We must include half the world's population in accounts of human existence.
Awareness that March is Women's History Month? Not so good for women of all colors.
Even conscientious women and men who are focused on social justice are often unaware that March is an annual event that pays tribute to women who have changed our world. Indeed, women have always changed our world. However, as the quote of unknown origin -- and commonly attributed to Winston Churchill -- goes, "History is written by the victors." That is somewhat of a big, fat "duh," and was probably originally said by "anonymous," the appellation usually belonging to a woman.
Many of my long-standing readers are aware that I am the voice that pipes up every year with, Where are the women? What are you doing to commemorate Women's History Month this year? Why would you care about including women and girls in history at all?
Let me tell you why I think you need to care about including half the world's population in our accounts of the history of human existence. First of all, it's the polite thing to do. To exclude the history and accomplishments of half the world -- the female half -- is to perpetuate disrespect, marginalization and violence against women which diminishes all of us, including the male half.
As the author of Beauty Bites Beast, and now the upcoming book The Safety Godmothers co-authored with Lisa Gaeta, I have immersed myself in the world of violence prevention. Although I am against violence toward anyone, I am particularly appalled at the rates of violence aimed at females: over the course of a lifetime, one in three women will be attacked by a man! I see the entrenched belief that men and boys are superior to women and girls as one of the core causes of this violence.
One of the many ways we continue to regard men as better than women is to exclude women from our historical accounts, and by extension our entertainment and news. We need more Joss Whedon and Lake Bell types in Hollywood. After all, a lot of our stories come from history... and today's news is tomorrow's history. How is this linked to violence? If women's stories are ignored and forgotten, "she" appears to be less than a "he" and not as valuable. If we only value a "her" for her sexuality, and disregard her contributions as a person beyond her gender, it's an easy slide toward treating her badly.
As it is, by pinning a female's inherent value on her decorative potential and femininity -- sexy, nice, innocent or easy to coerce -- it's basically like hanging chum on her back and waiting for the sharks to bite. Our young women are damned if they do want to be sexually regarded, and damned if they don't. Meanwhile, we as a society put a lot of energy into making our girls behave like "ladies," which is a euphemism for "passive." What is more passive than chum? We have many societal ways of making our boys more masculine -- unfeeling, forceful, superior, demanding. In other words, ruthlessly active. Do we really wonder why so many of our boys rape and torment others? We celebrate the "sharks" among us in history and in our entertainment, and continue to dangle women and girls as bait.
If you're tired of this, you can help bring Women's History Month into its rightful place on the March celebration calendar, and I'm just the gal to help. I am a Goodwill Ambassador for the National Women's History Project. Go there and you'll get a snootful of activities. Meanwhile, here is one of the March activities we have going on locally. I would love to see you!
YWCA Pasadena Visions of the Past, Inspiration for the Future: Women of the Civil Rights Movement (ongoing through March) -- A special photo gallery of women who made a huge difference. A special appointment must be made to see photos by Boyd Lewis. Contact Jessica Kubel, Community Relations Manager at 626-296-8433, or via email.
NOTE: This article is an updated version of my column in the Pasadena Weekly that originally ran on March 11, 2014