From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World by Marilyn French


book jacket abstract image of womanFrom Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World by Marilyn French (2008) Volume 1: Origins. Foreword by Margaret Atwood.

Marilyn French has a smooth writing style that is easy to read but still packs a punch by her coherence and context for absorbing new information.

The bbook jacket illustration of wall and women in red with white hatsook is divided into 3 basic parts: 1. Parents, 2. The Rise of the State, 3. Gods, Glory, and Delusions of Grandeur. Under the States part it is a treat to go back all the way to Peru, Egypt, and Sumner. Other nations include a chapter on China, India, Mexico and a concluding analysis on the State in the abstract. She adds descriptors to identify the nature of the respective states: Secular=China, Religious = India, Militaristic = Mexico.

Under the Gods portion she covers Judaism, Greece, Rome, Christianity, Islam. There are number of supplemental notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and and index as well as some maps.

Here’s a bit from Margaret Atwood’s foreword:

Women who read this book will do so with horror and growing anger: From Eve to Dawn is to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex as won is to poodle. Men who read it might be put off by the depiction of the collective male as brutal book jacket photo of author Simone de Beauvoirpsychopath, or puzzled by French’s idea that men should “take responsibility for what their sex has done.” . . . However, no one will be able to avoid the relentless piling up of detail and event — the bizarre customs, the woman-hating legal structure, the gynecological absurdities, the child abuse, the sanctioned violence, the sexual outrageous — millennium after millennium. How to explain them? Are all men twisted? Are all women doomed? Is there hope? French is ambivalent about the twisted part, but, being a peculiarly American kind of activist, she insists on hope. (p.x)

Her intention was to put together a narrative answer to a question that had bothered her for a long time: how had men under up with ALL THE POWER — specifically, with all the power over women? Had it always been like that? If not, how was such power grasped and then enforced? Nothing she had read had addressed this issue directly. In most conventional histories, women simply aren’t there. Or they’re there as footnotes. (p.xi)

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Imbeciles by Adam Cohen

book jacket with title and authorImbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, (2016)

This is probably the most famous case of any relating to the ill-considered eugenics movement that contributed to the discredited Social Darwinism philosophy and serious racism (blacks being considered subhuman for no actual basis other than having been enslaved because of the color of their skin – which I think if it was written as science fiction no one with a brain would find this notion credible and would not be able to suspend their disbelief for such a novel). And more obviously, led to the genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust, which led to a withdrawal of the concept from acceptable “science” but I fear lingers on to this day. We see genocide over religion as well as people who are in tribes that are simply taller people (Rawanda – read Elmore Leonard’s novel Pagan Babies, that includes some on it, horrifying).

So the gist of the issue was that 8 Supreme Court justices decided Carrie Buck was of low intelligence (without any basis; when she was allowed in school she was better than average). As the child of a single mom because the husband had abandoned the family, she was vulnerable. After her mother was confined to a facility for purported “immorality” [pretty sure only women were confined for that] and prostitution [not sure she had another way of making a living], and syphilis [big surprise].

Carrie was sent to live with foster parents, who removed her from school to be treated as a servant. Then the family’s nephew raped Carrie and she become pregnant herself, giving birth to a daughter out of wedlock (it is a really horrible story; the foster parents adopted and got custody of Carrie’s child while she was sent to the home, and were, as I recall abusive of  her child. The daughter died at age eight.

Carrie was deemed “immoral” for having been raped. We have not made much progress on that front. She was a test case by the Nazi sympathizer involved in a move to sterilize for race purity and mentally challenged as well as, shockingly, epileptics.

The short version is that they used her as a test case to validate the right of the State to sterilize people. And the dreadful horrible evil of 8 of 9 old white men decided that the State had a right to sterilize people without their permission and often without their knowledge.

Like other horrible Supreme Court decisions, the completely horrific consequences were not seen as evil at the time, people did not protest. They agreed that this should be done.

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Our Bodies, Our Crimes by Jeanne Flavin

partial image of a black woman in handcuffsOur Bodies, Our Crimes: the Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin (2008)

To start with, read this Op-Ed the author wrote and is the text in GoodReads (click above link)

The Real Issue behind the Abortion DebateAn op-ed by Jeanne Flavin in the “San Francisco Chronicle”

2009 “Choice” Outstanding Academic Title

The intense policing of women s reproductive capacity places women’s health and human rights in great peril. Poor women are pressured to undergo sterilization. Women addicted to illicit drugs risk arrest for carrying their pregnancies to term. Courts, child welfare, and law enforcement agencies fail to recognize the efforts of battered and incarcerated women to care for their children. Pregnant inmates are subject to inhumane practices such as shackling during labor and poor prenatal care. And decades after “Roe,” the criminalization of certain procedures and regulation of abortion providers still obstruct women s access to safe and private abortions.

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I Dissent edited by Mark Tushnet

gavel on black and white coverI Dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Supreme Court Cases by Mark Tushnet (2008)


Our constitutional tradition celebrates the great dissenters — John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William O. Douglas. On one level, the reason is clear: out of step with the prevailing constitutional views, of their times, they were [sometimes] vindicated by history. The nation came to see the wisdom of their constitutional views, and the errors of the majorities that temporarily prevailed.

I added the [sometimes] because Scalia’s dissent is in two of the cases and I’m pretty sure when I get to them, he will be wrong, again. (His opinions always were wrong in MY opinion based on general principle!) So I decided I couldn’t wait and went to the last case first because it was a Scalia dissent.

Oddly, other cases have two justices listed in the table of contents as dissenting. However in the Scalia cases, Clarence (gag) Thomas was also listed in the chapter as joining in the dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, but not in the Table of Contents maybe because he wrote a separate dissent. Of course, now that Scalia is dead (RIH) it is a common joke that Thomas will not know how to vote anymore. Plus the mockery that after the many decades on the bench, he had NEVER SPOKEN during a case presented to the Supreme Court until Scalia died (2016).

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