My path to women's history wasn't extremely wendy, but I somehow wasn't expecting to be on it. When I was five, my family went to England. I learned about Henry VIII and his wives and got really into them (and drew some EXCELLENT five-year-old-child pictures of them in my journal, but that's for another time).
Then I feel like things kind of stagnated except for random things, like PBS aired a Catherine the Great biopic in the '90s and I asked my mom for a biography of her. I was kind of too busy memorizing dog breeds and planning my soon-to-be-thriving full-time dachshund breeding business to care about women's history.
|I mean...look at that|
Being obsessed with particular women started around age 11 when I thought the woman who played Dr Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives was the sum of human perfection. Other actress obsessions followed, and with them, obvious fears about being gay. But women were just so much more interesting than men. "Oh, a man accomplished something, how very difficult that must have been. What challenges he must have overcome."
"Women are interesting because they overcame more" was the explanation I gave to myself in high school while I angstily worried in my journal that the reason I listened to women singers and read biographies about women and had pictures of women all over my walls was that I wanted to date women. Teenage Alice, that turned out to be true, but it also turns out it was true that women who made their mark on history, particularly before the 20th century, are astonishing. Particularly considering that legally, they were not thought of as full humans in their time.
The field of women's history is so comparatively new (coming into being within the last 40 years), and current collective memory seems to maintain such a small amount of space for it that every new women's history book seems groundbreaking to me. "WHO is the reason we can vote now?" "WHO created the science fiction genre?" "WHO was the first computer programmer??"
We don't hear these facts growing up. Or my generation didn't. There's been a big push to get these women's voices to the forefront now, but the fact they've been buried so long makes me want to just STAMP my foot so hard.
Women are interesting. They're interesting because they're people, but even more so, they're interesting because while they have always been half of the world, it is a half that was silenced until enough individuals stepped forward and said "Fuck this bullshit."
The "fuck this bullshit" women are the ones whose biographies are on my bed. May we all follow their example.