Saturday, March 23, 2013

Feminism 1913 -Women Demanding Everything?

Isadora Duncan in Greece

According to a 1913 book Women as World-Builders, sold to local women by the Montreal Suffrage Association, "the women's movement is a product of the evolutionary science of the 19th century" and Isadora is the living embodiment of the perfection of evolution with respect to the body. (or Something Like That.)
Today we have the Tunisian feminist Amina risking a lot to make her point. And a ballerina at the Bolshoi describing that place as a brothel.

Must ask Melvyn Bragg about all this as he wrote the script for the movie Isadora with Vanessa Redgrave and he knows about everything :) The Minoans, Imaginary Numbers, William James. (I love the show.)

A Floyd Dell authored the book. Apparently, he was a  man 'expert' in the feminist movement (or was it a pseudonym?)

 Here's the full list of feminists he writes about:

I found a  copy  of Women as World-Builders on and wrote about it earlier. What I have just found out is that this book was for sale at the Literature Bureau of the Montreal Suffrage Association in 1913.

They were right up to date!

I know because the Montreal Daily Herald published a section on the new Montreal Suffrage Association in its November 26, 1913 issue, which I took a peek at last week at the National Archives.

I wrote about it earlier on this blog.

This section included  a short article about the Literature Bureau which focused on this biographical volume.

(The Minutes of the Literature Bureau revealed that Montreal Suffragists made good money selling pamphlets and books. Indeed, it was their main means of income. They often lost money bringing in speakers even British Suffragettes like Barbara Wylie.

Cristabel Pankhurst's book about the Scourge of VD also was a big seller. "Votes for Women: Chastity for Men")

Jane Addams is the social reformer from the US who didn't like the motion pictures but who, (I think) might have have been the first to describe Hollywood as a Dream Factory, well, House of Dreams.

(A scene from Everywoman, a very popular play of the 1910 era, which featured beautiful young actresses in clingy clothing warning about the dangers of vanity, pride, the acting profession, and THE BIG BAD CITY. Flora Nicholson, 19, attended at His Majesty's on Guy and wrote home to Mom saying Everywoman was the best play she'd ever seen!)

I think this book explains a lot about the Montreal Suffrage Association, launched almost exactly 100 years ago today.

The Executive (made up of  members of the Montreal Council of Women and McGill Profs and Protestant Religious leaders) described the organization as an 'education' organization.. also a 'reasonable' organization as opposed to a 'militant' one.

Here's a paragraph from an opening chapter:

 Do you think this is the kind of material that inspires young women like Edith Nicholson of my story Sister Salvation to pick up a sign and start marching down Sherbrooke Street shouting "Votes for Women?"  NO!

Hmm. The author is saying here that he is going to 'show' not 'tell' - but his writing style is a bit (might we say?) overblown, so this book certainly is not aimed at average women. Montreal Suffragists pretended to be inclusive, but they kept their membership confined to an educated well-connected social elite.

The Minutes of the Montreal Suffrage Association. They brought in a speaker to talk about "Women and Social Purity" Lower class women were all in danger of becoming prostitutes, they seemed to feel.

Holiness of its parts.. beauty but no sexuality? (The suffrage movement in Canada was mostly about promoting Social Purity and Pure Women.)   But Isadora had already had her two children out of wedlock by 1913.  No mention in this book of that fact.

Yet, here's another snippet from the chapter on Isadora.  It sounds kind of 60's ish.