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Reflecting on women’s history month

In my backpack sit two books—

In my backpack sit two books—”Rad American Women A–Z ” and “Women of Words.” As I reflected on Women’s History Month, I realized that the opposition to this month demonstrates both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. Photo by Rachel Robertson

If you know me well, you know that in my backpack sits a small picture book that has been there since last semester and is titled Rad American Women AZ  by Kate Schatz.

It includes the greats like Nellie Bly, Ella Baker, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Sonia Sotomayor, Wilma Mankiller, Zora Neale Hurston and beyond. But the best letter and entry is X.

“X is for the women whose names we don’t know,” Schatz writes. “It’s for the women we haven’t learned about. X is for the women whose voices weren’t heard. X is for the radical histories that didn’t get recorded. X is for all we don’t know about the past, but X is also for the future.”

This week, I stumbled upon another book in my internship editor’s book case titled Women of Words by Janet Bukovinksy Teacher. That book now joins the other in the bag on my back.

March is Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Although I celebrate women every day, I like to think that March is special. Yet, this year like every year, I’m met with the same debacle—like Internet trolls come to real life.

“Well, why isn’t there a men’s history month?” Or “Your feminist approach isn’t progressive. All you want is to repress men.”

This year I’ve decided to greet the “trollness” head on—give the ignorance a big ole hug. It’s kind of like my progression of allowing myself to be comfortable with being called a bitch.

Most of the time I assert my opinion or call for something like, I don’t know, gender equality and equal wages or against the tampon tax or pink tax.

Or, my absolute favorite, you know that witch hunt against Planned Parenthood? Yes, that one. The crusade against a reproductive health organization that is a directed attack on lower-income women and  women in rural areas.

Oh, and also you must include that it is a straight attack on women of color. ColorLines reported Planned Parenthood show 575,000 Latinos, 370,000 African-Americans and 11,500 Native Americans were patients in 2013, a fact that is mainly whitewashed by the white women leading the movement to protect Planned Parenthood.

As Ijeoma Oluo, a Seattle-based writer for the Globalist put it: “Mostly, women of color need you to listen to them. We have been spoken for, decided for, lobbed back and forth over abortion debates like a hand grenade. But women of color are capable of interpreting and communicating their own reproductive needs. We know what is needed for reproductive justice, because we are the ones suffering the most from lack of it.”

As I sit here, as a white, cis-gendered, hetereosexual, able-bodied woman, it is important to understand that Women’s History Month is different for all women. Although we are united, we all have different lived experiences and struggles.

I get called a bitch when I am being aggressive or assertive. That is something that I have to deal with and a road that at first was a fight. I hated being called the b word.

I’ve progressed to the title bitch, and I’m okay with that now.

But in an interview with Michelle Obama and CBS in 2012, she said she is tired of the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype.

Why does a strong, powerful black woman have to automatically be typecast as an angry black woman? Why not strong, successful and smart?

When we talk about Women’s History Month, we should keep in mind that yes, it is a celebration of all women! But understand that all women were and still are not equal in this world.

The 19th Amendment that allowed women to vote really only allowed white women to vote. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when women of color could vote.

Women still make 78 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Yet, in even more egregious numbers found by the Law Center, African-American women make 64 cents to the dollar and Latina women make 56 cents to their white, male counterpart.

Adding those totals up, African American women lost $19,399 and Latina women lost $23,279 in 2013, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Women’s History Month should acknowledge the differences and struggles of different women—while still celebrating and cherishing them at the same time.

We need to include women like Tammy Baldwin, who is serving as the first openly-gay U.S. Senate member, embracing and celebrating the LGBTQAIP+ community as they blaze trails and still suffer discrimination.

As Christina Karhl, a GLAAD Board Member put it, “Women’s History Month is as important to LGBT women as it is for all women, not simply because our experiences contribute to the understanding of all women’s lives, but also because so many admirable LGBT women have empowered and improved the lives of all women.”

I guess, personally, my take away this Women’s History Month for women is to dump the Alice Pauls and praise woman who are doing good for all, who are fighting for causes and making a scene.

For whoever you celebrate this month, may you at least be celebrating some badass women.

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