Daily Archives: March 5, 2008

Suffragette City

March is Women’s History Month, and as a woman who grew up with four sisters, a mother, and two grandmothers all in the same house, women’s issues are close to my heart. I read Sassy religiously in high school, became interested in women’s history as a college student, and as an adult I know women who are doctors, lawyers, mothers, librarians, publishers, and even ship captains. For a woman today, knowing women who hold these jobs is fairly unremarkable (okay, except for the ship captainwhich is a pretty cool job no matter what sex you are). Today women can vote, hold public office, or be in the military, and there are numerous TV shows that glorify life as single gals. I find that I often take these things for granted, until I start to think about the women who spent time fighting to edge half the population a little bit closer to equality. 

Once upon a time, women couldn’t do any of the things I mentioned above, at least not without causing a scandal. Fortunately for us, there were plenty of women who were willing to be scandalous. Women were pirates, soldiers, and rulers. Women fought for the abolition of slavery, the right to vote, and the right to go to school or to work in traditionally male fields. Before Hillary Clinton had her eye on the White House, Victoria Woodhull ran for office in 1871.  Later Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to run for president. And outside the political sphere, women like Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, George Sand, and Kate Chopin all wrote about women’s issues in ways that transcend their time periods. Finally, let’s not forget about Pittsburgh’s own role in women’s history.  Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein, Nellie Bly, Rachel Carson, and Martha Graham are all from the area, so we Pittsburgh ladies are in good company.

If the books I’ve linked to here aren’t your cup of tea, be sure to check out some of our booklists for other suggestions, or leave a comment with your own favorite book about women’s history. Happy Women’s History Month! 



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