As March nears its end, I find it timely to get something off my chest that has been bugging me all month. And that is the issue of Women’s History Month.
I’m pretty sure we have all heard the phrase, “Well, why isn’t there a men’s history month?” Similarly, in February we hear, “Why isn’t there a white history month?” The answer is simple, and it’s right in every standard history book. To put it bluntly, every month could qualify in the above two ‘missing’ categories. That is an unoriginal argument, but let me expand upon it.
This is not a rant about how biased history is toward one gender or race. Given the nature of centuries past, it makes sense that white men are at the forefront of every major historical event. They were the ones calling the shots and, perhaps most importantly, leaving records of events. It would be impossible to teach U.S. history without spending the majority of the time focused on white men. I get that. I’m mad not about that.
I do, however, get peeved when people cry out that it is racist or sexist to dedicate a month to the history of African-Americans or women. The amount of extra work historians go through to provide us with a look into the history of both groups is incredible. Maybe we should also have a historian appreciation month, but that is beside the point.
Here is how I look at history months dedicated to a group: that month is set aside for the people who have to dig for their history. It is meant for those who take pride in their gender or race, in part, because of the hardships faced in the past. That is not to say white men never faced difficult times. However, as far as U.S. history goes, those hardships are noticeably fewer in comparison. Generally, the hardships they faced also affected women and other races.
If this column has felt like a complaint toward a certain gender and race, I apologize. It is not. I have heard history months decried by women and African-Americans. Most notably, Morgan Freeman spoke out against Black History Month, saying it was unnecessary segregation. While I have nothing against Freeman, I respectfully disagree. I think history months are a great way to take time to learn about our past as women or members of a different race or ethnicity. Rather than segregating, I think these months are an attempt at balancing out every other month.
Maleesa Johnson is a senior journalism major from Round Rock. She is editor-in-chief of the Lariat.