News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Monday, March 18, 2013

Women in the Military – 1860’s Style

The political and financial chaos in the world last week, continuing into today with the European plan to raid private savings accounts to bail out inept governments while Syria attacks Lebanon, both colossal messes brought on by weak male leaders, I began wondering what has happened to the voice of women leaders in the world. Will there ever come a time when the world’s women will say, “Enough,” and take over?
From the inception of this democracy in the 1700’s we cast our women in the role of the submissive, the pious, the conciliators, concerned with family and children—a notion reserved for the upper-class Victorians, because real life required a different set of survival skills. Of necessity, women worked at low-paying, menial jobs, the only ones open to them, because they had hungry children. They followed their husbands westward to live in sod huts, because that what women did, and died from the hardship.
But not always. History changed in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, when women claimed for themselves the inalienable rights men granted to themselves in the Declaration of Independence. It began in a small way, most of it ignored by historians. 
Were you taught in grade school about the women in England who died in jail because they dared demand the right to vote? Probably not.
And did you know that the Revolutionary and Civil Wars in this country provided the chance for hundreds of women to dress as men and enlist in the military? That 250 documented cases of women serving as soldiers and the probability of many more is one of the best-kept historical secrets of the Civil War?
They Fought Like Demons, a book written by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren Cook, Louisiana State University Press, 2002, tells the story of these brave women who, disguised as men, fought and died, enduring hardship without asking for any quarter.
Why did they do that? For many, it was simple patriotism. Northern women fought to preserve the Union; Southerners fought to preserve a way of life threatened by the hated Northerners. Some joined to be near loved ones; others to escape the sheer boredom of Victorian life as women knew it. The pay was better and often there was a signing bonus. Many joined to escape unbearable marriages or an untenable lifestyle. Thus the legend of the female warrior, which prevails in our literature today, was born.
After reading this book I asked, “Where are women like that today--the ones willing to defy convention and persecution?” I can think of a brave Muslim teenager. Where are the rest? Surely we can see the state the world is in after a thousand years of male dominance and incompetence. Catholic women are speaking out, demanding a role in the church, why not Muslims?
You know that any five women in a room can have the nation’s budget balanced in a week. Getting elected President of the United States is not rocket science. You tell the electorate what they want to hear. In this last election they wanted security, safety and predictability in their life. Even though the one candidate was showing alarming signs of not having a clue, his opponent was such a wimp he let the other party beat up on him like a schoolyard bully. This was the guy who would tell North Korea if they so much as lobbed one nuclear bomb at us they would be a pile of dust within 24 hours? I don’t think so.
So, it’s time to take charge. You will have to do it. I’m entering my eighth decade and find being a local elected official is all I can handle, besides being a published author. If you can find the courage to speak out, expect to be trashed by the liberal media because we all know they’re terrified of what women united can do. Have at it and the rest of us will rally the troops.

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