false allegations of domestic violence, U.S. taxpayers fork up an estimated $20 billion a year to support the resulting single-parent, welfare-dependent families.” (February 2011)
All of that to remind me that I felt about Schlafly just about how Elvis Costello felt about Margaret Thatcher, as expressed in the song Tramp the Dirt Down.


I just came across Katha Pollitt's thoughts on Schlafly from The Nation: What Phyllis Schlafly might have been if it weren't for women like Phyllis Schlafly.

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