Eleanor Marx has been called the ‘mother of socialist feminism’. She was a political agitator, literary translator, actress and campaigner for workers’ rights – deserving of accolades in her own right as more than just the daughter of her more well known father. Continue reading Eleanor Marx: ‘Mother of socialist feminism’
Qiu Jin is sometimes called the Chinese Joan of Arc; she was a feminist revolutionary who became a national heroine in China after she was martyred.
Qiu was born in 1875 in Xiamen, Fujian into a time where women in China were believed to be lesser than men, and were treated as such. When she was five, as was the norm for girls at the time, her family began binding her feet. She came from a wealthy family and as such was lucky to have access to a good education. She loved reading and began writing her own poetry from a young age. She also enjoyed more physical activities, which were less conventional for girls at the time, such as horse riding and sword fighting! Despite this, the expectations put upon her were the same as for any young woman of the time: that she marry and become an obedient wife and mother. Continue reading Qiu Jin – “Don’t tell me women are not the stuff of heroes”
Huda Sha’arawi was an Egyptian feminist and activist who founded the Egyptian Feminist Union.
Huda was born in Cairo in 1879 and came from a very wealthy Egyptian family. Life for boys and girls in Egypt at that time was quite different. As Huda grew she came to notice there were many things permitted for her brother which were forbidden to her. For example, when she saw her brother riding a horse she wanted one too, however she was told that riding wasn’t for girls. Huda was educated, but again, there were differences in the subjects she was allowed to study and those which her male relatives were. She said;
“I became depressed and began to neglect my studies, hating being a girl because it kept me from the education I sought. Later, being a female became a barrier between me and the freedom for which I yearned.” Continue reading Huda Sha’arawi
At the Visitors Center to the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, there is a statue of Helen Keller as a young girl, next to a water pump. The statue depicts the famous ‘eureka’ moment when she first connects the word water that her teacher was trying to teach her in sign language, to the water itself. This is the enduring image of Helen Keller, the little blind and deaf girl who learned how to interact in the world through the patience of her teacher and overcame her obstacles to eventually go to Harvard. All of which is true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.