Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, is the 2023 theme for Women’s History Month.
We are celebrating women who tell our stories, stood up and SHOUTED OUR STORIES. Women who used their voices, their pens, and their lives so all women would be heard; so all women would be seen. We are celebrating women of courage.
Telling our story has been dangerous. “Modern research points to roughly 40,000 to 50,000 witch executions in Europe between 1450 and 1750, and an estimated 75%-80% of those executed were women. That would put the number of executed women witches at 40,000.”
Denying girls an education ensured our voices and visions would not be valued. Without the ability to read or write we had little control over our future. There were men who taught women to read, who in turn taught other women and girls to read and write. In the 17th century boarding schools for girls were founded. Girls were taught writing, music and needle work. In 1678 there was only one woman in the world with a Ph., Italian, Elena Piscopia.
The education of women has varied from civilizations, cultures and regions, to explore this more follow this link.
In the United States women had no property rights until the mid-1800’s, New York passed the Married Women’s Property Act in 1848 and the Act Concerning the Rights and Liabilities of Husband and Wife in 1860. This gave women the right to conduct business and contract without a husband, father, or male guardian’s consent and the right to own property. The laws gave women legal authority over their own children.
Ancient history? No, its current history. Prior to the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act a woman could not get a credit card without her husband’s signature. When writing about the evolution of women’s rights the words married and husband dominate. The stigma and obstacles of being a single woman lasted into the 90’s.
The consistency in our history and our story is control, dehumanization and fear through rape and brutality. 51% of rape victims report being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance. One in three women are sexually abused or raped the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.
We all know “our story.” As a child I heard our story whispered by mother and her friends over coffee and donuts. I heard our story whispered in my grandmother’s quilting group and in the backseat of the car as my aunts drove us to church. As an adult I’ve heard “our story” as a rape counselor, over cocktails with friends, and in the feminist movement. I have heard “our story” in the quietness after an expo or conference. I know the story well, it is every woman’s story. It is my story.
The women we are celebrating for Women’s History Month did not tell “our story” alone. The women who whispered “our story” supported them in their own way. You do not have to lead a march or protest to have your voice heard. You have to stop whispering, speak up and stand your ground. You are making history by being a strong woman for your family and the women who have not found their voice.
One woman can change the world. Together we can ROCK the World!