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Dangerous Woman

In: People

Submitted By smusharbash
Words 998
Pages 4
Marmena Shenuda
T. Manzing
History 1
20 May 2016
The Most Dangerous Woman in America
Emma Goldman was an American anarchist of Russian origin who is credited to have contributed immensely towards the development of anarchist political philosophy in America and Europe.
Born in Russia, she emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. She became involved in politics after the infamous Haymarket affair after which several prominent anarchists were sentenced to death.Emma Goldman was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Russia. Her mother Taube Bienowitch and father Abraham Goldman had a very troubled relationship which greatly bothered the young girl. She had two half-sisters and three brothers. She had a difficult childhood as her father was very violent and used to beat up the children while her mother remained distant and aloof. She had a loving relationship only with her elder half-sister Helena. She was a bold and rebellious youngster who tried her best to fight against violent authorities including her father and unscrupulous teachers. Her father stopped her from going to school when she was a teenager and she took to independent education. She also began working in order to help her poverty stricken family.
Emma Goldman is one of the few who, while thoroughly preserving their individuality, have become an important factor in the social and intellectual atmosphere of America. The life she leads is rich in color, full of change and variety. She has risen to the topmost heights, and she has also tasted the bitter dregs of life. The struggle of generations now took place in the Goldman family. The parents could not comprehend what interest their daughter could find in the new ideas, which they themselves considered fantastic utopias. They strove to persuade the young girl out of these chimeras, and daily repetition of soul-racking disputes was the result. Only in one member of the family did the young idealist find understanding--in her elder sister, Helene, with whom she later emigrated to America, and whose love and sympathy have never failed her. Even in the darkest hours of later persecution Emma Goldman always found a haven of refuge in the home of this loyal sister. Emma Goldman dedicated her life to the creation of a radically new social order. Convinced that the political and economic organization of modern society was fundamentally unjust, she embraced anarchism for the vision it offered of liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation.
Goldman's deep commitment to the ideal of absolute freedom led her to espouse a wide range of controversial causes. A fiery orator and a gifted writer, she became a passionate advocate of freedom of expression, sexual freedom and birth control, equality and independence for women, radical education, union organization and workers' rights.
Support for these ideas—many of which were unpopular with mainstream America—earned Goldman the enmity of powerful political and economic authorities. Known as "exceedingly dangerous" and one of the two most dangerous anarchists in America, she was often harrassed or arrested while lecturing, and sometimes banned outright from speaking. Insisting on the right to express herself in the face of overwhelming odds, Goldman became a prominent figure in the establishment of the right to freedom of speech in America.
"I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Goldman's determination to speak out on her controversial views on sexual and reproductive freedom led to frequent arrests. It also brought her into conflict with the mainstream women's movement, which she saw as conservative and benefiting primarily the middle class. Goldman opposed the contemporary fight for women's suffrage and efforts to open professional careers to women, believing they would result at best in the illusion of improvements to a fundamentally corrupt system. To her, these causes were mere distractions from deeper, more important internal struggles. Throughout her career, Goldman addressed the need for the economic, social and sexual emancipation of women. According to her, the patriarchal family, sexual and reproductive repression, and financial difficulties all contributed to women's inferior status and prevented the full flowering of their individuality. Marriage, in her opinion, was simply a legalized form of prostitution, in which women traded sex for economic and social standing. Convinced that enforced childbearing further eroded women's economic and sexual autonomy, she became a prominent figure in the struggle for free access to birth control.
"I demand the independence of woman,"
In February 1940, Goldman suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak. After her death on May 14, 1940, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service allowed her body to be re-admitted to the United States, where she was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket anarchists who had so inspired her. Goldman's passion, dedication and determination continue to inspire activists of all stripes. Even those who disagree with her ideas can find much to admire in her indefatigability, her zeal, and her unwillingness to adhere to anyone else's script. Her life proves that struggles pursued with resolve and resilience can indeed create change, even in the face of seemingly insurmoutable opposition. Despite constant obstacles, she never stopped fighting, and repeated disappointments never destroyed her belief in America and its possibilities. As her friend and lawyer Harry Weinberger said at her funeral, "You will live forever in the hearts of your friends and the story of your life will live as long as the stories are told of women and men of courage and idealism."

Ask for work. If they don't give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, then take bread.

Works Cited

John Chalberg, Emma Goldman: American Individualist, New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.
Emma Goldman: American Individualist (Library of American Biography Series)
Moritz, Theresa. The World's Most Dangerous Woman: A New Biography of Emma Goldman. Vancouver: Subway Books, 2001.
Emma Goldman: American Individualist - The Library of American Biography. John Chalberg

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