Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Celebrating Women

By the end of Presidents’ Day weekend, or should I say weekend with no end, given the overlapping schedules my two kids had that amounted to more time off from school than we got for Thanksgiving, I had two thoughts.

First, thank you Honda for mixing up the traditional television commercial for a Presidents’ Day car sale. We may lament the commercialization of any holiday but this ad at least, anticipated our cynicism and surprised us.

And, thank you C-Span for announcing an entire year of programs honoring the president’s wives, running Mondays at 9pm.

It was this television homage to first ladies that made me realize that we can celebrate a holiday by whatever means we want in an effort to make it more inclusive.


I do not wish to diminish the significance of Abraham Lincoln or George Washington or any other president or person after whom a holiday is named. But at some point a mom is going to wonder: when do we celebrate a woman around here?

There is August 26, of course, which thanks to Bella Abzug, is Women’s Equality Day. But the organization Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE) points out that there is not a single national holiday named after a woman here in the United States. When it comes to the visibility of women’s contributions their data sheet points out:

 --Number of statues of women in National Statuary Hall: 9 out of 100 (9%).

 --Number of stamps honoring women issued by the U.S. Postal Service from 2000 to 2009: 43 out of 206 (21%).

--Number of women depicted on U.S. paper currency: zero.

As for celebrations and parades, EVE produced an Amelia Earhart balloon in 2010 that was, they said, “ the first parade balloon ever to depict an actual historical woman.”

So, when we look at the names of streets, schools, parks, and national holidays, we may find that if they are named after a person, it is most likely that they honor a man.

I’m not asking for another day off of school. But I’d like to spend a few more days answering the question “who was (insert woman’s name here)”.

PS- A friend recently sent me a link to a PBS program broadcasting tonight (2/26) called MAKERS: Women Who Make America, which airs on PBS at 8pm.

This week on The Educated Mom, I ask a Math teacher to explain my daughter's homework to me....

2 comments:

Lunch Box Mom said...

By the end of Presidents’ Day weekend, or should I say weekend with no end, given the overlapping schedules my two kids had that amounted to more time off from school than we got for Thanksgiving, I had two thoughts.

Sonja Sommers-Milbourn said...

Marvelous piece, Sarah! Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling for us to 'remember the ladies', as did Abigail Adams. I assign my women's studies students a small project by the same name ("Remember the Ladies") and they've shared such wonderful stories of their experiences. How our country would benefit from collectively doing the same.