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Friday, 25 March 2011

A quote a day for Women's History Month: 25th March

[I]t would be strange... if they had not, in the course of ages, acquired a measure of that mental dexterity and rapid skill which, in any other business, would be dubbed mechanical, but in a woman's business of obtaining and managing a lord and master is commonly described as intuitive.
Cicely Hamilton, 'Intuition', published in Time and Tide, 16 Sep 1927, reprinted in Dale Spender, Time and Tide Wait for No Man (1984)

Hamilton is probably these days best known for her 1909 polemic, Marriage As a Trade, but in her day, alongside her suffrage activism (including the lyrics to March of the Women even if Ethel Smyth actually copyrighted them) she wrote plays, novels, works on war, and travel books. One of her short suffrage plays ('How the Vote was Won', co-authored with Christopher St John) was produced last year at a fringe theatre in London and was still extremely entertaining. She was active in the birth control movement between the wars and also a supporter of abortion law reform, and is yet another example of someone who really doesn't fit in to categorisations of 'New' and 'Old' feminism at that period but was both involved with egalitarian campaigns and those addressing women's specific needs. (I am not sure that anyone, except possibly Eleanor Rathbone, who pretty much invented the concept of 'New' feminism around her concerns for Family Allowances, etc, really fits at all neatly in that simplistic division.)

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