The website of Dorothy Jane Mills

The website of Dorothy Jane Mills

Blog: Feb. 6, 2014


Margaret Fuller of New England was a woman before her time. In 1844 she wrote a book advocating that women be permitted to follow their interests even if those choices led to non-mainstream choices of employment.

I think if she lived a hundred years later, Fuller would have been outraged that girls and women were often banned from playing baseball and other active sports but pleased to learn about the formation of the All American Girls' Professional Baseball League.

Fuller, as quoted in the recent biography by John Matteson, remembered "little girls she had known whose great delight was to use the carpenter's tools that had been intended for their brothers." Nowadays, we know that some girls are better at carpentry than boys. Fuller believed that women who engaged in activities like building and gardening instead of sitting still embroidering seemed to emerge basking in a "glow and serenity" that came from a new "cheerfulness and good humor." In other words, they were happy.

Her plea was that women be allowed to be useful "according to their own terms and talents, that they should be encouraged to find the work they could do best and to do it . . . using all the variety of their undiscovered skills."  Tellingly, she gave a good example: "If you ask me what offices they [women] may fill: I reply — any. I do not care what case you put: let them be sea-captains, if you will."

If she wrote today she would probably add "baseball players, too."

Women of today also wish to follow whatever talents they possess and want to be permitted to develop careers according to those talents. Those who have wished for a career as a baseball player, coach, or umpire have often been frustrated by artificial barriers built by those who want to keep them on the sidelines of life.

Some barriers have collapsed, but not those keeping women from entering Organized Baseball, where men continue to assume that women lack the ability and the will to play at the game's highest level. How will these men ever find out whether they are right or wrong, if they won't permit women the opportunity to show what they can do?

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