Today is International Women's Day, and this is an article I wrote for the March issue of our community magazine. I know that some of my readers live in Sun City Carolina Lakes, and may have already read this piece. It may be worth reading again, especially the bit where some men once considered us to be no more than defective, soulless beasts. That just frosts my soul. I really do think that the religiously celibate men who came up with this piece of doctrine were "depraved on acounta the were deprived." What were they thinking?!
March is Women’s History Month - and a fine history we do have. In years past though, we have had to put up with too many stereotypes. In the seventh century, the Council of Nantes argued that women were “soulless beasts”, defectives (defectives? Now, I ask you!) who could be treated as such by men, their natural masters.” Whew!
Over the centuries there have been rare, prominent women whose achievements - scientific, artistic, patriotic, or oven notorious - have given them a permanent place in history. (Who hasn’t heard of Lucrezia Borgia?) It is only in the last century or so that women have started to reassert themselves beyond the realm of farm, hearth and home, and to shed some of the sentimentality and stereotypes assigned to ‘the soft sex’, ‘the weaker sex’.
We women are no longer solely the sole keepers of hearth and home, not good enough to vote, much less run for office, and not capable of anything above simple home mathematics, much less rocket science. You name it, we could always do it. Only now, when we want to go beyond our female-specific and stereotypic pursuits, are we allowed the opportunity.
Gone are the days when a woman was told “bring in your husband” before she could transact bank business or buy a car; never mind buying a home or starting a business of her own. Gone are the days when hospital whites were worn by nurses and doctors went around with stethoscopes around their necks. Even better, gone are the days when a gal in scrubs is assumed to be a nurse, or a man in scrubs a doctor. The world can no longer ass-u-me. Now are the days when all stereotypes, all assumptions must be banished.
Lady cops, woman judges, female executives, or woman soldiers should be labels no longer: they’re just cops, judges, executives, or soldiers doing a pre-defined job. (Truthfully though, we still don’t understand why a gal would want to be a wrestler.) There are no more ‘old maid school teachers’, much less ‘old maids’, unless you’re playing that card game. The spinsters, battle axes, and buxom broads, and the little woman, the missus, my old lady, and all the other stereotyped gals have left the building.
But there are still thorns on the rose. An old cigarette ad, aimed at the newly ‘liberated women’ of the late 60’s, used the slogan “You’ve come a long way baby,” yet, as Helen Reddy sang: “I’m still an embryo with a long, long way to go.” We senior women have it fairly easy of late, but younger women, especially those in the work force, still have to put up with stereotypes, sexist labels, and discrimination. Lisa Abeyta, writing in The Huffington Post, has said:
“Until there is more gender balance among leading roles in entertainment, government and corporate leadership, our sons and daughters will continue to believe the stereotypes perpetuated in the news, media, and their everyday lives.”