March is here, and for many that means springtime weather (if we’re lucky), spring break and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. A seemingly less popular or well-known aspect of March is that it is Women’s History Month, a month that celebrates and highlights the positive contributions of women throughout history and today.
In light of this month, I have found myself recently contemplating what it means to be a woman and a feminist today. As abstract as that thought sounds, it is relevant in a society where gender roles are so often enforced and sexist behaviors still exist.
Although today women in the U.S. have the right to vote, along with many other rights that they did not once have, feminism is as important today as it was in the past. In a society where women are on average paid less than men, and female sexuality is so often looked down on as negative promiscuous behavior, feminism is important for both men and women to embrace.
Although I know that sexism is present in the U.S. as well as all over the world, I feel fortunate to go to a school like Wheaton where students and the administration are open and respectful to all genders and sexes. I am appreciative to be able to take an English class where the professor never fails to mention the great female authors of history, because so often canonical literature is presented as being devoid of women. I feel fortunate to live on a campus where students, both male and female, are open-minded and active feminists.
Wheaton students are finding many ways to celebrate women’s history month. On Wednesday, March 6, students gathered in the Balfour Atrium from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to write letters to women who have inspired their lives at the “Thank You to the Women Who Inspire You” event sponsored by the Feminist Association of Wheaton. The following day, an event called “Feeling Good in Your Skin” sponsored by Emerson House and Healthy Initiatives provided women with free skin-care products and advice for therapeutic relaxation. From March 18 to the 29, the Wheaton volleyball team will be having a dress drive where students can donate their old dresses to high school girls for prom. Student organizations and teams at Wheaton are truly doing their best to show their appreciation for this month.
Women’s History Month is a time where both men and women can celebrate and appreciate not only the influential women in their lives, but also the influential women throughout history. The positive accomplishments of women are numerous, but are all too often only glossed over in history textbooks.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I encourage those who were unable to make it to the event on Wednesday to let an influential woman in their lives know their true worth and value.