March is Women’s History Month and we, the female of the species, are beholden to a lot of women whose fearless accomplishments have made it possible for us to live life without patriarchal straight jackets and shackles. Some of my men friends, who walk the right of center path, ridicule Women’s History Month and have asked me why we need such a month if all we want is to be equal and point out there is no Men’s History Month.
My stock response is, “There is no men’s history month because ya’ll didn’t have to climb out of female dominated oppression for ages.” This statement is met by male eye rolling and one syllable scoffing. It seems to me that those who make fun of Women’s History Month are belittling female accomplishments and in that derision expressed, I hear the echoes of past patriarchal subjugation and the valiant voices of those who sang a song of suffrage.
In the wake of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s heavy fist busting up unions, I am reminded of Crystal Lee Sutton who toiled away in a South Carolina textile plant in the early 1970s earning but $2.65 an hour folding towels in a work environment rife with sexism and sexual harassment. Crystal, at great risk to her safety and life, spoke out, stood up and demanded better treatment. She is the soul of that era’s labor movement and was heavily involved in the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. You may not know about Crystal Lee Sutton but you certainly will know the movie inspired by her, “Norma Rae.” Walker has and wants to strip hard won worker’s rights; Sutton wouldn’t allow employer and co-worker ill treatment then and the Suttons of today will continue her valiant fight against such injustice.
Katie Couric talks about Crystal Lee Sutton’s impact workers’ rights:
In the current political climate of cognitive dissonance, inferred justification, a push to return our status to two centuries ago, and a desire to see the words “we the people” replaced with “we the corporations,” I am extremely thankful to Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, and countless other women who saw to it that the 19th Amendment was passed and we the people can cast our votes as we deem appropriate.
Unlike our heroes of the past, today we do not have to rely on circulating pamphlets or going door to door to fight our causes we can write about them and circulate our thoughts on the internet. The women who inspire me in this regard are the eloquent and intelligent political pieces written by Sarah Jones (PolitucusUSA) , Anomaly100 (FreakOutNation), StarDust (TheMadWomanSpeaks), Diana McGinnis (PoliticsUnspun), Maria Allison (NutsandDolts) and Rodiogal (Jeanniedanna), just to name a few, whose collective voices are a testament to the fact that we still must fight injustice each and every day.
There are so many inspirational women who have contributed their discoveries and activism to this country and to the world, too many to mention and yet all role models to some young woman out there. In thinking about the women who have inspired me, and there have been many, I’d like to tell you about my top three. Third is Katharine Hepburn who lived an unapologetic unconventional lifestyle in her day. She was strong and opinionated and through her acting and her everyday redefined what were traditional women’s roles on screen and in life. Second is Maya Angelou whose poems, stories and grace are nothing short of awe inspiring. Maya taught me why the caged bird sings and further taught me not to allow myself to be pecked to death by ducks. First is my mother, who taught me to think for myself, express my opinion, question authority (although I’m sure she didn’t like that when I was a teenager) and if a human, animal, or group of people are being bullied or oppressed to speak out and to provide whatever assistance I am able. My mother lives her life with strength and grace to which I can only but aspire.
And now I’d like to hear who inspires you, who speaks to your soul, who has made a difference in your life?