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'Tis past the Ides of March. Indeed, in just over a week, the month will be gone. Not just the month of March, but Women's History Month. It even has a theme: Women's Art, Women's Vision. But I've not seen any emphasis on either, so I must ask: Wherefor art thou, Women's History Month?

Women's History Month can't be found at the local bookstores. There, all is shamrocks and bunnies and chicks, Easter and Passover (which isn't until April this year on account of it being a leap year in the Jewish calendar as well as in the Gregorian calendar most of us use on a daily basis; Jewish leap years occur fairly often (7 out of every 19 years), but require the addition of an entire lunar month - But I digress.).

Women's History Month can't be seen at my local library. There it's simply business as usual. In the children's department, Irish books were on display until Monday. Now it's baseball, I believe.

Women's History Month isn't in evidence in the local schools, either. The elementary schools have spring stuff up. The middle school is concerned with the "character trait of the month". The high schools are too busy for themes, from what I can tell.

And here in the blogosphere, it's been business as usual as well. In fact, until last night, I'd forgotten completely that it was Women's History Month. It came to mind as I was thinking about the presidential elections coming up, in which the Democratic party stands to make history whichever of the frontrunners wins (and the Republicans give us another old white guy - no offense to John McCain, but he is what he is). And to recent surveys that show that a large number of Americans feel that Hillary Clinton faces more prejudice as a woman running for President than does Barack Obama, even though they overwhelmingly believe that racism is the more pervasive social problem.

I want to know why my kids still haven't learned anything about the women's suffrage movement (apart from what I shared with them via books and a trip to Seneca Falls, New York). Or about the women's rights movements that followed World War II, whether you date it from Rosie the Riveter being laid off when the men came home or from Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique.

I want to know why, when they learn about the Enlightenment in France and England and about political movements in the 18th century, there's no discussion in school of Mary Wollstonecraft's remarkable treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (talk about a woman's vision!). Why they aren't taught what my children learned when we visited the Women's Rights National Park Visitor Center about the history of women's rights—or lack thereof—in the United States. Like that a married woman had no independent legal existence until the state laws were changed bit by bit. She was treated as property belonging to her husband, as were her children, whom he could send to the poorhouse if he so chose. The beating of women was permitted, and the whipping as well—as long as the stick or whip used to beat her wasn't larger in diameter than her husband's thumb.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll talk about "Women's Art, Women's Vision". But for today, here are a few links for those of you interested in exploring the issue of women's suffrage with your kids:

Women's Suffrage home page from Scholastic and Grolier. From here, you can access a History of Women's Suffrage, a page dedicated to Women in History, and a feature on Effie Hobby, who voted in 1920.

Suffrage History at HBO, which aired an original movie called Iron-Jawed Angels in 2004, and keeps the pages alive. That movie made clear the atrocities that some suffragettes suffered in prison/workhouses, including beatings, poor conditions, and forced feedings (of milk and raw eggs, to the point of vomiting).

An online look at women's suffrage from the National Women's History Museum, which still has no home despite years of trying in D.C.

And now, I'm off to march about my family room and sing:

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Well said, Kelly! Well said. Thanks for the post and for the Poppins link.

("rather stupid" indeed!)

Mar. 19th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
I so love Glynnis Johns in that role.
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
I am always astonished to consider that when my great grandmother was a little girl, she didn't know if she'd be able to vote when she grew up. (I'm not sure if she cared, but either way, it's a strange thought to consider.) I eagerly awaited my 18th birthday and was so happy it fell on a presidential election year. The fight for women's rights was a long and arduous one and I am terribly grateful for the opportunities I have. (Even if things aren't quite even yet.)
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
I think it's a sin that the school systems still aren't incorporating women's history into their curricula. I'm not upset that they've included minorities and the Civil Rights movement and such; I just think they fall subject to the same reasoning as the U.S. Supreme Court did when it decided to create something called "mid-level scrutiny" in cases of gender discrimination (as opposed to a much more stringent level in cases involving race). Their reasoning was that the men who make the laws have wives and mothers and daughters and will therefore act to protect them, so the law doesn't need to worry about them overly much. No lie.
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Preach on, woman!
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
I so need a soapbox.
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I didn't know...
Maybe Lennon was right: "Woman is the N*gger of the World"

THAT certainly needs to change RIGHT NOW!
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks! I didn't know...
I already had you figured for a feminist, but I'm glad to know I wasn't incorrect.
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
You can rant any time you want. I loved it... because you are so right.
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Renovation of the Workhouse where suffragettes were held after picketing the White House: http://www.lortonarts.org/the_workhouse.htm

and here:


I've been following this because it's close to where I live, and apparently, there's a proposal for a National American Women’s Suffrage Museum to be located here. The rest of the former prison will be an arts showcase, with working studios and performances. Is that not an incredible use of an old prison?
Mar. 19th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
It's only fitting that Lorton house the museum, having earned infamy for its mistreatment of the suffragists back in the day. But it is a gorgeous complex of buildings (from the photo), and I'm glad they're keeping them and repurposing them for something so great, and not demolishing them in favor of nasty little boxes.
Mar. 19th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Excellent post, Kelly. Thank you for your eloquent questions and remarks. And I had great fun marching around my office. :)
Mar. 20th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
"Our daughters' daughters will adore us
and they'll sing in grateful chorus
Well done! Sister suffragette!"

Only the daughters' daughters' daughters have kind of lost sight of the sacrifices made, I think.
Mar. 20th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
I think you've got that right. Fortunately, we've got you to help keep our eyes on the truth.
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
I talked to my students a little about Women's History Month. I've been working on a post in my head since the beginning of the month, but it hasn't all come together yet.
Mar. 20th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
I'd say don't get it right, get it written, but getting it right was a bonus.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 20th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
I got the cute little girl thing when I did inventory control in a steel company AND as an attorney. And I doubt it's changed all that much in either field.
Mar. 20th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
Awesome, awesome post! It makes me proud that my library has a women's history month section set up in both the adult section and the children's section. My eldest daughter has had a great time checking out different biographies.

Mar. 20th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that your library is on the ball. Neither my local nor the county library has anything going on anywhere. I believe I'll register my displeasure when I get to the local library later today.
Mar. 20th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
SING it, Sister!
Tall one DID come home with a library book yesterday on Cady Stanton, but that's because of a cool display in the library, not because it'd been taught in school.
LOVE that scene from Poppins...
Mar. 20th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
It should, of course, be taught in school, but it's not. However, I'm glad the school librarian was on the ball. It's not the case in most of the schools around here.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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