How we know and why it matters


How we know and why it matters


Anna Dickinson was a lesbian, as Matt Gallman demonstrates in his 2006 biography. He quotes Dickinson’s steamy correspondence with a variety of women, including Susan B Anthony(!), and acknowledges her female partner of 30 years, but hesitates to “label” Dickinson.

How do I know Anna Dickinson was a lesbian? How did I know even before her biographer offered the receipts? I’m going to try and explain as best I can, from the vast record of lesbian accomplishment and my own experience as a queer woman. Family, please chime in.

For Anna Dickinson to develop a deep political analysis beginning as a teenager in the 1850s, and to demand to be heard and taken seriously on matters of state, required not caring what men thought of her.

A girl who is hardwired not to care if boys are intimidated by her is freer than other girls. As we grow, not caring much if men find us attractive or marriageable is a kind of superpower. Not caring leaves us free to take up the space necessary to accomplish something.

Lesbianism isn’t a surefire recipe for success, and plenty of straight women led the suffrage movement. But it is one source of Anna Dickinson’s unusual power and drive to achieve, to be recognized, to be heard.


Daily Suffragist




Anna Dickinson
How we know and why it matters thread


Daily Suffragist, “How we know and why it matters,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 14, 2024,

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