“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” — Maya Angelou
My mother is an active feminist. Raising two daughters in the 1970’s, she demonstrated her own resiliency as a mother working outside the home in the New Jersey suburbs where working mothers were an anomaly. She protested policies of our public schools that denied women who worked during the day access to her children’s activities, events, even Parent Teacher Association meetings—all held during the school day. As a public school teacher herself, my mother was deeply committed to being present to advocate for her children, but the male school principal told her if she wanted access to her children’s school, she should make herself available during the school day.
This is a small example, perhaps a minor one in light of the experience of women who endure discriminatory, exclusionary, even abusive policies, affecting daily lived experience. I arrived at Drew, a legacy following my father’s ministry and career at Drew, but actually compelled also by my mother’s desire to be an educator in public schools and in the prison system institutions. She taught me that nothing is unreachable for women, but we have to stand up for ourselves every day. The #MeToo movement has harkened me back to my early career in advertising in New York City, where socializing had a lot to do with career advancement. My life in the church has also called me to cultivate and call on on male allies in ministry who see me as a peer and even, sometimes, as a mentor.
Might we ever see a day when every day is Women’s Day, every month, Women’s month? When there is no need to stand up for ourselves because society stands with us? May it be so.