Admittedly, this one’s a wee bit late. Ok, a full day. But there were some issues relating to my favorite gentleman that had me a little distracted. (And if you must know, it was my dad.)
I got lost reading about a number of amazing and inspiring women of early Indianapolis on Sunday, and was consequently paralyzed by the choices. In moving towards creating an exciting future– go figure– I usually turn to the past. In preparation for a screening this Thursday of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about female roles in the media and workplace, I must consider accomplished ladies of the past. This is an event I am thrilled and excited to participate in, so I sought to uncover inspiring stories of women from Indianapolis past. Ask any girl of 12 and she can undoubtedly recite for you a list of over-glorified, vain media-suckers when asked who they’d like to be like when they grow up. But list some scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and the like? Ha! Especially locally. Why is that, do you think? It seems televised media prefers to give air time to the superficial, the mean, the aesthetically ‘pretty,’ at an astoundingly disproportionate rate. I too, am guilty of obsessing over my physical ‘imperfections,’ as I think most females do and I’d love to find a way to change how I approach that.
Look around and you will have to concede that women in positions of power and influence are vastly under-represented compared to men and we need to challenge the limited and often disparaging portrayals of women in media, especially. Why are girls being taught that her primary value lies in her youth, beauty and sexuality? And why are we being so passive in that arena, ladies? I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I’d be scared to death to raise her in this day and age. If you are interested in joining the discussion and special (and free) screening this Thursday at Butler, please click the link for info. And please pass it along; the more, the merrier!
As usual, I asked for input from the facebook HI audience, who are always incredibly obliging and have pulled from that list some Indianapolis-based ladies that I hope to have time to explore in the future: local mid-century modern architect, Avriel Shull (local historian Connie Zeigler started a facebook page about A.S.); Shortridge Alum and Olympic rowing medal winner Anita DeFrantz; writer Myrtie Barker; leaders active in early Indianapolis women’s clubs and other pioneering endeavors- Grace Julian Clarke, and of course, the indomitable, May Wright Sewall; Ruth Grimm Trees, a WWII era pilot; Dr. Helene Knabe, an early Indianapolis doctor and advocate of promoting sanitation and sex education, among other things (who was later murdered; case never solved); and Eliza Blaker who worked with the local Free Kindergarten Society. I have a new list of women to research–look for some of these in the future on HistoricIndianapolis.com or on our facebook page, at least.
We all need to do our part to get girls to emulate the best of what we can be, rather than those with the most salacious stories and least self-esteem. Hope to see you on Thursday. We’ve got a country of girls to save and young ladies to cultivate!