Women’s History Month

The past, present and future of women.

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Throughout the month of March I have heard several people, mainly men, asking the question why do we need Women’s History Month, and then the follow up question asked is why is there no men’s history month. 

March was originally just Women’s History day which took place on March 8th, starting in 1911. During this, thousands of women marched for the right to vote, better labor laws, and conditions. However, the people only started reacting in 1975, with the United Nations beginning to sponsor International Women’s day. International Women’s Day then became Women’s History Week, celebrated in Santa Rosa, California during 1978. It then grew into Women’s History Month in around 1988.

In 1988 Congress passed Public Law 100-9 which designated the whole month of March to celebrate women, their contributions throughout time, and the specific achievements of Women throughout American history. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed more resolutions for March as Women’s History Month. 

Each year there has been a theme for Women’s history month designed by the National Women’s History Alliance. The theme for 2021 is refusing to be silenced and continuing to celebrate the Suffrage Centennial. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suffragists_Protest_October_1916_276015v.jpg?scrlybrkr=f266732e

Women’s History Month includes celebrations honoring women’s accomplishments and how far women have come. With only having gained the right to vote in August 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed, women of color only being able to vote in August 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed, and the ability to join the military in 1948 we have come so far. 

During March there are meetings to discuss women’s history and women’s goals for the future. Discussions about gender equality and women’s rights are had annually. Women have given inspirational speeches telling their stories. The month is dedicated to honoring and remembering women and their accomplishments to get women to where we are today.  

This year because of Covid those events have to be held virtually. 

Young women widley support Women’s History Month. Tenth grade student, Taryn Brodine says, “I think it’s good that it’s celebrated because women have been fighting for rights for so long and for so many years, and [women] kind of still are right now, so the fact that there is a month specifically for them is really important.” 

Yeah, I think that any group that has been oppressed in history deserves some recognition to go along with it…””

— Ben Swihart

This month is also respected and supported by many men as well. When asked the question “Do you think Women’s History Month is a valid holiday that deserves to be celebrated?” Sophomore, Ben Swihart, responded with, “Yeah, I think that any group that has been oppressed in history deserves some recognition to go along with it, so I think it’s good to have time to learn about that.” 

While these celebrations are taking place, some men think it is their place to criticize Women’s History Month. Some men have been openly stating that they believe that Women’s History Month is not a valid national holiday and questioning why there is no men’s history month. 

The truth is straight cis white men have never had to fight for the right to go to school, to vote, to count as a whole person, or to just exist in a place. Every other month is “men’s history month” so dedicating a month to celebrate men would make a mockery of other months dedicated to celebrating history. 

As Women’s History Month continues to be celebrated women have created goals for themselves to conquer in the future. One of the biggest issues right now that women face is mistreatment in the workplace. 

A study on employed women showed that 38% of working women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Also, of all rapes and sexual assaults committed 80% of those happen in a workplace environment.  

There is also a stigma around women in the workplace that must go away. When asked the question ‘Where do you want to see women in 10 years” Sophomore, Victoria Chen, replied with, “I would like to see more women taking on much more ambitious roles in the workplace and I would also like to see equal pay and the stigma around a powerful women be reduced. In the workplace many women who are aggressive and verbalize for themselves that they want things and they want to make changes and have an impact get branded as a bossy, too aggressive, or too emotional for the role. But it would be different if it was a man doing all those things. He would be considered powerful, ambitious, taking charge, with a good personality. Men and women are painted in two different lights in the business world and I would very much like to see that change.”

“I would like to see more women taking on much more ambitious roles in the workplace and I would also like to see equal pay and the stigma around a powerful women be reduced.””

— Victoria Chen

As young women in today’s society we have noticed many things that are unfair when comparing men and women, equal pay being one of them. In the same job, location, amount of time put in, and overall experience men usually still get paid more. In no way is this ever been fair.

Women also experience sexism on a daily basis. Men continue to think it is acceptable to stare, catcall, inappropriately touch, make inappropriate jokes, and make unwanted advances. This is normalized as a form of flirting or “boys being boys.”

Men also continue to have an issue with a simple word: no. In public women often will claim to have a boyfriend or girlfriend for the sole purpose of not having to give their number away or have a man flirt with them. However, even when this excuse is used most men can’t take no for an answer. These are just a few of the issues women hope to conquer in the near future. 

Women’s History is simply a holiday dedicated to honoring and remembering women’s accomplishments throughout history, especially during a time where women were not allowed to or given much of an opportunity to succeed. 

Throughout the month of March women remember those from the past who accomplished so much in a time where women had so little, to give us the confidence to continue succeeding.