It is the month for fun facts about Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Annie Oakley.
The fortunate might even hear a thing or two about the likes of Gloria Steinem, Madam C.J. Walker or Mary McLeod Bethune.
We are in the middle of Women’s History Month, if you haven’t noticed all the special, once-a-year attention. Women’s History Month is not the worst thing in the world — it has just run its course in history.
Over the last few years, I have perfected my eyeroll when it comes to the subject, an ironic reminder of how far we have not come as a nation when it comes to gender equality and true inclusion.
In the age of coronavirus, those inequalities are even clearer. Women — particularly women of color — have lost more jobs than men because the industries women dominated have been hit harder.
None of this means I take umbrage with the study of women’s history. To the contrary.
I like women, I like history and I like months. The idea of Women’s History Month leaves me cold and wanting something more substantial: women’s history all the time.
It is the same way I feel about all of the other broadly celebrated “let’s learn about” months: Black History, American Indian Heritage, National Hispanic Heritage Month, you name it.
We should be beyond Women’s History Month, which traces its history back to 1978 when the Sonoma, California, school district organized a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to our nation’s culture, society, and history. On Aug. 4, 1981, Congress passed the joint resolution that authorized and requested that President Ronald Reagan proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.”
“WHEREAS, American women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural and social role in every sphere of our nation’s life by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working in and outside of the home; and …
WHEREAS, Despite these contributions, the role of American women has been consistently overlooked and undervalued throughout American history; now, therefore, be it resolved …
Women’s History Week morphed into Women’s History Month in 1987 after a petition by the National Women’s History Project. It has been proclaimed every year since.
That last “whereas” from 1981 remains true today: the contributions of American women are still too often overlooked and undervalued.
This is the case even though the nation has a female vice president and gains have been made in Washington and in government at the state level.
In 2021, and after all the gains women have made, 30 days of special lessons and museum and library exhibits is lacking.
The wheeling out of the Earhart, Roosevelt and Oakley exhibits in March, then storing them back in the museum vault on April 1, is no longer enough.
It’s time that women, and our complex history, are incorporated in America’s story 365 days a year.