Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day - Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures

I signed up to blog for International Women's Day, and had every intention to do so, but then life got hectic, and then more things happened, and... anyway, I'm going to try and do something short here and not have this be a blog post about blog posting.

It's Women's History Month. And today is International Women's Day. Hooray! The theme for the organized blogging today is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

I've been thinking about this for a couple of years now. Well, probably really since I was a girl myself. I think I mentioned before asking my parents questions about why women don't play baseball or run for president or go to the moon. Generally the answer was something along the lines of, "Well, because people used to think girls and women couldn't do those things, but now we know differently. But it takes time to catch up. Maybe during your lifetime we'll see more women doing those things and even more."

I'm sure it's a bit more complicated than that. I know now there were always women doing these things, they just weren't getting the attention they deserved. Even in my home, where women's history was celebrated long before Women's History Month. I wonder about those women sometimes. I wish there were more stories about their lives and their challenges. And their supporters. Because they had to have supporters, right?

Women's History Month banner the SSU campus.

Billie Jean King talks about the wonderful support and encouragement she got from her parents. The women in A League of the Own were already playing baseball on their local teams, which makes me think that there were enough women in their areas to make up teams as well as enough spectators who were willing to pay to watch them play. If there were that many people, why weren't these stories getting passed along to future generations?

I sometimes wonder how differently it would have been had I had a version of the Internet when I was a girl. I would have been able to research these stories, and maybe have found more of them than I was able to find at my small town library. I would have been able to see photographs, read the quotes, and maybe find the names of books I could order to learn more.

But, more importantly, I would have been able to find a larger community of people interested in the same things I was. That was one of my biggest complaints growing up in a small town. I always felt like the one weirdo asking strange questions. I would have felt a little less weird if I had at least known there were other people out there like me.

Basically, what I'm talking about is connection. The Internet is a fantastic tool for connecting to a larger collection of information, stories, histories, and inspiration. It's also a wonderful tool for connecting to an online community for support and sharing experiences. All of these things are important in encouraging girls to think about the future and their roles in it.

But it's important that we make sure the Internet is a healthy place, the resources are available, the communities are welcoming, and the girls are listened to. And that's where we come in. As bloggers, community members, and Internet users, we all have a responsibility to create safe places, share information (especially information that is difficult to locate), and to speak out when necessary. We are actively creating the world these girls are growing up in. We owe it to them, and we owe it to ourselves.


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