March is National Women’s History Month. Luckily, I received an email from a colleague who runs her own business reminding me of this celebratory month. Quite coincidentally, when I logged onto Facebook this morning, I shared the latest post from One Million Vaginas, who shares posts about accomplishments women have made. Some are American, some are Russian. Some are politicians, some are scientists. The color of skin, the nationality, the talents vary. Yet all are worthy of being mentioned. I find it ironic that I am learning more about women in history from a social media site than I ever did in my secondary education. As I looked back on prominent females whom I learned about in my early school years, I only came up with Betsy Ross and Eleanor Roosevelt. Both are certainly excellent women to know about, but the list is way too slim. Both are white, both are related to politics. Surely my memory has failed me. But then again, maybe not.
Simone de Beauvoir makes the case in Woman As Other that “women lack concrete means for organizing themselves into a unit which can stand face to face with the correlative unit” (550). She argues that we, as women, are way too “dispersed” and attached to our male counterparts to make a cohesive stand. I find this statement to be true and upsetting, as all too often I see debates being dragged up between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. I see arguments as to what feminism is, who is one, and way too often, negative connotations attached to that term. How do we shift our focus from what our differences are and join as a unit? This question is not easy to answer, especially when the major religious faiths of our world continue to put women in second place—de Beauvoir’s “second sex” we still are, in many ways. We are paid less than men. We are prohibited from serving in certain clerical roles, based on various faiths. While our rights have progressed in first world countries, they are still almost non-existent in developing countries. Remaining silent when we see inequities is incorrect. As women, we need to be champions for one another. Even if our political views and values differ, I believe we can find issues that bind us.
If we begin to celebrate women and their various contributions and pass on that knowledge through curriculum, home life, film, and the arts, that unity will continue to build, possibly in ways we aren’t even expecting. I am quite sure if you celebrate Women’s History Month, you will learn about a woman you’ve never heard of who made a difference.
In celebration of women, I’d like to make a shout out to some of my favorites whose voice, in some way, has resonated with me: Anais Nin, Pamela Haag, Shelby Knox, Naomi Wolf, Beth Ann Fennelly, Lidia Yuknavtich, Emily Dickinson, Sue Ann Silverman, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Mother Teresa, Simone de Beauvoir, Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion, Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, and Mary Gaitskill. I know there are more to come…..Happy Women’s History Month, and feel free to share your favorites below.