March 8, 2016
“We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights
that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed
to us and our daughters forever.” – Susan B. Anthony
STUFF I KNOW © Kathleen McKern Verigin
International Women’s Day
When my mother was born, her mother couldn’t vote.
When first pondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, my mother told me I could be a nurse or a teacher.
As a teenager my mom convinced me to take a typing class so I would have a skill to “fall back on.”
When I was in college, afraid that I was pregnant, I desperately searched for money to fly to New York for a back alley abortion. Thankfully it wasn’t needed.
I smoked Virginia Slims cigarettes enticed by their tag line, “You’ve come a long way baby.”
In a job interview, fresh out of college, I was told that I was marriage and baby material, and therefore they didn’t want to invest in me. I married at 44 and never had children.
Along with a subscription to Ms. Magazine, I got a free t-shirt with MS. strategically placed across my bosom. I caught a man staring at my chest and confronted him. His reply, “I’m looking at exactly what you want me to look at. Why else would you wear that t-shirt?”
A few years later, preparing for another job interview, I was told the boss was a lady’s man and to dress provocatively. I did, and I got the job.
At 30 I was date raped and never told anyone until a woman friend told me of her experience with the same man. I couldn’t get angry for myself, but I could for her.
Years later, as senior producer of a television program, I was told my women assistants didn’t need raises because they had husbands.
When I told my mother how much money I made, in answer to her question, her reply was “WOW, those are man’s wages.”
In my late 30s my mother told me, “If you weren’t so independent you could catch a good husband.”
About that same time a Yale study was published stating that un-married women at 35 were more likely to be shot by a terrorist than marrying. The Old Maid card was on the cover of People Magazine. I found this offensive and wrote a letter to the editor. It was published in the next issue.
When I first started offering moon ceremonies for women, I met an elderly goddess who told me that after her hysterectomy she took her uterus home and buried it in ceremony. Aghast, I said, “And your doctor let you?” Her reply, “Yes, because it’s a part of my body and I own my body.” A few years later I did the same.
In her late 70s my mom attended one of my moon ceremonies for women. Afterwards she remarked, “It wasn’t unlike when I attended the women’s circles at church. But you ladies talk about way more interesting things.”
Forty-one years ago today I arrived in Portland, Oregon. My mother grieved my absence terribly. My father never visited me here. His reasoning was “She left us, we didn’t leave her.”
Before Mom’s death in 1997, she remarked, “I get why you moved to Portland. You’ve created a great life for yourself. I’m happy for you, and envious.”
Remember, when my mother was born her mother couldn’t vote. We have come a long way, but with so far to go. And I am nobody’s baby, except my mother’s. I am grateful for her and all that she taught me. Because we are All One and we’re all in this together.
History of International Women’s Day