Monday, March 9, 2009

Woman Week!

I told you all it was coming. This week we'll hear it for the ladies. While men may have a more impressive list of accomplishments and famous scientists/artists/business leaders etc., women have endured more than men, generally speaking. In fact, in the vain of Mary Wollstonecraft, I'd argue that women's relative mediocrity is, in some way, a testament to the oppression that they have born. Why should we try to rehabilitate letter-writers and interior designers into great authors and artists when the fact that they were taught to be stupid and small-minded is one of the greatest wrongs ever done? As Wollstonecraft pointed out, women have been, for decades de facto inferior to men and most of that because of the societal influences that insisted that they view themselves that way. So it's hard to have any conversation about how wonderful women are without first awknowledging that women's rights have been truncated in almost every culture in the world, and even in some of the most progressive countries in the world, the idea that women could have political, legal and economic freedom has been abominally late in coming (even in supposedly forward-looking France, women couldn't vote until 1944 and married women couldn't hold personal property until well into the 60s and 70s.) For all this, women have been pivotal to the very societies that insist on their oppression. And so, going off of Jamie S/Z's high school club "Girls Rock," I present my "Why Women Rock" list.

Why Women Rock #1:
Child birth. If I'm grateful to men for fighting in the majority of wars, which are painful, frightening and often fatal--often for the benefit of protecting the wombs, I have to honor those who make good use of those wombs. I have to give it up for the women who, with far more regularity than wars, have been enduring the dangers and hardship of childbirth since time immemorial. Childbirth is the battle of women. Until relatively recent times, maternal mortality was staggering. This graph only goes back to 1900, but let me remind you that it took a medical genius to figure out that washing hands before delivering babies was a good idea.
(Sidebar: Can I express my awe about that whole "women are scared of blood/pain" myth? How did that happen? Aren't blood and pain definitional to being a woman anyway? I mean, really...)

Why Women Rock #2:

So darn responsible. This is why 98% microcredit schemes focus on women--men tend to blow the money on booze and gambling; women tend to invest in things that help their children. Yes, there are irresponsible women who don't take care of their children, but most of them have a pretty vested interest in not letting the family fall to ruin. Even in America, women are the safer bet for a family's financial saaviness. Suze Orman said it in a recent issue of Time: " how many women do you see at the track?"

Why Women Rock #3:

Success stories. Even though women have gone through so much oppression, the fact that Mary Wollstonecraft can harp on how stupid most women are (or George Eliot, for that matter), is a pretty cool sign of how women can, in the face of wide-spread opposition, still shine out. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, almost a century before women could vote in the UK, was the unofficial "female poet lauriette". Harriet Martineau pretty much invented sociology as we know it. There are plenty of awesome women who did incredible things for the world that kept ragging against them.

Why Women Rock #4:

They smell nice. Not to stereotype, but it's generally true. (This was my roommate's contribution.)

Why Women Rock #5:

Give them an inch. Sort of going back to #3, women have excelled in those fields that have been open to them for the longest (relative to the profession). Most professional poets are women. Most art schools are waaaaay weighted towards women. Women are pretty well represented in fairly modern feilds such as economics and civil engineering (realtively, I understand, but still...) Sure women are lagging in chemistry and business, but when you consider how long they've been out of the loop, that's pretty cool.

Why Women Rock #6:

Less likely to be shady. Remember how only 6 countries have more than 10% of their prison inmates as women? Yeah. Remember how women are less likely to commit violent crime? Be alcoholics? Hurrah for generally not being societially unpleasant!

That's all I can think of for now, but if anyone wants to add on, please feel free. Despite widespread oppression that women have suffered for 99.99% of the history of the world, women have done surpisingly well, considering. Also may I point out that traditionally men give women gifts on Women's Day?

I like mint in my chocolates.


Makayla said...

I love this.

I love Women's week.

I also like mint in my chocolates. LOL.

Jamie said...

Yeah! Woot! Mary, YOU rock!

CavDawg said...

Unfortunately it fell on a Sunday, so I did not give anyone flowers. Thinking ahead and buying them on Saturday would have required the kind of planning that I generally expect of women.

Marian said...

Your child-birth mortality graph certainly makes me happy. Thank heavens I live in a time when the line is so close to zero!

Lobbie said...

Did you know in Japan they have a "white day" a month after Valentine's where the women give the men white chocolate? I can't remember if it's supposed to represent their pure love or just be different than the brown chocolate given on V-day to the women.