If you scan your brain for important women in American history the well is not very deep. Give it a second. How many can you name?
Most people can name 5. Pocahontas, Betsy Ross, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Sacagawea. (and that’s on a good day)
You see, as a woman, we go through life without proper historical representation. 243 years of a country and the patriarchy, or the public schools, or just society and most of us are capped at about 5 pivotal women.
It’s just not right, or accurate.
I thought I’d delve a bit deeper into these All-American heroes.
Imagine how surprised I was when I found out many historians find Betsy more likely to be fiction than fact. There’s no evidence that she did sew the first flag, but there’s no evidence that she didn’t. The entire story is based upon a 100 year old account from her grandson, who heard it from his aunt. Family stories aren’t exactly considered ironclad evidence.
Betsy Ross is fake news?
That means we have 4 known historically accurate and pivotal women in American history.
Two are Native American. At least we gave them a place in history while we were stealing their land.
Pocahontas is best known for being a Disney character. Although just like Sacajawea, her claim to fame is helping men.
Rosa Parks is a beloved figure. She stood her ground on the bus and refused to move to the back. Her arrest sparked a 381 day boycott of the Montgomery Bus system. When it was over, buses were no longer segregated, but Rosa lost her job, and was discriminated against in finding a new one. She ultimately left her hometown in the wake of death threats.
Harriet Tubman’s the real deal and almost made it to the face of the $20 bill. It was all set for launch in 2020. The Trump administration recently delayed that launch. Why? Well, she’s black and a woman. Under the current administration she didn’t have a chance. But let’s keep Andrew Jackson on there. His claim to fame is displacing the Native American population. Let’s keep honoring that genocidal white guy instead of the former slave who helped others escape to safety. We have a history of honoring the oppressors and not the oppressed. (Can you say Robert E.Lee?)
But to get back to Betsy. She’s most likely a fable. But ….a universally accepted warm and charming one, so we all play along.
Sounds very similar to how we view equality between the sexes. It’s a fable, but we just play along.
I’m tired of playing along.
We have so much work to do. I am inspired by the quote below.. FYI: Abigail started a women’s rights newspaper In Oregon. Her tireless support and communication helped Oregon become the 7th state to pass the woman’s right to vote. File her under names we should know, but don’t. Think about this one everyday, hang it on the wall, and take it to the ballot box every damn chance you get.
WHEN WOMAN’S TRUE HISTORY SHALL HAVE BEEN WRITTEN, HER PART IN THE UPBUILDING OF THIS NATION WILL ASTOUND THE WORLD.
–ABIGAIL SCOTT DUNIWAY 1905
Our time is now. Let’s claim our history, and make some new.
Read here about what Barcelona with a fully feminist government is doing to change their city’s design and operation to finally consider the women.