Social Question

Ivy's avatar

March is Women's History Month but shouldn't it be Herstory Month? Which unsung shero should finally get her due?

Asked by Ivy (2482points) February 25th, 2010

Over 50% of the world’s population gets 30 days out of 365 for their inspiration and contribution to the human story to be acknowledged and (ideally) discussed, which is probably why Virginia Woolf wrote that anonymous was a woman. Anonymous got more respect.

We all know the tokens that are dug up and dusted off when historical women are brought into conversation: Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Madam Curry, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt.
But where are the props for Angela Davis? Bella Abzug? Barbara Jordan? Belle Starr? Tokyo Rose?

Why was another movie just made about John Dillinger instead of an original about Ma Barker? We’ve had ‘Troy’ and ‘Alexander’ but why not ‘Boudicea’?

Who are the women throughout recorded time that you would like to see included in Women’s Herstory Month and why?

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18 Answers

Silhouette's avatar

Little Debbie

Likeradar's avatar

This doesn’t really answer your question, but I find the idea of a month to be demeaning. How about just incorporating the stories of historically important women into regular school curriculum?
The focus is clearly on the the impact white men had on history. And they’ve had amazing, impressive impact. But so have women and people of all color- I find it condescending that there’s a special month to focus women. /end rant.

john65pennington's avatar

The Bell Witch.

Betsy Bell

shego's avatar

Bessie Colman
First black female pilot.
I would want to see her history involved. She taught us so much just by being the first.
She had will, and determination.

Ivy's avatar

@Likeradar I agree completely, but that ain’t gonna happen.

Cruiser's avatar

I think every school teacher alive today should get that honor having to put up with our kids these day has got to be an incredibly challenging job.

Ivy's avatar

@shego You proved my point beautifully. I’ve never heard of Bessie Colman. Thank you!

john65pennington's avatar

Lets not forget the American Indian, both females and males. there is a black history month, so what happened to American Indian Month?

shego's avatar

@Dracool I like to learn about history, and the people who made a difference. So to me she might not be well known, but she made it possible to show that blacks can do what they want when they really want to. I find her story to be influencial.

Ivy's avatar

@shego I feel the same way which is why I asked this question. You’re the only one who really answered it. Thanks, again. I’ll follow up on Ms. Colman!

the100thmonkey's avatar

It shouldn’t be “herstory” because the root of the word “history” is not “his + story”.

Ivy's avatar

@the100thmonkey Yeah, right. The English language isn’t sexist or racist, and written history is a fair and balanced account of what happened to which people at what time and why that affects us now. We sure wouldn’t want to mess up that kind of thinking with calling women’s history ‘herstory’. Where would it stop? Hersterecomy? Hersterical?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I do understand the problem with language and its connection to the feminist struggle and movement – however I believe we have bigger problems, as feminists, then having to change the word or not having to change the word. I have been a part of programming months where we used ‘Herstory’ and ‘History’ – people get so annoyed (because they’re threatened by much bigger issues but think small) about the shifts between the two but again, we must refocus. I agree with @Likeradar that this shouldn’t have to be but we continue to live in a sexist world, sexist because it is assumed that humanity=men…however, I do not agree with excluding men (as is often done) from participating in the feminist movement and from coming up with ideas for Women’s History Month. Because I find gender to be a problem for all genders, any exclusion is problematic to me but I do understand the history.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@Dracool: Calm down. Just breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. That’s better… right?

If (big “if”) language is inherently sexist, there are far more egregious examples out there than English. What are we going to do? Ban French because it’s inflected for gender?

As it stands, English isn’t particularly sexist. Indeed, I don’t believe that language itself is particularly sexist – it’s used to be sexist, or racist, or whatever “ist” you wish to be. A language is largely a reflection of the people who use it. Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. You don’t put out a fire out by blowing the smoke away, do you?

Call Women’s History Month what you like, but messing about with words just for the sake of it isn’t particularly effective, and won’t in and of itself change people’s beliefs on the status of women – it’s an easy target that gives the impression that something has been achieved when, in fact, nothing has.

Incidentally, there has been a Boudicca film, although I haven’t seen it and can’t comment on the quality of it.

I vote for Emmeline Pankhurst

lonelydragon's avatar

Margaret Fuller. She was an incredible woman and writer, but I’ve never heard anyone say her name outside of literature classes.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I just finished a brief correspondence with a friend concerning the political/cultural realm of Greenwich Village from 1900 to 1925. There are so many women just in that time and place that deserve either discovery or resurrection in light of what we now know.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Emma Goldman

Then there were the creative women in Harlem of the same period:
Zora Neal Hurston
Alice Dunbar-Nelson

A page could be filled with both categories.

The root word Hyster is Greek for uterus or that which possesses the female organs. Thus. we have hysterectomy, colpohysterotomy, and, interestingly, hysteria—a word which leads one to think that disorientation and panic under the slightest duress is a basic female trait. Now that is a gender-charged word.

In light of this, simply referring to the histories of females as hystory and that of males as history would be more correct, less clumsy and makes a cool new homophone. But is this the direction we really want to go? I mean, think about it—that’s how we were saddled with the word hysteria in the first place.

Like the arguments surrounding crèches and Holidays, I personally favor the inclusive rather than the exclusive solutions. There is enough room in the English language for all of us. She, he, it. So how about s-he-it. Or shit. Shitstory.
Or something like that?

Ivy's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Shitstory it is! ~ diplomatic and mostly accurate. Thank you.

lonelydragon's avatar

Hope you don’t mind me answering twice, but I also forgot to add Hypatia, the ancient Greek math scholar. She’s an excellent example to disprove the stereotype about women’s mathematical abilities.

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