Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Women's History Month?

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/09-2

by Ruth Rosen


“Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist —never has” —Gerda Lerner

Aside from the Republican’s relentless War on Women, let me offer you another reason why even one token month is still necessary to America’s political culture.


I’ve just finished reading a book titled The Season of the Witch, written by David Talbot, who founded Salon.com in 1995, the first web magazine in the United States, known for breaking investigative journalistic stories. The book is an evocative political, social and cultural history of San Francisco from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Since he dealt with every trend and movement, often in overheated prose, I kept waiting—and waiting--for him to describe the sudden explosion of the women’s liberation movement.

Astonishingly, Talbot didn’t even write one paragraph about the women’s movement, which certainly transformed American political and social culture more profoundly than did the two chapters he devotes to the San Francisco 49ers football team.

Did his publisher tell him that half the population was dispensable? Did his agent convince him that including feminism would diminish the appeal and profits? Is he just ignorant?

This is just one example why we need Women’s History Month in the United States. It’s to prevent students, teachers, intellectuals and writers from forgetting about half its population.

The origins of this month reflect an era in which the grassroots efforts of a few prescient individuals created a national month dedicated to informing the public about women’s lives. It was during the late 1970s when a growing number of women, grasping the subordination of women in the present, began to wonder about what women did in the past. The idea of “women history” was still very new, and yet a group of women on the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the eminent historian Gerda Lerner, along with other historians, created a Women’s History Institute, during the summer of 1979, at Sarah Lawrence College.
From all over the country Lerner brought together feminist leaders and Molly Murphy MacGregor from the Sonoma Country California group just happened to be one of them. From her they learned what women in Sonoma County had been doing to publicize women’s past. They decided that their summer would be to create a country-wide "National Women's History Week".

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/09-2

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