All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote book Review

We can learn a lot from what a person eats on a daily basis. Not just about the era they lived in, but the culture around them.

All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote, by Laura Kumin, was published in 2020. Part history book and part cookbook, the reader is taken through the history of American feminism from the mid-19th century until the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Using food as a common language, the activists of the era were able to speak to the common woman about the importance of the right to vote and its implications.

This is a creative and unique side of a story that has become ingrained as part of our collective past. Though my own abilities in the kitchen are very basic, I was inspired by the simple, yet effective approach that my foremothers took to achieve their goals. Change sometimes occurs when we get off our soapboxes and meet people where they are. By doing so, we can understand their needs and encourage them to at least consider what we are proposing

Do I recommend it? Yes.

All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote is available wherever books are sold.

Voting Rights Women GIF by US National Archives - Find & Share on GIPHY

Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote Book Review

The road to justice is rarely short and never easy.

Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, by Ellen Carol DuBois, was published last year. The book tells the story of the first leg of the American feminist movement in the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century. It starts around the time of the Civil War. Though women in the United States are legally disenfranchised, they are vocal members of the Abolitionist Movement. When black men get the vote and women are still barred from the ballet box, the fire is lit. Led by foremothers such as Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth, the reader is taken through the difficult journey that led to the 19th Amendment.

I loved this book. It was one of those history books that has an appeal beyond the expected academic and feminist audience. It was readable and accessible without resorting to a list of dry facts. I also appreciated the spotlight on the African-American women who were just as important to the movement, but were ignored by their white peers.

I recommend it.

P.S. Today is Equal Pay Day, a timely reminder that the battle for real equality is far from over.

I am Woman Movie Review

It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.

I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.

Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.

It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.

The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

I Am Woman is streaming on Netflix.

Confirming Amy Coney Barrett Spits on the Memory of RBG

Every generation of the feminist movement builds on previous generations. However, that does not mean that the current generation honors or remembers the work of their predecessors.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last Friday, the news sent shockwaves throughout the country. According to an interview with her granddaughter, one of the late jurist’s last wish was that her replacement not be confirmed until after the election.

It is therefore, a surprise to no one that not only was that wish ignored, but her potential replacement is politically conservative. Her name is Amy Coney Barrett. Though she has taken advantage of the opportunities that were created for her via Judge Ginsburg, she is everything that RBG was not.

Judge Barrett openly opposes abortion and marriage in the LGBTQ community. Her nomination, if confirmed, would tip the balance within the Supreme Court towards the right. In theory, the court should be apolitical. But, in reality, politics views will always play a role in the decisions that are handed down.

What is more concerning than the choice of Judge Barrett is that Judge Ginsburg is not even in the ground. As far as I am concerned, the Republicans have ignored the choices of both the voters and RBG. They are so focused on winning the election, that they have forgotten who has the power to hire and fire them.

It’s time to remind them who is in charge.

#BidenHarris2020

The Seneca Falls Convention Was Only The Beginning

Social movements, especially those whose focus is civil or social rights are rarely, if ever, declared victorious in a short amount of time. Recent American history tell us that that it takes years, if not decades or centuries for these movements to achieve their goals.

Earlier this week was the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. Held in Seneca Falls in 1848, it is the seminal event the Feminist movement in the the United States.

Next month, we celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

Looking back through history, I am amazed and awe inspired on the progress that not just American women, but women in general have made. I am from a generation in which a woman working outside of the home in jobs that are not traditionally “female” is completely normal. Women of my generation, if they marry, are marrying later in life. Our careers and our education is just as important as having a husband and children.

However, there are still battles to be fought. Women still earn less than male colleagues with the same experience and job title. Our ability to access safe and legal abortions is tenuous at best and depends on a number of factors. The chance of being sexually assaulted and/or harassed is still too high for my comfort. In my home state of New York, rape intoxication loophole has yet to be filled.

This generation of feminists stands on the shoulders of brave women who understood that the future is female. We honor and remember the gains they made, but that does not mean that our job is done. Until we have true equality, we must continue on the path that they paved for us starting in 1848.

Gloria, A Life Play Review

Great women do not become great overnight. It takes years or even decades to be worthy of the title of greatness.

On Friday, Great Performances aired Gloria, A Life. Starring Christine Lahti, the play tells the life story of legendary second wave feminist Gloria Steinem. Via a small cast made up entirely of female performers, the audience is introduced to the real woman behind the icon.

I’m thrilled that this show was filmed for television. I didn’t see the play while it was open, though looking back, I wish I had. I loved it. It was educating, enthralling, and entertaining. If nothing else, the play is a reminder that the issue of women’s right is just a prevalent today as it was fifty years ago.

I absolutely recommend it.

Gloria, A Life can be streamed on the Great Performances website.

Why I Re-Read A Strange Stirring

In 2017, it’s easy for modern women to appreciate the rights and accomplishments that we can call our own. But, at the same time, we don’t have to travel that far to go back to a time when a woman’s sphere was limited to that of a wife, mother and homemaker.

Today I finished re-reading A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s by Stephanie Coontz. In the book, Ms. Coontz examines now only the impact of Betty Friedan’s world-changing book, The Feminine Mystique, but also the criticism that was lobbied at the book and Ms. Friedan.

I re-read A Strange Stirring for two reasons: 1) how far women have come in a short span of 2-3 generations and 2) I needed reminder of how complex the feminist movement is. It is more than the right to vote or to own property or to receive an education. It is our continued fight to be seen and appreciated as the complex and complicated human beings that we are.

I also recommend it, in case anyone has not read it.

RIP Lesley Gore

1960’s Pop singer Lesley Gore passed away today.

Mainly known for light, frothy songs like “It’s My Party” and “Judy’s Turn To Cry”, Ms. Gore released “You Don’t Own Me” in 1963, a song that would become an anthem of the feminist movement.

In her later years, Ms. Gore revealed that she had been living with her partner of 30 years, Lois Sasson.

RIP Lesley. While your mortal remains will vanish, your music and your legacy will live on.

HeForShe

Emma Watson gave an impassioned speech about Women’s Rights at the UN very recently. She spoke of an organization called HeForShe. HeForShe is not the typical feminist organization. It calls on men and women to take up the cause of feminism together.

Now that I am thinking about it, this is the absolutely correct next step in the feminist movement. We have achieved so much in only a few generations. However, we are not yet completely equal.

As Ms. Watson pointed out, a woman, even if she has the same or better education or professional background than her male colleague, she is still going to be paid less. In certain countries girls are still married off to men much older than them before they hit puberty. Women are still being judged by their outer appearance and sexualized far too early in life.

We need men to fight along with us. We need their support and their voices.

It’s not just a woman’s cause anymore, it’s a cause that belongs to men and women.

Common Sense And A Little Fire Book Review

Our heroes are often unsung.  Their achievements are often forgotten. We cannot thank them for what we have because we have forgotten them.

Annelise Orleck’s 1995 memoir, Common Sense And A Little Fire is about the unsung heroes of the feminist movement and the labor movement. Rose Schneiderman, Pauline Newman, Clara Lemlich Shavelson and Fannia Cohn were Jewish emigrants who left Europe for America at the turn of the 20th century. Settling in the Lower East Side, they took the only jobs they could get. Working in the garment factories for low pay, no benefits and unprotected from the advances of their male bosses and colleagues, they quickly join the labor movement, as well as the early feminist movement.

This book is a history book and a memoir, but it reads like a novel. Rich in historical detail, Orleck’s subjects are  human in every way. The reader gets to know them not just as labor leaders and feminists, but full human beings.  Her subjects are no longer with us, but every time I finish reading this book, I say a silent thank you to the ladies. Without them, we would all be very different.

I recommend this book.

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