Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recognizing Women

In Modern Political Thought class the other day we read Olympe de Gouges (1791), Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) and the Declaration of Sentiments (1848)--all criticizing the new modern liberal states for not recognizing women. De Gouges literally lost her head for criticizing the French Constitution of 1791.

I asked my students who was the first woman to run for US President. I gave them hints after Hillary Clinton's name came up--such as her running mate was a black man; and the date was 1872. None knew Victoria Woodhull's name, there was some recognition of Frederick Douglas.

I then asked: Would it have made a difference if young women and men learned about this try for the presidency, when they studied the abolition movement the Civil War, Reconstruction and women's suffrage in middle or high school?

I then asked in college, which female philosophers did they studied in Phil. 101--Introduction to Philosophy, or in the 3rd year class on Ethics...only 1 said they studied maybe 1 or 2 women (Wollstonecraft and Ayn Rand), the rest they read only male philosophers.

What of Sappho, who ran an academy; who Plato called wise and the tenth muse? What of all the 93 women who are listed on's index? There were women doing philosophy from 2354 BCE to today.

And, then we wonder why a health care bill can discount the needs of women.


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