The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

The Queen Who Would be President – Part 1

posted by Donna Henes

In honor of Aung San Suu Kyi and to celebrate her release, and with a nod to Election Day, this week’s theme is admirable women leaders of democracy.

The Queen Who Would be President – Part 1

Victoria Woodhull lived a century ahead of her time. She is unknown to most people today, but when she ran for President of the United States in 1872, she was one of the most famous women in the country.

Victoria California Claflin was born September 23, 1838 in Homer, Ohio, to a down-on-its-luck family. She was only 15 years old when she was married to Canning Woodhull, an Ohio medical doctor.
 
As it turned out, her new husband was an alcoholic and a womanizer, and it soon became clear that she would often be required to work outside the home to support herself and her two children, Byron and Zulu.

“Rude contact with facts chased my visions and dreams quickly away,” she wrote, “and in their stead I beheld the horrors, the corruption, the evils and hypocrisy of society, and as I stood among them, a young wife, a great wail of agony went out from my soul.”

Stuck in an unhappy union in an era when women were bound to remain faithful with few options to escape — women who divorced were stigmatized and often ostracized by society — Woodhull concluded women should have the choice to leave unbearable marriages.

She divorced Dr. Woodhull and married Colonel James H. Blood. The couple and her sister Tennessee moved to New York City where she found her public voice. In addition to free love and freedom for women, she advocated many things which we take for granted today: the 8-hour work day, graduated income tax, social welfare programs, and profit sharing, for example.

From an early age, Woodhull was extremely contradictory in her political and social views. Although she was opposed to the organized Christian religion, she lived its principles. She fed the hungry, cared for the sick, and visited prisoners. She believed that living Christian principles was more important to saving souls than preaching the resurrection of Christ.

Along with her sister, Tennessee Caflin, she established the first female brokerage house on Wall Street. Woodhull, Claflin & Company opened in February 1870 with the assistance of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a wealthy benefactor and her admirer. They made a fortune.

Newspapers like the New York Herald hailed Woodhull & Claflin as “the Queens of Finance” and “the Bewitching Brokers.” Many men’s journals of the time published sexualized images of the pair running their firm, which tainted the image of independent, publicly-minded, unchaperoned women with suggestions of “sexual immorality” and prostitution.

“For a woman to consider a financial question was shuddered over as a profanity.”

With the earnings from their business, Victoria and Tennessee established a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, which debuted in May 1870 and stayed in publication for the next six years. The paper became notorious for publishing controversial opinions on such taboo topics as women’s suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, free love, vegetarianism and licensed prostitution.

The sisters were muckrakers at heart and published exposés on stock swindles, insurance frauds, and corrupt Congressional land deals. They also printed the first English version of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto

Above all, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly advanced the editors’ commitment to the equal rights of women in the work place, the public political arena, the church, the family, and the bedroom. And the content of the paper showcased the words and deeds of ordinary and extraordinary women.

A year after she set up shop in Wall Street, Woodhull spoke at the opening of the 1871 National Woman Suffrage Association’s third annual convention in Washington. She argued that women already had the right to vote since the 14th and 15th Amendments granted that right to all citizens. That all they had to do was use it.

This simple but powerful logic impressed some committee members. Suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, saw her as their newest champion. She thrilled them when she declared, “women are the equals of men before the law, and are equal in all their rights.”

Her Constitutional argument was not original, but her notorious reputation focused unprecedented public attention on women’s suffrage. Following Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Woodhull was the second woman to petition Congress in person. Newspapers reported her appearance before Congress.
 
“I come before you to declare that my sex are entitled to the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I ask the right to pursue happiness by having a voice in that government to which I am accountable.”

In 1871, 49 years before women won the right to vote, Queen Victoria Woodhull announced her intention to run for President of the United States. In 1872 she was formally nominated by the newly formed Equal Rights Party. The Vice Presidential candidate was former slave Frederick Douglass.

Part 2 tomorrow.

***
T
he Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.
 

Tribute to the Queen of a Democratic Dream

posted by Donna Henes

In honor of Aung San Suu Kyi and to celebrate her release, and with a nod to Election Day, this week’s theme is admirable women leaders of democracy.

Benazir Bhutto  June 21, 1953 – December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, twice the popularly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, was assassinated in Rawalpindi at a campaign rally for her reelection. She was 54 years old.

Bhutto was born in Karachi, Pakistan to a prominent political family. At 16 she left her homeland to study at Harvard’s Radcliffe College where she completed her undergraduate degree. She obtained her graduate degree at Oxford University in England in 1977.
 
Later that year she returned to Pakistan where her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had been elected prime minister, but days after her arrival, the military seized power and had her father imprisoned and ultimately hanged.

Bhutto herself was also arrested many times over the following years, and was detained for three years before being permitted to leave the country in 1984. She settled in London, where along with her two brothers, she founded an underground organization to resist the military dictatorship. When she returned to Pakistan in 1985 for her brother’s burial, she was again arrested for participating in anti-government rallies.

After her release, she went back to London but returned to Pakistan in 1986 to join the seething anti-government movement. The public response to her return was tumultuous, and she publicly called for the resignation of Zia Ul Haq, whose government had executed her father. Her personal grief never embittered her. Democracy was the best revenge.

When free elections were finally held in 1988, she became Prime Minister. At 35, she was one of the youngest chief executives in the world, and the first woman to serve as prime minister in an Islamic country.

“I had faith in myself. I had always felt that I could become Prime Minister if I wanted.
 
Only two years into her first term, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Bhutto from office. She initiated an anti-corruption campaign, and in 1993 was re-elected as Prime Minister.

Bhutto’s platform has always been leftist, including food for the hungry, health care, jobs, slum clearance, housing, and a monthly minimum wage. While in office, she brought electricity to the countryside and built schools all over the country, and looked forward to continuing to modernize Pakistan.

In 1996 the Guinness Book of Records named her “The world’s most popular politician.” Due to Queen Benazir’s personal world popularity, Pakistan’s relation with other countries improved during her terms. Her moderate foreign policy has been credited for improving the wrong image of Pakistan around the world, however domestically she and her party have been widely blamed for excessive corruption.

President Leghari of Pakistan dismissed Benazir Bhutto from office in 1996, alleging mismanagement, and dissolved the National Assembly. A Bhutto re-election bid failed in 1997, and the next elected government, headed by conservatives, was overthrown by the military. Bhutto’s husband was imprisoned, and once again, she was forced to leave her homeland. 

For nine years, she and her three children lived in exile in London and Bahrain, where she continued to advocate the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Finally, in the face of death threats from radical Islamists, and the hostility of the Musharraf government, she returned to her native country on October 18, 2007 to seek reelection as Prime Minister.

“It’s true that General Musharraf opposes my return, seeing me as a symbol of democracy in the country. He is comfortable with dictatorship. I hope better sense prevails.”
 
She was greeted by enthusiastic crowds, and within hours of her arrival, her motorcade was attacked by a suicide bomber. She survived this first assassination attempt, although more than 100 bystanders died in the attack. With national elections scheduled for January 2008, her Pakistan People’s Party was poised for a victory that would make Bhutto prime minister once again.

She returned to Pakistan because she was a genuine leader who felt that the battle for democracy in Pakistan was her calling. A brave woman undeterred by the repeated threats of death, Queen Benazir walked on to Pakistan’s deadly political stage to make the ultimate sacrifice. She fought for people’s rights until her last.

The next few months are critical to Pakistan’s future direction as a democratic state committed to promoting peace, fighting terrorism and working for social justice.

Only a few weeks before the election, the extremists struck again. A gunman fired at her car before detonating a bomb, killing himself and more than 20 bystanders. Bhutto was rushed to the hospital, but soon succumbed to injuries suffered in the attack.

In the wake of her death, rioting erupted throughout the country. The loss of the country’s most popular democratic leader plunged Pakistan into turmoil, intensifying the dangerous instability of a nuclear-armed nation in a highly volatile region.

Queen Benazir leaves a legacy of a courageous no-holds-barred struggle for democracy. At her final rally she thundered: “Your country and my country is at risk. This government cannot handle this. We will defend it. We will handle it through people’s force.”

In her last speeches, she repeatedly said that she wanted a place in people’s hearts. This she has certainly found. In her death, Benazir has become the inspiration and rallying cry for millions fighting for a democratic Pakistan. Nasim Zehra, an Islamabad-based national security strategist eulogized her by writing, “For millions she is the queen of hearts.”

“Democracy is necessary to peace and to undermining the forces of terrorism.”

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

Hail The Martyr Queen of Myanmar

posted by Donna Henes

On Saturday, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese human rights and democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and folk shero was released from the house arrest in Myanmar that has kept her a prisoner for much of the last twenty years. She is now 65-years old, and as radiant, charismatic and determined as ever. She has evoked tremendous support from people all over the world who see in her the potential to be a major force in creating a global vision of the possibility of a peaceful and humane way of living. The inspiration for a powerful new paradigm.

Here is the article that I wrote about her in the inaugural issue of The Queen’s Chronicles in October 2007.

Hail The Martyr Queen of Myanmar

Though the recent protests in Myanmar have been lead by Buddhist monks, the real moral leader of the country once known as Burma is Aung San Suu Kyi, the most powerful individual in a country of nearly 50 million people.

At 62, she is hauntingly beautiful and elegant. Delicate, she weighs barely 100 pounds, and often wears a colorful flower in her hair. But despite her demure appearance, she is a woman of steely resolve who has devoted her life to the struggle for democracy in Myanmar at great personal expense.

It is her resolve and example that has inspired her sister and brother citizens in today’s struggle. She is frequently called Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Daw is not part of her name, but an honorific similar to madam for older, revered women, literally meaning “aunt.” Or, shall we say “Queen!”

She is the daughter of Burma’s most famous general who freed the country from British rule in 1947. Suu Kyi spent her childhood in Myanmar, but continued her education overseas in England, where she met and married college professor Dr. Michael Aris.

She and Aris had two sons together, and were living an idyllic life in Bhutan when she received word that her mother, back in Myanmar, had fallen ill. Suu Kyi decided to fly home temporarily to nurse her mother — but her plans quickly changed.

When Suu Kyi arrived in Myanmar in 1988, the streets were full of monks, students, and workers protesting the rise of the new military regime. During the protests, more than 3000 demonstrators were massacred on the orders of the brutal new government.

Once her duties to her mother had been fulfilled, Daw Suu Kyi made the painful decision to stay in Myanmar and take action against the junta that was destroying all the freedoms that her father had won for the people. For her, the choice was clear: “I could not, as my father’s daughter, remain indifferent to all that was going on,” she said in a speech.

“It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

She soon became the unlikely leader of a sweeping movement for change. She organized peaceful rallies and gave speeches that called for free elections, democratic reform, and human rights. In 1990, Queen Suu Kyi and her party won an overwhelming victory in the country’s democratic elections. But she was arrested by the junta before she could assume her rightful post as Prime Minister. She is still, after 17 years, under detention.

For her devotion and strength, Suu Kyi was honored with the Freedom of Thought award in 1990. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship – making her the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She used the Nobel’s $1.3 million prize money to create a health and education trust for the people of Myanmar.

Suu Kyi’s conviction to her country has cost her dearly. She’s lost not only her freedom, but her family as well. She is separated from her sons who live in England. And tragically, she never had the chance to say goodbye to her husband before his death in 1999.

Today, Queen Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, but her spirits are as strong as ever. “I’ve always felt free because they have not been able to do anything to what really mattered,” she told ABC News. “And once you’re free inside, once you feel, ‘I can accept something that happens to me as long as I am working for something right’ … then I think you are free.”

“The only real prison is fear, and the only real
freedom is freedom from fear.”

May we take her courage to heart and be inspired to defend what is fair and right and good.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.
 

I Am a Divine and Beautiful Being

posted by Donna Henes

I AM A DIVINE AND BEAUTIFUL BEING.

I CHOOSE TO LIVE EACH MOMENT WITH APPRECIATION AND
COMPLETE ACCEPTANCE OF MY OWN DIVINITY AND BEAUTY.

I CHOOSE TO APPRECIATE AND ACCEPT THE BEAUTY IN ALL
BEINGS AND THE PERFECT DIVINITY IN EACH MOMENT.

I OPEN MY HEART TO THE POSSIBILITY OF LOVE AND BENEFIT
FROM EVERY BEING AND EACH MOMENT.

I PURGE MYSELF OF ALL DOUBT, NEGATIVITY, JUDGMENTAL
TENDENCIES, GUILT, PANIC, AND FEARFUL THINKING.

I ALWAYS SEEK THAT WHICH I NEED TO GROW, TO BUD, TO
BLOOM, TO BLOSSOM, TO FRUIT, TO BEAR SEED.

I DARE TO DRAW INTO MYSELF THE POSITIVE MANIFESTATION OF
EACH TRIAL AND DIFFICULTY; THE RIGHTNESS OF EVERY LESSON.

I BREATHE DEEPLY AND SAVOR THE LOVE AND BENEFIT THAT
SURROUNDS AND EMBRACES MY LIFE AS I LIVE IT EACH MOMENT.

I FORGIVE MYSELF WITH EACH BREATH I TAKE AND RENEW MY TRANCEFORMATIVE INTENTIONS WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART.

I GLORY IN THE GOODNESS AND RIGHTNESS OF ALL THAT I
ENCOUNTER AND ALL THAT I AM.

I AM A DIVINE AND BEAUTIFUL BEING.

- DONNA HENES

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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