13 May 2007

Mother's Day

Thanks to Digby, I now know that Mother's Day wasn't invented by Hallmark after all, but by a woman named Julia Ward Howe.

With a name like that, of course it turns out that she was a Unitarian feminist suffragist abolitionist pacifist. (And also, rather oddly, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, though it turns out that if you check out all of the verses it isn't quite the song that one imagines.)

This kind of stuff is why I don't understand people uncomfortable with the word “feminist” because they think it comes with “too much baggage.” I'm happy to be a feminist if it means I get to carry the baggage of the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Sounds like a great plan to me. Happy Mother's Day.

Oh, and Mom? Thanks. Thanks especially for raising me to dig stuff like this.


Kate said...

Hallelujah! After years of tolerating your need to boycott this "Hallmark" holiday, I am vindicated! And in such a wonderful way......

Love you so much, my elder son, whose birth made it possible for me to say "I am a mother!"

Hecate said...

Thank you for printing this. You clearly had a kickass great mom.