CREDIT: CHICAGO DAILY NEWS NEGATIVES COLLECTION, DN0055962, CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
Today Eastman would be called an intersectional activist: she perceived the interlocking systems of inequality and strived to create a coalition identity and public actions to combat them in concert.
Eastman’s politics of private life included reproductive rights, paid family leave, wages for wives, feminist masculinity, single motherhood by choice, shared housework and childcare, work-family balance, and so much more.
Eastman’s institutional legacy, her letters, and her surviving phone book document the range of her involvement with many social justice giants and icons of her time.
Frank, fiery, and extroverted, Eastman was one of the most quotable activists of her era.
“When the dead bodies of girls are found piled up against locked doors leading to the exits after a factory fire…who wants to hear about a great relief fund? What we want is to start a revolution.”
“Seriously, does anyone suppose that love-making has gone out of fashion in California, or marriage fallen off in Wyoming, or the birth rate decreased in Colorado as a result of woman suffrage?”
“There is nothing new since Ezekiel’s time in their terror and declaration that the enemy is upon us… In the face of this, we say to Congress, ‘Gentlemen, wait; go slow. We are not afraid.’”
“No self-respecting feminist would accept alimony…It is a relic of the past. Marriage is a link, not a handcuff, a link, not a chain.”
“It takes an exceedingly large-minded liberal to fight for the right of another man to say exactly what he himself does not want said.”
“If the feminist program goes to pieces at the arrival of the first baby, it is false and useless.”
“To live greatly – that is the thing.”