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Pioneering Women Screwed Over By History And Sh*tty Men

By Jodi Smith | Think Pieces | March 11, 2020 |

By Jodi Smith | Think Pieces | March 11, 2020 |


International Women’s Day was Sunday, March 8 and this month is Women’s History Month. It’s not going so great in terms of making history we can look back on fondly, now is it, jerks?

Of course, this is just commonplace for women and their status in society throughout history. Whether it is being treated as lesser citizens, held to higher standards than men due to our lack of a dick, or being called liars at every turn, we’ve been screwed over for eons.

Don’t even get me started on breaking down the amount of f*ckery specifically sent the way of women of color, trans women, and gay or bi-sexual women. Jesus god, we haven’t the time and I haven’t the ability to avoid blinding rage in order to properly elucidate that entire Texas-sized bunch of horsesh*t.

Women made great strides in society via science, the arts, or activism only to be tossed aside as a man stole their findings, took credit for their abilities, or just left her out of the history books. The Matilda Effect is a term coined in 1993 by Margaret Rossiter to describe women in science being denied credit for their discoveries and breakthroughs in order for men to steal it from them.

It obviously remains relevant in multiple disciplines in an age where women achieving goals are referred to as the wife or daughter of a man instead of their actual names. We all know that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” - George Orwell. Damn men.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, whose name is used in the term, was a suffragette that co-authored The History of Woman Suffrage with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. She also worked as an abolitionist with the Underground Railroad and published “Woman as an Inventor” to showcase women in science. In that study, she namechecked multiple women glossed over in their work on such groundbreaking inventions as the cotton gin (Catherine Greene and African slaves assisted Eli Whitney and received no recognition).

In 1903, Elizabeth Magie attempted to patent her board game called Landlord’s Game. This was the actual invention of what we know today as Monopoly, although her aim seemed to be pointing out the inherent danger of such a thing while Charles Darrow’s version — the one that gets all of the credit and literally came from him making changes to her game in the 1930s — pushes the player to snatch up as many monopolies as possible.

She created two sets of rules for her game: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. Her dualistic approach was a teaching tool meant to demonstrate that the first set of rules was morally superior.

According to the New York Times article, Magie made around $500 total from Landlord’s Game while Darrow made millions from Monopoly.

Alexandra Kollontai was once declared a national security risk by the United States because of her ideals about feminism for all women — not only the wealthy — and that property rights were for both sexes. Additionally, she wrote a pamphlet in 1909 called “The Social Bias of the Woman Question” that pointed out marriage and the nuclear family as institutions used to oppress women due to the unequal division of labor for even those women that also worked outside the home.

Kollontai also saw sex and divorce as key components in freeing women from marriages based on a man’s ability to provide for her monetarily and allow them to marry for love instead. She went on to have a decades-long influence on countries that embraced her ideals and implemented women’s rights, but her name is rarely mentioned in history books.

Margaret Knight created a wooden machine in 1868 that folded bags into the square-bottomed shape we recognize today from grocery stores. Instead of granting her a patent, Knight was told to make the machine out of iron first. While doing just that, a man named Charles Annan stole her idea and patented it. It wasn’t until a lawsuit in 1871 that Knight got her innovation properly credited. Her hand-drawn blueprints beat out Annan’s protests that women were unable to create something so technological, humiliating him in court.

Chien-Shiung Wu studied physics and received her PhD in 1940 at UC Berkeley after moving to the States from Shanghai. Unable to procure a research position, she instead taught at Princeton and then Smith College before joining the Manhatten Project in 1944.

Wu worked on her knowledge of beta decay while working at Columbia University and two theoretical physicists, Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang, sought her assistance in the field in 1956. They asked her to create experiments testing the law of parity as it pertains to beta decay in order to prove their own theory. Wu proved them correct so Lee and Yang went on to win the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics without acknowledging her at all.

Last on our list is Anna Arnold Hedgeman, the only woman on the key committee to organize the 1963 March on Washington that culminated in Martin Luther King Jr. presented his “I Have A Dream” speech. Credited with the historic march were the Big Six, comprised of only men on the committee and completely ignoring Hedgeman’s role in bringing groups of people to the event, arranging transportation, and keeping those at the march fed anda hydrated.

In 2016, Jennifer Scanlon wrote about Hedgeman and her erasure from one of the most iconic events during the Civil Rights Era.

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Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.

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