because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dora Russell

Being an upper-middle class and rather intellectual young British woman in the early 1900's, Dora Black went to Cambridge for her college education. Being an in-your-face woman already, however, she made it a point while she was there to join the Heretics Society, a group of young thinkers like herself that questioned authority in general and religious dogma in particular.

After graduation, when Earl Bertrand Russell, the well-known mathematician and philosopher nearly twice her age, asked her to marry him, she hesitated because she believed that "marriage, laws, the police, armies and navies are the mark of human incompetence." Further, she was convinced that humans are not monogamous by nature and should be free to have sexual relations at will, which is why she worked hard to make birth control methods and information accessible to all women, especially for the poor. Black could not imagine how women could be free and equal to men, if they couldn't control their participation in reproduction.

Still, eventually, she said yes, and they had a couple of children and opened a progressive school called Beacon Hill. Then she had a couple more children with a journalist they knew and Bertrand fell in love with the kids' governess and divorced Dora to marry her. Some might find all this a bit messy. An in-your-face woman would probably just say, "Whatever." With a smile.

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