Even though it's rapidly coming to a close, March — AKA Women's History Month — is my favorite month of the year, containing as it does both my birthday and an entire four week's worth of activities, exhibitions, and editorials about how awesome women have been in the history of human civilization. There is basically nothing more amazing in the year, and that includes Christmas. But if you're feeling the historical love and want to share it, there's an easier way than just throwing a Women's History Party (though I fully endorse that, and want an invite so I can come as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and yes I do already own that costume).
If you want to honor the brilliant butt-kicking contributions of women to the historical firmament, and do it in a way that acknowledges them loud and clear (since women in history have often faced silencing and nonsense when it comes to getting their due), there are many ways to commit yourself gloriously and in feminist style. There's still time to educate yourself, donate, visit museums, take walks, adorn yourself with the most interesting women who ever lived: it's a month to celebrate the fantastic gifts women have given humanity, and proclaim how important it is that they be remembered and acknowledged.
Women's history rocks; I'd quite like that to be a lesson we realized all year round. But I'll settle for one month of particular emphasis, and humbly suggest five different ways to honor the occasion with true feminist panache.
1. Read Spectacular Biographies Of Awesome Women
For every amazing female historical figure you adore, I'll bet there are several more whose lives you could do with knowing about. One awesome way to immerse yourself in Women's History Month is to embrace the work of historians, particularly female historians, who are building the lives of women of the past.
Jung Chang's Wild Swans: Three Daughters Of China and Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China are amazing entries into female Chinese history, while Kate Evans' graphic biography of Rosa Luxembourg, Red Rosa , is a massive critical smash. Prefer royalty and politics? Robert Massie's sweeping biography of Catherine The Great and Michael and Eleanor Brock's edition of Margot Asquith: Great War Diary might whet your appetite. If you're into crusaders and adventurers, Georgina Howell's Queen Of The Desert , the amazing biography of Gertrude Bell (now made into a film with Nicole Kidman), the searing autobiography Memoirs From The Woman's Prison by Nawal el Saadawi, and Ida B. Wells' extraordinary Crusade For Justice are must-reads. And then, of course, there's the just-released autobiography by Gloria Steinem, My Life On The Road, which is probably a set text for the history of modern feminism.
2. Buy Jewelery That Commemorates Ladies In History
This one is easy. If you want to wear your love of women's history on your sleeve, you can (or around your neck, or in your ears). You can get hold of an Ada Lovelace pendant if you're enamored of modern computing, or perhaps earrings of Nike, the Roman goddess of victory, are more your style? If you're more into mathematics or science, an Emmy Noether necklace or a Marie Curie cuff may be the way to go, but my personal favorite has to be a Frida Kahlo enamel pin, to show your love for kick-ass feminist art history. And if you'd prefer to honor all the anonymous women who made history and were never named, there's a glorious pendant of an anonymous female profile at the Met Museum to pay your respects to them, too.
3. Send A Woman You Appreciate A Women's History Card
Know some people who should definitely have their contribution to women's history celebrated by mail, or who'd just love to have a famous female face peering out of their postbox? Send a female from history via mail; it might seem silly, but it's actually pretty cool. Give Elizabeth I or Cleopatra to queens in the making, or raid the archives of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild for brilliant women from history: they've got Virginia Woolf, Billie Holliday, Jane Austen, and Rosa Parks, some with moving limbs to make them dance for joy at their own awesomeness.
Not friends with anybody who'd appreciate a cheeky bit of feminist history in the main? One: accumulate some new friends, and two: nab them a Josephine Baker T-shirt from historian and comic writer Kate Beaton. Plus one for yourself. No way to go wrong there.
4. Donate To Projects That Help Our Understanding Of Women's History
History isn't just tallying up dates and dusting off old rocks; it's an active process, and women's history in particular is full of dynamic new initiatives about research, campaigns, and awareness that are changing and challenging our perspectives all the time. If you want to help, you don't have to be a trained historian (or even close to one). The Feminist Majority Foundation has a huge list of organizations, from libraries to museums, focused on women's history; if there's one near you, see if you can volunteer or help out.
If you're time-poor but have a few bucks left over this month, consider putting them towards projects like the New York Historical Society's new Center For The Study Of Women's History, the fabulous National Women's History Museum, or the National Women's History Project. Network For Good has a long list of places to donate this Women's History Month, from the Women's Hall of Fame to the International Women's Air And Space Museum. And if you can only afford to give your signature, consider lending it to something in your area that benefits women's history, like the petition to the UK Parliament to put a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square.
5. Go On A Women's Heritage Tour In Your Area
Got a spare afternoon? Weather nice? Get to know your own town or county from the perspective of female history. Tours focused on women's heritage abound around the country. Boston's Women's Heritage Tours are probably the most famous, as they're part of the Heritage Trail of the city (and you get up close and personal with people like Margaret Fuller and Abigail Adams), but other opportunities abound, from Houston to Washington DC (which is specifically focussed on suffrage). Cambridge, MA offers four different ones, and there's one for the entire state of Arizona.
Museums are in on the act too: the Smithsonian is doing a series of events, as is the Constitution Center, and the National Museum for Women In The Arts is hosting loads of fun stuff. Cape Fear Museum has a behind-the-scenes tour based on Women's History Month, and if you're in NYC, there's a swathe of amazing museum-related activities, from themed tours at the Intrepid Sea, Air And Space Museum to special exhibits on black suffrage at the Department Of Records. You could even use it as an excuse to get out of town and go on a women's history tour of upstate New York, and see Seneca Falls, where the first women’s rights convention was held here in 1848. Get your camera and your pencils, and go learn.