Happy March and Happy Women’s History Month. Since 1987, March has officially been dedicated to celebrating women’s history in America. This month is meant to celebrate all the women who have contributed to the achievements and success of America, but I believe it can go beyond just celebrations of major contributions. Women’s History is more than icons like Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks. All women should be celebrated in March and always for their triumphs and the impact they have on our world.
While the dedication of a month to women is a positive, the lack of inclusivity that often comes with celebrations of women can make the month exclusionary. It is important that we continue to strive for intersectional representation as we shift from Black History Month into a month of recognizing women.
All women deserve to be recognized for the impact they made in their lifetimes, but some are consistently at the center of our conversations and others seldom gain even minor recognition. I want to take this time to highlight the undercelebrated women of American history.
Politics have always been a popular topic of discussion and argument, and why wouldn’t they be? Government officials are lurking in the shadows of our country, toting around the skeletons from their closets, trying to find space to hide them away from the public eye. The people, the heart of our country, cannot seem to agree on anything, let alone come up with a compromise. And then we have the United States, which values wealth and success over all else. But still we live in an ever-changing world. Despite the inability to agree or compromise we, the people, continue to make changes in our lives and in our communities, and the world also changes with us. Some things get better as others continue to get worse. We remain in a constant state of fluctuation, which brings me to my point; our country seems to have a hard time determining just exactly how to codify equality and freedom. There are numerous laws and regulations imposed that actually work to oppose equality and promote divide amongst citizens. In the past, we had prejudiced and unfair laws that led to the three-quarters-of-a-century long Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, or as recently as 2015 when same-sex marriage was legalized following the Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court case. Yet, after all these changes, we still find ourselves in an inegalitarian society. So, let’s discuss some legal disparities enforced by our country, the Land of the Free.
Drugs in the streets (crack cocaine) vs. drugs in the suites (powder cocaine)
A year ago, I decided to fully dedicate time and effort to my overall wellbeing. This meant concentrating not only on my physical health, and the self-care strategies that are common, but finally focusing on my mental health, as well. I had feelings of intense stress, anxiety, and felt like my life was falling through the cracks if it wasn’t planned out by the hour. Growing up, I was under the impression that seeking out counseling or help with any emotions was only acceptable if you are depressed, bipolar, or have another mental illness. It wasn’t until I went to a national convention for my sorority that I realized seeking help can be for any problem, as small or simple as it might seem to you. They highly encouraged seeking counseling or help with any feelings of anxiety or high levels of stress, even if we didn’t think they were “big” enough to talk to someone about. I took their advice, started counseling through BetterHelp and have loved my experience. My counselor is supportive and has helped me recognize behaviors and patterns in my life that may not be serving me fully, and she encourages me to find the resolve to change them.
‘Pandemic pudge,’ ‘freshman fifteen,’ ‘baby weight,’ and many other similar phrases circulate through our conversations, all with the goal of shaming people for weight gain. But why are we so worried about gaining weight? Our culture focuses on the importance of being slender more than it does on fueling and loving our bodies.
It is even more apparent that these concerns are nothing more than social shaming because of how quickly the ideal body type shifts. One year, the desirable shape is an hourglass figure and the next, it is having a thigh gap. The standards for women’s bodies are always changing and almost never based on health concerns. I am always wondering where this deep-seated distaste for weight gain came from? How did we all learn to shame body weight so much?
There is something inspiring about reading stories of women setting overall (men’s & women’s) records. That is exactly what Heather Anderson accomplished in her thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. She hiked this 2,600 mile trail in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes, breaking the previous men’s record by four days and becoming the first woman to hold the overall record. Yes, read that again, just over 60 days. It took her two months to hike from Mexico to Canada. If that isn’t inspiring and motivating, I don’t know what is! After reading her memoir about her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was moved by her strength, determination and ability to push towards her goals, despite the not-so-encouraging comments she received for being a solo female hiker. This started my obsession with reading about women hiking month-long “thru-trails,” the most well-known ones being the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. These famous trails make up the “triple crown” of thru-hikes. Anderson is well versed in these trails, seeing as she is the second woman to complete the double triple crown, which means she hiked all of the trails mentioned above twice. Her accomplishments do not stop there. She holds the women’s fastest known time record for the Appalachian Trial, and has hiked more than twenty thousand miles since 2003, completing 15 thru-hikes.
The ski and snowboard industries are dominated by men. Women are often left to ski alone or behind the boys. Despite industry expectations, women can ski well with the support of other women. The power of skiing with other women helps to push everyone from beginner to expert skier. But finding a girl group to ski with can be hard.
That is where groups like Womb Tang come in. Tori Anderson and Renee McCurdy started the group. Womb Tang is the result of a girls’ group chat and Anderson’s marketing class project. They slowly realized that quite a few women were skiing in the Lake Louise area of Canada and they wanted to connect and ski together. After a while, they had a big ‘girl posse’ that would go up to the mountain together.
“It is different to watch a boy do something versus one of your girlfriends,” said McCurdy “when I see a girl send something before me, it boosts my confidence to try it too.”
A few weeks ago, my roommate taught me, for the very first time, how to put a condom on. After laughing to her about never having had a lesson in, one of the most basic ways to have safe sex, she told me to go to the kitchen and grab a banana. While it’s not rocket science, this is something I should have learned years ago. So, if I did not learn to put some latex on a banana, then what the hell was I taught in sex education in middle school and high school? I’m glad you asked. Starting off let me give you a standard definition of sex education. Sexuality education includes teachings about human sexuality, including intimate relationships, human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, sexual activity, sexual orientation, gender identity, abstinence, contraception, and reproductive rights and responsibilities. These lessons tend to be taught in schools during grades 6 and 9. Now as for what sex ed really entails, at least in my Idahoan and middle-class sex education, I was taught abstinence, and briefly informed about reproduction and STI’s. In my opinion, with that kind of vague and uninformative education, it’s a wonder that the teen pregnancy rate in the United States is dropping. While my experiences with sex education might not be the standard for everyone, from what I have heard, sex education is less instructional than it should be.
How much sex education you are taught during your teenage years is determined by many factors. These factors can range from religion and culture to federal funding, or simply to the adult who is teaching the curriculum. Sex education in schools is often controversial because there are those who believe that if you teach teenagers thoroughly about sexuality and all the other fun stuff, then they will go out and have immense amounts of sex, putting them at risk. However, lack of knowledge in these areas is not stopping people from having sex, rather it’s the lack of knowledge that is putting them at risk for STI’s and unplanned pregnancy.
Last week in my introduction, I briefly mentioned that my grandmother was one of the most influential women in my life. After talking with my friends about the women who have inspired and empowered us in our lives, each and every one could immediately name a woman who has impacted their life tremendously.
My grandma impacted my life in ways I did not realize until she passed suddenly from a rare stroke. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with powerful women like my grandma, mom, and sister. I was also fortunate that my grandma lived in the same town as me growing up, therefore I got to spend lots of valuable time with her, making her another mother figure in my life. My grandma was one of the most giving people I have had the honor to know. She taught me that fostering friendships and having fun in life was just as important as going to college, finding a career path, and being “successful.” My mom taught me hard work and determination. I watched her work extremely hard and give so much of what she earned to my sister and me, always putting our needs above her own. My sister has taught me kindness and self-confidence. I have never met anyone as kind as my sister. I have witnessed her constantly give everyone so much kindness, even when they don’t deserve it. My sister is also authentically herself, and that has taught me to be confident in who I am. There have been countless teachers, bosses, and more family members, like my aunts, who have impacted my life. The list would be never ending if I talked about every influential woman in my life. Without my grandma, mom, and sister, I would not be the woman I am today. I would not be extremely ambitious and love a challenge. After years of watching them overcome obstacles and succeed, it made me dream large and go after new goals. The word “compassion” would not hold the same meaning for me without their influence. My grandma, mom, and sister are some of the most compassionate people I know, watching them constantly give to others and various organizations in need has made me hold compassion as one of my core values. Talking to my friends and family, I realized they have also been impacted by many empowering women.
Have you ever wondered about the origins of your tabooed vibrator — yes, the one you hide under your bed or have in the top drawer of your nightstand, the one you may have named, or the one you never got around to buying? While your vibrator is amazing on its own, knowing its history and various benefits adds further power to this personal accessory.
The first vibrator was patented in the 1880s as a sort of cure-all remedy. Cure-alls, or panaceas, are remedies that are claimed to heal all ailments ranging from serious to minor. The vibrator’s original claim to fame was curing ailments such as muscle aches, anxiety, shortness of breath, fainting, nervousness, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, irritability, and (most commonly believed) hysteria.
Hysteria, derived from the Greek word hystera meaning uterus, was a common diagnosis for women back then. Hysteria was originally thought to be due to abnormal movement of the uterus in the body or “wandering womb” (yes, they thought the uterus could “wander” around the female body). As times changed, so did the definition of hysteria. At its climax, during the Victorian era, hysteria was a diagnosis for women who had any behaviors or symptoms that were inexplainable or uncomfortable for men. Have you ever read Jane Eyre or The Yellow Wallpaper? Have you heard of “the mad woman in the attic” trope? Well, these are representations of some of the most horrible treatments or managements of women who were diagnosed with hysteria.
I remember as a young girl getting stared at by older men. It felt like their eyes were burning my body, and I was instantly uncomfortable in my 13-year-old skin. I remember my high school volleyball coach telling me that if I dyed my hair brown, maybe I would “be a little smarter.” I remember when I was a pre-med major and working at a hospital, people constantly told me, “You should try nursing school, it will be a way better fit for you.” Not only is that insulting to the rigorous nature of nursing school, but it is also a classic and horrendous gender stereotype. Those situations, and thousands more like them, led me to be passionate about how women are viewed, and the bullying and stereotyping they face. I never want any young girl to feel the way I felt in those instances.
Why, hello everyone! My name is Katie, and I am a senior studying public relations with an English emphasis here at the University of Idaho! I am passionate about living mindfully, women’s empowerment, women in leadership, body positivity, self-care, and learning about ways to live sustainably in a fast-paced college setting. I realize that is quite the mix of random goodies, but after years of trying to enjoy what was “popular,” I decided to focus on what I truly found interest in. I was born and raised in Moscow, Idaho, and I love the tight knit community it provides. I have found comfort staying in my hometown to study at the University of Idaho (plus, cheap tuition). I love all outdoor activities like hiking, camping, swimming, and exploring the hidden gems of Idaho. I feel recharged after being in nature and I attribute some of my best ideas and self-realization moments to many quiet alone sessions in nature. I had the privilege of growing up with a nurturing and laughter-filled childhood, during which I formed close relationships with my dad, mom, sister, and grandparents. My grandma was one of the most influential women in my life, and unexpectedly had a stroke that took her life when I was in my junior year of college. It grounded me into reflecting on how many women in my life have had an immense influence on who I am and what I believe. You can expect to see articles from me this semester on the impact of having empowering women in your life.