It’s Women’s History Month! Here’s what YOU can do to celebrate the hardworking women that have helped to make our country what it is. First off, though, I’d like to discuss the mostly neglected history of the month.
It all started back in 1857, when women from various parts of New York City banded together to protest against terrible working conditions. Later on, in 1909, “Women’s Day” was first celebrated in NYC. However, many many decades would pass until Congress finally established the second week of March as “Women’s History Week” in 1981. But, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress would then expand the week to the entire month of March. Between the years of 1988 and 1994, Congress would pass additional resolutions in order to make it so the President would have to officially recognize the month of March as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, the U.S. president has acknowledged the existence of this special month, as well as the contributions that women have brought to our country’s history. Neat, right?
However, that begs the question…what can you do in order to celebrate and take part in this month, aside from just acknowledging that it exists? Well my friend, there’s much more to do aside from hitting up a few history textbooks. Though if that’s your thing, go right on ahead! I won’t yuck your yum, after all.
First of all, let’s cover the events that are taking place within PSU. Even if they don’t take place directly in the building, these are events that have been formed in part by the university. If you want anything particularly low cost, then these are the ones to check out!
- The Walk of the Heroines Lecture with Professor Bettina Judd is the perfect no cost event for you, if you’re interested in hearing about the creative processes and contributions that black women artists, writers, and poets have brought to the table. Not only that, but Professor Judd will always discuss the concept of “Feelin” and how it’s not simply just a “feeling”, and what it means to her and other black women artists. Come join this event via Zoom at 1PM on Friday, March 3, and be sure to remember to register beforehand!
- Next up we have the Center for Women’s Leadership (aka CWL), partnering with Hollywood Theatre in order to bring you the 1996 romantic comedy film, The Watermelon Woman. For only $10, you will be able to see the first film directed by an openly black lesbian. The story is about an up and coming filmmaker named Cheryl, who is attempting to uncover the life of an actress who worked during the 30s and 40s and who was only ever credited under the alias “The Watermelon Woman.” This film is a wonderful look into the lesbian culture in Philadelphia during the 90s, and I suggest that you check it out if you get the chance. Come join fellow movie goers at 7:30 pm on Sunday, March 26 at the Hollywood Theatre on 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. Tickets are available at the Hollywood Theatre website.
Now, why don’t we look at some of the events that are being offered outside of PSU? Although these ones may be a bit pricier, I suggest that you check them out regardless. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up finding something you’ll have an absolute blast at.
- First off, we have the SheBrew Festival. This is an all inclusive fundraising event to help show support for women and the LGBTQ+ community in Oregon. Although there is a focus on showcasing women owned craft beer and cider makers, this event allows even those under 21 to attend. Neat! Not only will there be a selection of alcoholic drinks from local breweries, but there will also be entertainers and other female-owned businesses attending this event. There’s a lot of fun to be had, even if you can’t or would not like to drink! So if you’re interested be sure to head to The Redd on Salmon Street on 831 SE Salmon St. But don’t forget this event is only occurring on Sunday, March 5. So be sure to mark your calendars! Oh, and keep in mind that this is one of the pricer events on the list. So if you don’t mind spending about $30 – $60 for entry, then you should definitely check this one out! Tickets are available from HRC Portland.
- Though don’t fret dear reader. If you’re looking for a less pricey event to attend, then this might be the one for you! Though this might also be a bit of a curveball when it comes to events. However, I think it’s an interesting one to note. On March 5 the Portland Japanese Garden will have a special exhibit celebrating “Hina Matsuri”, a Japanese holiday typically translated to “Girls’ Day” or “Dolls’ Day”. The origins of the holiday date back to the Heian period (794-1185), when the Japanese population thought that dolls could be used in order to ward off evil spirits. They’d make these dolls called “hina dolls” and set them on boats down the river to “sweep away troubles and bad spirits.” Later on in the Edo period (1603-1868), a tradition of displaying Hina dolls would become common. Not only that, but Hina dolls would typically be bought by parents or grandparents after the birth of a baby girl. Now the holiday is recognized as a day of celebration for the growth of young girls. At the Japanese Garden you’ll be able to view a traditional set up of beautifully intricate dolls fashioned after the emperor and empress, as well as the rest of the royal court. There are other events and beautiful sights to behold at the Garden, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for those! The Japanese Garden will be open from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday, so be sure not to miss it! Also for you students, don’t forget your PSU id! If you can prove that you’re a current student, you can get into the garden for just $17.95 (compared to the $21.95 price tag for a standard adult admission ticket). Tickets are available at the Portland Japanese Garden website.
Here are some additional events you can check out:
- Empowering Leaders of Color in Business, located in Portland State’s School of Business at Karl Miller Center. This is a hybrid event that will start on Friday, March 3 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Tickets are available for free on the eventbrite website!
- Out Loud & With Laughter!, located in the Women’s Foundation of Oregon (221 NW 2nd Ave). This is also a hybrid event that will start on Wednesday, March 8 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. You can reserve a spot for free on the eventbrite website.
- Solidarity in Sovereignty, a five-week class that will be done entirely via Zoom. The registration date has not been announced yet, but it will be available sometime in March. The class will take place from April 5 to May 10, every Wednesday at 10:00 am to 11:30 am. You can register for free (or contribute a donation) at the GiveSmart Fundraise website!
- Veterans for Peace PDX Chapter 72 Welcomes Judy Gumbo, located in the Smith Memorial Student Union building, La Casa Latina RM 228. This is an in-person event that will take place on Thursday, March 9 from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm. You can register for free through the provided Google Forms link on the info page!
Anddddd that’s it! There are undoubtedly more events out there. However, I suggest that you try to do your own research if none of these events sound appealing to you. I’d especially suggest popping on over to Portland Events if you want a more thorough idea of what’s being offered this month. That aside, please celebrate Women’s History Month in any way you see fit! There’s no right or wrong way to do it. In fact for you it could be as simple as attending a lecture or reading an interesting book. There’s so much to learn when it comes to women’s history, even if it’s been often forgotten by standard school textbooks. So don’t be afraid to do your own research whenever possible, and enjoy the rest of your March! 😀
But before you go, let me give you some words of wisdom from Jessica Mole Heilman, the executive director of the CWL, or the Center for Women’s Leadership at Portland State. After asking her why it was important to continue celebrating Women’s History Month, she said, “There are many space where women and gender expansive people of color are still excluded. Women’s History Month has also historically excluded or erased many voices (i.e. Indigenous Women in the Suffrage Movement). It’s important to make space to both learn and reflect on the racialized nuances of who is remembered, who is celebrated and how we can further our learning on those who have come before us that make our present realities possible.”
Audria Oakes, a student worker with University Communications, is a first year PSU student who likes drawing, writing, and listening to music, and is studying art.