Aryan Skynet

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Victoria Woodhull’s Feminist Eugenics

Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)

“If, as Angela Davis has argued, ‘the last decade of the nineteenth century was a critical moment in the development of modern racism,’ the same can be said of the development of modern feminism,” writes Stephanie Athey, pointing to the parallel and intertwined histories of women’s activism and the push for scientific understandings of race1. Last week Skynet spotlighted feminist pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s inconvenient engagement with race-based politics and theories of eugenics. This week we feature Victoria Woodhull, who, in addition to being a suffragist, free love advocate, and one of Wall Street’s first female stockbrokers, was the earliest woman candidate for the American presidency. Notwithstanding her status as an icon of the women’s liberation movement, however, Woodhull still manages to make number one on Janet Bloomfield’s list of “5 Feminist Heroes Who Were Actually Terrible People” – even beating based exterminationist Margaret Sanger!

On the surface, Woodhull seems pretty badass. She was a stockbroker, a newspaperwoman and the first woman to run for President of the United States of America. She went head to head against Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 arguing for women’s suffrage, legalized prostitution, short skirts and free love. Not much to argue with there. Unfortunately, her ideas didn’t extend to everyone. Just to the right people. In fact, Woodhull thought that a central role for government was to limit who could get married and thus reproduce (her knowledge of how humans reproduce seems sketchy – it doesn’t require marriage), writing that a compassionate government would “legislate to prevent the birth of the criminal rather than legislate to punish him after he is born.” Woodhull was a big, huge, super excited fan of eugenics, and really felt there was potential for the “scientific development” of the human race.2

Janet Bloomfield

Her “intellectual guru” in this regard was radical lawyer, sociologist, and linguist Stephen Pearl Andrews, a constituent of the “democratic mix of capitalists and anarchists, business leaders and politicians, preachers and social theorists” in which Woodhull moved in New York. Andrews, who “wore the flowing beard of an Old Testament prophet”, “could casually mention Herbert Spencer’s sociology and Charles Fourier’s communal phalanxes in the same sentence; he argued the ideas of all the European social theorists, Bakunin, Proudhon, Saint-Simon, Hegel, and Comte, and then promoted the American Josiah Warren’s ‘sovereignty of the individual’ and ‘equitable commerce’ or John Humphrey Noyes’s stirpiculture and free love.” Andrews’s “philosophy of individualism,” writes Woodhull biographer Lois Beachy Underhill, “enabled her to interpret her own life through a new theoretical frame.”3 As Athey contends, however, flirtation with radical individualist ideas did not prevent Woodhull from seeing herself as a vital part of a greater, collective, and racially defined body:

Woodhull […] was an extreme voice in the 1890s […] and her ideas on free love and socialism were not legitimated or promoted by the same broad political base that Frances Willard enjoyed as head of the WCTU [i.e., Women’s Christian Temperance Union]. In fact, Victoria Woodhull’s economic and sexual philosophy was far in advance of suffragist positions and in direct conflict with WCTU’s doctrines of “home protection” and “moral purity.” Though viewed, respectively, as more “radical” and “conservative” than most suffragist strategy in this period, Victoria Woodhull and Frances Willard offer excellent examples of disparate feminist projects founded on common eugenic philosophies. Both are important for precisely this reason. They demonstrate how a spectrum of seemingly incompatible feminisms mobilized the same connection between eugenic science, imperialism, whiteness, and the female body. Both forge a particularly feminist brand of white supremacy. They argue that white women’s political and sexual empowerment and autonomy, their “sovereignty,” is central to the national well-being. This was so because, both women argued, the white female’s unique role as citizen was in retaining white supremacy in the face of challenges at home and abroad. The white woman retains white supremacy and strengthens the white race through social reform and “educated” sexual choice.4

Victoria Woodhull 2

Minority cultural appropriation of Woodhull’s image.

Woodhull’s magazine The Humanitarian “tackled politics and women’s rights issues, but with a new emphasis on theology, scientific farming, eugenics, and health,” recounts Myra MacPherson:

Victoria had shrewdly contracted experts to write for the magazine and fought for astounding changes in society that did not happen for decades: Laboratories should analyze food and drink for impurities. Doctors should examine children in schools. The poor should be provided government services. Birth control was a necessity. Her emphasis on a form of eugenics, stirpiculture, took Darwinism to an odious level by today’s standards, arguing that there should be “selective breeding” as in livestock, with only the physically and mentally “pure” allowed to bear children. In her era, however, this was in fact tried, at Oneida Community, with mates selected for their superior qualities. […] H.G. Wells […] wrote admiringly of Victoria and her views.5

“Wherever eugenics was discussed,” furthermore, “racism lurked not far beneath the surface,” writes reactionary Michael W. Perry. “We should not forget that Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species has as its subtitle: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. That certain races and classes ought to [be] ‘favoured’ was one of eugenics’ most deeply held beliefs, although it was typically discussed in coded language, so target populations would not be warned.”6 Citing the circumstance that the Equal Rights Party’s delegates nominated Frederick Douglass as Woodhull’s presidential running mate in 1872 – an honor that Douglass never accepted – some, no doubt, would like to delude themselves that the pioneering feminist was also a trailblazing anti-racist. “Woodhull became one of the greatest lecturers of her time, with [her sister] Tennie running a close second. Both sisters were so charismatic that as many as ten thousand people rushed to hear their avant-garde lectures on sex, politics, business, race, prostitution, marriage, divorce, and free love,” Myra MacPherson writes in the introduction to her book The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age, disingenuously leaving readers to assume that those “race” lectures must have been in keeping with twenty-first century standards of political correctness7. The fact of the matter, however, is that Woodhull held blacks in particularly low esteem. “It is a mistake […] to imagine that natural selection always acts in the direction of progress,” Woodhull wrote. “A negro survives in the interior of Africa where the European succumbs: is the negro, therefore, the fittest to survive? An unfavourable environment may foster the undesirable individual, whereas it would kill the ideally fittest.”8

Victoria Woodhull 3

Transnational Aryanism.

Woodhull married her third husband, the British banker John Martin, in 1883, and retired in England, where she labored “to foster Anglo-American alliances, flying both flags and meeting with English and American dignitaries who gladly visited the grande dame at her country estate,” MacPherson writes of her final years. An aviation enthusiast, she “announced she would give $5,000 to the first man or woman who flew across the Atlantic. Charles Lindbergh made his solo flight just three weeks before she died, with no time for a reward from the ailing Victoria”9 – proof of a chilling chain of shadowy eugenicist connections linking the nineteenth-century feminist movement with the crypto-fascist America First Committee and – through its divisive and hate-engendering ideological legacy – President Donald Trump himself!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Endnotes

  1. Athey, Stephanie. “Race in Feminism: Critiques of Bodily Self-Determination in Ida B. Wells and Anna Julia Cooper”. The Trotter Review 17, no. 1 (September 21, 2007), p. 93.
  2. Bloomfield, Janet. “5 Feminist Heroes Who Were Actually Terrible People”. Thought Catalog (March 12, 2015): http://thoughtcatalog.com/janet-bloomfield/2015/03/5-feminist-heroes-who-were-actually-terrible-people/
  3. Underhill, Lois Beachy. The Woman Who Ran for President: The Many Lives of Victoria Woodhull. Bridgehampton, NY: Bridge Works Publishing Co., 1995, pp. 75-76.
  4. Athey, Stephanie. “Race in Feminism: Critiques of Bodily Self-Determination in Ida B. Wells and Anna Julia Cooper”. The Trotter Review 17, no. 1 (September 21, 2007), p. 98.
  5. MacPherson, Myra. The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age. New York, NY: Twelve, 2014, pp. 279-280.
  6. Woodhull, Victoria. Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull. Ed. Michael W. Perry. Seattle, WA: Inkling Books, 2005, p. 228.
  7. MacPherson, Myra. The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age. New York, NY: Twelve, 2014, p. xiv.
  8. Woodhull, Victoria. Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull. Ed. Michael W. Perry. Seattle, WA: Inkling Books, 2005, p. 269.
  9. MacPherson, Myra. The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age. New York, NY: Twelve, 2014, p. 310.
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About icareviews

Propaganda Minister of #AryanSkynet

14 comments on “Victoria Woodhull’s Feminist Eugenics

  1. icareviews
    July 1, 2017

    It’s outside the scope of the present essay, but for anybody interested in capitalists’ utilization of controlled-opposition leftist groups, Woodhull presents a useful case study. She moved freely in society between industrialists like Cornelius Vanderbilt, on the one hand, and the International Workingmen’s Association, on the other. Known all her life as a radical firebrand, she finally settled down with a banker who financially backed her publishing ventures. Dave McGowan would have had a field day with Woodhull: “I mean, here she is, this, like, infamous socialist rabble-rouser, right, and at the same time she’s, you know, partying with all of these robber barons. I mean … it’s pretty weird stuff, you know?”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hipster Racist
      July 3, 2017

      Re: the McGowan conspiracies:

      There was a famous British suffragette that openly called for violence, and had a group that smashed up windows and I think even planted a bomb or two. She was from an upper class family and had government connections, and many in the suffragette movement thought her actions and speeches may as well have been meant to purposefully undermine the suffragette cause.

      The day World War I started, she dropped all suffragette activism and turned one a dime from being a radical to a hard core patriotic pro-war spokeswoman recruiting volunteers.

      In hindsight, now people think, yeah, she really was some sort of double-agent of the establishment trying to discredit the suffragette movement.

      I just watched Hans Utter’s “Laying the Dead to Rest” – lots of stuff I have known about since high school although I was kind of surprised to see Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and his pals yukking it up about the CIA paying them to run mind control experiments on hippies with LSD “acid tests.”

      I mean, you kind of always knew it but it just something else to see them all openly laughing about it 40 years later.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. icareviews
    July 1, 2017

    Reblogged this on icareviews.

    Like

  3. smartwhiteguy
    July 1, 2017

    Back in the old days everyone was “racist”.
    Life was hard back then.
    How do you think people were so efficient and got things done in the pretechnological age? By hiding from reality?
    LOL!
    I think not.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. smartwhiteguy
    July 1, 2017

    “An unfavourable environment may foster the undesirable individual”
    That’s exactly what we’re seeing down here in Oakland!
    Seriously though, I never could understand the left’s war against nature and common sense. They really do live in an absolute fantasy land. It’s truly amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rod Horner
      July 3, 2017

      The Left is better understood as part of nature, political nature at-least, and common sense often has little to do with the ebb and flow of power in a civilization.

      Leftism is the means by which the high caste court the low in order to savage their mutual rivals in the middle. They will utilize that alliance as long as they can safely do so and when they are afraid of the consequences they will call upon their former enemies to cull the great low herd instead of joining the rabble to have their heads.

      Liked by 1 person

      • smartwhiteguy
        July 3, 2017

        I still can’t understand why certain people are proud to actually believe a bunch of stuff that obviously isn’t true. Sounds like textbook insanity to me.

        Like

    • Sam J.
      July 3, 2017

      “…I never could understand the left’s war against nature and common sense. They really do live in an absolute fantasy land. It’s truly amazing…”

      I saw this and immediately thought of a Vox Day blog comment,”…Let them open up their hate and let it flow into us. We will drown them in it…”. It’s related to how the left has attacked normalcy and decency for decades and now when Trump and the Right refuse to act towards the Left as if they are decent or as if the Left is owed any decorum towards them at all they act surprised.

      http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/07/there-is-no-normal.html

      I really like this article and I think it gets to the heart of how we need to treat the Left. People who scream Nazi and Racists to every White that doesn’t genuflect love towards the Negros or aliens should be treated rough and put away wet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • icareviews
        July 4, 2017

        Is “put away wet” an Ozism or is that an original metaphor of yours?

        Like

      • Hipster Racist
        July 4, 2017

        @icareviews

        You’ve never heard the phrase “rode hard and put away wet?” It’s technically about horses but I’ve only heard it used for women.

        Liked by 1 person

      • icareviews
        July 4, 2017

        No, I never heard that. I don’t associate with ruffians.

        Like

      • Sam J.
        July 4, 2017

        Horse saying. I twisted it a little. Assumed it was commonly known.

        “…I don’t associate with ruffians…”

        (haughty)..Well!

        Like

  5. Pingback: Victoria Woodhull’s Feminist Eugenics | Hipster Racist

  6. Hipster Racist
    July 3, 2017

    All the old time “progressive” “liberals” that dominated the American WASP establishment between 1900-1950 were essentially “racist” and quite forthrightly so. Eugenics of this type were seen as compassionate to the poor. They invented sex education and family planning.

    Of course in European societies women always had a much higher social status than in Arab and Asian cultures and in fact it was one of the defining features of European societies.

    We can see the modern American “feminist movement” isn’t even a cohesive movement as non-whites are increasingly attacking “White Women Feminism” because it’s implicitly white and many of their issues are really only relevant to white women.

    Like

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