Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women of the Park Unite!

It’s International Women’s Day and the hundred-year anniversary to boot! Around the globe, and in the trailer park, women are uniting and celebrating their achievements, contributions, and strength to withstand adversity, discrimination, and violence. United are women of color, women from all socio-economic groups, women of various faiths. Schools are honoring national and international women who have contributed to their communities, students are researching women’s history and monumental events, there’s fireworks and parades, the federal government has declared March 8 a National holiday, our clubhouse here at the park is lined in purple crepe paper and fake mums…
And why not I ask you, my readers of all that is true and meaningful. Why not?
When I taught elementary school, March was my favorite month. We’d have guest speakers from the community; women who’ve contributed to the political arena, social service workers, single moms, police sergeants, professors, custodians. Our essays and reports that month centered on famous women in history Hey! Can I just call it “Herstory” one time? I’m actually adding it to my spell-check right now because for the life of me I can hardly stomach that it isn’t in there in 2011. Anyways, every March 8th, we’d prepare tea and give roses to each woman who spoke in our classroom. We’d have questions prepared ahead of time that asked specifically about their jobs, their challenges, and their personal rewards. The students gained. The speakers gained. The world gained.
Isn’t happening, is it folks? We do honor Rosa Parks for a rapid moment and Dr. Seuss, although 6th graders are kind of over him. And we did attempt a coin but it looked like a quarter and now it's pretty close to obsolete. Who the hell was Susan B. Anthony anyways? Actually, I’ll tell you but before I do, I have to throw in the names of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Dickinson and Eleanor Roosevelt. Yes, Eleanor had a “relationship” with a reporter named Lorena Hickok. It’s one thing to leave out straight women from the HIStory books, but it’s even more devastating when you realize that lesbians lived and died and ya-neva-kno. You realize women who had “thoughts” about other women, especially 19th Century women, were considered mentally ill. Now words pour in; words like “asylum” and “lobotomy” and “hysterectomy” and well, let’s not go there this morning. Anyways, Susan B. Anthony… From my perspective, she was a feminist, an abolitionist, a reformer, a teacher, a fearless flyer and a racist in that, she believed “white women should have the right to vote before black men or immigrant males.” And you know what? She marched and marched tirelessly and was jailed numerous times, abused and harassed regularly for what she believed in, and because of her and so many other women in our country, and those beyond our borders, I am able to write this blog freely. I owe a tremendous amount to these women and so do you. We are privileged and damn fortunate; even those of us who call home a trailer park, and here’s why. Women in nations like Cambodia, Africa, Laos, and others still make around 1 dollar a day and work in grueling and crude conditions for 8-10 hours per day. Women in Taliban controlled regions cannot go to school, cannot speak out against their husbands or government, cannot love whom they wish to love. According to the UN, six out of 10 of the world's poorest people are still women and girls. To those living in such dire circumstances, International Women's Day might not mean much. However, to those of us in a position to be able to do something about their plight, it should be a sharp reminder of the challenges ahead. Women in the developing world face situations that, thankfully, few of us in richer countries will ever encounter. In Rwanda, one woman in every 35 dies in childbirth. Getting pregnant and giving birth is one of the most dangerous things many women in developing countries will ever do in their lives. Enabling girls and women to make informed choices and act on them is essential.
So, I’ve attached a couple links in case you're at the point of “Give me some positive news tpg!”
One link lists the top 100 women activists according to guardian.co.uk.
Check it out cuz it will lift your spirits high! Also is a link for a very cool 4-day trip to Mexico to build a house for a single mom. The org is called Finding Sophia and my pal Deb, who is also trailer trash but more upscale than me because her park is in Capitola, told me about it. Those of you who are HGTV whores and love put on a tool belt every now and then will surely dig this one!
So go out and rejoice! March! Thank an old woman! Honor a young one!
Happy Women’s Herstory Month and International Women’s Day!

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