A Woman’s Story

I noticed at the start of this month, that people didn’t realize that March was a month dedicated to those who are female-identifying. We know the different months of race and sexuality, but it seemed no one acknowledged the month dedicated to the ladies. However, the way it came to be is quite interesting, and a history that is not shared enough 

Picture it, a rally of women in Manhattan in 1909 fighting for their rights. They begin declaring that the day of the march (February 28th) was to be a day dedicated to women. Of course in true patriarchal fashion, no one listened to them and simply turned their attention the other way. But that day was the day that started the snowball effect that led to an official month dedicated to women. It wasn’t until March 8th in 1911 that 17 countries adopted that day to become International Women’s Day, including the US. However, it wasn’t big celebrations and was typically disregarded as any other day for a long time. 

In 1978, a school district in Santa Rosa, California decided to dedicate a week to women’s accomplishments. The celebration included an essay contest on what a “real woman” was and a parade within the city. From there, more and more cities began to extend their lesson plans and celebrations to more than one day. In 1987, Congress and President Carter dedicated March to the celebration of women. They picked March due to surrounding International Women’s Day so it would be an all-encompassing month. 

Yet, despite it being Women’s History Month, there have been few celebrations. Sure, there were a few “yay women” articles and hushed whispers of praises, but even those seemed empty. The sense of pride for being a woman was shattered when female-identifying individuals around the world were reminded of the reality of their experiences. We all mourned the loss of Sarah Everard who went missing on March 3rd in South London. A week later, her body was found and every woman around the world sympathized. People began sharing their stories about walking at night to being harassed and scared. “Text me when you get home” was a common exchange between individuals, yet sometimes their worst fear becomes reality. We become a statistic. Our reality is that despite all of our accomplishments and our fights for our rights, we are faced with danger and prejudice no matter what. Rape and harassment jokes are commonplace just as much as the actual events. A month dedicated to the celebration, turned into a grim reminder of the reality of being a female. 

I didn’t think I was ever going to be one of the statistics. I thought that I would be able to avoid that. However, then I was 7 and I was assaulted by someone I thought was my friend. I knew after that I needed to tell my mom and the next thing I knew, the other person wasn’t allowed to see me anymore, despite being my only friend after school. I wasn’t mad at them then, but as time has gone on, I have felt more and more frustrated by what happened. After that, I forgot what happened to me not knowing that I’d be unpacking that incident years later in order to understand what was to happen. Through middle school and high school, sexual comments and cat-calls became normalized because as long as you just ignored them “everything would be okay.” Slap ass Friday and everything else was a funny “ha ha,” but in reality, it was making us numb to the everyday harassment that we continue to experience. Then in college, I thought I was safe right up until I was assaulted twice within the same month. I carried my pepper spray, met up in public places, and always checked over my shoulder when walking alone or with others. Yet, I became a statistic not once but twice.