This Sunday we will be honoring International Women’s Day during the month of March which has been designated Women’s History Month. In looking at quotes made memorable about women, I have been struck by how these quotes spotlight a woman’s role as wife and mother and not the qualities that we just consider as human. One from Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
“My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady and the other was to be independent, and the law was something most unusual for those times because for most girls growing up in the ’40s, the most important degree was not your B.A. but your M.R.S.”
Many of the quotes I read felt very demeaning and misogynistic towards women. It came from the era in which they were spoken. So many of the quotes were a century or more old, and only those true pioneers of old recognized the role women played during that time. Louisa May Alcott wrote: “Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.” She epitomized the spirit of women who saw life as giving so much more than they were allowed to have. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson stated: “The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” Would he have said that regarding a man? I doubt that age was even considered for men, other than to denote wisdom and experience.
We’ve come so far as a gender. Female identified people are able to pursue so many more dreams today than even 40 years ago. When I was very young, about the age of 8 or so, I told my father I wanted to become a doctor, as I had seen a documentary on the first heart transplant at school, narrated by Walter Cronkite. He informed me that I couldn’t be a doctor, but I could be a nurse because men were doctors and women were nurses. I pointed out that our family doctor was a woman and he said, yes but that’s because she inherited the business when her husband, our former family doctor, died. I was too young to realize that she would have had to complete all the degrees and requirements to gain access to a medical practice and accepted what he said. I was disappointed but I moved on.
My how life has changed. I don’t believe today any child would accept that they couldn’t be what they wished to be. And so many more parents would not dream of telling their female identified children they couldn’t be something that they give permission to their male identified children. Yes, there is still much to be done. Our transgendered children are still prohibited from truly living the life they wish to live. There is much, much work to be done. This month, let us revel in the victories we have experienced and let us rejoice in the strength and courage we are seeing in our young people. Change is happening and as Unitarian Universalists we are a part of that change. Thank you for all the work you are doing to give inherent worth and dignity to all people in the world.
Generous and grateful blessings to you all,