Thursday, October 20, 2005

Emily Ferguson Murphy: Feminist of the Day?

Emily Ferguson Murphy
Social reformer, one of the "famous five" daughters of Canada
"I think women can save civilization. Women are persons."

We have a Canadian! From Canadia (sorry for some reason I find that endlessly amusing - I make my own fun).

Emily Murphy was one of five women, along with Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards, who lead a campaign for women to be defined as persons.

I'm always a little taken aback when I read about the early victories of the feminist movement, how basic the rights that they were fighting for at the turn of the century. I can't really comprehend the idea of not being a person.

The Famous 5 (they had a good name - all the best activist names have numbers in them) won their case at the Privy council in 1929 (isn't the British justice system great, aren't you glad you're living based on a common law system "persons in the matter of pains and penalties, but not in the matter of rights and privileges.")

She followed this up by trying to make sure that these new women-persons could put food in that stomach that is had been established that they owned. In particular she campaigned for a divorce law that was more equitable than "the man gets everything."

Conclusion: We're persons - who knew. Thank you Emily Murphy and the famous five, even if odds are I disagree with you on eugenics and war.

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