Saturday, June 25, 2011

Women in History

Women in History:
Anne Newport Royall

Anne Royall was a newspaper editor living in Washington, DC from the 1830s-1850s. You can read more about her at the Library of Congress website. She used her newspaper to publicly call out hypocrisy and corruption as she saw it in the highest levels of government. She claimed her purpose was to  “expose corruption, hypocrisy and usurpation, without favor or affection, in ALL.”

She supported the rights of individual states to decide which laws to uphold (slavery) but she seemed to lean towards anti-slavery. She hated political parties, especially those who claimed to know what was best for the country in the name of religion. She felt that those parties were in direct opposition to the Constitution.

She did not favor women's rights. She had this to say about women who lobbied in support of anti-slavery : “[They are] old maids probably in want of husbands” and their actions were “rather indelicate"for ladies. She felt that women should be hired for jobs if they truly needed the work and not just because they were women.

Bloomer Costume
In 1851, she commented on dress reform. The reform dress costume had shorter skirts and bloomers underneath. It was vastly different that what she was used to seeing on proper ladies.

Turkish Dress
She went to far as to compare it to a Turkish harem costume, equating ladies who wear reform dress to concubines. She claimed,  She seemed to support the idea of dress reform but not the actual costume. “We think there is a meaning in it. But in regard to the thing itself, we think it indelicate, unbecoming, and highly inconvenient; it makes a woman look the most disgusting of nature’s works, and must be doubly so in the eyes of men.”

She went on to propose a compromise between dress reform and existing standards of dress: “Is there no medium between corsets and immodesty; cannot corsets be dispensed with without forgetting delicacy, modesty, and all that is estimable in the virtue and dignity of woman.” It was becoming known that corsets caused a number of health problems in women and she seemed to be aware of that fact but it was still considered quite shocking not to wear one. I wonder what she would think of today's women's fashions?

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