Shoot For Your Sisters

Women in combat fight for more than freedom

Women have to fight for equal respect in many professions

I never know what’s going to motivate me. A few months ago, a military man reacting to women in combat positions took the honor. He told a reporter, “There are men who aren’t physically and emotionally strong enough.”

Meaning: “If some men aren’t tough enough, surely no woman is.”

The news report showed women shooting guns, climbing obstacle courses and revealing artificial limbs worn every day—because of combat-sustained injuries. They had taken on extreme risks, leaving me in awe of their braveness and leadership, leadership that literally showed fellow enlistees the way and figuratively opened doors for women.

Open away, fellow women, open away. Too many doors seem to be on permanent lockdown and others annoyingly still jammed. My 13-year-old daughter has faced sexism already. Her male friend sat in our car last summer and told me of his NFL dreams. Then he laughed when my child shared her civil engineer ambitions.

“Katie can and will be anything she’d like,” I said firmly, resisting the urge to dump him on the highway. I’m not sure if my words or the crushed look on Katie’s face prompted him to apologize.

When that boy was joined by a girl on his wrestling team this fall, I was more than pleased that his education in equality was continuing. If only I could have him watch a female combat soldier in action, too.

I’ll think of those military women, my daughter, and her female wrestler friend during March, Women’s History Month. And I’ll think of the military man on TV, the young NFL hopeful in my car and the facts and figures that follow. All together, they illustrate just how far we’ve come and how far we need to go:

  • In 1770, a bill was proposed to the British Parliament that would allow officials to punish women who wore makeup. They were thought to be performing witchcraft and “the devils’ work by inciting lustfulness.”
  • Upon her husband’s death, Cherokee leader Nancy Ward took his place in a 1775 battle against the Creeks and led the Cherokee to victory.
  • In 1777, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington warned New York patriots that the British were attacking nearby Danbury, Conn. Like Paul Revere, she traveled at night, but she covered twice his distance.
  • Some suffragists didn’t marry intentionally because in the early 1800s married women couldn’t own property in their own right and couldn’t make legal contracts.
  • In 1914, Margaret Sanger called for contraceptives to be legalized in her feminist publication, The Woman Rebel. The post office banned it from the mail.
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