Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Notorious V-I-C by Michael Ceraolo

The Notorious V-I-C


That's short for Victoria,
and I was and am notorious
because I dared to speak of sex
("Let women issue
a declaration of independence sexually,
                                                          and
absolutely refuse to cohabit with men
until they are acknowledged as equals in everything,
and the victory would be won in a single week")

I was also notorious because
I was the embodiment of Whitman's words
('Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself
I am large, I contain multitudes'):
practicing Christian principles although
I was opposed to organized religion,
the first to publish in America
The Communist Manifesto in English
at the same time Tennie and I
were working as the first female stockbrokers,
etc.

I gave a speech in Washington, D.C.'s
Lincoln Hall on February 16, 1871
Here is part of that speech:

"I come before you to declare that my sex
are entitled to the inalienable right
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
The first two I cannot be deprived of
except for cause and by due process of law;
but upon the last, a right is usurped
to place restrictions so general
as to include the whole of my sex,
                                                   and for which
no reasons of public good can be assigned
I ask the right to pursue happiness
by having a voice in that government
to which I am accountable
I have not forfeited that right,
still I am denied
Was assumed arbitrary authority
ever more arbitrarily exercised?"

This speech led to my being nominated
for President by the Equal Rights Party the next year,
an honor which I happily accepted
(they also nominated Frederick Douglass
for Vice-President;
                            they should have
checked with him about it at some point:
he gave speeches for Grant)

On Election Day 1872
I received an unknown number of votes,
unknown because they were uncounted
by the powers that be
                                  But I had
other matters to worry about that day:
I was in jail

I had written of what I knew
about the great Henry Ward Beecher,
and Tennie had written about
a stockbroker named Luther Challis,
using the word virginity in her piece
"The public is in no danger from me"
"The great public danger . . .is not
in my exposure of the immoralities
that are constantly being committed,
but in the fear that their enactors
will be shown up to the public
they have so long deceived"

Because our paper had been sent through the mail,
we spent a month in jail,
victims of the mockery of Comstockery
We were never convicted,
                                       but
we spent our fortunes and then some
defending ourselves

"So after all
I am a very promiscuous free lover
I want the love of you all,
promiscuously
It makes no difference who or what you are,
old or young, black or white, pagan, Jew, Christian
I want to love you all and be loved by you all,
and I mean to have your love
If you will not give it to me now,
these young, for whom I plead,
will in after years bless Victoria Woodhull
for daring to speak for their salvation"
And now that I have heard
there may be a movie made about me
ninety years after my death,
that may finally happen

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