by Shannon Schumm, guest columnist


In March, the common ‘honored’ theme for classrooms, media, and billboards is to celebrate historical women. I have seen commercials referencing Amelia Earhart, or black and white photos of rallies supporting The Women’s Suffrage movement. I see female athletes running in Olympic ads and female scientists in lab coats high-fiving over a new hot-flash drug. Are these supposed to motivate others to congratulate me on my womanhood?

In the same hour of mindless screentime, I glance at a news reel previewing the 10 p.m. broadcast offering a story about a male domestic abuse suspect finally in custody while his female victim recovers in the hospital. I also receive a text from a frustrated girlfriend whose morning gym routine is interrupted (once again) by a stalker lurking in the shadows. So, what exactly are women celebrating when so many of our daily issues are still washed away?

“Look where women are, and how far we have come,” they say. Yes, I agree; we have come far. So, do women get this month as yet another ploy to congratulate us on our mediocrity and give a delicate “atta-girl” in order to defer our attention from equal pay or gender equality? Is it a time for us to turn our heads and look away from the many ways that women are still victimized? Is it a time for our nation to vocalize, “how far women have come” all while taking away the rights we have to make decisions about our bodies? RIP RBG; I miss you. Women today stand on the shoulders of those in the past…so that we may see maybe an inch higher? I have been asked, “Why do you want more? It’s close enough, so when is enough, enough?”

Never. It is never enough. To quote Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” So, this is my historical choice and my way to honor this month. What do I have control over? Me. My environment. I choose to embrace the women of the past who would not give up their seat, pioneered social work, brought French cooking into American homes, and who spoke their “Truth” as former slaves. These wavemakers have guided my generation to never settle for enough.

In history’s periscope, there have always been women who cause waves. Some cause tsunamis, while others, little ruffles that join with larger ripples that dance unnoticed across the sea. The common trade-wind of women is to sail towards the greater good. Sometimes, it is literally to fight or stand up for those who cannot or to create safe spaces, both literally and figuratively. Other times, it is to write about how humankind can be righted. Individually, most women lean into dropping sails, to cultivate the innate nurturing churning in themselves, in order to explore their own nautical map. The tangible greater good is still within these women. It flows not just from her or to her family, but its misting impact is felt woman to woman, with hopes the tides will reach a worldwide sisterhood. It pushes, it yaws. It is the feminine rogue waves over time that have encouraged the rabble-rousing to continue through to modern day. Sure, history honors those who have made a deep splash, usually after a “tragic” scene – like a beheading, burning at the stake, jail time, public shaming, creating safehouses, or even cancellation, but how does history honor the daily women in the spray?

I also choose to look through the haze around me and celebrate the magnificence of women making a daily impact. I celebrate my feminine friends who also have too many irons in the fire. I honor my friend who chose not to have kids but has a tenacious family law practice. I see my friend struggle balancing her food-truck, running her restaurant, teaching yoga, and still makes it to field day for her kindergartener. I applaud the moms who wake up first and go to bed last, who organize the kids’ calendar (fur babies included), and those who manage the invisible load with grace. I praise women who balance work and life and those in school full- or part-time, all while likely making 18 cents less per hour than their male coworkers.

I commend the teachers who are grossly underpaid for their endless hours of dedicated encouragement to their classroom “family.” I acknowledge the female janitors who make everything shine and help our little college feel more like home. I admire the legacy of my favorite clerk at Safeway, who smiles through her worn out eyes due to working two jobs because she is helping her grandkids through school. I pay tribute to my step-mom who showed me what unconditional love feels like, so that when I became a mom and step-mom, I could share what it felt like. I honor the women who lead by example, and their own fulfilling strength paves the way for their daughters, nieces, and girlfriends to witness.

Today, we are the writers of tomorrow’s history. This is my tide of history playing out. This is the foam on the tips of the ruffled waves. Maybe my historical impact is to partner with fellow travelers in hopes of letting the little ripples be felt enough to generate bigger wave makers in the future.

So no, we aren’t done yet. And it’s not enough. Let’s make our history count.