This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
Women have known for a long time that “we the people” did not apply to us in a full way. Forming a “more perfect union,” as it was conceived by the Founding Fathers, did not anticipate full rights for women. Not even in 1868 when the 14th Amendment was passed, were women able to enjoy the protections of equal protection under that amendment. At least not initially. Not until Reed v. Reed in 1971 did the Supreme Court rule that women should be treated equally under the law.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women and men are equal before the law, and that is not an activist position to be taking.”
You would think. Especially since women make up 50.8% of the American population.
So on this March 1st, when I see that Women’s History Month is beginning, I am of two minds. I am grateful that somewhere, at some time, we take a moment to focus on the innumerable contributions of women to our American fabric. I am grateful for those educators who make efforts this month to highlight the extraordinary accomplishments of women in our history – not only Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart who might be recognized elsewhere, but also Pauli Murray and Betsy Wade and so many others who we need to know about.
My other mind says – we’re 50.8% of the population and we only get a month! What? Shouldn’t Women’s History Month be more like six months? We could get one month for activism, one for art, one for engineering, one for journalism, one for writing, one for medicine. I don’t want one little month when we make up half the population! That’s insulting and patronizing.
And here is the even more breathtaking part of honoring women. These breakthroughs women make are often in addition to their roles as wives and mothers. Any woman who has children will tell you their role as a mother is their most important role, myself included, but all mothers will tell you it’s not their only role. Part of mentoring our children is showing them the power of education, the power of self-confidence, curiosity, and community service.
There is no one way to honor women, no one way to live this life in a way worthy of being honored. I long for a culture where women, our roles and contributions, are so integrated into all parts of society, that we no longer need a month. We are already in the history textbooks and school curriculum in equal measure. We are already in political positions and upper management in equal numbers. We already embrace the fullness of our abilities in a way that is so common it no longer has to be argued in court or given a month.
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