thumbnail of American woman in fact and fiction; Whistlin' girls
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The following program is produced and recorded in the studios of KPFA Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We present the American woman in fact in fiction from Colonial Times to the present day. A series of 13 programs written and directed by Virginia Maynard and produced by Virginia Maynard and Charles Levy popped six whistlin grows. She's right she don't even go. She wants the chance to wear the pants and so I'm just crazy. Despite the agitation for women's rights what was going on in the second quarter of the 19th century the typical romantic novel of the period continued to picture the American woman as a James Fenimore Cooper a heroine these paragons of feminine virtue were fragile retiring creatures who blushed or paled at a word or glance from a man who were never so bold as to have a thought of their own. And it was chief function in the story was to serve as objects of
worship for the chivalrous males. Edgar Allan Poe added invalidism to the list of fashionable feminine attributes the Victorian lady who did any work more strenuous than writing or who was healthy enough to have a long life expectancy was coarse in comparison with the moribund creatures who drifted through all his romantic tales. In the pages of goatees lady's book we find the composite picture of this ideal American woman of the day. Delicately wasp waisted in slope shouldered dressed in confining garments which would seem to rule out her engaging in any activity more vigorous than fashioning the flowers of wax or the ring and brooch sets of human hair. The directions for which were to be found in other pages of the magazine. Yet this was the day of Margaret Fuller and her feminist women of the nineteenth century of a media bloomer and the demand for a more sensible style of dress for women of Lucretia month and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their agitation for women's right to speak in public to receive an education to own their own property to vote.
Conservative America was shocked and appalled by these upstart females who claim for their sex all the special privileges of men in polite literature and in the fashionable women's magazines of the day they might be ignored. But in actual experience this was not so easy. Who could ignore for instance Lucy Stone. I just come out before you to make the film. Oh you know more student post and call it Lucy Stone. A name like Caesar's will be news on Mon who shuts up the mouth of Lucy St.. Lucy Stone was a thorn in the side of respectable America in her day to lecture for temperance for women's rights for abolition and for education for women. She wore trousers when she wanted to. She refused to change her name when she was married.
But despite the widespread disapproval of her Lucy captured the folk imagination the covered wagons that sang songs about her and her sister rebels on the way to California and Oregon. A legend about her grew and with the legend the knowledge of what she stood for. All our conservative grandfathers and grandmothers shook their heads in despair a whistling girl and a crow in hand always come to some bad end they said of the loosies of the world. Let's go back for a moment to eight hundred thirty five or so when Lucy was about sixteen and looking on a scene in the early life of one of the most famous whistling girls of America. Desire shall be untrue and he shall rule over the PA Do you have to read that you know I can't stand that Lucy. That's no way to talk to your father. But why does he always have to read something like that. Just because he knows how I hate it. Your father knows how rebellious you are Lucy and he wants to help you to be able to submit to the way
things are. But why do they have to be that way. It struck her serve. Well there may be a curse on the EU but I am Lucy stall and nobody has put a curse on me. If I get any curses they're going to be my own. Lucy that strong mindedness of yours is going to be the ruination of you. What man will ever marry a girl i never going to get. Well what else can I do. I've heard other girls talk that way. Do something else. You see no man's ever going to rule over me. Well look at the kind of life monitors a clergy are a matter when one's life seems hard especially to someone young and for a spirit like you. Yes indeed as weakness and her dependence on men were best protection I don't want to be charming to anyone and I don't want anyone to protect me. I can protect myself. Lucy wishes she was a boy she always wanted to be a boy.
I don't either want to be a boy. Maybe I did once but that doesn't do any good. I just want to be treated like a human being. Yeah you're always trying to prove you're as strong as a boy. Look how you work till you're ready to drop. Just to show us you're a strong as we are now LIVE THERE WE'RE HOME. I work so ma I won't have to do it all that's why Luther stopped you boys let her kill herself and part two. And she hasn't got it half bad compared to some I have and why look at old tubs yonder a good church goer in everything and gives his wife a whipping every few weeks because she scolds he says well I know but he doesn't. Moment. School rules. Well why shouldn't she school. Look at MS Purvis left her husband because he he drank so much they didn't have food to eat in the house and when I walked in and took in washing to take care of the children. And why did she have to. Because he kept the farm and everything they had in the world and nobody to say no to him. And now he's going
to take the children he says and who's to stop him. The law is on his side just because he's a man. And you all know he's never even been a father to those young. You know it's not right and that's a fact. But that's life Lucy. Well it's not life to me and it's not going to ever be I'll show them. You know what I did last week after I joined the church. Something came up to vote on. I didn't know women weren't supposed to vote. And when they called for harems I held my nose up. I won. You should pick out my role the preacher called out Don't count her she's not a voting member. Six more votes were taken in that meeting and I held out my hand. Every time Lucy and what good did it do. Well it'll do good if I keep it up long enough. I'm going to get some books and find out why the rules of things have to be like they are Live read every book for miles around and they don't tell how if
there is to know about things like some books I've heard about. I've got a list and I'm going to send for them and read them. Oh Would you loan me the money Paul how I haven't got any money to spend for any such foolishness as girls educating themselves and then I'll get em when I earn the money it'll take a long time with that dollar a week. Teach yourself of yours. That's why I want to borrow the money I don't want to well because women speakers coming around and talking about women's education are free illustrate just problem turned your head. That's right. Pa educated women women speaking in public so I do see this letter the preacher sent out against those women speaking what does it say to you. We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the female character with widespread and permanent injury. The appropriate duties and influence of woman are clearly stated in the New Testament.
Those duties and that influence are unobtrusive and private but the source of mighty power. When the mild dependent softening influence of woman upon the sternness of man's opinions is fully exercised society feels the effects of it in a thousand forms. The power of woman is her dependent lowing from the consciousness of that witness which God has given her for her protection and which keeps her in those departments of life that form the character of individuals and of the nation. There are social influences of which females use in promoting piety and the great objects of Christian benevolence which we cannot too highly commend. You don't believe that do you. That's just a lot of. Since you're going to be a minister you wouldn't sign that. Well I don't know. But let me finish reading it. We appreciate the prayers and efforts of woman in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad
in Sabbath schools in leading religious inquirers to the pastors for instruction and in also associated effort as becomes the modesty of her sex and earnestly hope that she may abound more and more in these labors of piety and love. But when she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer our care and protection of her seem unnecessary. We put ourselves in self defense. She yields the power which God has given her for her protection and her character becomes unnatural. See if the vine whose strength and beauty is to lean upon the trellis work and half concealed its cluster thinks thinks to assume the independence and the overshadowing nature of the elm. It will not only cease to bear fruit but fall in shame and dishonor into the dust. Right By cracky we cannot therefore but regret the mistaken conduct of those who encourage females to bear and obtrusive and ostentatious part in measure of
reform and countenance any of that sex who so far forget themselves as to itinerate in the character of public lecturers and teachers. We especially deplore the intimate acquaintance and promiscuous conversation of females with regard to things which ought not to be named. By which that modesty and delicacy which is the charm of domestic life and which constitutes the true influence in society is consumed and the way opened as we apprehend for degeneracy and ruin. There what do you say lose. I am speechless. I should think so for once and you know why I'm not. I don't believe that women are necessarily any better or more spiritual than men. I know I'm not half so spiritual as Bowman I don't think I could labor in piety and love as it says half so well as he could but
but I do think that I. What does it say. They give it to me. Yes I do think I might bear bear and up truce of an ostentatious part in measures of reform better than him. I know I could and I don't generate in the character of a public lecturer and teacher and that is what I mean to do. Well if you do I hope you never come back here to show us all you'll say different than that some day Rhoda. You want to know something. I am going to college. Well I never. You're gone crazy literally. Oh you see the world where would your find a college to take in a woman at Oberlin Ohio. Well they've got to. Heaven and division there girls in it already and I've got their announcement right here in my sewing box. Here it says it will be for the elderly elevation of the female character by bringing within reach of the misjudged and neglected sex all of the instructive privileges
which have hitherto reasonably distinguished the leading sex from their running our world come on through for evermore or whatever it's coming to father. You'll have to submit to it just as we've been submitting all these years. Is there any good reason why Frank and Bowman should go to college and I shouldn't. Yes because it's ridiculous and shameful. That's why you're a woman at work. Could you learn at college. Maybe I could learn Greek. Found out what the Bible really said before it was translated. I can learn a lot of things. Anyway I am going if it takes me ten years of teaching school at a dollar a week before I get there. That. What am I doing sewing on this shirt for some man so he can go to school to see what he could earn more toward his education by teaching all week that I couldn't a year what with the way women salary was not going to do another stitch on the shirt and I hope no other silly woman ever finishes it either. All girls
here come. Overland. Here comes Lucy Stone. It did take Lucy almost 10 years to earn the money to start a college. Although her father finally relented and help pay or expenses. Oberlin was at that time a station on the Underground Railway when a school was started for the fugitive slaves. Lucy was asked to teach it but the colored man sharing the prejudices of their day thought it beneath their dignity to be taught by a woman. Lucy herself talked them into accepting her at the time of her graduation from Overland. Lucy received an appointment to represent her class at the commencement exercises. However she was told that she must merely write her essay and allow a male member of the class to read it. Since the majority of the faculty felt that it was improper for women to participate in public exercises with man Lucy of course declined this dubious honor. After her graduation in 1847 Lucy Stone became a lecturer for the women's rights movement. Despite the violence of the
opposition the women speakers she soon began to acquire a reputation as a public lecturer or pleasing manner and a remarkable voice proved to be a great asset Stuart overcoming this widespread prejudice and with her commanding eloquence she could often hold in check the most unruly audience. She soon found herself in demand for speaking assignments requiring more than ordinary finesse and argumentative powers. Whenever the early feminist gained a hearing before a legislature they always tried to draft Lucy Stone to present their case. She could persuade the lawmakers they felt if anyone could. Lucy was one of the first women to cut her hair short and to wear the bloomer costume when it was introduced this practical garment consisted of a fairly short skirt worn over a pair of ankle length trousers that women's riders found a very suitable to their active lives very convenient for travelling and adopted it with enthusiasm. But the public was no more hospitable toward this reform and dress than it was toward the doctrines the women preached the outcry against the bloomer extended from one end of the country to the other. Everywhere the women daring enough to wear
it appeared the inevitable group of hecklers followed jeering I O carrion crow wanting to. Take us. Where the bridge is. Right. Oh carrion. Never never did. That's where. Even the most strong minded of the women eventually gave up the costume. But not before the public city they received help to make the public conscious of the necessity of a more rational style of dress for women. Not long after Goldie's latest book introduced in its pages a short skirted bicycling dress for women and with acceptance from this stronghold of respectability dress reform was on its way. Lucy did not marry for some years. I actually believe that in marriage perhaps more than in any other condition of life. Did women lose their independence. Even the fact of the woman taking her husband's name at marriage she felt it was a symbol of her subservient status.
When at last she did marry her husband Dr. Henry Blackwell himself a prominent woman's rightest agreed that his wife should keep her own name and retain in every way her identity as an individual. Such was the young Lucy Stone who devoted her entire long life to the task of freeing the women of America from the bondage of tradition and prejudice. She was. The most distinguished whistlin girl of her generation was Susan B Anthony. Susan was the only great figure in the early woman's movement who never did marry. She once said that she could never consent to marry any man that would be willing to degrade himself by spending his life with a creature so inferior as a woman was held to be at that time she preferred to devote her life to proving women were not inferior. Susan B Anthony had been brought up in a well-to-do Quaker family in a society which
recognizes the equality of the sexes and encouraged women speaking in public. She received a good education for a day at a private seminary near Philadelphia. The Anthony home was a favorite meeting place for liberal spirited men and women of the time. Wendell Phillips Frederick Douglas will have annoyed garrison were regular visitors at the house during Susan's girlhood. Her own father and mother and her sister Mary were among the signers of the Declaration of Rights at the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls New York. Susan had been prepared since childhood for the position she was to assume in the woman's movement. After her father's bankruptcy in 1830 she had started teaching in order to earn a living. But she soon learned that women teachers could not expect more than one half or even one quarter of the salary which men received for the same position. And she refused to continue in a profession in which as she said the brightest woman must compete on equal terms with the dullest men. She became a temperance lecturer. And here her experience was typical of the day in which she lived. Time after time she was refused permission to speak because she was a woman.
And when she did obtain the floor she was often howled down and insulted until she was forced to discontinue or talk. She gradually became convinced that all of women's freedom must be obtained before any of it could be secured and turned her attention to the struggling young woman's movement. In 1852 she attended her first women's rights convention at Syracuse New York. This meeting was notable for an exceptionally scurrilous speech by a Massachusetts minister which attracted much notice in the public press. The New York Herald an inveterate foe of equal rights for women contained the following editorial The next morning. Women first become subject to man as she now is all over the world by her nature her sex just as a negro is and always will be to the end of time. Inferior to the White race and therefore doomed his objection. But she is happier than she would be in any other condition just because it is the law of her nature. What do the leaders of the women's
rights conventions want. They want to vote and to hustle whether rowdies at the polls they want to be members of Congress and the heat of debate subject themselves to coarse jests and indecent language like that of Rev. Mr. Hatch. They want to feel all other post which men are ambitious to occupy to be lawyers doctors captains of vessels and generals in the field. How funny it would sound in the newspapers that Lucy Stone pleading a cause took suddenly ill in the pains of partition and perhaps gave birth to our five bouncing boy in court or the doctor Harriet hunt while attending a gentleman patient for a fit of the gout or fist surely an A No. Found it necessary to send for a doctor there and then and to be delivered of a child who perhaps twins a similar event might happen on the floor of Congress in a storm at sea or in the raging tempest of battle. And then what is to become of the woman legislator.
Susan B Anthony came away from Syracuse resolved to waste no more time before entering the struggle to secure for women a more respected and advantageous position in life. Not long after this she attended the Rochester convention of the New York State Teachers Association of which she was a member and made social history as a woman's rights speaker. Two thirds of the membership were women but none of them had ever taken part in the debates but sat modestly behind their veils while the men spoke voted and made all the decisions that were to affect their lives and work. Susan decided to break with precedent. The question under discussion was why the profession of teacher was not as much respected as that of the lawyer or minister or doctor. Suddenly Miss Anthony arose. I did the harbor and was present tells us what happened. If all the witches that have been drowned burned and hanged in the Old World in the new head suddenly appeared on the platform threatening vengeance for their wrongs the authors of that convention could not have been thrown into greater consternation.
There stood that Quaker girl calm and self-possessed while with hasty consultations running to and fro those frightened men could not decide what to do or how to receive this audacious invader of their sphere of action. At length president Davies of West Point in full dress buff vest blue coat gilt buttons stepped to the front. I wish to speak to the question under discussion. They tried. A discussion pro and con followed lasting for half an hour when a vote of the men only was taken and permission granted by a small majority. It was lucky for Susan B Anthony too that the thousand women crowding the hall could not vote on the question
for they would have given a solid no. The president then announced the vote yes the decision of the convention. That. The only way we can easily imagine Miss Anthony's embarrassment after that half hour of suspense and the bitter hostility she noted on every side. It seems to me gentlemen you quite comprehend the disrespect you do not see that so long as society says a woman is to be a minister. That has an ability to be a teacher that every man chooses this profession tacitly acknowledged that he has. And this is the reason that teaching is a less
lucrative profession as here men must compete with cheap labor. What you it's not your profession. Don't you. Would you increase the salaries of the future Senators and Congress. Thus said Miss Anthony took her seat amid the profoundest silence broken at last by three gentleman who walked down the broad aisle to congratulate the speaker on her pluck and perseverance and the pertinacity of her remarks President Davies sat in disapproving silence. After some time which he had evidently spanned and preparing himself for the great oratorical effort of his career he rose in all his lofty dignity and delivered himself of the following. I have been upped by several. Citizens.
Why provisions have been made for women to speak and to vote. I'm dropped on committees to send letters. My server is. Gummed up the last time the Super Bowl. Contemplates pedis told of. Its shop its rejection top draw the prowling. Chimed in that up appropriate place. Contributing to the. Straight. Symmetry I don't know. Who to. Take that to be magnificent to top the top from it prior to elevation. Larry said it has done just that for right on the pedestal.
Nard are parked right to drive home the mother wife I brought whom we worship. Best of all all the time I'm laid up along with all. The women schoolteachers had no wish to pull down the building and tablature and all about the head of the lordly Davies and his following. But Susan B Anthony and many others present felt that his flattering estimate of womankind had little relation to the low salaries they were receiving for equal work with men to the astonishment of the eloquent professor. Now that the ice had been broken many other school teachers found their voices. A teacher from Rochester presented to resolution race was that it. Recognize the rights of female teachers to share in all the privileges and deliberations of this board the
resort that female teachers do not receive an adequate and sufficient compensation and that has to be regulated only according to the amount of labor performed. This association will endeavor by conditions and efficient action to remove this existing evil. An attempt was made to quash the resolutions but the women insisted they be brought to a vote. Susan B Anthony made a forcible speech in their favor and they were passed unanimously to the great discomfiture of President Davies. Even the newspapers were impressed. The editor of the Rochester Democrat stated the next morning. Whatever the schoolmaster's might think of Susan B. It was evident she hit the nail on the head with such women as Susan B Anthony and Lucy Stone determined to achieve recognition for their sex and with the changing economic situation in the country which was rapidly
American woman in fact and fiction
Whistlin' girls
Producing Organization
pacifica radio
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-610vv15f).
Lucy Stone goes to college; the Bloomer Girl appears on the American scene; Susan B. Anthony speaks.
Thirteen half-hour programs illustrating with dramatization the changing status of women in America from colonial times to the present day, plus a one-hour panel discussion on modern-day problems.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Actor: Levy, Charles
Actor: Goldsby, Angela
Actor: Mawson, C.A.
Actor: Smith, Edwin
Actor: Doyle, Margaret
Actor: Earle, Eileen
Director: Maynard, Virginia
Producing Organization: pacifica radio
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Writer: Maynard, Virginia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-19-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:45
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “American woman in fact and fiction; Whistlin' girls,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021,
MLA: “American woman in fact and fiction; Whistlin' girls.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <>.
APA: American woman in fact and fiction; Whistlin' girls. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from