So I decided to become a midwife… I wanted to deliver a thousand babies. And as each one arrives, especially the little girls, I’ll be there first to whisper into her tender little ear: REBEL! REBEL!” – Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was born today in 1869, in Kovno in the Russian Empire (Now Kaunas, Lithuania), 146 years ago. She is heralded as the founder of anarchafeminism (my own fave political stance) and she demanded “… the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases… freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.” She was anti prison, anti marriage, and pro contraception. She was openly bisexual. And she was also a midwife!
She emigrated to America in her teens, and became involved in the anarchist movement in 1989. She was imprisoned several times for her political activism, and it was whilst in the prison infirmary that she learned to become a midwife – and once released she went on to practice midwifery to support herself alongside giving speeches and writing books and pamphlets on anarchism.
Emma Goldman was really excellent. You’ve probably seen the quote “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution” and many slight variations thereof on tshirts. Attributed to her, this is a tshirt-slogan-friendly reworking of her belief in “the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things”, linking in the criticism she once received “that it did not behoove an agitator to dance”. (Pictured on the right is my favourite Emma Goldman tshirt design – click on the picture to get through to http://www.caebuttons.com/ to get hold of one!)
From one queer anarchafeminist midwife to another, Happy Birthday Emma!
A Dangerous Woman – The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman. By Sharon Rudahl (http://thenewpress.com/books/dangerous-woman)