What do Mary Wollstonecraft, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Dorothy Day have in common?
Organizers of the Women’s March decided to remove the pro-life group, New Wave Feminists, from their partnership page. In order to ensure there would be no misunderstanding, they made it clear that it was precisely because of the group’s pro-life stance that they were removed as sponsors. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one,” the organizers said. “The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington.”
So now that we know that pro-life feminists are not wanted at the march, I thought it would be interesting to consider six remarkable women who also wouldn’t be welcome.
1) Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Few feminists are as well known and revered as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was one of the pioneers and long-term champions of women’s rights. Stanton didn’t see motherhood and feminism as mutually exclusive. In fact, she was the devoted mother of seven children who reportedly called infanticide a “crying evil.”
For believing that, Elizabeth Cady Stanton would be unwelcome in the Women’s March.
2) Mary Wollstonecraft is one of the earliest known feminists and revered as an intellectual giant. She is probably most famous for writing “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” in 1792 which stated:
“Women becoming, consequently, weaker, in mind and body, than they ought to be, were one of the grand ends of their being taken into account, that of bearing and nursing children, have not sufficient strength to discharge the first duty of a mother; and sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection, that ennobles instinct, either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born. Nature in everything demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom do so with impunity.”
Mary died as a result of giving birth to her second child, Mary, who would later become Mary Shelley who would write one of the greatest novels of all time about the dangers of science not heeding morality, “Frankenstein.”
Oh, and I know many would argue that oh, that Wollstonecraft’s views on abortion were simply a product of her time. But they would also argue that millions of women were procuring abortions back then as a reason it needed to be legalized. So they can’t have it both ways. It’s also difficult (and insulting) to think that Mary Wollstonecraft, who so bravely made the case for women’s equality, would be cowed by the conventions of her time.