Women-in-history tidbits

From the National Women’s History Museum come these women-in-history tidbits on a little card headed, “Did you know that…”

…in the early 20th century, Madam C.J. Walker became the first American self-made female millionaire after creating a line of hair care products for African American women in her kitchen while trying to make ends meet as a single mother?

…17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, the second woman to play in the major leagues, struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game in 1931, but her contract was voided the next day because the baseball commissioner deemed the sport “too strenuous” for women?

…in 1777 16-year-old Sybil Ludington rode 40 miles on horseback through the night (twice the distance of Paul Revere’s more famous ride) to successfully warn Revolutionary Army troops of an impending British attack?

…Underground Railroad operative Harriet Tubman planned and led a complex and stunningly successful raid on the Confederacy with 300 Union troops in 1863?

Cool stuff. Hopefully we’ve got more women writing history these days and we’ll start to see more credit given to women where it’s due.

 

 

 

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SAVE THE DATE! 2009 SWWAN Women's Empowerment Conference

We are so excited! Been planning for months already the celebration for Single Working Women’s Week this year. (Read about our first celebration here.)

We have an astounding lineup of talent doing presentations for our first annual 2009 SWWAN Women’s Empowerment Conference. Please save some time to attend one or more of the sessions–you will be enlightened, informed and inspired at each one of these mini-workshops. The schedule includes 2 sessions each day (3 pm and 7 pm CT) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the week of August 2-8.

Check out the announcement of the 2009 SWWAN Women’s Empowerment Conference.

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Abortion vis-a-vis single motherhood

Interesting interview in the Cornell Sun with a pro-life advocate. Says abortion has become the easy choice for young women who get pregnant–and that abortion betrays feminism.

The woman makes a really important point–women are not adequately supported by our society. Single mothers in particular must generally learn to leap tall buildings just to survive with their child(ren). Saying all single women who get pregnant should become mothers is kind of like saying abstinence-only is a good way to prevent teens from having sex. It’s plain not happening.

Our society not only pays women less but also disapproves of single mothers and denies them access to benefits that most married couples take for granted. Asking a woman to give birth to her accidentally conceived baby no matter what the circumstances is forcing her to start life with her baby with two strikes against them. It’s not surprising that abortion is often the choice. And as the African American pro-lifer–who herself had an abortion when she was young “so my child wouldn’t become a statistic”–rightly points out, nothing stays with a woman like an abortion. So let’s not pretend that it’s an “easy” choice.

Being a single woman today means you’re part of the 51% majority of women in America who are. With numbers like that, it’s time for our society to start finding a new attitude.

Reflections on changing the world

Year-end is always a good time to think about what has happened in your life and what you’d like to have happen in the future. Was reading an article in Ode Magazine yesterday and found a story about a professor at Barnard College in New York who invites local Harlem residents to sit in for free in his philosophy classes. He got in trouble with the administration, but he told them these are his friends and they wouldn’t dare tell another professor his friends couldn’t sit in. Cool.

Anyway, he quoted Ghandi and I think it’s a perfect one for single working women, too. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Make the choices you really want to make–not those society would have you make. The single women of today who do work they love, who pursue successful careers of all kinds, and who build caring relationships with friends and family are demsontrating that women are in charge of their own happiness.

How many children are raised by a single parent because of divorce, desertion, or death? Why should a stigma be attached to single mothers by choice? The single women of today who choose to become mothers because they have not met the right mate are courageously living out their dream. They are showing the world that healthy, happy children can come from all types of homes–as they have always done.

The single women who face medical and financial challenges and find new ways to overcome those obstacles are showing resourcefulness and courage that is an inspiration to others in this profoundly down economy.

The single women of today who live alone or caring for an elderly relative yet find joy in work, play and friendships are embodiments of hope. They personify the energy, the creativity, and the courage that are helping to make the world a better place for all.

Merry Christmas to all. May we all continue to be the change we want to see in the world.

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Research on cohabiting reaches questionable conclusion

Because I write a bioscience blog, I read a lot of medical and scientific topics. And I’ve learned to watch carefully for qualifying statements, extra information, study-size, and other limitations that can make conclusions tenuous or shaky.

Just found this article that’s headed: “Marriage may protect against dementia.” It makes it sound like living without a partner increases your risk of eventual cognitive impairment. But when you read the whole thing carefully, this report on a meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association, notes that those who developed Alzheimer’s were far more likely to have a certain gene marker than those who didn’t. And that having lost a partner through death or divorce increased that risk by a factor of about 8. So “other factors besides cohabitation were at work.” Yeah, for sure.

All the participants were Finnish citizens. I don’t know what it’s like to live alone in Finland. But the implication that people who don’t cohabit also don’t have social networks and close communication with other human beings seems totally out of line with my observations of many of today’s single women–and with those of our next guest on the SWWAN Dive show, Dr. Kay Trimberger.

Dr. Kay, herself an ever-single adoptive mother, has done the research. And she reports that what appeared to be true 20 or 30 years ago about, for example, single mothers by choice is now proven to be totally inaccurate–now that studies have been set up by investigators who are not so biased about the subject.

As the quantum laws say, nothing happens that is independent of the effect of the observer. How much truer even of scientific studies, which rely on the observer to choose what will be observed and set the conditions for observing. You can see how this approach would tend to reinforce whatever the experimenter already believes–consciously or unconsciously.

Don’t let the studies get you down! Listen live to our interview with sociologist Dr. Kay Trimberger, “The New Single Woman–Uncensored” on Friday August 15 at 11am CT/9am PT.

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Who are you?

So many of us are raised in fear. We all need and want our parents’ approval and encouragement. Some of us get it in fair measure, and others get little or none. After all, many of our parents weren’t raised by people who’d had terrific support–it’s a long vicious cycle.

Found this great quote on successful-PR-expert Kirsten Osolind‘s Facebook site:

“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone
tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were
often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking
for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I,
could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my
expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born
with: that I am nobody but myself.”

“The harder we fought, the more threatening the men became…”

– Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal”

I was moved to comment:

So applicable to so many of us women–waiting for approval or permission. At SWWAN we are working on making the world a safer place for women to step out of the shadows and be themselves in spite of society’s discomfort.

“A single woman represents chaos. Woman belongs only in a marriage or in a convent.” …line from a famous South American fim that I can’t remember the name of right now.

How have you gone about finding yourself? How much do you rely on the approval of others? It can be tough to believe in yourself when you don’t fit into an accepted pattern–don’t meet people’s expectations for “normal.” Single women, more than many others, have to face this reality every day. Thanks, Kirsten.

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The state of singleness–stats and the Christian viewpoint

Looking around for another way to get the word out about our upcoming holiday – Single Working Women’s Week. Checking out Google adwords, I thought well, single women would not be looking for the term “single women” on the Internet (probably even if they were gay!). So I was trying to think of another term. Typed in “single men” just for the helluvit and found this interesting website that claims to have statistics (from 2002 census data) on the rate of single men to single women by county all across the U.S.

Not that women are typing in that term either, though–except for dating and matchmaking sites. Seems the Internet has replaced the local church as the place for singles to meet. Which brings me to the long Christian tract I found about how single people must accept their condition as God’s will. A particularly telling quote from a male missionary about how it’s not necessarily tough to be single everywhere:

“Our North American society is structured definitely for couples. Not so the tribe of Ayangan Ifugaos among whom I work. Although 99 percent of the men are married, they don’t look at the one percent as weird. The social cost only hits me when I return home–in the churches, among Christians, who, of all people, should know better.”

Yes, they do a lot of talking about why it’s okay to be single, all the while pointing out the Jesus himself was single–and celibate. In the Christian world if you’re single you can never express your sexuality physically.

Wouldn’t the world be a different place if everyone observed that dictum…

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African sons respecting their single moms

Can you imagine a grownup son deciding to change his name to include his mother’s instead of his father’s? Seems it’s happening with some regularity in Kenya, according to this article, which also talks about neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s book “Raising Boys Without Men,” applauding the single “maverick moms” who help their sons grow up to be good men who also have an appreciation for feelings.

Apparently to use a feminine surname in Africa is highly unusual (in the U.S. our surnames don’t denote gender) and invites ridicule from others. Yet more young sons of single moms are choosing to do it anyway because of the deep respect they have for what their mothers went through to raise them.

It’s great to hear this. After watching a documentary last night about the 50 years that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton spent trying to win the vote for women–and a few other rights like abolition, and the right of married women to own property–it makes me feel that it might be easier for men to appreciate women and be willing to grant them respect and equality if the economic distance between them isn’t so wide as it is in a lot of the U.S.

Perhaps there’s some of the class war about women’s equality…much as racism can be viewed in that way.

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