Obituaries, Women’s History Month & the art of women’s work
For a month last year, I started noting the number of female obituary columns to male in the New York Times . I soon realized that my guess was correct. A greater number of men were listed each day than women. I did no research about why this was the status quo. I did think, however, that there were many unsung heroines out there. The women who do the “women’s work” so the men can do the “real stuff”; the women who tell the men, yes you can, when they feel in their gut, no I can’t; and the women who give their sons unconditional love that makes it possible for them to thrive in this world. (And of course, women do things for women too. )
It must just be that we don’t get the value of what women do, we can not monetize it, quantify it in a world that spins on numbers and production. What would we say, gave 4 hugs today, pitched in with extra information at work 3 times, and bought my man two of his favorite goodies at the store?
I remember when I was first married, I wanted to be Martha Stewart. That was until I found out how hard it was to work and then do all the wonderful things women at home do. Somehow, some marketer convinced my generation that we could have it all: a successful job, family, and a signature dish to serve the stars. I bought in and it took me way too long to buy out. I can’t do it all and I’m glad I no longer want to, and these days I strive for balance.
We need to commend women for the balance they bring to the world and not just in the obituaries, but for the history they quietly weave every day. But who knows: a few extra obits in the yearly average might be a place to start.
For some interesting resources on women’s history, see: