Men’s names dominate our landscape; their accomplishments fill our history books. Men even have named parts of women’s bodies after themselves. One would think that women never did anything important, or at least, hardly ever.
As you go about your week, try to carefully observe when men’s names and accomplishments come to your attention and when women’s or trans people’s are raised. This can be in a variety of ways; who are the streets and neighborhoods you travel on a daily basis named for? The halls you take classes in? Your town and/or city? If you (or a friend or child) are taking a survey history course, how often are men named and discussed in a chapter versus women? Are you in a lit class? How many male authors versus female, trans, or nonbinary authors are on the reading list for the semester? If you’re in an art history class, how many of the artists you study or are covered in a random chapter of your textbook are men versus women, nonbinary, and trans? How many men or women are raised in a class lecture? How many male versus female scientists are discussed in a science text?
Choose to follow one of the above threads–look through a random chapter of a textbook, keep a running list of names of places you drive through, past, and visit throughout the week and determine the gender of their namesake, look at a semester’s reading list and determine the gender ratios for the authors, or something like that as mentioned above. At the end of the week, think about what lessons you can take from this exercise. What does this tell us about women’s contribution to history? Art? Public life? Do you think this is an accurate picture? Why or why not? How we value women’s contributions to the same? Is there a way, you think, to acknowledge women’s history and contributions to our culture(s) more fully?
Write up your response in about 350-450 words (around 1 1/2 pages double spaced, 12 point font not including headings).