Okay, if you haven’t yet, read Jordan’s blog post first (right here, click me!) and then come back here!
Now that you have looked at Jordan’s post (thanks Jordan, love ya girl), I wanna leave this here to make you all think about things. Today in class we were talking about the theme of women disguising themselves as men in order to accomplish things (for example, Mulan). This got me thinking, where else have we seen women dressing as men in order to explore the “male sphere”? I found an article listing 11 “badass women” who cross-dressed as men. You can read that here: click me for the badassness! What I guess could have been obvious, but never occurred to me was the fact that maybe Dorothy was not the first woman that thought of dressing as a man in order to be apart of the war effort. This dawned on me when I saw Sarah Edmonds on the list.
So here is the tea on Sarah: she was born in 1841 in Brunswick and due to there not being many opportunities for women to support themselves, Sarah dressed up as a man (Franklin Thompson) and sold some bibles in Canada for a little bit before crossing into the US and selling even more Bibles in Flint, Michigan (this also made me think of everything else that is happening in Flint and makes me sad, NO HUMANS SHOULD GO WITHOUT ACCESS TO CLEAN DRINKING WATER… but I digress). Back to Sarah. While she was selling the Bibles and living in Flint, BOOM, the Civil War broke out. Though she was not a US citizen and not obligated to fight in the war. Sarah felt it was her duty and enlisted as Franklin. She served alongside the men, dressed as men, and was just one of the dudes. She suffered from various injuries which she treated herself because she was scared her gender would be discovered while she was being treated, but she ended up deserting due to possibly contracting malaria which could not go untreated and later returned to the war as a female nurse. But, here is where things get cool (I think), while Sarah was serving with the other men as Franklin, she performed duties from that of a male nurse, to a mail carrier, to even arming up and fighting in the Battle of Williamsburg and the Seven Days’ Battles. Sarah is so cool that she even wrote a memoir about her experience and talks about little old Fredericksburg in it, telling about its condition, the cold weather, the mud, the horrible roads, the Rappahannock River and the battle. That’s pretty crazy if you ask me!
So, after learning all of this, plus what Jordan covered in her post, it makes me think that maybe this idea of pretending to be someone else was not all that original. From Shakespeare plays (don’t get me started on cross-dressing in the theater and Shakespeare) to the civil war, to WWI, to even Disney it seems that cross-dressing to obtain something has been pretty common. Think about all these women writers that published under male names due to the restrictions placed on them! Regardless, all these ladies are pretty badass if you ask me.