Women’s Day

“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History”.

I have started a pre-school reading time at the small Ortiz Mountain Community Library in Madrid, NM. For Women’s Day I chose the theme HerStory. This refers to the hidden history of women. It is often about the stories of women who made a huge difference and are commonly ignored in history as it is written or taught. Part of the reading time is a craft project.

I started searching online for ideas. when you type in “Women’s Day Crafts” all of the projects are flowers and hearts. Why would we celebrate women in such a narrow way? The point of Women’s Day is to celebrate the many facets and strengths of women. Hearts and Flowers are all well and good, but no woman I have ever met, even the most shallow, was all about hearts and flowers. And most women that I know outright reject the association.

Finally I chose to do a project relating to women’s suffrage. We will be making yellow flowers that represented support for women’s right to vote. We will also make sashes or picket signs. So, even when I consciously avoid the hearts and flowers, I still ended up doing flowers, oh well.

Women’s suffrage is an interesting topic. The way it has been presented, women did not have the right to vote because they were considered less than people. But that is not the original intention. It has to do with states and precincts. If under the United States, there are states, and under those there are cities, counties, precincts, etc, the smallest governmental unit would be the household. So the head of the household got the vote. Traditionally this was the man.

This works well enough if the voter takes into consideration the opinions of all members of the household. Socially however, women were generally unwelcome in discussions of politics. Men might not even think that his wife would be of a different opinion, or thinks he knows better. This system can also be a problem when a woman is the head of household. Widows, unmarried women, etc. were just left unrepresented.

And yet, despite this under-representation, (and after decades of pushing the issue) women finally earned the right to represent themselves. By the votes of Men. Not all states won this right at the same time, and each has their own story.

But HerStory is so much more than a tale of one won right. It is the fact that women were some of the most vocal abolitionists. It is the women who have ruled countries. It is the women who have led expeditions. It is matriarchal societies. It is about birth control. It leads to the battle for gender/sexuality equality for all. It is women dying in childbirth. It is women wearing clothes so restrictive that they were made weak. It is about the objectification of women. It is about the obsession with beauty over intelligence. It is about stereotypes. It is about holding women to different sexual standards than men. It is about pioneers. It is about blaming women for their own assault. It is about every woman’s story.

History generally ignores the women. HerStory not about making women more important than men, but respecting that women have played a role. You cannot tell the story of Lewis and Clark without talking about Sacajawea. Boudicca is an amazing part of the battle against Roman occupation. Anne Frank tells the most complete story of hiding from the Nazis. There are so many amazing women throughout history and all around the world, they deserve to have their stories told.

We just started Reading Time last week, and thus far, we have only had boys. That is not going to make me shy away from doing something about the strength of women. I think it is just as important to teach boys about the strength of women as it is to teach women. I want to see a world where calling men feminine names is not an insult.