Jo Stanley Feminism and Museums Live! Museums need feminism, not just women, in their collections and engagement activities. Displaying lots of Queen Victoria and Mrs T artefacts, then having Teresa May cut that pink ribbon while sporting her ‘This is…
Jo Stanley Being published –tips for you My new history book is just out. I’ve got some insights (from this and previous books), and I now see what I should have done ages ago. So I thought…
‘A slave is a human being classed as property and who is forced to work for nothing. An enslaved person is a human being who is made to be a slave. This language is often used instead of the word slave, to refer to the person and their experiences and to avoid the use of dehumanising language’ … But in internet searches using the search term, ‘enslaved women’ not ‘slave’ doesn’t bring anything like as many hits.
Dramatic stories of … enslaved women on ships reveal something about the realities of the long cooped-up and traumatic voyages and gendered relations ….
Sonja Tiernan outlined the very cross-class and life-changing relationship of the daughter of big Anglo-Irish landlord and the working-class Esther Roper from 1897. Eva ‘rejected her aristocratic lifestyle, moving from an opulent mansion in the beautiful countryside of Sligo to a mid-terrace property in the smog-bound quarters of industrial Manchester’. They were together for 30 years. ‘Once labelled as a pair of oddities, it is now clear that the women were open about their relationship, mixing with an eclectic group of radical gay and lesbian activists. The couple became formidable political advocates in England often organising successful and radical campaigns for social justice …
In 1979 when the radio announced the First Strike, American Cruise Nuclear missiles were to be based at Greenham Common USAF Airbase, Sheila Standard ‘was gripped with fear and a sense of inevitable disaster, and felt powerless to do anything. The worst bit was her mum lived near Greenham, and would “get it first!” However … [quickly], all over the country, people started to organise into anti-missile groups, and she joined Withington Against the Missiles, a local group in Manchester, and accidentally got involved in an NVDA (Non-Violent Direct Action) protest becoming one of the “Bunker 4”.Then something truly epic happened … Greenham … thousands of women discovering the power of working together, singing, being silly, the wit and repartee, fear and bravery, that goes with bringing fences crashing down, to the mockery of militarism …
The women were more fortunate than the 150 white men, who were taken back to Prisoner of War camps in Germany. And that privileging of women was a common pattern in WW2 .
After that Betsy and Geraldine’s group endured two weeks of what one newspaper described as ‘a rollicking Robinson Crusoe adventure’ on Emirau (‘Squally’) Island. It was not.
Then on Christmas Day an Australian naval initiative rescued them and took them safely to the Antipodes.
So many presentations included women as subjects, were presented by women, were gender aware, and brought comments from women that it felt like the most gender-inclusive conference on maritime history that I’ve attended since the world’s first (and, still, only) conference on Women and the Sea in Wellington, NZ in 1992.
It’s also the first time I’ve ever seen more women than men at a maritime history-related conference (28 women, 25 men). In maritime history conference until a decade ago the presence of another woman was often so unusual that we would rush up to introduce ourselves;‘A sister in the field, at last!’
Jessie battled on but to no avail. ‘These gentlemen … had dark and impenetrable notions on the subject.’ Instead she ‘decided to go to sea as a stewardess in the hopes that later I may be allowed to practice as a wireless operator.’
(Victoria Drummond had similarly been advised to give up and become a stewardess, but refused.)
By autumn 1926, Jessie was working on the Otranto – as a stewardess. She sailed for ten years with Furness and Orient line, and kept her dream fed by reading science and philosophy books when she could, as the lists in her diaries show.
But ‘How often I looked up at the wireless cabin … afterwards. How I had longed for the peace and solitude of the wireless cabin where after my labours I could study in peace.’ She wasn’t even accepted in WW2.
… seasickness was the main feature of the voyage. The Atlantic can be particular unpleasant in winter and the Ile de France’s zigzagging worsened it. One of the post women, Miss Rhoden, said she had to hang on with all her strength the veering was so severe – and noisy: ‘the sirens, the banging, the horns, and the whistles; the galvanized cans were banging and clanging.’ And in their cramped cabin women’s perfume and cosmetics whizzed off the shelves, ‘flying through the air like marbles.’