Next Thursday is "Uppity Women Day." There are those who would say that
the day was named for me, but sorry, I can't take the credit. Author
Vicky Leon thought of it first.
The dictionary says that "uppity" means presumptuous or feeling
excessive pride in something.
Vicky Leon has written a series of books about uppity women, from
ancient times, through medieval times and later the renaissance. Next
month her latest book will hit the shelves, "Uppity women of the New
World -- from the early 1500's to the mid 1800's." These are
irreverent, delightfully funny stories of women who have been
presumptuous and damn proud of it.
There have always been world-class female hell-raisers, but we have not
heard of most of them. Women, uppity or not, have not been included in
the history books. Uppity Women Day is designed to honor these women
and to encourage the ones we know today.
Leon has a few suggestions for ways to celebrate.
One that especially appeals to me is to have a latte on Abigail.
Abigail Stoneman opened Boston's first coffee house in 1770 on the site
of the Boston Massacre.
Or you could take a trip around the world to emulate Jeanne Baret,
history's first female to circumnavigate the globe in 1769. Bet you
never heard of her. To be authentic, however, you will have to dress
as a male servant and spend two years on a sailing ship. Sorry, I'll
pass on that one.
But I did go out to the store and buy a sack of Granny Smith apples.
Maria Ann Smith developed this green apple in Australia back in the 19th
century. I hope her disposition was somewhat less tart than the
apples, but equally crisp.
Moving forward four or five centuries, two 12 year old girls some years
ago had a dream that everyone scoffed at. People said, "Women can't do
that." "Oh yes we can," they said. This winter (summer down there)
American Ann Bancroft and Norwegian Liv Arnesen became the first women
to cross Antarctica on skis. They skied over 2000 miles, in a little
under 100 days in minus 30 degree temperatures, pulling 250# sleds.
Liv and Ann hope that by chasing their own dreams and making them come
true, they will in some small way help other little girls to dream and
to pursue their dreams. I followed their reports of the trip day by
day on the web -- www.yourexpedition.com.html along with thousands of
people from nearly every country in the world.
And then we have a group of uppity women from our own local Garden Club
who are following the example of the wonderful Ladies of Rylestone in
England, and posing nude - well nearly nude -- for a calendar to make
money for their community activities. The Rylestone Ladies, from their
forties through their sixties, were not quite naked. They were all
wearing pearls like proper English matrons. Their calendar has earned
nearly a million dollars for leukemia research. I'm number one on the
waiting list for ours.
Remember Brandi Chastain? Now there is one uppity woman. In the final
play of the final game for the world cup in women's soccer in 1999, she
walked up to the ball, looked at it, looked at the net, and put a left
footer into the upper right corner of the net. She fell to her knees,
ripped off her jersey and waved it around her head like a banner.
Seldom have I watched a scene of such sheer exuberance - such a pure
physical release of fatigue and joy -- such uppitiness!
There is a place for uppity women. You know who you are. You are a woman
who refuses to keep your stereotyped place, to limit yourself in any
way, to live down to others' expectations. You are a woman who gets up
again and again, every time life knocks you down. You've learned how to
survive. Now it's time to learn how to have fun.
Uppity Women of the World, Unite! Go out and do something outrageous.