When I was growing up, my mother was one of the only working women ministers to be found in any circles I knew about. It was a novelty to the people we encountered, but unremarkable within our domestic universe. Now, many seminaries have to work to keep the enrollment of men on a par with women. That change reflects similar changes across the professions. It is unremarkable now to encounter a woman physician, judge, lawyer, professor. (Female airline pilots? Not so much.)
It is Women’s History Month, and there are some exciting resources available to help celebrate; you can take a look at the Maynard Institute’s website (www.mije.org/WHM) for a start, but a google search will direct you to plenty more. Women’s often surprising and just as often unacknowledged history deserves our attention and celebration.
But, I have to say here that what grabs my attention as Women’s History Month, 2012 unfolds, is not the wonderful stories being celebrated so much as the history that is unfolding. Which, frankly, is alarming. In my last post I decried the Virginia’s proposed bill to require women seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive ultralsound procedure that would, in some circumstances, qualify as rape. Good news: they did not pass that bill. Bad news, they passed a bill requiring another ultrasound procedure that will raise the cost of an abortion while providing no useful information in the early part of a pregnancy. Worst news: this month Texas passed an ultrasound law that includes that same invasive, medically unnecessary procedure.
And that’s not all. Women’s month, 2012, will also go down in history as the time when Rush Limbaugh launched a three day, sustained vitriolic, misogynistic attack on Sandra Fluke, a private citizen, calling her a slut and a prostitute and demanding that she post videos of her sexual activities for having the temerity to speak up for the inclusion of contraception coverage in health insurance programs. Why is this man still on the air? There’s a article waiting to be written on the FCC’s draconian fines and censure of radio broadcasts that include the occasional classic anglo saxon four letter word; I guess hurling the four letter word slut at a young woman for days doesn’t count.
I keep thinking that my daughter is this same age. How safe is she? How safe are any of our young women, and what kind of future is being mapped for them this month?
Lucky for us, there’s plenty of good news? Sandra Fluke is an inspiration, a poised and articulate young woman any parent would be proud of. And so is my daughter and so many of her friends: thoughtful, engaged, concerned and effective. Their stories will become women’s history as well.
Maureen Dowd published this quote from Hillary Clinton yesterday, “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” she told a crowd at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center on Saturday. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women!”
And making the rounds of Facebook postings this month is Meryl Streep’s introduction of Hillary Clinton at that Women in the World Summit. It is a pleasure to watch: WITW: Meryl Streep’s Tribute to Hillary Clinton. Two powerful and impressive women who will also be included when the history of this month is retold. Also good news.