March is National Women in History Month, and it’s in March that we are able to learn a lot more about women’s accomplishments through the years, and a time where I cringe at how far we still have to go.
Society as a whole doesn’t help in pushing our young daughters into wanting a career and wanting to make a difference. Instead, successful marketing campaigns push our children to want to be skinny, cute and reach an unrealistic image that is projected on them day in and day out.
As a mother of a teenager, and an 8-year-old, I am shocked sometimes when I hear what their priorities are.
One day, my 8-year-old tells me enthusiastically that she will be getting “Miss Me Jeans” for her birthday. Apparently, a friend told her that’s what she bought her. I had to ask what the heck are “Miss Me Jeans”. I was shocked to find out that for my 8-year-old this brand name could cost up to $80. Not an amount I would spend on a pair of jeans that my daughter will grow out of next month. Of course, my teenager knew all about these jeans with glitter and glamour on the back pockets, and she herself had purchased some with her own money.
This is a moment where I, as a mother of daughters, worry. Not because my daughter wants to wear stylish jeans, but because society continues to push women into looking good, rather than looking to the future.
In college, a professor in a Gender, Race and the Media class gave us an assignment to visit a local Toys “R” Us store and write down our findings where race and gender were concerned. I went with the attitude that I would see all the progress women have made, see how we’ve progressed when it comes to racial equality and would leave with a good feeling.
However, the opposite happened. One clear indication that we’ve still got work to do is the Lego aisle. While shelves upon shelves had Lego themes geared towards boys, there were two for girls, and of course, they were pink.
Now, I understand that women dress up, wear makeup and spend plenty of time and money on their looks, but at the end of the day, I don’t want it to be the only thing we are judged for. As I have told my own daughters regularly, “If you aren’t enough without makeup, you’ll never be enough with it.”
In watching a documentary on women recently, I realized how often America’s leading women are judged by looks rather than brains. The media regularly talks about how Hillary Clinton hasn’t necessarily aged well, how Sarah Palin must have gotten a boob job, how Nancy Pelosi must have gotten plastic surgery. With male candidates, other than how much more gray hair President Obama has since taking over the nation’s top seat, we do not hear about their looks.
At the end of the day, I don’t care how Hillary Clinton looks, I don’t care what Sarah Palin did to her breasts – I care about what they have to offer in the campaigns they are running. Also, I don’t care that they are female. No woman will get my vote unless they earn it.
With that said, I leave you this week with some parting facts that I learned from a CNN report. The following are accomplishments by women that we have heard very little about.
•The “frequency hopping” technology that is vital to much of our military technology and helps keep your cell phone and your GPS devices secure was developed and patented by Hedy Lamarr.
• An amazing 16-year-old patriot, Sybil Ludington, outdid Paul Revere, riding 45 miles in the pouring rain to warn New York colonial militias that “the British are coming”.
• A secret agent, code named “355,” worked for George Washington’s band of spies. While agent 355’s true identity is still unknown, what is known is she was a woman.