Our view: Not seen and not heard

DKS Editors

Quick. Think fast. Do you know what historical importance today holds? Was today the day The Beatles released “Lady Madonna” in the U.K. in 1968? Or was today the day Danny Masterson, who played Hyde on “That 70s Show,” was born? Was today the day the inventor of the chicken nugget died in 2006?

If you answered yes to any or all of those, you’d be correct.

But did you know Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the suffragist movement, died on this date in 1906?

And did you know that almost six decades later, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment building while nearly 40 of her neighbors looked on but did nothing?

No? Well, don’t feel bad. Odds are, very few people could tell you what day Joan of Arc led troops successfully into battle. Or what day Queen Elizabeth (I or II, take your pick) ascended to the throne.

And who really remembers what day it was when Dolley Madison made sure national treasures were safely packed and in the wagon before she agreed to leave Washington, D.C., despite British troops setting fire to the city around her?

Not many specific dates in women’s history are well remembered, which is part of the reason March was designated Women’s History Month more than 20 years ago.

And we might think that – at a point in our history when there are more women in leadership roles around the world – this month and what it celebrates might finally get a little respect.

Well, not really. Outside of women’s studies classes and occasional discussions of women in U.S. history and politics – Dolley Madison’s bravery in 1812, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s work as first lady, senator and now secretary of state – women’s history is pretty much overlooked in academics and in our society.

There’s not even a women’s history course offered at Kent State, though there is a history department course on women in modern Europe scheduled for the fall semester.

And sure, there are elements of women’s history that overlap with the civil rights movement and the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights activists.

But in a typical turn of events, we, as a nation, expect women’s history to be seen and not heard.

Sure, there are women who have broken social, political and scientific boundaries. Mention the name Marie Curie in a room of chemists or physicists, and they’ll talk your ear off. Mention Jackie Joyner-Kersee to a room of sports fanatics or black history scholars, and you’ll hear all about the socio-political reasons for her place in history, as well as why she was a great athlete.

And in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a specific month; women’s history would just be a part of a normal curriculum.

But it’s not, and we need at least one month to recognize women’s contributions.

It’s only fair after several million years of existence.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater.