I know you will grieve over me for having taken my life.... My dear, dear mother, oh, how sorry I am to hurt you, as I know this act will do … I maintain my right to die as I have lived, a free woman, not cowed into silence by any other human being. … The world is not yet ready for all the beautiful teachings which I have to give it. Other people will take up my work … some day--will take it up where I laid it down, and will start from where I left off and do better work than they could have done but for me. Some day you'll be proud of me.
Ida C. Craddock
from Leif Nasser's story via www.radiolab.org
A new book, Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman-- is a must for anyone who thinks the sex wars are "new." There have always been "sex-positive" heroines who fought for women's sexual self-determination, no matter what the cost. Ida Craddock was saying "clits up!" long before I was. When notorious prude-fixer Anthony Comstock finally got her convicted of obscenity and sentenced to hard labor in prison-- after years of hounding her-- she took her own life, and wrote the heartbreaking letter to her mother that you see above.
From the bookflap:
The nineteenth-century eccentric Ida C. Craddock was by turns a secular freethinker, a religious visionary, a civil-liberties advocate, and a resolute defender of belly-dancing. Arrested and tried repeatedly on obscenity charges, she was deemed a danger to public morality for her candor about sexuality.
By the end of her life Craddock, the nemesis of the notorious vice crusader Anthony Comstock, had become a favorite of free-speech defenders and women’s rights activists. She soon became as well the case-history darling of one of America’s earliest and most determined Freudians.
In Heaven’s Bride, prize-winning historian Leigh Eric Schmidt offers a rich biography of this forgotten mystic, who occupied the seemingly incongruous roles of yoga priestess, suppressed sexologist, and suspected madwoman.
In Schmidt’s evocative telling, Craddock’s story reveals the beginning of the end of Christian America, a harbinger of spiritual variety and sexual revolution.