Herstory, Now More than Ever!

Women’s History Month; International Women’s Day—A Time to Reflect and Persist!

Ah, March. It’s officially Women’s History Month—my favorite time of the year! Personally, I like to celebrate women’s history every day. However, this year especially, Women’s History Month needs more attention!  We—all of humanity—need to remember the incredible and hard fought efforts of women currently and throughout history!

Since the early 1900s, March has been a significant month for women. Before it was deemed Women’s History Month in the United States, women across the globe observed International Women’s Day—“a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.”* In 1913, March 8th became the annual recognition of International Women’s Day. Women, most often, demonstrated for suffrage, the right to work, the right to hold public office, and equality. Over the years, women’s causes have expanded more women’s rights issues: healthcare, equal pay, individuality, sexual freedom, and gender equality (many more causes, too). Essentially, fighting against traditional patriarchal values and oppression.

March officially became Women’s History Month in 1987.** Using similar ideology from International Women’s Day, the entire month is dedicated to revisiting the achievements of women and educating the masses on the national level.

In honor of this great month—and great day—I’d like to share a few fun facts about three fascinating women who contributed to social change:

Alexandra Kollontai—Back in the day, I took one Russian history course. During my research, I came across the works of Alexandra Kollontai (1872-March 9, 1952). Kollontai was a Russian feminist that lived during the Bolshevik era. In my opinion, she was quite a revolutionary woman—especially for the time. I found her advocacy for women’s sexual freedom to be most interesting. She supported the radical idea that women should be able to explore their sexuality without being negatively stigmatized. This included: “Free Love,” use of contraceptives, and individuality. Kollontai’s involvement, in what was deemed the Sexual Revolution, spread worldwide. Ultimately, she sought to make the discussion of sexuality less taboo and to liberate women. Thank you, Alexandra Kollontai, for breaking barriers!***

Jackie Mitchell—Baseball Talk: Have you ever heard about the woman that struck out famed baseball players, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig? Yes, it happened. At the age of 17, Jackie Mitchell (August 29, 1913-January 7, 1987) was an exceptionally talented athlete—so talented that she was temporarily signed to a minor league team, the Lookouts, as a pitcher. During an exhibition game, she faced Babe Ruth and struck him out looking! WOW! When Lou Gehrig was at bat, he struck out too! Considering this occurred during the 1930s, a time that heavily frowned upon women’s participation in strenuous activity (i.e., sports, this was truly a groundbreaking, historical event). Despite the mixed feedback from society (Yes, this caused both positive and negative discussion), Mitchell successfully “invaded” the male-dominated realm of baseball and proved that women can in fact play sports! Jackie Mitchell’s accomplishment paved the way for female athletes to challenge the misconception that sports were too dangerous for women, creating more opportunities to play ball!****

Patsy T. Mink— I can’t even begin to describe my tremendous appreciation and gratitude for Representative Patsy T. Mink (D-HI). She was an incredibly remarkable and influential woman! Throughout her political career, she continuously fought to improve women’s rights. In particular, she dedicated her agenda to Title IX, which in short, prohibited discrimination based on sex and gender within federally funded educational programs.  Although she wasn’t the only person involved in the bill’s development, Mink, in my opinion, served as its driving force. Having experienced oppression during her academic journey, she fought to overcome such discrimination for the future generation. In 1972, Title IX passed, giving women the opportunity to pursue a higher education free of gender discrimination. In 1975, Title IX expanded from education to sports, which generated equal opportunities in collegiate sports (high school, too) for men and women. Title IX remains a landmark bill that helped redefine society’s standards and expectations of women in the educational and sporting realms. In 2002, Congress renamed the amendment to the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, honoring her memory and profound dedication to women’s rights.*****

This year, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day maintains even stronger importance since actions of the current administration threaten women’s rights. Yesterday, which was International Women’s Day, feminists—men and women—stood in solidarity to show President Trump and his administration that we’re not backing down, nor are we going backwards in history. Women across the country have formed a protest referred to “A Day Without A Woman.” This strike encouraged women to either (or all): take the day off from work, to not make any purchases, and wear RED! I was excited to see the impact this demonstration made on the country! (See https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/ for more information)

Yesterday, today, and every day, let’s remember all the magnificent women that have contributed to make this world a better place. Let’s continue the good fight of feminists before us and keep our nation moving forward—not backwards.

I hope you had a Happy International Women’s Day! Happy Women’s History Month!

*For more information about International Women’s Day, see: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About

**For more information about Women’s History Month, see: http://www.nwhp.org/womens-history-month/womens-history-month-history/

*** For more information about Alexandra Kollontai, see: http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Alexandra_Kollontai

****For more information about Jackie Mitchell, see: http://web.archive.org/web/20080408144208/http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070215&content_id=280&vkey=hof_news

*****For more information about Patsy T. Mink, see: http://history.house.gov/People/detail/18329

JL

Cover image property of: http://miami.happeningmag.com/wp-content/uploads/women-history.jpg

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