08 March 2011

100th International Women's Day

A colleague at my university reminds me that today is International Women's Day -- and in fact it's the one hundredth celebration of the day.

Back in the late 1980s, I lived and taught for a year at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and there, they made a big deal of this holiday, reminding people in advance, celebrating it widely and publicly on the actual day.

Here in the US, it's easy to miss. The nation is busy demonstrating the meaning of Schadenfreude, in its lurid fascination with Charlie Sheen's implosion.

My colleague writes that this is a day to celebrate the women who came before us.

I celebrate my mother, who has lived for decades with a chronic illness that might cripple many but who refuses to let it stop her from running up Mount Washington, climbing all of the mountains in New Hampshire, and then doing it again in the winter, volunteering at the Mount Washington Weather Observatory in the winter, and fighting in her town to keep corporate interests from paving over open spaces to put in parking lots and big box stores.

I celebrate my grandmothers, each of whom raised a family of four children as a single mother.

My great-grandmothers. One insisted that her granddaughters, and not just her grandsons, be sent to college. One helped a family survive starvation in post-war Germany. One, in the 1970s, made a doll whose dress folded up and down to reveal two different faces -- one Black, one White, celebrating interracial family. Of the fourth, I know nothing.

Oh, and check out Google's home page today.