“Woman’s ability to earn money is better protection against the tyranny and brutality of men than her ability to vote.”
My woman of honor this week might be a little less familiar to you, but Ms. Victoria Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee, became the first women to establish a banking and brokerage firm on Wall Street called Woodhull, Claflin & Company around 1870. It should be noted that this was a time when women were expected to be managing money from the home, not in a bank. This was a huge step in the women rights movement. But this was just the first step. In 1870, Victoria decided to run for presidency – the first woman in U.S. history to do so. Obviously, she didn’t win, and considering that she supported ideas such as free love when women weren’t even allowed to vote, that’s not too surprising. Victoria didn’t let that stop her. In 1871, she became the first woman to deliver a memorial to the House Judiciary Committee – about women suffrage. The leaders of the Women Suffrage Movement were so impressed that they asked her to speak at their convention – the following day. The speech Victoria delivered at the convention catapulted her into suffrage leadership – in fact, she became known in newspapers as “the ablest advocate on Women Suffrage.”
Unfortunately, having that much sway in such a tumultuous time meant that she had powerful enemies, and these enemies didn’t stop until they had taken Victoria out of the game. Victoria was cornered during a speech at Steinway Hall, where she was badgered into sharing that she was a free lover, which turned the crowd against her. Things went downhill from there, but Victoria remains a champion of women rights to me. She proclaimed that women should be free to love whomever they choose, emphasizing the injustice of shaming women for doing what men do without consequence. That’s my kind of lady.
“Women must rise from their position as ministers to the passions of men to be their equals. Their entire system of education must be changed. They must be trained like men, [to be] independent individuals, and not mere appendages or adjuncts of men, forming but one member of society. They must be the companions of men from choice, never from necessity.”