The Shriver Report – March is Women’s History Month: Here’s What You Can Do
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March is Women’s History Month: Here’s What You Can Do
Photo credit: © intheskies - Fotolia.com

Photo credit: © intheskies – Fotolia.com

 

As February rolls over into March, the resentment always comes. March, it seems, is women’s history month.

We have to have a month, because our many contributions to and particular experiences in this great American experiment are largely excluded from the common narrative of history.  So, women get a month to be the featured conversation, the focus of the display in the public library, the subject of 30 second public service announcements on TV.

Then we quietly sink back into obscurity, a gender submerged leaving not a ripple on the surface, for the next 11 months.  I live for the day when women are so tightly woven into history that their presence in all aspects of public life is utterly unremarkable. Until then, I shall struggle annually, and dream of March just being…..March.

Nonetheless, it does offer many great events, both in Washington DC and elsewhere. Evidence of women’s remarkable lives and progress is easier to get at, and devoting just a bit of time to women and their accomplishments are richly rewarded.

Here are three things I’ll be doing to celebrate our unsung heroines and put our achievements front and center, where they belong.

1.) On March 4, the Law Library of Congress is hosting a discussion with former US Representative Patricia Schroeder at 2 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

She served in the House from 1973 until 1997, and was that rare thing – a mother in Congress.

I can only imagine the nonsense she had to put up with as a female politician of that era. (Remember, a women’s restroom wasn’t even installed on the House side of the Capitol until 2011. The Senate side got one in 1993, but for most of her congressional career, Rep. Schroeder would have been making some long distance sprints between votes to some inconvenient converted closet.)

With a law degree from Harvard, she was a major proponent of the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act, and famously declared “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.”  How that must have made her colleagues cringe.

2.) Wherever you live, you can participate in the Nerdland Scholar Challenge presented by Melissa Harris Perry.  She promises an interactive, month long event that’s both informative and fun.

“Through daily emails and assignments, Melissa will guide you through an investigation of how motherhood has been intertwined with women’s status as social and political actors, both historically and today.”

Motherhood has long been seen as the barrier between women and an active life in the world beyond home and hearth, no doubt because that space is controlled by men.  What a change there will be when women with children are seen to possess superior assets for public life precisely because of their motherhood.

I can’t recall a similar opportunity being offered on such a massive scale before, and I can’t wait to jump into this treasure trove of information.

3.) Finally, I’ll be spending time at the National Museum of Women in the Arts here in DC.

Did you know that museums around the world have art by women, but it is typically in storage, while upwards of 90% of the works on display are by white males?

Wrap your head around this fact, unearthed by the Guerrilla Girls:  Less than 5% of the artists whose work is on display in the Modern Art section of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City are women.  Of the nudes on display, however, 85% are, of course, female. Women artists are totally underrepresented in museums, galleries and solo exhibitions – most people cannot name even 5 women artists.  (Can you?)

So I will spending a blustery March afternoon roaming the space, taking in an extra Women’s History Month gallery talk, perusing the Judy Chicago exhibit, and seeing if I can add more names of women artists to my list of five (Mary Cassat, Grandma Moses, Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, and Camille Claudel).  Check out their social media activities for the month if you want to be part of the fun remotely.

How do you plan to celebrate Women’s History Month? Share your plans below.

 

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Valerie Young is a Reporter for The Shriver Report.
Valerie Young represents the National Association of Mothers' Centers (NAMC) and its netroots public policy MOTHERS Initiative in Washington, D.C. She is an advocate for recognition of mothers’ contributions to our national welfare and a proponent of economic security and independence for those who care for family members. Trained as an attorney, Valerie analyzes state and national legislative action through the lens of motherhood, educating policy makers and others who work on issues pertinent to women. Valerie advises on developments in the political arena, demystifying the political process and encouraging the personal activism of mothers and other family caregivers.
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