Friday, February 6, 2015

Behind every great man

I love non-fiction books. I have a love/hate relationship with fiction, because fiction is at the mercy of the writer. The characters, the settings, all of that depends on the skill of the author. Non-fiction doesn't have that limitation. Even if the writing is poor, usually (there are definitely exceptions) the story and people are interesting enough to keep my interest. Real people and real life has minute details that fiction is frequently lacking. There are plot twist, random quotes, and incompletely or unhappy endings. 

Lately, I've been reading a lot of history books that took place in the last century, and I keep discovering something over and over again.

"Behind every great man is a great woman."

And it's completely infuriating. In these books, I keep finding strong women that are interesting, powerful, and inspiring. The thing is in my education they have always been hiding behind great men. The men I have been taught and quizzed about for years in classes, but these great women were just footnotes. 

I find it sad. I have a college education, but if it wasn't for my own personal study, I don't think I would recognize most of these women's names. I called Matt up asking him if he could recall any famous women (his memory is so much better at facts than mine) and he told me he could only list off a few. Of those women, a good chunk were women that I had read about and discussed with him. 

I feel like my own personal history as a woman is incomplete without knowing these stories. I remember reading Riding for Freedom, Clara Barton, and Girl in Blue just to name a few when I was homeschooled. These women I did look up, and probably my mom did too since she gave me the books, but once I started in public education my knowledge of these women halted.

I keep realizing that it's my duty to teach Madeleine the history of women. To teach her about the famous and not so famous women in history. To teach her about housework, cooking, and other "womanly" skills that have been passed down as traditions as women, but it's also my job to teach her that her place in history isn't just to stand behind a great man. She needs to know that she can be great all on her own.

(Here is a picture of Miss Caroline Herschel, the astronomer. She was the first woman scientist to be paid, and we have a painting of her in our hallway.)


  1. There's a book that I've seen, Women Making America By Hiedi Hemming, that I've thought about getting to supplement mine and JOnas' education

    1. I'll have to see if I can get my fingers on it. :)

  2. I read a science history book last year (The Age of Wonder) that included a big section on Caroline Herschel! Had not heard of her before that.

    1. I hadn't heard about her til I ran across the art piece I bought. I admired the artist for a while on etsy, and the second she put up a piece on space, I knew we had to have it.