This month’s Yahoo! Mother Board topic is a celebration of Women’s History Month. I know that my daughters will learn about a multitude of great women in their school years, but these are women that don’t make the classroom – even Margaret Sanger unfortunately. If you have a woman who you want to make sure your daughters and/or sons will know about let me know in the comments!
- My Great-Aunt Sara: My grandmother’s sister was substantially older than my grandmother, was born back in Russia under cloudy circumstances that no one ever really clarified (did her mother marry a bigamist or have an affair?) and came to America at the age of 2 with her single mother. She kept my great-grandmother’s maiden name even after my great-grandmother remarried and gave birth to my grandmother. None of that could have been easy in early 20th century America. She was a fierce feminist – becoming a nurse and starting the nursing program at Sinai Hospital in Detroit. She is the one who bought me shirt that said, “A woman’s place is in the House…and the Senate.” She collected Susan B. Anthony dollars and gave them to me. She taught me basic skills like how to tie my shoes and whistle and more esoteric skills like dreaming big and standing up for myself. She was a feminist before there was a word for it and made sure the next generation took pride in that tradition.
- My Sister In-Law: This is a tough one. My eldest sister in-law had a heart attack over 10 years ago at 32 years old and has been in a semi-conscious state ever since. While she is still alive she is certainly not the woman she was, and it’s important to me that my daughters think of her at her most vital. She was the first person on the dance floor and the last to get off. She was the kind of person who sent you notes in the mail just because and took two hours to run 10 minute errands since she had to talk and catch up with every store owner and clerk she encountered. She was an insanely warm and joyful mom and woman and I see glimpses of her in my daughters with their same zany joie de vivre and passion for putting on a party.
- Lucille Ball: To be funny is one thing. To be funny, smart and willing to make a fool of yourself is something rare, especially in a woman. Lucille Ball wasn’t just a star she was the first woman to head a major television production studio a feat not really duplicated until Oprah. And most importantly she was an awesomely hard worker. She was in films for 20 years before launching I Love Lucy and never stopped working until she died. She had talent but she also had tenacity and that’s the bigger lesson.
- Margaret Sanger: She believed in her cause, she knew women needed control over their own bodies and she never backed down even when she was thrown in jail. She founded Planned Parenthood. Standing up for what you believe in and knowing that woman have a right to decide when and how to have a family are two of the most valuable things I want my daughters to feel. The fact that women had to fight so vehemently to change laws over their own bodies is not something I want my girls to ever take for granted.
- Themselves: This is sort of a strange one right? But of all the women in the world I want my daughters to know about I feel most strongly that they should trust and know their own selves. They need to listen to the voice inside them that tells them what’s right and what’s wrong. They should never compromise in their beliefs and standards, they should stand up for what they believe and they should strive to be their best. Then they can grow up to be women who others ought to know.