July 19th was the 163rd anniversary of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention that is generally regarded as the start of the women’s movement in the U. S. So this week’s roundup has to be about Power Tool #1: Know your history and you can create the future of your choice.
Sandy Magnus and three other (male) NASA astronauts returned to earth early Thursday morning aboard the final flight of Atlantis. Magnus, 46, is an engineer and a veteran in space exploration since joining NASA in 1996. She now has the distinction of being the last woman ever to fly on a NASA space shuttle which is being retired after three decades of service. And she has a sense of history, and the historic nature of her own work.
“I am the last female on the space shuttle, but it’s sort of a soft milestone because it’s not like we’re never flying females again ever. Williams is coming up soon to be the next station commander, and Karen Nyberg is in training and we have several females in the office lined up to get assigned after that,” Magnus told SPACE.com.
“So yes, I’m the last female on the shuttle, but look, we’re continuing to fly people to the space station, and some of them are females, and that’s all good.”
Photograph courtesy Smiley N. Pool, Houston Chronicle/NASA
Besides being a busy astronaut, Sandy Magnus kept getting updates from Mission Control about another history making event: the Women’s World Cup which ended Tuesday with Japan taking the title. 845,711 fans attended the 32 matches hosted in Germany and an average audience of over 14.1 million people watched the final between the USA and Japan.
ESPN delivered the large majority of the audience, reporting an average of close to 13.5 million and a peak audience during the penalty shoot-out of over 21.1 million. This is ESPN’s highest-ever audience for a football match and ranks as the second-highest audience for a daytime telecast in US cable history.
Yet despite the excitement for the cup, a sexist tone still emerged from some commentaries such as Daniel Barna’s of AskMen. Now while he might have a point that the play of the women’s cup might prove differently than that of men’s soccer, it is articles like these that still reminds us that no matter how many steps forward women and women sports makes, obstacles remain to creating the historical record as well as the future of our choice.
“Save for some thrilling finishes, the women lacked pace, were clumsier and were overall much less dynamic than even the most uninspiring male players. So why did Sunday’s championship game set a new Twitter record for most tweets per second (7,196)?
Are people actually starting to care about women’s sports or was the drama of the final so compelling that even casual sports fans decided to tune in? One thing we do know: It definitely wasn’t for the women themselves. Woof.”
“Women’s World Cup” by Daniel Barna of AskMen
This week also the face of sexism reared its hateful mug in political news, specifically in the U. S. House of Representatives, when right-winger Rep. Allen West (R-FL) declared that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is not in his opinion “a Lady” (capitalization his). I met Wasserman Schultz back when she was a member of the Florida legislature and was impressed then with her knowledge of the issues and her leadership skills. Now she’s making history by serving as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Last week Congressman West, who lives in her district but represents a neighboring district, lashed out at her on the floor of the House. I wrote about it here: “Has Allen West gone too far?”
Mr. West must have forgotten that every day the things we do ultimately become someone else’s history. I don’t think he helped his legacy with those ill-chosen words. Keep on keeping on, Debbie—you are creating the future I’d choose.
What history have you made today to create the future of your choice?