Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Happy Women's Day! I had to look this up because, although I knew about the strike, I didn't even know this was a thing before. And I'm a woman! Why didn't I get the memo? Well, maybe it's just a bigger deal this year than I've noticed before but here's what I found out from the interwebs.

The day is designed to "reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities," according to the United Nations' website.

The first International Women's Day took place in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, according to the International Women's Day website.
In that vein, here are some women I think have made an impact for all of us.

Elizabeth Blackwell became, in 1849, the first woman doctor in the U.S., which I knew from when I was a kid (I assume I read it in a book, because I don't remember celebrating women's history then). What I didn't know is that she applied to a bunch of med schools and was turned down. The Dean at the Geneva Medical College put her acceptance to the current students and told her if one said no, then she would not be admitted. The students thought it was a joke and all voted she was admitted. The professor wanted her to step out during the lessons on reproduction, but she argued her case and her fellow students supported her. She graduated and though she found it hard to get patients, she persevered and her younger sister, Emily, became the third woman to receive an M.D. in the U.S.

The first woman in space is Valentina Tereshkova, from the Soviet Union. She was an avid skydiver and when the chance to train as a cosmonaut, she took it. The Russians had heard that the U.S. wanted to put a woman in space after successfully putting a man in space and they wanted to edge out the U.S. So they did. With just a year of training, she orbited the Earth, performed biological experiments and figured out how to fix a glitch in the rocket flight pattern; it was flying away from the Earth instead of orbiting it and she just fixed it. Now, in her 70s, she has said she would be willing to fly a one-way rocket to Mars. 

And because books are close to my heart, the first published woman writer from the U.S. is Anne Bradstreet, whose book of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was published in 1650 in England. You go, girl! 

And lastly, I'd like to mention Phillis Wheatley, the first woman of color to publish a book of poetry, called Poems on Various subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. She was seized in Africa and brought to America at about age 7. This means she was a woman, a slave and an extremely bright child who would come to write appealing poetry in her second language. I mean, c'mon, that's a woman! 

I'm not a poet, but my daughter is great at it and has been published quite a bit. Here's one of her poems published in furious. She's a young woman who is making her mark in the world and as a teacher and writer and a caring person. I am, as I always have been, proud and happy to be her mum...even when she wears the weird socks just to irritate me. A woman in a restaurant once told me of her, when Colleen was about three, "she has a lot of God in her" and if you think of God as a force for goodness and love and kindness toward others, that is the honest truth. 

liberation by Colleen Kochensparger
picture this:
I am leaving this tower of roses and thorns
and slamming the door behind me
I was never yours to keep
and your tower could never hold me
picture this:
I am saving the princess myself
feeding her broth until she sits up, awake
your poisoned words were not enough to slay her
and my strength will bolster the both of us, from now on
picture this:
me, laughing, and never once thinking of you
leaving you behind, just as you could never bear the thought
the princess laughs with her eyes, looking up from her book,
and this moment, in a park somewhere, is happily ever after enough

I love this quote and you can buy this version on etsy from here, made by a woman!

Happy Wednesday,