A friend of mine was recently surprised to learn that there was indeed a Women’s History Month, and I had to wonder why this was such a surprise to him. He asked why a Woman’s History Month at all? This seems like an absurd question to me, there are plenty of reasons that we would want to have a month to pay tribute to women who have made important and profound differences in society. It’s important to understand that we have had the internet LONGER than the United States has observed Women’s History Month.
The reality is that women have been key members in the fight for civil rights, helping all citizens not just women. Likewise, women have made pioneering discoveries in science that benefit all of humanity, not just them. You might hear from someone that men have made similar contributions to society, and this is true. But men didn’t have the institutional obstacles in place that all or a majority of women faced in our not so distant past. And I could list a number of these women from our collective past to illustrate the importance and significance of these contributions.
Women have had to rebel against society and sometimes their own family in order to pursue their goals and dreams. Take the story of a young girl told that she wouldn’t be a good EMT because she’s a girl and she’d probably have to see a lot of blood. Carol, happened to pull up to the scene of a drive by shooting and while I lay there bleeding, she didn’t hesitate to treat me for shock, apply direct pressure, and transport me to a nearby fire fighters station. She had recently begun her EMT training in opposition to the demands of her father that being an EMT was not the appropriate job for a woman.
Five years later on a night patrol I fell nearly forty feet straight down into a dry river bed. Only the quick reaction of another young woman, Barbara Roe, stabilized and prevented me from going into shock and saved me from further injury. Barbara had volunteered to become one of the first women assigned to a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. Her training and sense of duty were equal to that of any man, and I’m fortunate that she chose to defy what society expected of her in order to pursue her own goals. That drive is what saved me from a career ending injury.
Women’s history month isn’t about the discoveries, battles, and contributions. Women’s history month isn’t about equality, it’s not there to raise women to the standard of men. Women’s history month is a reflection on the obstacles, the barriers, and the hurdles our society places on women. You see without these barriers, women wouldn’t feel the need to rise up to the challenge or feel the need to kick down walls and shatter glass ceilings. I suspect the only reason a woman hasn’t discovered the cure for cancer, is because no one has told her that she can’t yet.
Thank you to all the women that have improved this 3rd rock from the sun that we all call home. Thank you for doing so in a world that often times places unfair barriers and obstacles in your way. And thank you to all the people that ask, why we need to have a month to celebrate women’s history. It’s a fair question, that when answered, explains how amazing women are.