Posted by: hellonhairylegs | August 19, 2008

WWW: Emma Goldman

In an effort to keep my blog woman-focused I will be starting a regular feature titled WWW for Wonderful Women Worldwide. It will look at both our foremothers and wonderful women today. I’m beginning with Emma Goldman, because she wasn’t perfect and I don’t agree with many of the things she wrote, yet I admire and respect her.

A Biography Here

The Traffic in Women

The girl feels herself a complete outcast, with the doors of home and society closed in her face.  Her entire training and tradition is such that the girl herself feels depraved and fallen, and therefore has no ground to stand upon, or any hold that will lift her up, instead of dragging her down.  Thus society creates the victims that it afterwards vainly attempts to get rid of. 

Moralists are ever ready to sacrifice one-half of the human race for the sake of some miserable institution which they can not outgrow. As a matter of fact, prostitution is no more a safeguard for the purity of the home than rigid laws are a safeguard against prostitution.  Fully fifty per cent. of married men are patrons of brothels… Yet society has not a word of condemnation for the man, while no law is too monstrous to be set in motion against the helpless victim.

The Political Criminal of Today Must Needs be the Saint of the New Age

Gentlemen of the jury, we respect your patriotism. We would not, if we could, have you change its meaning for yourself. But may there not be different kinds of patriotism as there are different kinds of liberty? I for one cannot believe that love of one’s country must needs consist in blindness to its social faults, in deafness to its social discords, in inarticulation of its social wrongs. Neither can I believe that the mere accident of birth in a certain country or the mere scrap of a citizen’s paper constitutes the love of country.

An Anarchist looks at Life                                    

I do not know how many of you have read Gorki’s marvellous prose-poem called “The Snake and the Falcon.” The snake cannot understand the falcon. “Why don’t you rest here in the dark, in the good slimy moisture?” the snake demands. “Why soar to the heavens? Don’t you know the dangers lurking there, the stress and storm awaiting you there, and the hunter’s gun which will bring you down and destroy your life?” But the falcon paid no heed. It spread its wings and soared through space, its triumphant song resounding through the heavens. One day the falcon was brought down, blood streaming from its heart, and the snake said: “You fool, I warned you, I told you to stay where I am, in the dark, in the good warm moisture, where no one could find you and harm you.” But with its last breath the falcon replied: “I have soared through space, I have scaled dazzling heights, I have beheld the light, I have lived, I have lived!”

 (Thanks to Liberation for Absolutely Everyone for the first link)



  1. Very cool. If you don’t have a next one in mind, I might suggest Lucy Stone. She was an early feminist and spoke publicly about the need for equality. She also shocked Teh Patriarchy when she married a man who encouraged her to keep speaking and kept her original name. (I think she was probably American; damn my national bias!)
    Anyway, I like it and I look forward to the next post. Good stuff.

  2. Lucy Stone was pretty epic (and American). I want to do someone still alive and not American for my next one, but I’ll do her later on. So many wonderful women to write about, so little time.

  3. I watched a documentary about Emma Goldman a while back. She had a pretty hard life and so many men used her and screwed her over. I think if she had have left anarchy and joined the women’s movement she would have had a much better life, she would have achieved more politically and she wouldn’t have been screwed over by so many men. I feel sorry for her. But yes she had a lot of courage and she was committed to obtaining rights for women in her own way. I do admire her.

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