HerStory: When Will Enough Be Enough?

HerStory: When Will Enough Be Enough?

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,1 March 2016

Buckle up, readers. It’s Women’s History Month and my rage-o-meter is at dangerously unsafe levels.

March is when the country, or rather a handful of people, pause to note the many contributions of women to ‘Murica while the rest of the country just irritates the bejeezus out of me. To the uninformed asshats out there, the history books don’t generally ignore women because women didn’t do anything noteworthy (the same way history books don’t ignore African-Americans because African-Americans didn’t do anything noteworthy). History books are generally written by white men and approved by white male school boards. And until those history books make solid efforts to cover more than the white male contribution to history, it’s not time to get rid of Women’s History Month.

How do I know it’s not time? Ask 5 people to name a woman of historical importance and if any come back with someone different than Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Betsy Ross or Rosa Parks, I will calm the fuck down. Hell, if the people you ask can correctly identify why those women are important in any degree of detail I’d be happy but odds are they won’t.

Here are a few ‘Murican women who go largely unsung compared to their be-testicled brethren:

355: Such a badass and so unheralded that we still don’t know the name of this female spy relied on by none other than George Washington. 355 helped expose Benedict Arnold as a traitor and assisted in the arrest of the British head of intelligence operations in New York during the Revolutionary War.

Nellie Bly: From a time when journalists were more than amplifiers for politicians, Nellie Bly was the best. She wrote of the lives of women, often at great danger to herself, including the time she pretended to be insane to expose the terrible conditions endured by the mentally ill in institutions. She also beat the fictitious record from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Just because she could.

Margaret Sanger: pioneer in birth control and women’s health. Without her work, countless women’s research, careers, and lives would have been at best delayed if not out and out derailed.

K.V. Switzer: The first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon, Switzer finished despite a male race official trying to force her off the course. She got hate mail and death threats but she didn’t stop. She opened up running to women and fought on.

You’ll hear about a few more extraordinary women from ‘Murica and beyond in my next post. Because this matters. Because our daughters and nieces, not to mention our sons and nephews, need to know the women that came before us and those that come after are more than the clothes they wore. These women fought and died to give us the right to vote, provide the ability to get our voices heard, get an education, improve our health, and to protect our rights to our bodies and our lives. These women deserve to be remembered; we help future generations, and ourselves, when we take the time to learn even just a little Herstory.

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Image Credit: Greene County, Pennsylvania, Archives Project on Flickr

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