Written by Zoe Manoukian
As March comes to a close, so too does Women’s History Month, a time of recognition of the hard work and hardships that coincide with womanhood. The holiday first started as a “Women’s History Week” in 1978 California and became recognized nationally in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter. It has since evolved and now takes place throughout the entire month and even receives acknowledgement outside of the United States borders, particularly within Europe and Australia.
Every Women’s History Month, concerted efforts are made by individuals, institutions, and businesses to highlight the strength of women by celebrating noteworthy individuals, running sales and deals, and supporting female run or centered non-profits.
This national women’s month, many women and even men have been taking to social media to express shared concerns for safety and discomfort. Many women have been finding solidarity, for instance, in their tendencies to hold their car keys between their fingers (which has since been identified as a faulty and even dangerous means of self-defense) or pretending to be on the phone while walking late at night. Women are also highlighting tendencies to dress in bulkier clothes so as to appear larger or more masculine when they anticipate walking alone, among many other tactics we employ in hopes of finding a safe walk to and from home.
Moreover, women are calling on men to adjust any habits which may frighten, inconvenience, or endanger them. For instance, women are requesting more and more that men not walk too closely behind them in poorly lit areas, or if necessary, alert them of their presence and then walk ahead of them. While the hashtag #NotAllMen –an expression against the sentiment that all men are necessarily culpable of the endangerment of women or even simply that all men are capable of inflicting harm upon women– is once again in circulation, many are taking the opportunity to remind the world that while every man certainly does not bring direct harm to women, every man is responsible for cultivating a safer space and calling out harmful and dangerous behaviors from other men.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Roanoke College students are implored to consider the hard work and accomplishments of our female staff and faculty members, students, and athletes, and are encouraged to act and change intentionally so that our beautiful campus may be one where women feel safe, respected, and heard at all times.