Today is International Women’s Day. OTR celebrates this auspicious moment with America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins. This book lives up to its title with page turning narratives that commemorates the achievements of American women over four centuries.
“If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.”
Most history books, by and large, are based on a male’s perspective. Indeed, history gives us women of influence such as Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette, Queen Isabella of Spain, and Catherine the Great. There are devout women such as Teresa of Avila and St. Joan of Arc. And we had our share of women warriors like Boudicca and Zenobia. Yet, the history of women is far richer and grander than the sum of famous personalities. It is a story of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who have passed on knowledge and experience from generation to generation to sustain family life. Women were central to society and were the building blocks for communities and civilizations.
America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines weaves the story of women of many races and ethnicities, rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, slave and slave-owner. I felt the range of emotions, from anger, to indignation, to joy and celebration. Most of all, I felt pride for what women have accomplished, together. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton