Women's History Month: The politics of placation
Credit: istolethetv
Women's History Month: The politics of placation

Colleges, businesses and government agencies nationwide are calling for celebrations of Women’s History Month. However, women should not be fooled. This is not a sign of changing times or success in society, but instead assimilation and appeasement.

 

Obama’s annual address to kick off Women’s History Month vowed that “we cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society.” One aspect of Obama’s plan is to “ensure women play an equal role in peace-building worldwide.”

 

It is important to recall what “peace-building” U.S. style comes in the form of military occupations, mass bombings, torture, rape and destruction. Also, it is important to remember the rampant sex assault that is ongoing within the U.S. military—our primary source of “peace-building.” In fact, a woman in the military is more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than an enemy.

 

Any time Congress, the White House and Forbes magazine attempt to celebrate a marginalized group, it is guaranteed that their efforts are a part of a greater plan to suppress resistance. They erase the fact that oppression still exists—against women, people of color, queers, transfolk and so many more—and that the very institutions declaring celebrations are responsible for that oppression. A prime example would be

the United States Congress—responsible for instituting Women’s History Month—kicking off the month of March with an attempt to limit access to contraception.

 

There is an abundance of social, economic and political patriarchy that remains completely untouched by Women’s History Month declarations, such as rape culture and body standards that drive women and girls to kill themselves to become socially acceptable.

 

Furthermore, Women’s History Month advances the notion that the experience of womanhood is universal. It ignores the complex layers of identities—gender expression, race, class, queerness, disability—that add to women’s lives. Instead universities, governing bodies and businesses pick a homogenous handful of women—astronauts, actresses, politicians and teachers, adding a token person of color—as representatives of what success and liberation look like.

 

Women’s History Month is the historical equivalent of a kiddie table—it placates women’s desire to be included without breaking up the great white male party that has been raging for centuries. It denies women’s daily contribution to all history, as well as the rampant existence of patriarchy in this society.

 

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About author

Zoe Williams's picture

Zoë Williams is a Street Medic, artist, writer and anti-oppression organizer.

Steve's picture
Steve (not verified) Sun, 03/11/2012 - 11:30

Zoe,
If Women's History Month is the historical equivalent of a kiddie table, then what do women do to change this, so that the month can be a time where and when the contradictions you mentioned in your essay are addressed?

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