Last month was women’s history month. I celebrated the designated period at the African-American Museum, Dallas, Texas, where women from all races, ethnic groups, and mixed demographics attended a portrait exhibit of high profile, historically significant women such as Michele Obama, Ida B. Wells, and Stagecoach Mary, to name a few. The portraits were done by Johnathan Foster, a local artist who is poised for a bright future.
The portraits also included local notable, State Representative Helen Giddings, who hosted the occasion. It was lovely. I enjoyed being in the company of so many outstanding women, and a few men. Rep. Giddings’ command and reach is far and wide, and she had many of her friends, supporters and Links sisters in attendance, including the keynote speaker, Carolyn Wright, Chief Justice, Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals District. A powerful speaker, Justice Wright’s mes- sage began with a historical survey, starting in antiquity, where she recalled many culture altering roles that powerful women have played since the beginning of recorded time. She referenced a few women mentioned in the old and new testaments of the Bible.
She also recited the exploits of African Queens, military campaigns led by women, whole nations which were saved by the actions of women, famous mothers, et al. I was particularly struck by her analysis of the roles that women continue to play in our contemporary society; who, despite their outstanding achievements, innovations, breakthroughs, etc., still don’t measure-up enough to earn on par with men in comparable positons; being paid, on average, only $.75 on the dollar.
During that same week I watched a CNN special, The Wonder List, hosted by Bill Weir, who took the viewers to Iceland where women are on equal footing with men in income, positions, title and authority, and where traditional marriages, family structure, and society as a whole are in direct opposite of American’s.
There was some speculation during the show that marriage will soon become obsolete in Iceland, even though monogamous relationships are still preferred. One woman told Weir the notion of a ‘broken family,’ i.e. from divorce, single parenting, etc., could not exist in Iceland.
Iceland is a western, ‘Christian’ nation, primarily Lutheran, so we share some of the same values from those historical roots. But their population is homogeneous- mostly all blond, blue eyed Vikings. The question was raised whether we, with so much diversity in America, can begin to reach anywhere near where the Icelanders are in their democracy, and where the celebration of women’s history month is probably an oxymoron.
Imagine what true equality, freedom of thought, and judgement-free expression of it, through lifestyle choices, would look like in America! Think about it. Would black history month, and other segmented minority month celebrations, be necessary if everything was, indeed equal?
Sociologists would have to rewrite the books on the black family: redefine a woman-headed household to just being a co-parent; re-crown the welfare queens as entrepreneurs extraordinaire; eliminate labels of certain behaviors, i.e., slut-shaming, bitch, ‘ho,’ baby momma, etc. from the lexicon of everyday language, from dictionaries, and from the vocabulary of misogynists, rappers, and Trump. Women and girls in America may actually begin to think of themselves as workers amongst workers, problem-solvers, innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, world leaders, statesmen and policy shapers, etc.
Now that would be worthy of celebration, for sure. A celebration of women. Of mankind. Of humankind.
It will not happen in my lifetime. But I’m an optimist, and I continue to believe that mankind is evolving with a higher, more developed and ordered thought life. That natural progression might even result in a brand new world; one where all the interpersonal and governing systems that shape our lives on this earth will be equitable.
In the meantime, let’s keep on celebrating one another’s humanity.