Friday, March 1, 2013

Women's History Month

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. 
Historian Gerda Lerner
March is Women's History Month.  The month out of the year that Congress has set aside to honor the accomplishments of women.  Look for the Presidential proclamation - there's one every year.

Women's History Month is the focus of my dissertation.  I'm looking at the work that a bunch of feminist activists, women's historians, and grad students did, to convince Congress that women should be recognized.  I look at the impact of Title IX, politics, and memory on celebrations of women's history.  I'm curious why so little women's history is included in education today, after 35 years of scholarship.  Heaven knows, I can't read my way through ALL of the books written about women in history, yet textbooks contain very little information.

Women's History Month was a big deal in the 1980s, and into the 1990s.  Now, when I ask my students when Women's History Month is, most of them have never heard of the commemoration.  Most of my students don't know about the suffrage movement, or Seneca Falls, or women's role in the Civil Rights movement.  Women continue to be portrayed as housewives and mothers exclusively, the helpmate to great (too often white) men.  Not as scientists and politicians and CEOs, as doctors or construction workers, as business owners and scholars.

So I wonder, as I read extensively in preparation for writing my dissertation, what happened?  Why are women still marginalized in history?  Does a categorization of "women's history" underscore or perpetuate the difference?

This month, I'm going to (try) to blog every day, featuring a different woman or different aspect of history, in an effort to spread the love for the women of history.

No comments:

Post a Comment