Honoring All Women
by Donna L. Scrafano
Throughout my entire adult life, I have honored and been inspired by famously heroic women: Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Kamala Harris, Mother Teresa, the many suffragettes, and many, many others. This year, however, I’d like to celebrate all women because so many of us have exhibited same ideals and strength as the famous women we normally honor.
There are those of us who, as children, fought hard to be heard, acknowledged, or even noticed at the cost of being labeled “disrespectful,” “spoiled,” “bold,” “incorrigible,” “hotheaded,” or worse. During my generation of baby-boomers, “little girls” were to be quiet and express no personal opinions. You were to keep such things to yourself, because speaking your mind invited being tacked with one of those labels. I know this very well.
From the time I began school, at the very young age of four, my mother would receive reports that I was too talkative and didn’t follow directions. After grade school the comments started to include “social butterfly,” “doesn’t listen when spoken to,” and “speaks out of term.” In high school things only got worse—not for me, but for my mother. Why? Because I became even more vocal. I was “disrespectful” according to some of my teachers. My mother, who never spoke up to anyone—ever—was mortified, especially when she received phone calls from one particular guidance counselor. On those days, when I arrived home from school, I would be met with my mother yelling and crying.
I must say, I was a bit clueless when I heard a teacher say things like “I’d expect that behavior from your brothers, but not from you” or “girls don’t act like that” or “you’re more stubborn than a boy.” There were many more phrases and comments along the way, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what was meant by such comments. Evidently, when “girls” spoke their mind or gave their opinion, even respectfully, it was not well received either in school or out. This frustrated and angered me. As an adult, however, I have learned to filter out such commentary in my mind. Fortunately.
I believe being the only girl with three brothers was my saving grace in how I operated and how I became an assertive woman. Not a “hothead” or “incorrigible.” “Assertive,” “honest,” “independent,” and yes, “bold.” Because being bold is not a bad personality trait, as I was once taught. On the contrary, it is sometimes necessary.
I want to honor the women, the Silver Sagers (40 and over), who had to fight through the stigma of not conforming to how “a girl” should behave. These women were our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our cousins, our friends, our neighbors, and acquaintances. The single mothers, social workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, firewomen, stay-at-home moms, secretaries, cashiers, EMTs, servers, teachers, administrators, law enforcement officers, therapists, grandmothers raising or helping to raise their grandchildren, caregivers of a loved one, maintenance workers—all need to be celebrated for what they have faced and how they have overcome it. We all know women like this, women who have inspired us. Who might that be for you? Let her know. Acknowledge her. Recognize her. Honor her.
Art credit by: Ukraine artist Hanna Nechytailo (Kyiv) @artist_hanna www.artstation.com/artisthanna
Donna began her journey in Human Services in 1983. During the next 35 years she held various positions and formally retired in 2018. She writes on an array of social issues. Donna's relaxation time includes walking her Lab, Roxy, having fun with her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, writing for Silver Sage, spending time with friends and family. Her last full-time position was providing care to her father. Since that has ended, Donna is taking the time to invest in her own self care and interests.