Mimi Kennedy to be A Guest Speaker during a 5-part On-Line Study Group Devoted to the Work of Matilda Joslyn Gage
WOMAN, CHURCH, AND STATE WEBINAR: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE TODAY
Matilda Joslyn Gage
had an in-depth understanding of women’s history and issues that resonate for today’s women. She was radical for her time and would still be considered radical today as she questions the power and influence of the church and state in terms of how they affect women’s lives. It was for this reason that she was written out of history; being too radical for the suffrage movement of the late 1800s due to her “attack on the church and state – especially church- for their attitude towards women.” (Bibliography of the Woman Suffrage Association). Exposing sex trafficking and the sexual abuse of children and women by priests, Gage fearlessly examined the ugly underbelly of Christianity’s power and the ‘state’s power’ over women in her 1893 feminist classic “Woman,Church, and State”
. This 5-Part on-line study group of Gage’s major publication will be facilitated by Kathleen M. Bishop, Ph.D. with guest speakers.
“Friends – don’t miss this seminar on Matilda Joslyn Gage! She’s the too-little-known 19th Century suffragist and feminist theologian, about whom I studied for a decade – about whom I wrote several versions of a one-woman play. Gage was a true revolutionary. She lived an extraordinary life within the confines of her time, coming of age during the Civil War.
She arrived at the 1852 Syracuse Women’s Convention with a speech, assuming any woman who wanted to could speak! Lucretia Mott fit her into the program. Susan B. Anthony complained about her “untrained” voice, but Lucretia recognized the brilliance of her writing and had the speech published as an official convention tract.
Matilda grew in strength. She addressed Congress, pushed the all-male political parties, staged direct action at the nation’s 1876 Centennial, interrupting the Vice President’s speech to deliver a Declaration of Women’s Rights at the podium so all the “daughters of 1976” would know their foremothers had not sat idle in deprivation of their rights, but had demanded them for themselves and the generations to come. She published a newspaper, raised a family (her youngest child, Maude, married L. Frank Baum, who admitted that the progressive ideas in his Oz books came mostly from his mother-in-law!) She championed indigenous culture and was adopted into the Wolf Clan by Mohawk clan mothers, whose equality with their men, she pointed out, was superior to the status of European American women under US law. She endured frustration, suppression, defeat and victory in her organizing. She did it all in solidarity and collaboration with other women, at a time of stage coaches, slow postal service, and the beginning of the railroads. She ran a home and was part of her community – including as a midwife (she was a doctor’s daughter), nursing her husband through his final illness and endured political targeting, locally and nationally, and censorship of her “master work”, Woman, Church & State. Yet she triumphed. Her ideas, the Movement she pushed forward, and the goals she accomplished, outlasted her critics and survive into the 21st Century to remind us of history’s long arc – and inspire us to jump on, with whatever tools we command, and bend it towards justice. ”