It’s women’s history month! Thirty glorious days to celebrate 50.8% of the US population! “But there’s 31 days in March!” Let’s be real everyone, we forfeit one of those days to St. Patty’s every year. That’s ok, no woman on this side of her menstrual cycle is going to say no to a celebration that involves drinking and eating fried potatoes. Call me an optimist but that still leaves 30 whole days to celebrate the world’s largest minority, women. We post a woman crush every week -we’ve got A LOT of lady crushes but let’s take a moment to rewind and look back at some of our country’s very first female smartmouths.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, who once said that he could run the country or he could control his daughter, but he couldn’t do both. Alice did not have the easiest life, but dammit did she have wit. In her sitting room she had a pillow embroidered with, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me”. Okay, Alice, if you insist.
Dorothy Parker is the criminally under-represented member of the “Lost Generation” writers, along with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was introduced to her work when a regular patron of the bookstore I worked at years ago pressed a hand-written copy of her poem “Resume” into my hand.
“Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.”
Seriously, I want to sit at her table at lunch, don’t you? I recommend reading her poetry and short stories though, they are amazing.
The final hilarious and, I imagine, deeply troubled lady I want to quote is Tallulah Bankhead, a mostly forgotten stage (and occasional film) actress from the early 20th century. She was a friend of Tennessee Williams, who wrote Blanche DuBois for her, though she wasn’t in the original production. Sadly, her legend was occasionally too big for her career. She was basically blacklisted as unhirable due to her “Verbal Moral Turpitude”, to which she responded by calling the writer of the list a little prick. She once left the hospital after battling an STI weighing 70 lbs and apparently said to her doctor, “Don’t think this has taught me a lesson!”
During these History months, we tend to talk about the easy choices, the upstanding, family-friendly, etc. but people are complex and interesting and, sometimes, rather naughty. So when we celebrate the history of our gender this month, let’s celebrate all of it. Not just the scientists, social icons, and political leaders, but the wits, the boundary-pushers, and each other.