March is Women’s History Month.
Americans don’t know much about history in general; why were Kellogg’s Corn Flakes invented? Why was J. Edgar Hoover so feared? How did contraception become criminalized in the U.S.? Why did the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses? And if we Remember the Alamo, shouldn’t we also Remember Stonewall, the Hays Code, and the Comstock Laws?
Anything that better acquaints us with our history—or herstory, if you will—is almost certainly a good thing. But which women’s history? Which women?
Should we study ardent supporters of church-state separation like Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or small-minded policy-makers like U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling, who fear that God needs the help of American law?
By “women,” do we mean Margaret Sanger, who went to jail for opening America’s first birth control clinic, or Bridget Maher (Family Research Council) and Jan LaRue (Concerned Women for America), who lie about the effectiveness of condoms and try to restrict the public’s access to birth control?
Should we know about Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, who believed books and pictures of sexual activity were dangerous, or the ACLU’s Nadine Strossen, who has spent her adult life crusading against the censorship that inevitably hurts women and their sexuality?
Should we learn about Deb Levine, who founded ISIS to create innovative sex education internet programs for teens, or Leslie Unruh, whose Abstinence Clearinghouse lies about the consequences of teen sex, and deliberately prevents teens from getting the healthcare they need and deserve?
The truth is, we need to know about all these women. We need to know the history of how our sexuality has been stolen and re-stolen from us by frightened do-gooders, religious fundamentalists, so-called feminists who don’t trust women, and “decency” groups that try to enshrine their personal morality into law. Being female doesn’t mean that someone is a friend of sexuality.
We’re told that history is written by the winners. We need to know as much history as we can, to protect sexuality—and ourselves—from being the losers.