Wednesday, March 5, 2014

holding up half the sky

Chairman Mao Tse-tung once said "Women hold up half the sky."  Why then are women still underpaid, underemployed, underappreciated, and treated as second class citizens in so many places under this sky?  Why could the Equal Rights Amendment not be passed here in the United States?  Why do historical retrospectives pay more attention to the men of the past than the women? This is Women's History Month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia and this Saturday is International Women's Day. 

Have you even heard of Harriet Tubman, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lady Bird Johnson, Jeannette Rankin, Alice Paul, or Rebecca Latimer Felton? Do you know who Valentina Tereshkova, Sally Ride, Jeanne Marjorie Holm, or Amelia Earhart were? Do the names Sheila Kuehl, Annise Parker, Christine Kehoe, Tammy Baldwin or Cathy Connolly ring a bell? These women all made a difference by doing something well and by being among the first. History has indeed recorded them, but how many of us have taken the time to get to know them?
Authors, actors, singers - we tend to know them more, but even in fields that are front and center most of the time, how many wonderful women have come our way but been forgotten?  Using your computer, look up a few of the names I just mentioned or look for information on some of the entertainment greats like Lucille Ball, Alice Walker, Agatha Christie, Donna Reed, Phyllis Diller, and Irene Ryan.  The list really goes on and on.  Women's history is world history.  We can look all the way back to Eve.

This month, get to know the women of our past and get to know the issues too.  The discrimination that went on here in the United States used to be perfectly legal.  Women could not even vote in elections.  There are still parts of the world where outright discrimination of women in any form is legal.  Even here in the US it's a tough fight and, as I mentioned, the Equal Rights Amendment (a proposed amendment to the US Constitution, originally written by Alice Paul and designed to guarantee equal rights for women) was never ratified.

Equality has been a long fight for people of color, for gays and lesbians, for the transgender community, and most certainly for women.  During this Women's History Month, spend some time talking about this and do share your comments.

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