Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Post on Women's History Month

In order to celebrate Women's History Month, one of the units put together an hour-long presentation.  I was one of the few people who showed up that wasn't under an obligation (for example, if someone cancels a meeting because it's at the same time as an event, that tends to mean you should show up to the event instead of the meeting).
I can't complain too much because honestly, I should have tried to get involved - I asked our company rep if there was anything planned, but didn't follow up and ask how to participate.  I'm not sure how much of a difference my input would have made, but I still should have tried.
I'll also admit that when I think Women's History Month, I don't think of only a celebration of Women's History, but also of a celebration of Feminism, even though the two aren't the same.  There are many strong women that don't identify as feminist (unfortunately).
Basically, it wasn't bad, but I was disappointed.  The fliers all had the topic "Women's Art, Women's Vision" printed on them so I was expecting a discussion of women in the arts and the different messages that women might try to convey when using art for political purposes (I guess someone else predetermines the topic for the year).  I showed up expecting a college style lecture, forgetting exactly where I am.  Instead there was a long program beginning with an invocation and the national anthem and ending with a benediction.  In between, there was a slide show, a poem, a skit and a guest speaker.  The guest speaker was entertaining but definitely took the topic in a different direction than I would have expected (she went straight for the word vision, and made the statement "I visualize" to connect her speech to the topic).
Of course, I would have been happy with an hour long lecture but since they added all the extra pieces, I think they could have used a slightly different approach.  Being the military, I understand that there will be more of a focus on women's history in the military, and that's fitting - but the slide show should have reflected that.  It should have included portraits/pictures of women in the Revolutionary War, Clara Barton's nurses, the WACs of WWII, and chronologically included everything in between and up to now.  Instead, it was a bunch of pictures of women that are in the Brigade - women that are making history right now, as they put it.  The slide show should have culminated with that but it also should reflected the history of women's service in the military.  Also, they chose the song "You Gotta Be" as the background music for the slide show - it just didn't set quite the right tone for me.  Too obvious; too empowerful.  I'm probably being too harsh on the song.
They used the skit to highlight women inventors - I think I would have chosen either different inventions to discuss, or introduced the inventors by some other means.  I understand the difficulty, though - given that people still tend to make comments along the lines of "what's the point of women's history month?  They're 51 % of the population," it can be rather hard to do something to keep the audience interested without preaching at them (I probably would have ended up preaching).  As a result, they used comedy in the skit in a way that I found slightly obnoxious ("work it, girl") but the rest of the audience laughed.  It's important to keep people entertained as well as educate, and I think my idea of entertainment might be slightly different than most (I don't like most Will Ferrell comedies, or anything that involves a man wearing a cross-gendered fat suit).
I actually almost didn't go because I was afraid I wouldn't like it - now I know that next year when we are back in Germany, I should make sure to volunteer far ahead of time and maybe put some of my vision into affect.  I wonder if they do anything for V-Day on military posts . . .

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