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Feminism OR Edith Bolling Wilson

Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics to this fun song featured in the Broadway musical "Flower Drum Song." It's called "I Enjoy Being a Girl."

When I have a brand new hairdo

With my eyelashes all in curls

I float as the clouds on air do

I enjoy being a girl

I flip when a fellow sends me flowers

I drool over dresses made of lace

I talk on the telephone for hours

With a pound and a half of cream upon my face

I'm strictly a female female

And my future I hope will be

In the home of a brave and free male

Who'll enjoy being a guy, having a girl like me

I don't know how or when it happened, but somewhere along the way the notion of a woman embracing and enjoying her femininity has fallen out of favor with many women in our country. That puzzles me and makes me sad. God did not make a mistake when He made us as females, and He considers us to be equally important to males, so what's the problem? I have 2 beautiful daughters, a fantastic daughter-in-law and by the end of next month, I'll have 9 granddaughters. I don't want anything or anyone to stand in the way of them becoming all that God created them to be, but I also want them to be grateful for their gender and see it as a gift from God.

On a recent trip to Wytheville, Virginia, I learned a lot about the life of Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson and America's First Lady from 1915-1921. She was a strong, intelligent woman, but I doubt that she would have liked the label of feminist.

When Wilson was first elected President, he was married to Ellen Axson Wilson, the mother of his three children, but she died of Bright's disease (now called nephritis) in August of 1914.

Edith Bolling was born into a poor family in Wytheville but was actually a descendent of Pocahontas. Her only formal education came when she was allowed to attend music school for a couple of years. Her Grandmother Bolling, for whom Edith spent years as a caregiver, taught her everything else -- reading, writing, speaking some French, sewing, having strong opinions, making sound decisions, and interestingly, how to care for her TWENTY-SIX CANARIES. Her family attended the Episcopal church regularly, and she remained an Episcopalian throughout her life.

Edith Bolling was introduced by her married sister to Norman Galt, a wealthy businessman in Washington, D.C. who would become her first husband. Norman and Edith had a baby boy who only lived for a few days. His difficult birth left her unable to have any more children. Edith Bolling Galt was happily married for 12 years before her husband died unexpectedly. She hired good managers for the family's jewelry business and turned it into an even greater success. She developed a fondness for the high fashion of Paris and made frequent trips to Europe. She shocked the people in D.C. by being the first woman to drive her own electric car in town.

She and President Wilson met through mutual friends, and, in spite of the fact that he was still grieving the loss of his wife, he was much attracted to Edith. He learned of her love for orchids and sent her a bouquet of them every day of their courtship. They were married in December of 1915.

At that time, World War I was brewing in Europe, and by 1917, the United States had joined the conflict. Edith did her part to encourage the people and support the war effort. The White House observed Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays, urging citizens to conserve these commodities in order to contribute more to the troops overseas. She used her sewing skills to sew pajamas, shirts, and other items for the Red Cross, who in turn gave them to the soldiers. She and the President brought a flock of sheep to the White House grounds so that their grazing would keep the grass in check and former groundskeepers could do other duties to support the war. When the staff sheared the sheep, the wool was auctioned off and raised nearly $100,000 to help win the war. Edith immediately earned her husband's trust, and he shared much valuable government information with her, insisting that she sit in on meetings. They were inseparable.

During President Wilson's second term in office, he suffered a severe stroke that was kept mostly quiet from the country. With advice from his doctors, she started screening his visitors and made decisions about what matters were important enough to be brought to his attention and which could be handled by various department heads or allowed to wait until a later time. In that way, she was effectively serving singlehandedly as the Executive Branch of our government. President Wilson was able to regain his health but remained partially paralyzed on one side for the rest of his life.

At the end of his second term, they retired to a home in D.C. where he died in 1924. Edith continued to enjoy a position of respect in the city and even rode in President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade. She died in 1961.

Edith Bolling Wilson was a woman who embraced her femininity and used it to better herself and to benefit her husband and the entire country.

The Bible supports the importance of a woman's role and recognizes her value.

1 Corinthians 11:12 -- "For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God."

Psalm 139:14 -- "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."

Proverbs 14:1 -- "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

And, of course, it is hard not to realize how much of Proverbs 31:10-31 can be found in the life of Edith Wilson.

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?

For her worth is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;

So he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil

All the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax,

And willingly works with her hands. . . . .

23 Her husband is known in the gates,

When he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

And supplies sashes for the merchants.

25 Strength and honor are her clothing;

She shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,

And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She watches over the ways of her household,

And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many daughters have done well,

But you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

And let her own works praise her in the gates.

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