I told this story here two years ago, but I want to repeat it tonight, as the reality of women’s lives is being erased in favor of an image of women as mothers…. If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.
You are a magnificent voice. I am a 75 year old woman, a mother and stepmother....As a jununior in college at USC...I walked through Watts in Los Angeles registering voters during Robert Kennedys campaign..my heart was broken when he was assasinated in the next room from our celebrating. You are the first voice that has made me believe again.....I have been active; but you are the first voice of hope. Thank you from my heart.
I did not know this history. It outweighs a thousand bouquets or cards. For this Mothers’ Day I will just ask my sons to read this letter. Thank you Professor Richardson, I am grateful for all that you share with us.
Thank you, Heather CR. I feel comfortable w your repeating this history as it did not attach as clearly last year. I so appreciate your gentle reminders that we women have continuing work to be done ‘to take control of politics from ..men who ..permitted such carnage.’ We are continuously seeing the carnage in Ukraine… Today…
PLEASE ALL WOMEN & MEN read this letter aloud at your meals tomorrow. And stop and talk w your family & friends about how you can participate in stopping the lies, politics, carnage from spreading any further…become creative w your efforts !
We are still fighting for equality, in our workplaces, in our government, and in our homes. This latest attack on our ability to make our own decisions over OUR bodies just shows that we are still in the fight for our lives. We thought we had won at least this fight 50 years ago. Perhaps we became complacent and thought the "war" was over. But those battles for our reproductive decisions were just skirmishes. The ones who want to keep us "in our place" have been patiently scheming ever since. Whose rights will they attack next?
I had always thought Mother's Day was invented as a marketing scheme to sell more greeting cards. Mothers' Day is so much more powerful. It does seem like war means men go off to fight and women take care of the home front and doing men's jobs vacated when men go off to war. But then the men come home and women are told they are taking jobs away from the men coming home and to go back home and be mothers. Now it takes two breadwinners in the family to make hopefully a decent living. What happens now if a lot of men and women go to war? Where are the people that can run the manufacturing plants .. and, she says cynically, keep turning out the weapons of war? Yes, the idea that there is an alternative to war based on how women would manage the world as harmonizers, not competitors is very tantalizing. I do not believe that competition is the way to make everything from capitalism to sports teams work. Sports may look like competition but the winners are the teams who learn know how to work together toward their common goal. Yes, one of my favorite themes is that we need to go from the OR world bifurcating everything and breeding hate and greed to the AND world where we have each others backs and work toward the well-being of the community and each individual in it. For me community encompasses anywhere you can get in a day -- roughing 22 miles if you're riding a horse, now almost anyplace in the world. We are now a global community and I hope it is the AND model that prevails. We, the People, all of us this time.
Thank you for sharing this great piece of history Heather. And so important given our current reality. It truly is amazing that we women still have to fight for our rights. And the reality is that we do. So let’s make our collective voices heard, and don’t let a few right wing religious fanatics take control of our healthcare choices.
I thought the veil lifted from my eyes in the Trump years, but this Supreme Court vote yet again made all the lessons I learned of feminism real for the first time, despite all the sexism I’ve lived through, the stories of my mother, grandmother and even great grandmother fighting bitterly for their rights. This post hit me hard. I feel i am hearing the clarion call of urgency of feminism, really, for the first time. I am legitimately scared for poor women in our country.
My contrarian, progressive elder son, who also loves the glamour of weaponry and knows the details off every civil war battle, half-jokes he wants to join the military rather than fill out his college applications. My gift this Mother’s Day will be a demand that both my teenaged sons to read your post.
It's enlightening — and encouraging — to know this history, and I've shared with my wife and 16-year-old son. Julia Ward Howe sounds like a force of nature who could help save the nation now.
"...she threw herself into the struggle for women’s suffrage, understanding that in order to create a more just and peaceful society, women must take up their rightful place as equal participants in American politics."
While that was lofty then, today is sounds quaint compared to what's coming. Women won't be silent, much less stopped. They know they have power and leverage. And corporate America, largely silent for now, will soon realize that hiring, already very difficult, will become even more so unless companies speak out in support of women and abortion rights.
Alito and his like-minded justices, for all their pseudo judicial high-mindedness, have awakened a force that they couldn't have imagined.
Gratitude to you for this beautiful and tragic reminder, Dear Heather. As wars upon wars re-occur, there’s necessary information to inform us of our shared history and our shared future. Fractured and at proverbial faultlines, we struggle to make sense of what our world means. Gratitude to you for informing us, enlightening us. Dark as this time may seem, a foot forward is most helpful.
Years ago, I tried to put the same message into some kind of doggerel, but never succeeded.
Being an arrogant male, it's the arrogance that troubles me, rather than the maleness...
Mothers, you women who bore us,
Were we then born for this?
Why do you all stay silent, will none stand up for us?
Forward, and face down the soldiers!
Forward, let each take her place!
Gnomes and hobgoblins and sorcerers
Shall not blight the human race.
Those who count but don’t care are a handful,
You are countless and you shall prevail!
When the drones lose their thrones we’ll be thankful –
And farewell to the arrogant male.
We must not go back to the bad old days, when you could become a mother because of rape or incest or failed birth control. All mothers must control their own bodies. Autonomy is essential for freedom. I did not have sons and grandsons for cannon fodder. American mothers support our fellow Ukrainian mothers.
If women ever gain equality! Or what if they never do? It’s less than 80 years to the next century. Will women born this decade see equality?
I had not seen the earlier story, but I appreciated the thought this triggers about the care needed to separate valuing people as people from the valuing of the roles people play in their lifetimes. A fine way to end the night! Thank you.
Thank you for this powerful and most timely piece of history. It’s a much needed nudge which reminds us, that once again we are being challenged and must stand up and flex our muscles against the evil and threatening forces. Never forget, the sisterhood is powerful!
Today, er, yesterday was my 71st Birthday, but thank you for making Mother's Day relevant. Your historical insights help us to deal with the craziness and I'm forwarding today's message to my wonderful girls. Thank you!.
Once again you inform. Once again you shine the light on history and us. Once again I thank you.