2 min read
Posted on 04.21.16
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 04.21.16

 I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”— Jane Eyre

This week, the United States Department of Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Tubman will be the first woman to appear on our paper currency. (Sacagawea made her debut on the golden dollar coin in 2000.)

If delegate counts hold out, it is more than likely, for the first time, a woman will be a major-party nominee for President. After the New York presidential primary on Tuesday, Susan B. Anthony’s grave was adorned with “I Voted” stickers—a tribute to how far, and how close, women have come in a male-dominated arena.

Today marks the 200th birthday of a beloved and brilliant author: Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte was not only a literary phenomenon, but a trailblazer for women’s rights and equality. In 1846, Charlotte, along with her sisters Emily and Anne, self-published a collection of poems under gender-neutral pseudonyms. In 1847, Charlotte published her most famous work, Jane Eyre, under the name Currer Bell as an autobiography—causing speculation of the author’s gender. Charlotte defended her and her sisters’ ambiguous choice of pseudonyms by saying:

Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine' we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice . . .

Charlotte Bronte believed that gender should not define or ensnare. We are all human, we all experience, we all accomplish, and we all have a right to do so.

MSNBC predicted in 2013 that 2016 would be The  Year of The Woman. Congratulations, Harriet. Happy Birthday, Charlotte.