Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, forced
her fellow Americans to come to terms with the full meaning of
equality after the Civil War. A sometime collaborator with Susan B.
Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, yet never fully accepted into
mainstream suffragist circles, Woodhull was a flamboyant social
reformer who promoted freedom, especially freedom from societal
constraints over intimate relationships. This much we know from the
several popular biographies of the nineteenth-century activist. But
what we do not know, as Amanda Frisken reveals, is how Woodhull
manipulated the emerging popular media and fluid political culture
of the Reconstruction period in order to accomplish her political
As an editor and public speaker, Woodhull demanded that women and
men be held to the same standards in public life. Her political
theatrics brought the topic of women's sexuality into the public
arena, shocking critics, galvanizing supporters, and finally
locking opposing camps into bitter conflict over sexuality and
women's rights in marriage. A woman who surrendered her own
privacy, whose life was grist for the mills of a
sensation-mongering press, she made the exposure of others' secrets
a powerful tool of social change. Woodhull's political ambitions
became inseparable from her sexual nonconformity, yet her skill in
using contemporary media kept her revolutionary ideas continually
before her peers. In this way Woodhull contributed to long-term
shifts in attitudes about sexuality and the slow liberation of
marriage and other social institutions.
Using contemporary sources such as images from the "sporting news,"
Frisken takes a fresh look at the heyday of this controversial
women's rights activist, discovering Woodhull's previously
unrecognized importance in the turbulent climate of Radical
Reconstruction and making her a useful lens through which to view
the shifting sexual mores of the nineteenth century.
You do not have access to this book on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.
Log in to your personal account or through your institution.
Table of Contents
Export Selected Citations
Export to NoodleTools
Export to RefWorks
Export to EasyBib
Export a RIS file
(For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...)
Export a Text file