I love women. In fact, I am a woman who comes from a long line of women. My mother was a woman, as was her mother before her, and her mother’s mother’s and as far as we all know, so was her mother’s mother’s mother. However when I found out that March 8 was International Women’s Day, I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily. I was not moved nor was my heart aflutter.
I get it. We’re women. We function and think differently than men. We don’t well up at the mere thought of a male dog being neutered, and yes we are aware that our monthly hormonal shifts make no sense to anyone, including us – so don’t expect logic and/or ask for logic during those times. We accept that, with each passing year, our breasts slide downward, yet we sojourn on wearing constricting contraptions to veil gravity’s sag, er…I mean pull…uh, perhaps effect is a better choice of words.
But a whole day that celebrates our womanhood?
It isn’t that I don’t recognize or appreciate my female forebears who waged hard fought battles for suffrage, education, equal pay for equal work; nor do I believe that women’s rights are a given for every woman everywhere in the world. But there’s just something about the whole sisterhood thing that smacks of I am Woman, hear me roar. Frankly, I don’t roar, and I don’t wanna roar. I barely have enough energy to stay awake for ten o'clock karaoke on our date nights. And the whole roaring thing hearkens back to the women's movement of the 70's and the Enjoli Lie born of it. You remember the jingle:
I can bring home the bacon,Seriously, lady? You’re not only going to find the proverbial pig, butcher and dress it, cook it, and then…that too? Either Enjoli Lady is lying or she’s younger than thirty-five with no kids.
Fry it up in a pan,
And never, never, ever let you forget you’re a man.
‘Cuz I’m a WOMAN.
Thus, it was with this attitude that I began March 8. Facebook and Twitter feeds were abuzz with pictorial and eloquent messages of Sisterhood. The word itself makes me shudder. Maybe it’s because I have a crazy-making sister, or maybe it’s because the term plants that Sisters are Doing It for Themselves song in my brain. Maybe it’s because I believe that Sisters and/or the Sisterhood have always been doing it for themselves – without or with men’s permission and an International Women’s Day. And I’m not talking about Sonia Sotamayor, or Amelia Earhart or Sally Ride.
I’m talking about the ones you won’t find in the history books. Like my third great grandmother Milla who was born in 1795 and owned – yes, I said owned – by the Godley family. When her owner died, she was bequeathed to another family member, but somehow in between all that, she fell in love and got married and had ten children. The records lose track of seven of the ten children, but I imagine they were sold to other families. What must that have been like for Milla? Growing a baby inside, feeling it kick and sometimes touching her belly to feel its tiny heels, only to deliver her baby and have it sold like a yard sale treasure. Inner strength and tenacity doesn’t begin to even describe it.
Once emancipation was granted, Milla and her remaining children moved across the country to Missouri, and that family became the core of founders who settled a thriving black community. The historical records show that Milla was a respected member of that community. But she isn’t among those whose photos you’ll see or whose name is on International Women’s Day memes because she and all her peers who are forgotten to history were doing it for themselves when – and because -- they had no other choice.
As these thoughts swirled around in my head, I realized that Sisters are Doing It for Themselves had become a nightmare of an earworm. Still irritated by, and rolling my eyes at every promotional tweet tagged #InternationalWomensDay or #IWD, I tuned into Spotify to plant a new, Non-I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar-Song in my brain.
And it worked….until I they played Slap My [expletive for a woman] Up.
And that’s when I tweeted:
Geez, @spotify...how about suspending songs like "Smack My $#tch Up" from your radio list in honor of #InternationalWomensDay?Well played International Women’s Day, well played. I get it now.
— Rochelle Fritsch (@GeesMom) March 8, 2013