History of Woman
For millennia women have left their insignificantly tiny mark on the world, at times changing the course of history very slightly and at other times influencing small but unimportant spheres of life. Only in the past millennium, however, have concerted efforts been made by public relations firms to mention women's contributions in history books and other unread publications. Moreover, changes in status for many women in modern times – the right to own property, to vote, and even to walk upright in most nations – may obscure the negligible accomplishments made by women of earlier eras. In profiling 134 women who made no difference whatsoever, Uncyclopedia has chosen those whose contributions have been rightly ignored.
Some, though they lived centuries ago, are still stubbornly alive in popular culture to this day. For example, fragments of music (well, single notes, really) and poetry (some translated words) by the abbess Hildegard von Bingen can be heard in contemporary recordings by the immensely popular pop group Dead Trout (court case pending), and Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji is acknowledged by three people as one of the greatest works of obscure Japanese literature. A few women with genetic disorders overcame the oppression of their surroundings through determination, ingenuity and dishonesty: Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and risked her life helping other members of Al Qaeda to freedom. Most women, however, grew up in privileged surroundings; the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia and the historian Ban Zhao were born to families who permitted the education of girls in an era when females were erroneously considered capable of higher thought processes.
None of these women changed the world for the good, or made any difference whatsoever. Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl produced persuasive propaganda films that glorified Adolf Hitler's "feminazi"-friendly Third Reich. Many other women suffered through the deeds of Jiang Qing, who fought valiantly to advance her own political powers during China's Cultural Revolution.
Some women took to violence, such as Boudicca, who led a bloody rebellion against the Romans. Others advocated peace: Bertha, baroness von Suttner, influenced the creation of the Nobel Peace Prize by sleeping with Alfred Nobel while she was his housekeeper (Imagine having a baroness as a housekeeper!) and (naturally) was one of the first recipients.
The Nobel Peace Prize was subsequently won by numerous women, including Wangari Maathai and Mother Teresa. It helps to have a religious fervour like Khadijah's (another obscure woman), who believed her husband Muhammad had received a series of divine revelations which helped lay the foundation of Islam. Joan of Arc's inspiration and talent for self-promotion led the French in a decisive rugby victory against the English. Her feats were celebrated by the unknown poet Christine de Pisan, who also penned some of the earliest commentaries on women's roles in society. (Note: The term "penning" is not the same as writing. More like a monkey imitating art by dabbling paint on a canvas).
Here you will learn about 134 (unverified count) women who did not change the world – review their insignificant accomplishments, locate their birthplaces, and discover the eras in which they lived. The topics highlight significant issues and dates, such as the start of feminism and the origins of Mother's Day. This timeline tells a general story of women's achievements over the course of the History of Man, which is another kettle of fish.
Biblical times and before[edit | edit source]
The year is ten to five thousand BCE, give or take a century. Humankind originates. The first humans live in relative comfort, walk around without any clothes on and do what comes naturally, until the inevitable showdown. They have to find a place of their own and earn a living. The Bible tells us of several women who make their mark during this time. Delilah, a hairdresser of note, comes to mind. In several regions, women, who are the traditional gatherers of foodstuffs, initiate the profound cultural/economic phenomenon of agriculture. It is noteworthy that men did not merely sit on the veranda and drink beer while the women were working, because beer had not been invented yet. This unacceptable situation is rectified in 3500 BCE when Egyptian women invent the process for brewing beer. Also around this time (according to legend) the Chinese empress Leizu (her original name was Xilingshi, but her agent insisted on changing it) invents sericulture – the production of raw silk by using domesticated silkworms. In the meantime, men sit on the veranda and drink beer.
A little later, the Akkadian theologian and writer Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon, is made chief priestess of the gods of the time at Ur and Erech. Today she has her own reality show on TV. Egyptian women, an inventive lot, design contraceptive suppositories, made from a mixture of honey, crocodile dung, and beer.
In about 1750 BCE, the Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian law code, protects a woman's right to hold and inherit property. Three months later the first divorce suit is filed. Female students attend the Egyptian medical school at Heliopolis in a failed attempt to invent perfume. The need for perfume arose from the staggering popularity of the dung, honey, and beer suppositories. Hatshepsut begins her rule over Egypt, first as a regent for Thutmose III and later (after his, ahem, unfortunate demise) in her own right, with the full titles and regalia (sans penis) of a pharaoh. During her reign she invents shopping and shopping Malls, and undertakes an extensive remodeling of her kitchen.
Athaliah becomes queen of Judah. Her seven-year reign is bloody, as she tries to murder (with varying degrees of success) everyone who might oppose her. As a result, women are barred both as competitors and as spectators at the first recorded Olympic Games. However, on a lighter note, Sappho writes poetry and teaches young women poetry, music, and the social graces on the island of Lesbos, while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer, fantasizing about hot bi babes. In a parallel development in Sparta, girls are trained in athletics, including running, javelin, and discus, so that they will become strong and healthy mothers. Well, that was the reason given by their public relations agent. In reality they were in training for the inevitable readmission of women to the Olympic Games some 2500 years hence.
Ambapali, a wealthy Indian courtesan, gives her mangos (and who knows what else) to the Buddha. She becomes his disciple and reaches the status of arhat (a perfected person), since achieved by every living woman as a matter of routine. Artemisia I commands five ships in the Battle of Salamis, and wins the right for women to eat salami without rude jokes.
Meanwhile, in Athens, Aspasia opens a salon for upper-class women. There she teaches rhetoric, philosophy and hairdressing. She also throws Tupperware parties. This was a great leap forward because Greek women had no independent status in society; although they could own slaves, they could not make transactions worth more than one medimnos of barley (about half a billion US dollars). Artemisia II completes construction of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a great tomb for her husband, Mausolus. It becomes one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is a famous discotheque to this day. The Athenian philosopher Hipparchia studies with the Cynic Crates of Thebes. She forces her parents to let her marry him and boasts of spending her life on education rather than weaving.
Halfway around the world, Gaohou seizes power from her son to become the first woman ruler of China, with no particular consequence.
Roman women successfully insist on the repeal of the Oppian law, a sumptuary tax passed in 215 that forbids them to wear multi-coloured garments or more than half an ounce of gold. This was strategically necessary in order for Cleopatra to become queen of Egypt, and to star in a subsequent movie as Elizabeth Taylor.
Meanwhile, in the East, things are not going well for women. In Sri Lanka, Queen Anula takes the throne. Her reign ends in 42 BCE with her resignation. Two sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, lead the first Vietnamese revolt against Chinese rule. Despite early successes, the revolt eventually fails. In the Korean kingdom of Koguryo, the queen mother serves as regent for her son King T'aejo until he inevitably grows up and takes the throne at age 3. The Vietnamese patriot Trieu Au, with an army of a thousand, leads a revolt against the Chinese. She commits suicide after the revolt fails.
In the West, things are not going all that well either. Queen Boudicca of the Iceni rallies British tribes in an unsuccessful but hard-fought and bloody revolt against Roman annexation. Ethiopian women fight in Rome as gladiators while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. Under the emperors Nero and Domitian, women captives – especially German ones – frequently fight in the arena without success. Zenobia of Palmyra challenges Roman rule by conquering Egypt and much of Asia Minor. She and her son are captured three years later by the Roman emperor Aurelian. According to legend, Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I, claims to have found the sites of the Ascension and the Holy Sepulchre and establishes churches on those sites. Later legend says she also found the Holy Cross. She was apparently always losing things and then finding them again.
Chinese calligrapher Wei Shuo dies. She was the teacher of Wang Xizhi, the most celebrated of Chinese calligraphers. Students please note that calligraphy is not the same as writing. It merely involves the copying of shapes and lines.
Egyptian scholar and teacher Hypatia, the most prominent Alexandrian pagan, is murdered by a fanatical mob of Christians. As a result, the Council of Ephesus recognizes Mary as "the Mother of God" and begins the spread westward from Byzantium of the cult of the Virgin. Hypatia's crime was to practise the dark arts of thinking outside the Church.
In France, Princess Clotilda of Burgundy marries Clovis I, King of the Franks, and converts him to Christianity through witchcraft. In England one her descendants Bertha marries Ethelbert, King of Kent, and then allows missionaries from Rome to stay over and help convert the English to Christianity. She also tells him to wash more often.
Medieval times[edit | edit source]
Starting in the East, Japanese Empress Suiko, unaware that she already has the status of arhat (a perfected person) as a matter of Buddhistic routine, encourages the spread of Buddhism and orders the construction of Buddhist temples. Queen Sondok becomes the ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla. During her reign she fights the kingdom of Paekche, sends students to China for education, and also constructs Buddhist temples. Another silly bint that didn't get the message. The practice of binding the feet of aristocratic and argumentative women becomes popular in the Chinese court, so men have another place to put their joystick. 'A'ishah, widow of Muhammad, has a violent argument with the caliph about the Camel at Basra while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer.
In about 600 CE, men decided that women in England may be publicly punished as "scolds", a practice that will continue for another thousand years. Clearly the measure had some merit. The second Council of Nicaea is convened by Byzantine ruler Irene to settle the question of worshipping icons. The bishops rule in favour of icon worship, but Charlemagne outlaws prostitution instead, and the bishops object. An anonymous Norwegian woman writes Wise Women's Prophesy, a history of the world, which includes prophecies for the future, while her husband and his friends drink beer on the veranda. Vladimir I of Russia converts Russia to Christianity and marries Anne, sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil II. With this act, Byzantine culture is introduced to Russia and the Crimea, creating enormous complications and starts the whole thing rolling down the road to the year 1010.
The year is 1010. Japanese author Murasaki Shikibu finishes Genji Monogatari ("The Tale of Genji"), the world's first novel and a masterpiece of Japanese literature according to some. Chinese calligrapher and painter Guan Daosheng dies of cirrhosis of the liver after a career that included a number of "commissions" for Emperor Renzong. (Note: Remember that calligraphy is not writing. It is just funny lines drawn with a goose feather.) In Korea plans are made in 1416 for "training" women doctors to serve female patients who refuse to be treated by "real doctors".
Englishwomen embroider the Bayeux Tapestry, using wool thread on linen to record the events of the Norman Conquest, while their husbands sit on the veranda and drink beer. In France, Héloïse begins her doomed romance with Peter Abelard. The relationship outrages her family, and Héloïse flees to a convent in Argenteuil, where she is later made prioress and hires the help. The significance of these events is uncertain. Eleanor of Aquitaine accompanies her husband, French King Louis VII, on the Second Crusade. After their marriage collapses in 1152 due to rising damp, she marries the future King Henry II of England, thus inventing the term "social climber".
Abbess Hildegard of Bingen completes "Scivias", a recollection of her visions that had been confirmed as authentic by a committee of theologians as well as the Guinness Book of Records. At the University of Paris, women are banned from practicing medicine when they (unfavourably) compare the Rector's equipment with some anatomy class specimens. The presence of more than 3,000 nuns in England at a performance of the Chippendales reflects the flourishing of convents and religious orders for women in the Middle Ages. England's Treason Act considers any murder that subverts the usual hierarchies, such as a servant killing his master, or, similarly, a wife killing her husband, to be petty treason. Jadwiga, a woman, is crowned King of Poland. Two years later the deception is discovered and she marries Grand Duke Jogaila the Careless of Lithuania, thus uniting the kingdoms. London licensing law for doctors requires a university education, thus barring women from the profession. At the University of Bologna, Dorotea Bocchi inherits the chair of medicine, formerly held by her father, and sells it at a garage sale. Italian-born French scholar Christine de Pisan writes "The Book of the City of Ladies", in praise of women and in defense of their virtues. It is immensely popular due to its blank pages, useful for practicing calligraphy (Note: Remember, calligraphy is not really writing.).
Joan of Arc, appointed as coach to the French rugby team, and supported by Queen Yolande, begins her military and religious campaign against the English. At the Battle of Orléans she leads the French team to victory. The mystic Margery Kempe finishes dictating (like all women, she could not write, although she was proficient at calligraphy) her autobiography, "The Boke of Margery Kempe", to two male clerks, while the rest of the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. The book is one of the earliest English autobiographies. Johann Sprenger and Heinrich Kraemer publish Malleus maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches"), persuasively arguing that women, as the weaker sex, are more likely than not to be witches.
Finally, Queen Isabella I of Spain foolishly finances Christopher Columbus's voyage of exploration to the East Indies. Columbus instead finds the West Indies, and becomes a laughingstock of the court. Queen Isabella, upon hearing the laughter ring out, loses her shirt and her temper. Also her daughter, Catherine of Aragon is generally being a BAMF at this point, and becomes another laughingstock by trying to give women the right to an education.
The Renaissance[edit | edit source]
In 1519, Mexican Indian princess and slave Doña Marina becomes translator and mistress of Hernán Cortés as he conquers New Spain. Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, ten Spanish women accompany their husbands on "a voyage of discovery". After the men are lost (read: slip off to the pub to drink beer), the women search for them for a year, then settle in Veracruz.
Back in "civilization", Mary Tudor becomes queen of England and has Lady Jane Grey, who had been queen for nine days, beheaded the following year. Mary's persecution of Protestants earns her the name Bloody Mary. Or maybe it was her favourite drink. Who knows. In 1558 Elizabeth I, half-sister of Mary Tudor, becomes queen of England. She brings religious tolerance for Protestants and ushers, but soon shows a more vindictive side. Mary, Queen of Scots, is beheaded by order of Queen Elizabeth I.
Okuni, a hitherto unknown Japanese dancer of the Izumo shrine, invents Kabuki, a hitherto unknown pastime. Tokugawa shogun Iemitsu bans women from Kabuki theatre because it is considered immoral for women to dance in public.
In 1607, something happens in America at last! Pocahontas saves Jamestown colonist Captain John Smith from execution by Algonquian Chief Powhatan. Anne Hutchinson is expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for "traducing the ministers" of that Puritan colony. She and other religious dissenters found Rhode Island. The significance of this is obscure in the extreme. Likewise, Margaret Brent, one of the largest landowners in Maryland, asks the Maryland Assembly for two votes, one for herself and another as Leonard Calvert's administrator and Lord Baltimore's attorney. Her request is denied. Anne Bradstreet's first volume of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, is published in London while her husband sits on the veranda drinking beer. Mary Barrett Dyer is executed in Boston for her Quaker proselytizing while her husband sits on the veranda drinking beer.
Mary Rowlandson publishes "A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson", describing her capture by Narragansett warriors and three months of captivity, but it is not a commercial success despite the obvious tittilatory themes of savages, bondage and S&M. The Salem witch trials condemn 19 to die; most of the accused and the accusers are women. This proves something, but it is not clear what it is, nor is the causality. Twenty-five Frenchwomen, called cassette girls, journey to Mobile on the Gulf Coast of North America to find husbands. Initially they refuse to marry any of the colonists because of the crude oil conditions they find. A lot of action here! However – just to slow things down – Phillis Wheatley, the first African American woman poet of note in the United States, publishes her first poem, "An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of the Celebrated Divine George Whitefield". Remember that, despite the pretentious title, poetry is not the same as writing.
On June 28, Mary McCauly ("Molly Pitcher"), wife of an American gunner, brings water to the troops at the Battle of Monmouth Court House. Legend claims that she takes her husband's place after he collapses in the outhouse due to a severe case of Indian curry. Deborah Sampson, disguised as a man, enlists in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment as Robert Shurtleff. She is one of many male impersonators who fight in the American Revolution and so finds immortal fame.
In 1790 the Second Great Awakening begins; significantly more women than men participate in this wave of religious revival, but the significance of this is lost at the time. Anne Parrish founds the House of Industry, which provides employment to poor women. It is the first American charitable organization operated by women for women. It is largely forgotten to this very day.
Meanwhile, back in the Old World, Elizabeth Elstob publishes "The Rudiments of Grammar", the first Anglo-Saxon grammar instruction. Note that grammar, like calligraphy, is not writing. In 1718 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu warns against smallpox inoculation, which she has accidentally seen in an opium den in Constantinople. Then, Catherine I becomes ruler of Russia on the suspicious death of her husband, Peter the Great, ushering an era of no particular importance. The Italian mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi publishes Instituzioni analitiche ad uso della gioventù italiana ("Analytical Institutions for the Use of Italian Youth"). It is a smash hit. Hannah Snell publishes "The Female Soldier", an account of her exploits as a male impersonator in the British army fighting against the supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie as well as her years as a marine in India. Riveting stuff! Also, Sophie Friederike Auguste, princess von Anhalt-Zerbst, ascends the Russian throne as Catherine II several months after forcing her husband, Peter III, to abdicate. She rules "as an enlightened despot" until 1796. In 1789, More than 8,000 Parisian market women march to Versailles and present their demands, which include more affordable bread, to the National Assembly and the king. They are presented with a workable alternative solution (cake) which they foolishly reject. The French activist Olympia de Gouges publishes Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne ("Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the [Female] Citizen") in which she erroneously argues that women are citizens as much as are men. She goes to the guillotine in 1793 while the old women knit scarves and the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. Also, four years after the start of the French Revolution, queen consort Marie Antoinette is guillotined for the crime of mispronouncing the word bread as "cake".
The Industrial Age[edit | edit source]
The year is 1803. British Parliament passes the first British abortion law, prohibiting abortion after quickening (a quaint and inexact medical term of which the meaning has been lost). The Napoleonic Code of France considers all women to be legally incompetent minors, like criminals, children, and the insane. A woman's husband controls her property and, in the case of divorce, gets the children. This last provision may have been a mistake. Native American Sacagawea, whose husband is a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, serves as a guide and interpreter for the group. The effect of this effort on world affairs cannot be understated.
Mercy Otis Warren publishes her influential "History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution", drawing in part on very private personal knowledge of the prominent figures of the time with whom she was "well acquainted". Three copies are sold, to be used as door stops. New Jersey revokes the right of women to vote after the discovery of massive voter fraud. This right had been granted since the adoption of the constitution of New Jersey in 1776.
Meanwhile, back in England, Elizabeth Fry advocates reform of Newgate Prison, in which 300 women and children are housed under appalling conditions. Her ambitious plans include doubling the population and halving the food rations.
In 1816, the Barbadian slave "Nanny" Grigg plays a significant role in the island's only serious slave rebellion by cooking for the rebels. Dysentery effectively ends the rebellion. The South African warrior queen Mmanthatisi becomes the leader of the Tlokwa (a southern Sotho group, whatever that may be). She plans military strategy and leads the nation to a new homeland in Lesotho. The Tlokwa are now extinct, and never mentioned except in serious scholarly works specialising in trivia.
In 1821, Emma Willard opens the Troy Female Seminary in New York and begins teaching a rigorous curriculum to girls, with astounding but undocumented results. Frances Wright founds a utopian community at Nashoba, Tennessee, trying to put into practice her ideas for gradual emancipation of slaves. The plantation fails but attracts wide publicity, including the local monthly newspaper, of which she is the editor. Lydia Maria Child publishes "An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans", arguing for the abolition of slavery. Another bestseller.
Lord Byron's daughter, Augusta Ada King, also known as Linda Lovelace, begins studying Charles Babbage's "difference engine". She becomes, arguably, the world's first computer programmer. More than a century later the computer language Ada is named for her, and we all know about the movie.
In Lowell, Massachusetts, women mill workers stage a successful strike to demand a 25 percent cut in their pay. Marie Tussaud establishes her amazing collection of wax husbands in a permanent location on Baker Street in London. Over the next years, Victoria ascends the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and is hailed as the first female mountaineer.
In an attempt to keep the proceedings to under six years, female delegates are refused admittance to London's 1840 world anti-slavery convention. This event leads Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to call the first women's rights convention, to be held from 1841 to 1900 while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer.
The Seneca Falls Convention is held and launches the woman suffrage movement in the United States. The document produced is the "Declaration of Sentimentality", patterned after the Declaration of Independence but much longer and more convoluted. The title says it all. Literally.
Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland to Philadelphia. By the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Tubman will have returned to the South some 19 times and rescued upward of 300 other slaves while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer.
In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first modern-day woman doctor of medicine in the United States. Malpractice insurance is discovered. African-American evangelist and reformer Sojourner Truth gives her famous speech in defense of the rights of black women ("Ain't I a Woman?") simultaneously advancing the cause of anti-racism, feminism, grammar, and spelling. A great day.
The new Guatemalan constitution grants full citizenship to financially independent women, ushering in a period of unprecedented power, prestige and growth for the hitherto unknown country, leading to its recognition as a global powerhouse.
Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes "Uncle Tom's Cabin", one of the most important antislavery novels in America. It sells 300,000 copies in the first year, firmly establishing the derogatory phrase Uncle Tom in the vernacular, and causes a civil war which costs the lives of 300,000 men in the first year.
Queen Victoria is administered chloroform during the delivery of her eighth child while ascending another throne. Her approval and recommendation of it popularizes recreational use of the anesthetic amongst the upper classes of Britain, leading to accusations of "insensitivity", "lack of feeling" and "somnolence".
Florence Nightingale begins nursing casualties during the Crimean War while the men drink beer on the veranda, and effectively establishes nursing as a profession for women. Her efforts help reduce the death rate from combat injuries from 42.0 percent to 2.2 percent, not counting those already dead. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody finds the first (and only) English-language kindergarten in the United States after an exhausting search covering 12 states and 34 cities.
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In Sweden, single women who pay taxes win the right to vote in municipal elections in 1862. Their voters cards are issued with clear unambiguous instructions on who to vote for. Mary Edwards Walker becomes a surgeon for the Union army in the American Civil War. In 1865 she receives a Congressional Medal of Honor by mistake. In a full-military ceremony attended by the vice-president and two members of the Supreme Court it is revoked shortly before her death, and then re-awarded posthumously, when the postmortem reveals that she was really a cross-dressing male. Sarah Edmonds publishes her autobiography, "Nurse and Spy in the Union Army", describing her undercover work disguised as a man named Frank Thompson. Or maybe it was the other way around. Who knows.
More than two thousand warriors form the Dahomey women's army, all of them wives of the king. Using bows, guns, and knives, they fight to capture prisoners. The purpose of this effort is not known, but rumor has it that the king was "not keeping up his homework". In Thailand, Amdang Munan refuses to marry the man her parents picked for her. She prevails upon the senile king to rule that women may choose their own husbands.
Married women in Britain gain the right to own property. The pre-nuptial contract is invented within three months.
Iowan Arabella Mansfield is the first woman admitted to the bar in the United States, but she is not allowed to consume alcohol. Charlotte E. Ray, the first African American woman lawyer, becomes the first woman admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia. And so on, through the various states, women infiltrate the last bastion of men, the bar. Microbreweries are invented. Helen Hunt Jackson publishes "A Century of Dishonor", a superficial condemnation of the treatment of Native Americans by the United States. Another bestseller. Journalist Nellie Bly sets off around the world to beat the fictional record of Phileas Fogg. Makes sense.
Sofya Perovskaya helps to plan the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. She is arrested, tried, found guilty of incompetence, and executed. Women in Palestine agitate for the right to vote, even though there are no elections.
In 1890 The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is founded and is immediately declared irrelevant. Alice Stone Blackwell and others oversee the merger of two older organizations to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). It seemed important at the time.
Liliuokalani becomes queen of Hawaii, and Belgian activist Marie Popelin helps found the Belgian League of Women's Rights. Although they never meet, they become lifelong strangers to each other.
Journalist Ida Wells-Barnett begins her hilarious campaign against lynching. Her newspaper offices are burned, and she is driven out of Memphis, Tennessee. She changes her name, continues her campaign elsewhere, and succeeds under the name Senda Berenson in introducing basketball at Smith "College" for Women (Note: The first "college" to offer degrees in sewing, washing, and carrying on.).
Largely through the efforts of suffragist Kate Sheppard, New Zealand becomes the first country to grant women the right to vote, a privilege already enjoyed by sheep, who have an overwhelming majority.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine opens in Baltimore, Maryland. The women's committee that funds the school insists that men and women be admitted in equal numbers to meet the enormous demand for doctors as husbands.
In Zimbabwe, legends hold that the ancestral spirit Ambuya Nehanda enters the body of a woman, who then starts a revolt against the British. Later, Ambuya Nehanda enters the body of Robert Mugabe who just revolts. Ambuya Nehanda becomes known as the revolting spirit. The Chinese dowager empress Cixi regains power from the emperor after feeding him a nasty dish of chow mein. In 1900 she supports the Boxer Rebellion against the foreign promoters. The sport of boxing in China goes into a decline and never recovers. Korean women organize Yo-u-hoe, the "Association of Women Friends", to fight against concubinage, which is very different from boxing.
The U.S. Geological Survey hires its first woman, geologist Florence Bascom. Maps become hard to read and the need to ask for directions arises. Queen Victoria celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, commemorating the 60th year of her ascension of "the throne", Britain's fourth-highest mountain. Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes "Women and Economics". She argues that the lost talent of women hampers the entire economy. Everybody starts looking for the "lost talent" and eventually find it in California. Kansan Carry Nation begins her campaign to close saloons, physically attacking bars with her little hatchet, setting back previous advances in the admission of women to the bar.
In 1900 British tennis player Charlotte Cooper wins the first women's gold medal at the Olympics. Tennis is banned from the Olympics until female impersonators lobby for its return.
Ida M. Tarbell begins publishing the excruciatingly boring "The History of the Standard Oil Company" in McClure's Magazine. Her exposé will contribute to the breakup of the company by a U.S. Supreme Court order in 1911, but McLure's Magazine's readership drops alarmingly and they file for bankruptcy.
With the passage of the Midwives Act, the British Parliament requires midwives to be licensed to boil water and tear up perfectly good linen. The government of Iran institutes a plan to improve women's literacy. Remember, literacy is not the same as writing.
Early twentieth-century cutting to the chase[edit | edit source]
The Sri Lanka Tamil Women's Union (Tamil Tigers) is created. Aleksandra Kollontay publishes "The Social Foundations of the Women's Question" while in exile from Russia. Another bestseller!
In New York, shirtwaist workers go on strike. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) work together in support of the strike. Nobody knows why they are striking, and they finally go back to work for lower wages and longer hours. Picking up on the trend, imprisoned British suffragists stage hunger strikes to protest the widespread practice of ingesting food. This becomes a popular cause: English suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested for conspiracy to blow up, or redecorate David Lloyd George's home. While in jail, she also goes on a hunger strike for a day, until someone offers her some popcorn.
Journalist and publisher Kalliroe Parren establishes the "Lyceum of Greek Women", purpose unknown, and Juliette Gordon Low founds the Girl Guides (later Girl Scouts) in the United States for similar obscure reasons. By 1927 there is a troop in every state diligently searching for purpose and meaning.
In Washington, D.C., Alice Paul and the "National American Woman Suffrage Association" organize a huge march on the Capitol the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. A good time is had by all, and lots of girls found future boyfriends that day.
In Russia, Princess Eugenie Shakhovskaya is the first female military pilot. She flies reconnaissance missions in a flight simulator under strict supervision, and wins a medal for bravery when the simulator breaks down and she is locked inside for ten harrowing minutes.
In 1914, American activist Margaret Sanger is indicted under the Comstock Act for littering by scattering copies of a pamphlet titled "Family Limitation", which argues that women should say something to their husband after their sixth child is born.
The "International Congress of Women" meets at The Hague in 1915 to consider ways to end World War I, while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. No particular conclusions are reached, but 3,564 boxes of Kleenex are consumed. The British government recruits four hundred thousand women to work in agriculture while men are either sitting on the veranda drinking beer or fighting a war.
The U.S. Navy hires twelve thousand women as clerks and "party girls" to take dictation and entertain Admirals as they sit on the veranda and drink beer.
On March 8, 1917, Russian women strike for "bread and peace" (or possibly "cake and contentment") helping spark the revolution that overthrows the imperial government. The date is later chosen to mark International Women's Day. This is the second time that the confusion between bread and cake brings down a government. Canadian and British women are granted the right to vote, although in Great Britain a woman must be over the age of 60.
The Treaty of Versailles includes a requirement that women receive equal pay. The clause is universally ignored. In Chile the National Council of Women is created to agitate the mash for brewing beer. In Japan, Hiratsuka Raicho, Oku Mumeo, and Ichikawa Fusae found the Shin Fujin Kyokai ("Association of New Women") to work for women's unions and equal rights. Edith Eder from Hungary, Rebecca Sieff from Britain, and Vera Weizmann from Russia found the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO). Bertha Lutz founds the Brazilian Federation for the Advancement of Women. None of these organisations or individuals are ever heard of again. Coincidence? Conspiracy? Nah, just the way of the world.
The Nineteenth Amendment, (also known as "The Big Mistake") to the U.S. Constitution is signed into law, giving women the right to vote. Despite death threats from the Ku Klux Klan and the Boy Scouts, Mary McLeod Bethune begins a voter registration drive for African American women, finds there are no takers, and quits in frustration.
Joan of Arc is canonized, which is like a combination of defenestration and asploding. It effectively ends her career as a terrorist by making her a saint.
The German Nazi Party wisely excludes women from membership. Margaret Sanger founds the American Birth Control League, which later becomes the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and still later becomes the Roller Derby (Note: The connection between these three events is not well understood.). Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton becomes the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She serves only two days, and is ridden out of town on a rail. Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi publicly unveils and inspires many other women to do the same, exposing many female impersonators in the process.
Norwegian-born figure skater Sonja Henie wins her first world amateur championship. She goes on to win the next nine world championships and gold medals at the Olympics in 1928, 1932, and 1936 before she is exposed, of course, as a female impersonator.
Margaret Grace Bondfield is named minister of labour and becomes the first British female cabinet minister, or so it was widely thought at the time. Virginia Woolf publishes "A Room of One's Own". As a result, she is widely feared, shunned, and ends up living alone in a room of her own.
The Depression and another world war[edit | edit source]
In 1930, white South African women get the right to vote, but it makes absolutely no difference, and Ellen Church becomes the first airline stewardess despite their efforts. As a result, Jane Addams receives the Nobel Prize for Peace, illustrating the power of seemingly unconnected coincidences.
Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, but subsequently gets lost when she attempts something more ambitious. A few years later, British pilot Beryl Markham becomes the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor, and she becomes the first American female hiding in the cabinet (subsequently known as the "closet"). Going against the tide, Portugal's new constitution specifically denies women's equal rights.
In Nazi Germany, girls are inducted into the Jungmädel ("Young Maidens") and Bund Deutscher Mädel ("League of German Girls"). The organizations stress the importance of virtue, motherhood and apple pie. Lovely.
American author Gertrude Stein publishes "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas", Anthropologist Margaret Mead publishes "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies", challenging Western assumptions about gender relations and African American author Zora Neale Hurston publishes her first book, "Jonah's Gourd Vine". More bestsellers! In Italy, Mussolini rewards women who have more than foourteen children. Lines form at the paypoints.
In France, women are admitted into unarmed military divisions to compensate for massive fraud in the headcount of male soldiers. Marian Anderson gives a concert to an audience of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution prevent her from singing at Constitution Hall because of the danger to the structure of the building.
Margaret Chase Smith inherits her late husband's seat in the U.S. Congress; she becomes the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate. She is not unmasked as a female impersonator until much later.
The Soviet Union creates three all-female pilot regiments. The most highly decorated (all posthumously) is the 586th Women's Fighter Regiment. Pacifist and Japanese spy Jeannette Rankin places the only congressional vote against U.S. entry into World War II. American women enlist in two newly created military bodies, the Women's Army Corps (Wackos) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Sex (WAVES).
More than 310,000 women take jobs in the U.S. aircraft industry. Wartime propaganda urges women to join the labour force for the duration of World War II. Physicist Elda Emma Anderson is recruited to work at Los Alamos on the development of the atomic bomb but abandons the enterprise when the business plan indicates lower than expected profits. In a perfectly natural and predictable reversal, more than six million American women who entered the workforce during World War II are pushed out of their traditionally male jobs at war's end. Except, of course, secretaries and nurses.
Post-war deprivation and supplication[edit | edit source]
The Sudan's first modern women's organization, the Sudanese Women's League, is founded and is powerless to this day. The new Japanese constitution guarantees women's equality, along with extended guarantees on various trashy plastic toys.
The U.S. Congress passes the Army–Navy Nurse Act, creating permanent commissions for military nurses. The first officer commissioned is the well-known female impersonator Florence Blanchfield.
Argentinian Eva Perón founds the Peronista Feminist Party, eventually the basis for a hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. French feminist Simone de Beauvoir publishes the controversial and influential Le Deuxième Sexe ("The Second Sex"). It is in French.
In 1950, Harvard Law School admits women in order to replenish the ranks of lawyers, severely depleted by mass executions during the war. The U.S. Census Bureau recognizes a woman's right to continue to use her maiden name after marriage, creating confusion on a scale hitherto unimagined. The Women's Equal Rights Act, which prohibits gender discrimination, is passed in Israel. This groundbreaking legislation gives women the same rights as Palestinians, such as the right to shot on sight.
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a busboy to a white man. Her arrest for this act sparks the Montgomery bus boycott where busboys refuse to clear tables. Chaos ensues.
Golda Meir becomes the only woman in the Israeli cabinet when she is made minister of foreign affairs. Ten men, all now forgotten, become the first men in the Israeli cabinet. Due to overcrowding and vigorous activity, the cabinet is damaged beyond repair, but the Guinness Book of Records recognises this as the largest orgy to have taken place in a confined space.
The British House of Lords admits its first female members. The merits of "Lordesses" versus "Lordettes" is debated for several years, but eventually consensus is reached on the rather prosaic "dames".
Eleanor Roosevelt chairs U.S. President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women. Far-reaching, dramatic and forgotten conclusions and recommendations emerge over the next decades.
The well-known female imersonator "Wilma" Rudolph runs the 100-metre dash in 11.2 seconds, thereby setting a new world record for the event. American women organized by "Women Strike for Peace" stage a one-day strike asking the government to "end the arms race, not the human race". This catchy slogan wins the Pullit(zer) Prize for literature. American biologist Rachel Carson publishes "Silent Spring", a novel about love and betrayal in the mosquito industry.
Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space, but vacates space when she realises that the men have moved on. American feminist Betty Friedan publishes her highly influential but largely unread "The Feminine Mystique". Ellen Ash Peters becomes the first woman to be granted ten yure at Yale Law School. A yure is the equivalent of about seven cents. The U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed, national origin, or sex, but not age, leaving a gaping loophole based on women's practice of understating their true age.
Betty Friedan and other delegates to the Third National Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women establish the National Organization for Women (NOW). Despite the catchy acronym, it is now forgotten, except in scholarly historical records.
Indira Gandhi wins leadership of the Congress Party and becomes the first female of India. The mystery of the origins of India's large population deepens.
Muriel Siebert becomes the first woman to own a "seat" on the New York Stock Exchange. Previous women had backsides, bottoms, bums, asses, and so on.
Nguyen Thi Binh, a member of the Central Committee of the National Liberation Front, leads the Vietnamese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, but takes a wrong turn at Cairo. This results in the breakdown f peace talks and the entry of the US in the Vietnamese War.
In Ecuador a "malaria control" program is used as a cover to sterilize peasant women while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. Marie Cox founds the North American Indian Women's Association, the first and last national Native American women's group. The Boston Women's Health Book Collective publishes "Our Bodies, Our Selves". This important event is often forgotten. In 1971, women in Switzerland win the right to vote, adding to their rights to wash, cook, clean and yodel.
American tennis champion and female impersonator "Billie" Jean King defeats has-been octogenarian player "Bobby" Riggs in a "battle of the sexes" match.
The U.S. Supreme Court jokingly rules in Roe v. Wade that a woman has what they call "a constitutional right" to abortion. This inside-joke decision somehow leaks out, and causes confusion for decades.
Modern times[edit | edit source]
In 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that women cannot be excluded from juries because of their sex, but should be excluded in the interests of saving time. Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman elected to Congress from the Deep South, becomes the first African American and the first woman to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. The Convention disbands in disarray two years later when the building is demolished.
Labour minister Tina Anselmi becomes the first woman in the Italian cabinet (closet). Betty Williams and Mairéad Corrigan-Maguire, founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later Community of Peace People), are awarded the well-known Nobel Prize for Peace. The joint Catholic–Protestant group is formed after atrocities committed during a drunken Irish brawl. Nigerian women are granted the right to vote. However, elections are forbidden. Salvadoran women establish the "Committee of Mothers of Political Prisoners and Frente Femenino". They promote the use of acronyms vigorously.
Roman women (women from Rome) demonstrate against rape, beginning a campaign to change rape laws, and the mothers of Argentine "disappeared" political prisoners begin a series of vigils while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer. Mary Douglas Leakey discovers footprints of early hominids at Laetoli, Tanzania. Her find causes a revision of the date at which humans became bipedal, which enables improvements to the design of tricycles and yo-yos. Her husband is credited with the discovery.
Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female prime minister of Great Britain, initiating the Dark Age, also known as "Thatcherism". She declares war on the Falkland Islands, and in a large-scale military operation, subdue the sheep. Three thousand women in Gdansk, Poland, defy tanks to pass out flowers and Solidarity literature while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer.
Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. After the initial discomfort, the Supreme Court adjusts to her weight and the unusual smell. Twenty thousand British women protest the placement of cruise and Pershing missiles at Greenham Common, preferring the more fashionable and stylish Scud missiles.
Chilean women successfully demonstrate in Santiago against the repression of General Augusto Pinochet. As a result, he becomes unrepressed, exuberant in fact. Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister of Pakistan. She is the first, and so far the last, woman leader of a Muslim country in modern history.
The well-known American female impersonator Barbara Clementine Harris becomes the first "female" bishop of the Episcopal Church. Canadian women gain access to all the most dangerous combat posts in the military (except, due to the Freudian symbolism, submarine duty) because of a lawsuit filed in 1981. This could have been a tactical mistake, resulting in fatalities, but Canada embarks on a policy of pre-emptive surrender for every war, following the previous example of Italy.
A group of Saudi Arabian women drive cars in Riyadh to protest laws preventing them from operating motor vehicles. They are briefly imprisoned and suspended from their token employment while the wreckage is cleared.
In fear of reprisals Afghanistan places strict restrictions on women, forbidding them from receiving an education and working outside the home.
As a direct result of her steadfast refusal to fellate her husband (eventually leading to his impeachment) Hillary Rodham Clinton is sworn in as a U.S. senator from New York, becoming the first former first lady to win elected office.
Mireya Moscoso becomes Panama's first female president and in December oversees the U.S. handover of the Panama Canal in a divorce settlement of monumental proportions.
Beverley McLachlin becomes Canada's first female chief justice of the Supreme Court. Some seventy years earlier the same court had ruled that women were not "persons", but this important ruling is somehow overlooked.
At the Sydney Olympics, the well-known female impersonator, Marion Jones becomes the first "woman" to win five medals in track-and-field events at a single Games.
Katharine Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, dies. She was the first man to head a Fortune 500 company and at one time was considered the most powerful man in the United States.
Georgina "Dubya" Bush is elected President of the United States, the first woman to occupy this post since the revered Georgina Washington. She immediately mandates the end of all wars, but does not exclude the possibility of "difficult diplomatic negotiations" every 28 days.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Golden Jubilee, marking fifty years on the throne. She takes a short break to go potty and then resumes her position, where she remains to this day.
Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, becoming the first black African woman to win a Nobel Prize. For the first time, the number of women with Nobel Peace Prizes outnumber those without. In Ireland, the McCartney sisters make a public issue of their brother Paul's tenth divorce, spurring international criticism of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Confusion reigns. Kuwaiti women are granted the right to vote (effective 2507). California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She goes shopping for new shoes while the men sit on the veranda and drink beer.