Amelia Jenks Bloomer didn't invent bloomers and wasn't the first to wear them. In fact, she hardly ever did wear them. But a group of women want to build a monument to her anyway.
The champion of temperance and women's rights already is memorialized in a sculpture unveiled in 1999 in Seneca Falls. Created by sculptor A.E. Ted Aub, the figures capture a moment in 1851 when Bloomer introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony, partnering the most powerful women in the 19th century struggle for women's rights.
But Bloomer, according to Wilhelmina Pusmuscans, played a role beyond networking facilitator or fashion maverick. Pusmuscans thinks Bloomer's contributions have been overlooked, and she is seeking donations to make a bronze casting of a life-size Bloomer statue sculpted by Geneva artist Cherry Rahm. The finished work will be installed on the F.J. Ludovico Sculpture Trail in Seneca Falls. Pusmuscans calls the trail that runs along the Seneca-Cayuga Canal "an important showcase for the work of women sculptors."
Supporters of the memorial are invited to a fund-raising luncheon Feb. 25 at the International Institute when Rita Capezzi, associate dean of arts and sciences and English professor at Canisius College, will discuss Bloomer and the "Women's Dress Reform Movement."
Bloomer got embroiled in that movement by accident after she commented favorably in her newspaper, Lily, on a fashion statement being made by actress Fanny Kemble. Kemble's Turkish-style trousers worn under a short dress caught the imagination of women depressed by life in the slow lane that the era's cumbersome fashions demanded.
When Bloomer published drawings of Kemble's ensemble, women began to emulate it. Stanton was the first to wear what was called the "short skirt" and others, including Bloomer, followed her example. They gave up the style, however, after concluding that the ridicule directed at their attire was detracting from the seriousness of their mission.
While Bloomer was slow to embrace the women's movement and never was an ardent suffragist, she fought for women's rights until her death in 1894. Her newspaper survived a move from New York to Ohio, but languished when she sold it after she and her husband moved on to Iowa, where she settled into a more domestic lifestyle. She became president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Society through which she fought for married women's property rights.
The Feb. 25 luncheon will feature an international menu, violin and piano music and an exhibit by local artists. There is a $20 fee.
"Cybergrrl," also known as Aliza Sherman, will tell why she thinks women have fallen behind in technology in talks here next week. The founder of "Femina," a woman-focused search engine, and several Web sites for girls and women, is right out in front of the information technology revolution, but she is the exception, not the rule, for her gender.
The talk, "No Girls Allowed: Changing the Gender Landscape of the Internet," which she will give Friday at 4 p.m. in Center for the Arts, University at Buffalo North Campus, highlights one aspect of the problem. Despite growing gender parity in Internet use, there are those who say women are not using it at the same level as men. Computer science educators also report difficulty in recruiting and retaining female students.
Sherman's talk is the first in a series on women and technology being presented by UB's Center for the Study of Technology in Education and the Graduate School of Education.
Thursday at 5:15 p.m. Sherman will speak at a dinner sponsored by a local chapter of WebbGrrls, an organization she founded. She and Judy Feldman, chief technology officer of Remarketing Services of America, will discuss "Women in IT: From Cradle to Boardroom" at the Center for Tomorrow, UB North Campus.