Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy Women's History Month! (?)

I admit.  I'm conflicted about Women's History Month.

2010 National Women's History Project poster
Having a month dedicated to history that includes, even features women is marvelous.  It's also marginalizing.  Because women continue to be left out of history textbooks and large university survey courses and the History Channel and even general discussions of history.

As I'm in training as a historian, I am continually made aware that I must use caution in how I identify myself.  Am I a historian, first?  Or a scholar of "women," first?

2014 NWHP poster
I'm writing my dissertation on the U.S. National Women's History Month, looking at the activism that went into obtaining congressional recognition for the commemoration, as well as how Title IX's push for equity education affected the process.  It's an amazing story of resilience and dedication and good intentions!  
Gerda Lerner's students at Sarah Lawrence played a HUGE role in making WHM official.
A wonderful archive of women's stories and experiences has been developed, as a result of Women's History Month.  Stories that weren't common knowledge before.  Stories that weren't valued or included in history, as history.  

2005 NWHP poster
My question?  Does having a designated month for Women's History continue to separate women from History?  As agents of history?  Has what is considered important history expanded to include women?  (The same question goes for other commemorative months.)

When you think of history, who do you assume history is about?

This month, I am going to feature women from history.  I wrestled with doing it again this year, because I don't want to contribute to the marginalization of women.  But, I also realize that this blog features the wonder of women ALL YEAR round.  And, by including myself in the Women's History Month focus, maybe I can inspire others to expand their focus.

XX (fingers crossed)

Plus, there's just so many wonderful women to talk about!

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