As I’ve grown wise in my advanced age, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how amazing women are and how feminism is more important than ever, especially as it becomes grossly apparently that people hate women. (See: how women are treated in public, in private, in the workplace, in government, by government, and basically everywhere.)
In the spirit of that, I’ve been diving into one of my new favorite podcasts, Stuff Mom Never Told You. In the well research twice-weekly podcast by How Stuff Works (which also produces one of my favorite other podcasts, Stuff You Missed In History Class), the hosts Cristen and Caroline “get down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle.”
In the few short weeks I’ve been listening to it, they’ve examined the history of retail work and how women and particularly women of color have factored in it; the “bury your gays” TV trope in which LGBT characters are routinely killed off on television shows; and the history of “weather girls” and social workers, to name just a few careers dominated by women. (The main takeaway I’ve gotten from the career-focused episodes is that women comprise the majority of the worker bees and men a disproportionate number of leadership roles, even still today. BUT EVERYTHING’S TOTALLY FAIR AND AMERICA IS THE LAND OF THE FREE OKAY).
Far and away the most interesting episode I listened to recently was on Shirley Chilsom, a genuine kick-ass lady and one I wish I had known about from infancy. In the spirit of Shirley, here are the most inspiring things about her.
There’s SO much to dive into, and honestly you should look to more researched literature on her to get a good understanding (the podcast episode is a good place to start) but here are some of my favorite Shirley facts:
- She was the first African American woman elected to Congress
- Girlfriend was one of the truest politicians who worked for the people, and for ALL people. She was intersectional way before it was popular, folks. Just a few of my favorite facts:
- She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus
- She advocated for improved access to education, was instrumental in the formation of WIC, fought for the rights of immigrants, and sponsored a bill to expand childcare for women
- She freaking RAN for PRESIDENT in 1972 and while she knew she wouldn’t get the Democratic nomination (because remember, America not only hates women, they also hate black people. Freedom!), she hoped to get enough delegates to leverage the eventual nominee – George McGovern – to create an ACTUAL representative government with a female Cabinet member, and a Native American as Secretary of the Interior.
- Her campaign slogan? “Unbought and Unbossed.” May that be ALL of our slogans.
And, of course, some genuinely inspiring, or genuinely horrifying that things are still the same 40 years later, Shirley quotes to lead us into the Christmas season.
“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.'”
“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
“That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.”