I’m writing to you on a rainy morning in between meetings here in Austin as I attend the ever-lively SXSW Interactive Festival, so this will be brief. At first I was a little ambivalent about writing to you on International Women’s Day. Why? Because every day is Intergalactic Women’s Day, that’s why (kinda like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas — you catch my drift).
However, recently I was reading a remarkable book — the next in the Dr Ali Book Club, incidentally — called The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey of Your True Calling, by Stephen Cope. One of the great humans profiled in the book is Susan B. Anthony, the leader of the women’s suffrage movement here in the U.S. In it, there was a stark reminder of what it was like to be a woman in this great country not so long ago:
The extent of women’s disempowerment during that era— their almost total subjugation to men— is hard for us to wrap our heads around. Women living in America in the mid-1800s were the legal property of their husbands. A married woman had no right to property, no right to buy and sell real estate in her own name, no right to bequeath any property whatsoever to an heir. A married woman of the time had no right even to her own children. And, needless to say, she had no right to the vote.
As a result of her impoverished legal standing, a woman of that time lived in almost complete economic dependence upon her husband— or if she were “unfortunate” enough not to have a husband, upon her family. There were few roles for women outside the home. There was no social sphere in which women could come together to think and plan and dream on their own behalf. Indeed, outside the home women had very little independent existence whatsoever.
As someone who instinctively flinches at gross injustice, I am thrilled to be living in a time when not only women can vote, but are coming to run the show more and more. As far as I’m concerned, all men are half woman (that would be the X chromosome), embryos start as female and then get hit by hormones that make them male (hence the vesitigial features on guys like nipples), and everyone comes out of a woman’s belly. Honoring women is not some special mode of thought requiring an -ism at the end; it’s just common sense.
So, in honor of Common Sense Day, I’ve got a couple of things for you and/or your friends:
1) I’m having two Kindle free days for my ebook Best Dating Advice I Ever Got 2 tomorrow Sun 3/9-Mon 3/10. Get it here if you haven’t already and tell a friend or twelve. Posting on your Facebook feed or tweeting it out to spread the love is always appreciated: mybook.to/bda2
2) I wrote “At the Swing of Midnight” to women everywhere; some of you may have seen it before. Feel free to share it with friends (with attribution, please). It’s a good birthday poem, but good on the other 364 days of the year, too:
At the Swing of Midnight
At the swing of midnight, on the day you were born,
Three lightning bolts came together.
The first, sinuous and long, said, “I shall make her graceful.”
The second, jagged and strong, said, “I shall give her a mind
That cuts into darkness like diamond.”
The third, bright as a sun, said, “I shall give her radiance
That warms and brightens all those around her.”
As the three lightning bolts descended on the newborn,
A fourth came along, so spectral and pale as to go unseen,
And whispered: “I shall make her forget.”
And so she walked the earth, oblivious to her gifts,
Save when staring into a newborn’s endless eyes
Or hearing a strain of music so pregnant with yearning
As to have the weight of truth,
Or when a dusty pilgrim would arrive from far away
And cry, “Ave!,” with wild eyes that could see
The goddess for the human that she was.
— Ali Binazir
That’s all, ladies. Gotta run!
Go forth and conquer