09 March 2011

Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and I saw that 100 years ago, Susan B. Anthony marched for women's right to vote.  She voted in the 1872 election when it was illegal for her to do so - and was arrested for it.  She was a very badly behaved woman, and her face graces a U.S. coin and her name lives on in history.

Susan's friend Elizabeth Stanton Cody advocated for fair and equal employment opportunities for women, again, not particularly popular with her male contemporaries.  Yet, in a rather dated high-school U.S. History book I have and refer to during my homeschool lessons, these two women who did so much for women today get the merest breath of a mention.

Sojourner Truth gets a bit more of a mention, with about half a page dedicated to her "Ain't I a Woman" speech.  If you've never read it, I encourage you to do so.  It's powerful, laying to rest any notions that women are inferior because of our gender.  In fact, my favorite part of that speech is when she points out that men had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus Christ - it was God and a woman.  Obviously, this speech by a woman - a Black woman at that - unsettled her male contemporaries and made this bristle.

I proudly follow these women.  I don't have to have my name in the history books; in fact, I'm quite sure I won't.  I am a woman who has born two children, earned two graduate degrees and has started her own business.  The children I'm raising - both girls - are growing in faith and knowledge, and are learning that they can do and be anything in the world they want.  This is my legacy - behaving poorly and raising two future women who hopefully will behave poorly, too.

What women in history - either your own personal history or the larger scale of world history - have inspired you to greatness through their own "poor" behavior?

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