Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Women's Achievements

For Ms. Kingsbury’s presentation, I was asked to research Josephine Cochrane. Cochrane was the inventor of the first ever washing machine. She designed the first model of a washing machine in the shed behind her house. It was the first machine to use water pressure rather than scrubbers to wash the dishes. She received a patent on December 28, 1886. Her motive for making the washing machine was to relieve tired housewives from having to do dishes, and is believed to have said “If nobody else is going to invent a dish washing machine, I’ll do it myself!” Thanks to Cochrane, dishwashers are now a household device.
I learned today in Ms. Kingsbury’s presentation about a number of notable women in American History. The women who did the math and were essentially the ‘computers’ behind the NASA Space Race were three women of color: Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Katherine Johnson. These are women who were essential in man orbiting the moon, first black woman aeronautical engineers, and arguably some of the smartest people that NASA has ever seen. In addition, I was inspired by Kathrine Switzer who was the first woman ever to run the Boston Marathon. She was told at Syracuse that she could not ever run a marathon simply because of the fact that she is a woman. She signed up for the marathon under the name K.V. Switzer, and actually was chased down by a man who attempted to take her bib off (a failed attempt) and she ended up finishing the marathon in about four hours. She also ran the Boston Marathon this year with a group of women, which I found quite inspiring as well. In addition, I found it interesting that 15% more viewers are brought in with movies that have a female lead, yet a much smaller percentage of movies actually have a female lead. After Kings told us that fact, she showed us a video of an interviewer asking Kevin Spacey questions that would normally be asked of a women on a red carpet, such as “can I see your mani pedi?” and “you must have been dieting for months prior to this event!” This showed just how silly the questions asked of women in the media are, revealing how a woman’s value is limited to her looks and appearance above anything else.
As we watched the intro to the documentary MissRepresentation, I was almost cringing as I saw images of notable women throughout history such as Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt starkly contrasted by clips of women wearing nothing but bikini tops and booty shorts being highly sexualized in such a demeaning and honestly sleazy manner. I could not help but feel disappointed in myself knowing that I had seen many of those images of the sexualized women before, and yet until class today, I could not tell you one thing about Kathrine Switzer or Dorothy Vaughan. The whole point of the documentary 50/50 was to commemorate women on their accomplishments throughout history, because we honestly do not look at women as people who have already achieved things rather than as people who are still trying to get there. I wish I knew that there have been 50 women elected as leaders of countries, but I did not because, along with the rest of society, I chose to just see the things that the media throws at me daily. As a generation, I think that we need to just allow women to be who they are and not try to fit them into a little box of things they are supposed to be, such as pretty, sweet, demure, or mysterious. I hate that women in politics or leadership positions are often asked questions about their bodies and how interviewers would rather know ‘who an actress is wearing’ rather than her motive behind her film. I think that once we show women that they have all the power in the world, we will no longer be afraid to take it.

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