My late, womanizing, family leaving, chain smoking Uncle Don somehow was awarded the job of classifying me and my siblings with nicknames. Like a fungi or a plant or an animal, my uncle, who upon first meeting me or my sibs when ever he happened to blow into town, named us to a Kingdom, Phylum and Sub-phylum with the clever use of a single word or phrase. And then he blew right back out of our lives. Why my parents ever took moniker advice from a man who littered fatherless children across the US like Johnny Appleseed confounds me to this day.

But bygones being what they are, the nickname I acquired at the ripe old age of 4 was “Broad”. Of the Kingdom “Mouthy Dame”, Phylum “Feminist in Training”, Sub-phylum “Skirts Who Grow Up to Be a Problem”. Considering what my other sibs are called, I think I got off rather easy. But it gives you an idea how far back my trouble making ways date themselves.

I can honestly say that that nickname has somehow defined my life. It gave me an odd sort of guidance. It provided me with a very distinct center early on about what kind of girl I was and what kind of woman I could expect to be. The fact that I was discovered, tagged and released by my misogynistic uncle truly goes to show how much a bitch fate can sometimes be, and it also gives a queer sort of validation to it all.

So as a Mouthy Dame, I find I’ve only ever been drawn to my own kind. I have little tolerance for other women and their obsession with window dressings, chick movies, and all things girly. After moving, yet again, for what? The 12th time in the last decade? I came across a small treasure from my early teens. My “Broad Box”.

In this box are articles, pictures, notes, trinkets and other paraphernalia about strong women who inspired me as a young girl. And as I go through this memorabilia during Women’s History Month (yes, it coincides with Black History Month), I am shocked and pleased that these women still hold a strong influence over the woman I am today. They are as follows:

Dorothy Parker, writer, wit

Katherine Hepburn, actress

Mae West, actress,

Heddy Lamar, inventor (and also a famous actress)

Nina Simone, singer, songwriter, woman extraordinaire

Janis Joplin, singer

Eleanor Roosevelt, human being extraordinaire

Margaret Sanger, nurse, activist, founder of Planned Parenthood

Jeanette Rankin, politician (first woman elected to congress and worthy of note for having voted against US entry into WWI and WWII)

Babe Didrikson, athlete extraordinaire

The Yale Women’s Crew Team of 1976

It’s a small list to be sure, but I was only 13 at the time. I am happy to say that if I were to re-do that box now, it would be the size of a cargo container with all that I learned about women’s history and their contributions to the world at large.

What really pisses me off though, is that after all these years, that kind of knowledge about women in history is still something you have to seek out on your own time and at your own inclination. I learned nothing about any of the women on that list, or the women who would be on my list today, in school. While I received a first-rate education growing up, by the looks of it, you’d never would have guessed that women accomplished anything in the entire history of the world they way they present these things in the educational system.

My sister has a daughter in the fifth grade. I asked her to look through her daughter’s social science book and point out how many women are specifically studied. The answer? Five. And the men? Seventy-two. Yup, you’re not reading this wrong, women merit a big whopping 5.

So I ask: How is it that women, who make up half the population of this planet, still miraculously don’t make up half the written history? How do we as women justify telling our daughters they can accomplish anything when we barely provide them with any written evidence of such? How do we call ourselves educated women when we only receive half the story?

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