A Month of Women

The Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017, and a tribute to one of America’s
modern-day heros, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Photo by Vaj Potenza

As a farewell to this year’s Women’s History Month, one of our newest contributors has offered this refreshing reminder to continue to celebrate women every day because you never know when they’ll make history again.

Gleaning through the daily news for signs of life and optimism, it is hard not to notice that suddenly, women are everywhere in new and unexpected ways.  

When Attorney Sally Yates lost her job for taking a stand on the law’s inviolability, her ethical stance made her an instant role model.

The Hollywood film Hidden Figures enjoyed huge box office success and Academy Awards by telling the story of three African-American women who made crucial contributions to the launch of America into Space.

Facebook posters have uploaded copious amounts of stills and videos recognizing the accomplishments of women who were unknown to most of us from Nobel Prize Winners to assassinated Ecologists. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC speaks truth to power in a way that resonates with many, while Senator Elizabeth Warren of “But she persisted” fame, and other Washington women uphold the fight for the common good.

Native American women from youth to grandmothers risked their health and lives at Standing Rock in defense of clean water. The sculptor who carved Franklin Roosevelt’s profile for the American coin was revealed to be an African-American woman.

Women are 50.8 percent of the U.S. population but you might never know that from the public eye. Gains have been slow. The U.S. has had a National Woman’s Day since 1909 that was created after a 1908 march in which 15,000 women took to the streets of New York to protest  working conditions. In 1911, International Women’s Day was created in Western Europe with the principle of equality incorporated into the UN Charter in 1945.

With all of that hard-won recognition no one was prepared for misogyny to re-raise its ugly head in the guise of the President of the United States. Since the scandal of Pussygate blew into our collective nightmare, women and those who love them have reacted en masse; the more human rights are attacked in Washington, the more women’s strengths are claiming a place in the Zeitgeist.

Embraced by five million marchers around the world, The Women’s March of January 21, 2017, lit a fuse that continues to burn. The American Dream looked to be alive and well as people of every color and kind gathered to protest in cities great and small. Keeping the momentum going, all of this nicely led to March 8 and International Women’s Day.

From Salt Lake City to Istanbul, New York to New Delhi, galvanized women were peacefully and exuberantly vocal. There was love, fierce commitment, kindness, food and laughter. One young woman protesting the threats to Planned Parenthood, noting that the Pentagon had spent $46 million in one year on Viagra, carried a poster saying, “If pregnancy is an act of God then so is a limp dick.”

I make no brief for women’s superiority to men; as one of five sisters, educated largely by nuns and raised in a matriarchal household, I think I have seen the spectrum of womankind. We are prey to the same awful behaviors and cruelties as men but are different from men. Different may well be what’s needed when we seem to have run out of ideas for how to nurture and manage a national citizen family and our earthly home. Accessing 50.8 percent of new resources could only be good news in the building of anything.

Years ago, in the 1980s, while walking around Haight-Ashbury I saw a stenciled graffiti on the sidewalk that stopped me cold. It said “Unleash the fury of women as a force for revolution.” Have recent attempts to dehumanize and demean us unleashed that force?

From 15,000 marchers in 1909 to more than a million in 2017, the evidence would seem to be in.


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