Thursday, April 12, 2012
Turned away from elementary school in Prusssia in the 1880's because she couldn't get a "certificate of good behavior," Emma Goldman frustrated, aggravated, argued with and fought back against authority in all its forms from a very early age until she died in the United States in 1940. Informed by her father that "All a Jewish daughter needs to know is how to prepare gefilte fish, cut noodles fine, and give the man plenty of children," Goldman not only ignored him, but worked to make a different world for women and all others who are oppressed.
Criticized because she had no problem with the idea of fighting violent authority structures with violent resistance, Goldman was repeatedly arrested and incarcerated during her life on charges of "inciting to riot" or disseminating birth control information, considered at the time to be obscene. Called "the high priestess of anarchy" and "the most dangerous woman in America" by her detractors, she was nonetheless called "a modern Joan of Arc" by the very popular New York World reporter Nellie Bly and was once met when she got out of prison by a crowd of nearly three thousand supporters.
In speech after speech before crowds of thousands wherever she went in the United States and Europe, Goldman railed against the U.S. prison system and prejudice against homosexuals, while advocating for access to birth control and a redistribution of wealth to include everyone. The subject of multiple plays, movies, books and articles, Emma Goldman resisted being pigeon-holed even by other anarchists. When some of them criticized her once for dancing because they felt that "agitators shouldn't dance," Goldman fired back that no Cause should expect her to be a nun and that, if it did, she didn't want it. In-your-face, in-your-face, in-your-face!