Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day, celebrated around the world from Afghanistan to Zambia.  In some countries, it is treated almost like Mother's Day -- a day for men to honor the women in their lives, be they mothers, sisters, girlfriends, daughters.  But it is also a day to mark the achievements of women throughout the world.

Because I write about women in the 16th century, I think a lot about changes in the lives of women.  The girls in my stories are entirely at the mercy of the men in their lives.  Their fathers and eventually their husbands.  In many cases, choice was not an option.  Not in love.  Not in life.  And certainly not in career.

I was raised by a staunch feminist.  I grew up shouting about equal rights and equal pay.  About choice.  I know that women have come a long way, even in the relatively short time I've been alive.  But I don't believe equality has been reached.  And I don't believe all battles have been won.  Attitudes and societal pressure can be as limiting to girls today as they were in the 16th century.  Look at the recent kerfuffle over Rush Limbaugh and his choice of words.  And in many countries, women are still at the mercy of their fathers.  And their husbands.  In some countries, girls are still considered worth less than boys.

So I try to write about girls who find ways to circumvent the attitudes and pressures.  Who create opportunities for themselves, to choose their own paths in life.  Perhaps that's where my meticulous attention to historical accuracy starts to unravel.  But for me, the unraveling is worth it.

Happy International Women's Day.  How are you going to celebrate?

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