Monday, January 19, 2009

On Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald, Dreams and MLK

On MLK Day, which really ought to be every day of the Obama administration, I give you my thoughts on Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald, using her words to support bigotry, the dreams of little girls and feminism.

So, let's start with what feminism means to me. Feminism is choices for women. It's that simple. Because of Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald (born 1857), and other women like her, I have choices. I can choose to get married, or choose to remain single my entire life. I can choose to own property, choose to go to college, choose to have a career, or I can choose to have children and stay at home to raise them. I can choose to have no children, 2 children or as many children as I can before my ovaries give up.

All of these choices are valid. Whether they are a good choice for me personally is irrelevant: they are all my possible choices. While I would not choose to have 20 children, I look at the woman who does and say, "Hey, good for you." I would prefer a PhD and a career, but I see the woman who has chosen children and home and say, "That's a good choice, too."

What I cannot agree with is the idea that only one choice exists for everyone with an XX configuration, and Nugget's got it all figured out. Imagine the sheer, unaldulterated arrogance it must take to say, without hesitation, that any woman who does not choose to get married, have children and stay at home is wrong. That's it. Wrong. Wrong and immature and selfish.


There are over 3,000,000,000 women in the world. And Nugget wants to make sure that every single one of them has only one choice: hers.

Nugget also chooses to use the words of Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald, poet, lifelong feminist, and single mother (she adopted a 10 year old on her own in 1910. Agnes was quite something else.) to support her position that (a) gays shouldn't have civil rights and (b) that girls shouldn't be allowed any choices at all. Nugget, who "likes the words" of Agnes' poem, derides Agnes as "feminist dominated" and "testosterone deprived." She calls Agnes' decision to adopt a 10 year old girl on her own "selfish."

This is appalling. I would say that were Agnes alive today, she would smack Nugget, but Agnes was also a Quaker, and Nixon notwithstanding, the Quakers are a gentle people. I do believe that, if I am wrong and there is an afterlife, Agnes is undoubtedly weeping.

Right now, there is a little girl looking at the night sky dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Right now, a little girl waits in the hospital for her mother to get out of surgery and dreams of becoming a doctor. Right now, a little girl is watching a plane go by and dreams of learning how that works.

Right now, Nugget says, "Silly girl. You have a uterus. You can't have dreams. Dreams are for boys."

I'll speak for Agnes and say, "Little girl, stop reading this blog. You're not old enough. But, hold onto your dreams. Dreams are for everyone, girl or boy, straight or gay, black or white. It took a long time, but we are 24 hours away from a black president. We're on our way. Keep dreaming. And come back when you're 18."


  1. I'm sorry.. I'm a little lost and must have missed something..who is Nugget?

  2. Silly woman, thinking that her choices are the right ones, who does she think she is? Her hubby should be telling us what to do, right? Because only men can speak, women stay silent.

  3. there's nothing like internalizing the belief that having a uterus robs you of a voice. and then abusing the corpse of a woman who worked her entire life to change that.


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