Women’s History Week was proclaimed in 1982 and within five years, that week expanded into Women’s History Month. By then–1987–Ronald Reagan was president. He had appointed 325 judges to federal benches and 278 of them were white men. That same year, Phyllis Schlafly, who committed her life to opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, doubled downed on her efforts to push for abstinence as birth control, even as teen pregnancy rates soared.
But we had some highlights, too. There were more women than men in OB/GYN residencies for the first time ever. And the Directors Guild of America nominated Randa Haines for best director of a motion picture—the first woman ever to be nominated—for Children of a Lesser God.
So we’ve made some strides on many fronts, right? But sometimes it seems like we take one step forward and then get our feet stomped on and dragged, kicking and screaming, two feet back. The sitting president’s cabinet is stocked with old white men, and the vice-president goes around saying things that will ensure him a high government position when the U.S. goes full-on Handmaid’s Tale.
But we’re also in the era of world-wide Women’s Marches and #Metoo movements. Casey Affleck isn’t showing his face at the Oscar’s and for that matter, more women and people of color are being recognized for their work.
So do we still need Women’s History Month? Hell yes! Here are a few ways to celebrate women this month in New York City.
New York Times bestselling author Julia Pierpoint will discuss The Little Book of Feminist Saints, her illustrated book for anyone who wishes to gain daily wisdom from stories about ass-kicking females. Pierpont’s saints don’t take the traditional Catholic form, rather they embody women who have literally paved the way for others: Harriet Tubman, Frida Kahlo, Ruby Bridges, and more. The book’s illustrator, Manjit Thapp will also be there. Author Julie Buntin will act as moderator.
Tuesday, March 6
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Free but please RSVP (first-come, first served)
Chelsea Clinton will read from and discuss her book, She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History. Bring your fledgling activists to learn about obstacles that have been overcome by Malala Yousafzai, J.K. Rowling, ballet dancer Yuan Yuan Tan, and many others. Alexandra Boiger, the book’s illustrator will join Clinton.
Wednesday, March 7
Wristbands will be given out for access to the event beginning at 9:00 a.m. the day of the event
Leave it to this East Village fixture to give women a voice all month long. Sarah McBride will discuss her book, Tomorrow will be Different, about the challenges she’s faced as a transgender woman—and the fact that she was the first transgender person ever to speak at a political convention. New York’s “best bad women” writers will gather for a panel discussion in Bad Advice from Bad Women. And a selection of poets will come together to share their work from the anthology, Women of Resistance.
Sarah McBride: Tuesday, March 6: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Bad Advice from Bad Women: Thursday, March 8: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Women of Resistance: Tuesday, March 13: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Maybe you’ve seen her prolific presence making the rounds on social media. Writer and women’s advocate Amy Siskind began keeping list of the subtle, authoritative changes happening since the 2016 election, in hopes of keeping the masses from drifting into complacency or drowning in off-topic, endless distractions. For the first time, The List has been compiled in one place and Siskind will be there in person to discuss it with author Jay Rosen.
Thursday, March 29: 7:00 p.m.
Alice Austen was a woman before her time. She was a documentary photographer before the term, or the genre was even coined. She was Staten Island’s first woman to own a car. She loved a woman—Gertrude Tate–and devoted more than 50 years of her life to that relationship. And this was all spanning the American Victorian era that Austen was a product of—when high society was expected to follow etiquette to the letter and a woman’s highest aspiration was to marry. Follow this trailblazer’s life at her home in Staten Island, and also look out for some great talks the house organizes, like The Powerful Women of Staten Island’s Past, taking place on March 10.
Tuesday – Friday 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
$5 suggested admission
Explore Beyond Suffrage: A Century of Women in New York Politics, a tribute to suffragists. The exhibit uses a variety of subject matter to examine and show the public the struggle women faced prior to their right to vote, up until modern day.
Open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Seniors & students $12 with I.D.
Ages 19 and under free
The exhibition—Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York—ends March 18 so go if you’re going. It revolves around the lives of 16 immigrant women whose stories are told through the medium of art and fashion photographs. It portrays the hardship and loneliness of their struggle to make ends meet in New York, as well as the hope that drew them here in the first place.
Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Free for children 18 and under
Free for all students of New York colleges and universities with current I.D.
Free for all NYC Department of Education employees with I.D.
The Women of Broadway
There’s lots of female creations on Broadway right now. I can’t help but picture a young Lindsey Lohan when I think about Mean Girls, but she’s nowhere to be found in Tina Fey’s Broadway debut musical. In Waitress, written by Sara Bareilles, a woman navigating her tangled and unhappy marriage has an affair with her gynecologist, all while trying to win a pie contest. Cindy Lauper wrote the music and lyrics for the much loved, Tony Award winning Kinky Boots. And one half of the team responsible for the moving story of the days the world’s planes were grounded after 9/11 is a woman. Come From Away’s Irene Carl Sankoff wrote the play with her husband.
Speaking of the Great White Way, a celebration will be held on March 12 in the form of an all-day symposium featuring the influential women of Broadway. Expect to hear from Whoopie Goldberg, Chita Rivera, Tina Fey, Julie Taymor, and many more powerhouse Broadway players.
Monday, March 12
St. James Theatre map
All of the above and so much more is happening this month. The Nitehawk Theater in Williamsburg will be showing female-directed films in honor of Women’s History Month. And finally, a rally and march will take place on International Women’s Day—March 8—beginning in Washington Square Park at 4:00 p.m. For a list of more happening that day, check the International Women’s Day website.