Other Non Fiction - We Did It Ourselves! (Women's Story from the Dawn of Time to Today)
By elsie katz
When bold Lilith * near Adam lay
He tried to force her down that way
And she put up resistance..
Her backlash came of rage and fear
And she's the first we must revere
For feminist existence.
Then next in France we have Saint Joan*
Who let that country (on her own!)
And died a tortured death.
Too many suffered in that way;
The brave the strong the ''weird"* the gay
We learn and we respect.
To Votes for Women now we go
It put in Thatcher* as we know-
A cross that we must bear.
Our story has its twists and turns
Its shouts, its fights, its carpetburns;
We live it and we dare.
The Pankhursts*, Woolf* and Wollstonecraft*
The saboteurs who had a laugh
The arson on golf course*.
The merry brightly had their fun
While tragic Emily Davidson*
Died 'neath a policeman's horse.
I leap with speed that makes you dizzy (!)
To the seventies and Erin Pizzey*
Of Women's Refuge fame.
I find a hint of bold Lilith
Within the art of Patti Smith
And several more I'll name.
Kate Millett*, Firestone*, French Simone*
(See for yourselves - our list has grown!)
Some straight, some bi, some 'queer'.
And on a stretch of muddy common
The valiant band of Greenham * women
On TV - Germaine Greer.
And the countless Black women, strong and brave
Who refused to live and die as slaves.
In the past and now today.
Soujourner*, Seacole*, Rosa Parks*
And I'll name two writers who make their mark;
Toni Morrison and Jackie Kay.
These days I'm old and out of touch
I sit at home and don't do much
But women's work goes on.
Young women today, they don't keep quiet
There's slutwalk* and there's Pussy Riot*
And plenty more to come.
And where do we go now - and what do we do?
It's up to me
and it's up to you*
*Lilith - in the Apocrypha (less authorised part of the Bible.) Adam's first wife, before Eve. Refused to submit to Adam and lie beneath him but he forced her.Not a nice woman - she got revenge on him by haunting the world and attempting to kill male babies in their sleep. Sometimes called Lilith the nighthag.
* Joan of Arc. My favourite play about her is L'Alouette (the Lark) by Jean Anouilh
* Weird (as in the weird sisters in Macbeth) Women deviants were often burned as witches.
* A historian told me that if only men had voted in the election when Thatcher first come to power she would have lost.
*The Pankhursts, Suffragist Leaders. (the media called them suffragettes they preferred to be called suffragists)
*Virginia Woolf, author of fiction and of A Room One's Own (extended argument for women's freedom and independence. She felt it was essential for every woman to have have her own money -£500 a year and her own room to study, write and 'do her own thing' in). She also wrote 'Three Guineas', an antiwar polemic in 1944.
*Mary Wollstonecraft - feminist writer and mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
* St Andrews Golf course was one of several that got torched by suffragists. The reason? Golf used to be exclusively for men, the name meaning Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.
*Emily Davidson suffragist protester, deliberately threw herself under the horse.
*Erin Pizzey, founder of the Chiswick Women's Refuge, the first 'safe house' for women fleeing from domestic violence.
Patti Smith - had to include her because I love her !
*Kate Millett , author of Sexual Politics, Flying, Sita, the Looney Bin Trip, Going to Iran, Mother Millett, AD, The Prostitution Papers , the Murder of Sylvia Likens and The Politics of Cruelty (anti-torture). All brilliant. Also founded a Women's Farm where women did the essential agricultural work and created art and music in the 'spare time.'
* Shulamith Firestone, author of The Dialectic of Sex and (many years after) Airless Spaces- short bleak tales about the mental health struggles of herself and others in New York.
* Simone de Beauvoir author of The Second Sex, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter and several works of fiction.
* Greenham Common , successful all women campaign against Trident nuclear missiles which were eventually removed from the site.
* Sojourner Truth, slave who campaigned for emancipation. Made famous speech about her working life and the strength she needed to carry out her daily tasks 'and amn't I a woman'
* Mary Seacole, nurse and fundraiser working at the same time as Florence Nightingale
* Rosa Parks, the woman who refused to move to the black section at the back of the bus in the days of American Jim Crow segregation laws
*Slutwalk - women's demonstrations where women wore revealing clothing in order to show the right of women to wear what we like and be free from harassment and male violence.
* Pussy Riot - hell-raising Russian girlband. Served time in prison.
* It's up to you -including Men! Men can make women's lives easier, particularly when they are in the family stage by doing their fair share of shopping, cooking, housework and childcare. And men of course have their own struggle - to be full human beings and not Tarzan stereotypes. (You can do it 'it's up to you')