Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History"

"Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History." I chuckled the first time I heard this! It was inspiring and was definitely some food for thought. Actually, I loved the quote so much I added it to my art journal.

My first interpretation of it may have not been entirely what the author, Laurel Ulrich had intended it to be, but I believe I had the gist of it! Upon researching the quote to give credit to its author was the time I came to realize the achievements of the woman behind it. The actual quote is "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History". I was honestly amazed to learn that she was a historian of early America and the history of women and a professor at Harvard University.


According to Wikipedia, most recently, Laurel Ulrich was recognized as an individual "of distinction ... working on the frontiers of knowledge, and in such a way as to cross the conventional boundaries of the specialties".

When writing an article about little-studied Puritan funeral services, Ulrich included the phrase "well-behaved women seldom make history." The phrase was picked up and soon was widely quoted and printed across the country. It continues to be seen on greeting cards, T-shirts, mugs, plaques, and bumper stickers. She recounted how her now-famous quote has taken on a life of its own in an October 2007 interview: "It was a weird escape into popular culture. I got constant e-mails about it, and I thought it was humorous. Then I started looking at where it was coming from. Once I turned up as a character in a novel - and a tennis star from India wore the T-shirt at Wimbledon. It seemed like a teaching moment - and so I wrote a book using the title." Well-Behaved Women examines the ways in which women shaped history, citing examples from the lives of Rosa Parks, Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, Virginia Wolf and many other notable women in American and world history.

"Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History" can certainly be used as inspiration for women, but it can also apply to artists or anyone for that matter inspired to take a journey off the beaten path. We have to learn not to just settle for how things are, but to challenge and persist in what we believe is right, in what we want to achieve...even if we ruffle a few feathers along the way!

Be notable...make history? Yes, I'm planning on it!  How about you?

3 comments:

Leyla Torres said...

Hi Karen, I enjoyed your writing about what is behind the "Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History" quote.

Makes me think about another quote I read recently:

"Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to."
-Alan Keightley

Karen Embry said...

Hi Leyla,
I am pleased you enjoyed the article.
That's a wonderful quote from Alan Keightley..as artists I believe we need to think that way. Thanks for sharing.

Softpencil said...

You said "We have to learn not to just settle for how things are, but to challenge and persist in what we believe is right, in what we want to achieve...even if we ruffle a few feathers along the way!" I couldn´t agree more! and I try that every day.
Thank you for sharing such beautiful quote!