I read a lot. So much so that often even if I enjoyed the read, I might soon forget the formulaic content as I immerse myself in the next book. One book, however, that continues to stick with me is “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant.
As we continue to honor women of distinction during Women’s History Month, we are reminded through Diamant’s wonderful novel that all women are distinctive even though they may not have been formally recognized in the media or by their peers. She also reminds us that as women band together, much can be accomplished for the good of all women and society.
Recently, I was standing in line at Barnes and Noble in Reno to pay for my purchases and noticed the young man in front of me holding a copy of “The Red Tent” to purchase. I asked him why he had chosen this book and was told that his girlfriend wanted him to read it. It was then that I realized others were as impacted as I by the content of this book.
Women of whatever race, religion, ethnicity, or color today continue to struggle for recognition in what is still very much a patriarchal society. One need only to read Diamant’s book to understand the long path women have had to trod since the beginning of time to reach where we are today thanks to the strong women who preceded us while men unwittingly assigned them to their Red Tent allowing them the time to plot and support each other. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a red tent, this was where women were banished by men until their menstrual flow subsided.
Please know, this is not a book about male bashing. It is a book about understanding the role of the sexes almost since the beginning of time and how today, we are still scratching our heads over how long it has taken for women to be recognized as equals.
It is difficult to comprehend that it has been but a mere 100 years ago that women were “granted” the right to vote and break out of their role as just another male asset. More difficult to comprehend is that it took an act of Congress — the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 passed a mere 49 years ago — to allow women to gingerly step on the first rung of the ladder to begin the journey to compete in professions once dominated by men. Women found their place was not only in the home, but they could rise — perhaps a bit more slowly — up the ladder of success in just about any field they chose.
Today’s women have the choice to choose to step on the first rung of the ladder or to be content to stay at ground level. Others can choose to climb that ladder of success step-by-step while choosing to traverse only the lower rungs. And then there are those who are dedicated to climbing every tough step to attempt to smash that glass ceiling.
Still today the news continues to point out how so many women are making such a difference when in reality, this should not be news at all. For example, at present more than 11.6 million firms generating over $1.7 trillion in sales are owned by women according to the stats published by American Express. The highlight of this statistic is 1 in 5 of these firms generate revenues over $1 million.
You would assume after thousands of years women should be accepted in the same vein as men in every aspect of society. Women may not occupy the top seat in the board rooms of the Fortune 500 firms in the numbers they could, but they are sure on the way to controlling the state legislatures with over 2,200 now “increasing control over the levers of power and change,” according to Governing.com. Nevada now boasts 38 women out of 63 legislators providing great representation for our women.
Still today, both men and women continue to use adjectives to describe women in perceived power roles that do not take on the same meaning as when used to describe a perceived powerful male. An “ambitious” male is lauded and shown respect but calling a woman “ambitious” can be an insult. Aggressive is the worst word to use when describing a female, but positive when describing a male in the same position. You’ve heard the comparisons before. There’s still a long way to go for female acceptance in other than “traditional roles.”
In Diamant’s reflections on the 10th anniversary of her successful best-selling book, she writes in 2007, “The idea that women are human beings remains news, a message that requires constant, clear, and artful reinforcement in a world that continues to undermine the confidence and abilities of girls and women. On the day that the intelligence and talents of women are fully honored and employed, the human community and the planet itself will benefit in ways we can only begin to imagine.
Today’s women should empower each other by seeing each other as equals, listening without judgment, acknowledging their value in the community and remembering women are all connected.
The Red Tent is a good and reflective read and the series is soon to be on Amazon Prime.
May we come together to benefit our communities as only women can. Every women continues to make history during Women’s History Month. This is the month to enjoy our Red Tents!